1. In my years within the True Orthodox fold, there has been two traits that typify the basic mentality of this movement: first, a strong desire to maintain the ancient orthodox monastic way of life, and, second, an unbelievable ignorance of church history and theology. Part of this ignorance is self-interested: church history is often rewritten to justify the existence of the favored jurisdiction. The very fact that “jurisdictions” are the primary unit of analysis in TOC polemics itself shows a tremendous ignorance of the nature of the Orthodox life.
2. The existence of many competing jurisdictions in the TOC is not a bothersome issue. This is because, first of all, a jurisdiction is a relative idea: it is an institution, part of this world, an institution primarily of convenience. It is not the faith nor is it reducible to the faith: it is an organization that often takes itself to be the very font of grace and truth. The multitude of TOC jurisdictions throughout the world are one in faith: this cannot be denied. The divisions among the TOC are based largely on personal squabbles and the desire for income and recognition. Nevertheless, the multitude of jurisdictions and bishops is providential: it provides a highly decentralized model of church life that can survive the world of antichrist where we currently live. A single powerful organization is easy to corrupt, a multitude of small organizations is almost impossible to corrupt. Therefore, in my opinion, all TOC jurisdictions share an identical mission and an identical faith, and therefore, are all grace filled vessels of salvation. It is the faith of the community that gives sustenance to the bishops, not the other way around. A bad bishop within a heathy community is far preferable to an unhealthy community with saints as bishops.
3. Sobornost’ and Sobornopravanist’ are central terms in Orthodox theology: they refer, among other things, to the fact that grace is something shared by the entire community, not something gifted to the community by the jurisdiction. This is one of the fundamental errors of the TOC worldwide. The community must approve priests and bishops. In post-Schism Russia, this right was removed from the faithful and given to the state, hence, placing grave canonical doubts about the nature of the Russian Orthodox Church in the synodal era. But the very fact that priests and bishops were elected by the faithful proves that the ancient Orthodox idea of grace is not a top down affair: the community itself (within which the bishops serve, and do not dominate) is the source of grace in the Holy Spirit.
4. One of the grave errors of the TOC is that all was right with the world until 1921. This is far from the case. In Russia, the church was controlled by the state, and acted as its “spiritual arm.” Bishops were shifted from diocese to diocese on an average of every 7 years according to the research of Gregory Freeze and others. The 18th century “Russian monarchy” was anti-Orthodox and deeply masonic, persecuting the true orthodox within the church throughout. In Greece, the Turkokratia meant that Greek bishops needed to pay for their sees. The liturgy was rewritten several times under the Turks, the first during the 17th century, and the second, the “revised typikon” of 1838. Furthermore, the Russian church openly persecuted the Ukrainian Orthodox as well as the Old Believers in the name of the state. The Russian state church prior to the revolution was not a popular one. The chief ideologist of this suppression, Constantine Pobedonseyev, held that if the state controls over the church were lifted, the “entire countryside” would go to the Old Believers. The Belia Krinitisa hierarchy, especially after the Polish rebellion in the 1840s, held that the Petrogradian church possessed sanctifying grace, but was deeply uncanonical. This writer and many other Old Ritualists are still writing for a good theological reason as to why the local synod of the 100 chapters was overthrown. No reason was ever given with the exception of realpolitik. World Orthodoxy from the Old Believers movement to the Turkokratia in Greece was highly irregular and dominated by state forces and therefore, uncanonical. If we are to be consistent with our love of the canons, we cannot fail to apply them prior to 1921. But the irregularity of the Orthodox world after the fall of Byzantium can be dealt with through economy. The situation after 1921 is merely more of the same. If one fails to condemn the rewriting of the Russian and Greek liturgies during this time, then one has no grounds to condemn the manipulation of the liturgy that is going on right now.
5. It is not because of the canonical regularity of the Petrogradian or Turkish church that we hold they maintained grace. They maintained grace only because of the tenacious love of the faith from the oppressed Christians of the Balkans. While the Greek bishops needed to pay the Turks for their sees and hence over tax the peasants to repay their loans, this might bring the bishops to a bad end at the judgement, but not the faithful, who alone are the repository of the truth. In Russia, according to the Russian government itself, the peasantry never lost their love of the old Ritual, and hence, the faith there was maintained. Even the ROCOR traditionally held that the Russian cities were basically bereft of the faith, another legacy of the Petrine reforms. In the end times, it will be the decentralized house churches of the peasants and the simple folk that will maintain the faith while the bishops will break their backs excusing their behavior and searching for canonical precedent for their behaviors.
6. The Russian Old Ritualists were the first true Orthodox strugglers, and their example should be emulated. They split from the state church primarily because the canons of the 1551 Stoglav Sobor were violated by the state church for no good theological reason. One cannot simply wave one’s hand and say that the Stoglavy was merely a “local synod.” The local synod of all Russia was itself an icon of the previous 500 years of Russian piety, taking into itself the accumulated wisdom of the Russians in the religious sphere. This is why the Old Rite took it so seriously, and why the Russian synod (especially after Peter I took over the church) remained a highly non-canonical synod from then onwards. They even went so far to “de-canonize” saints such as St. Anna of Kashin in this process (since her incorrupt relics were shown to have made the sign of the cross with two fingers, as the Stoglavy held was canonical) Stoglavy rejected with a wave of Alexii’s royal hand, while the Greek bishops were there to receive the Russian money they so desperately needed to pay back the Phanar loansharks.
7. There can be no question that grace does not exist within those jurisdictions in communion with Constantinople. The Phanar has for centuries been the center of Orthodox corruption and heresy, and the last two pseudo-patriarchs of that now cursed city were open members of the Masonic lodge. Keep in mind that the freemasons take an oath to Lucifer at the higher degrees and therefore, the Phanar is not Orthodox, but Luciferian and dedicated, like the Sergeianist “church” in Russia, exists for the destruction of the Orthodox world and its merger with the Roman Catholic and Anglican heresies. In fact, the Masonic connection between Masonry’s home in England and the ecumenical heresy of the phanar has been mediated by substantial moneys being paid to the Phanar from English Masonry and the Rothschild family, who, as it happens, is the official banker of the Vatican. This Masonic and financial connection is what bought the election of the 33rd degree Mason Mataxakis to the throne at the beginning of the 20th century to rewrite the typikon and go to the new calendar. No one needs an ecumenical synod to tell us that Luceferianism, especially its open practice, is a heresy. In Jerusalem, the pseudo-patriarchate is deeply involved with the most radical of the Jewish settler movement, and hence, a large part of that movement to rebuild the temple of Jerusalem (which is their goal) to usher in the age of the “Jewish messiah.” Much like the Marionite heretics in Lebanon, the Greek Jerusalemites hatred for the Islamic Arabs has led them to substantial military and financial cooperation with the more radical elements within the settler movement. Now that the see of Antioch officially gives communion to Uniats and monophysites, there can be no doubting the corrupt and heretical status of world Orthodoxy. If one can follow the money, one can see the true origin of ecumenism, the desire of a cash-strapped and isolated Greek patriarchates in Egypt, the Middle East and Turkey, especially after their near destruction in world War I, to turn to the British and the Anglican/Masons movement for money and diplomatic support. Without this knowledge, ecumenism is largely inexplicable. As always, it is the money that remains at the root of these things. It is for this reason why Nikolai Vemilirovic continually proposed full communion between the Serbs and the Anglicans, even giving Anglicanism and freemasonry a central role in the “restoration” of Christianity. After World War I, when the Serbs lost a full third of their population, th Serbs desperately needed assistance from the British banks. From this, the Serbs in America, including the pseudo-metropolitan Christopher, remain deeply involved in freemasonry, even to the point that Auxentios needed to sever communion with the Free Serbian church due to the complete domination of Masonry in the FSOC. Nikolai Velimirovic, regardless of his personal merits, was canonized for political reasons: the Serbs were countering the Roman Catholic canonization of Cardinal Stepenac of Croatia, close to the fascist Ustase movement.
8. The Milan Synod of the Church of Auxentios remains the canonical standard of the Greek Orthodox Church in the west, since Milan has a uninterrupted canonical succession from Auxentios, himself consecrated by the ROCOR under Philaret. Nevertheless, the remaining factions of both the succession of Chrysostomos and Matthew–as well as those in Russia and elsewhere–remain grace filled in that they maintain the ancient Orthodox faith. Unfortunately, in our times, canonical irregularity is a fact of life, and can never be used to deny that one “jurisdiction” or another is graceless without a solid charge of doctrinal heresy. Such doctrinal heresy is nowhere to be found within all the factions of the TOC, regardless of their background or origin, however strange or irregular, they maintain the faith, and hence, please God, we need no more information than that. The personal sins of the clergy will be dealt with at the judgement, and are irritating, but, since they do not touch doctrine, are not for us to judge. Schisms based on personal issues must be dealt with though economy and mercy for the sake of the common population that is not quite so preoccupied as we professional Orthodox scholars are with such political issues. The TOC has for decades held dozens of local synods that have declared those in communion with the Phanar as graceless, one cannot be a part of the TOC without holding this important doctrinal idea: ecumenism, Masonry and liberalism are not only heresies and demonic at root, but deeply sinful and spiritually corrosive.
9. From the point of view of the moderate Old Ritual, that is, the Belia Krinitsa hierarchy, the Greeks and Russians redeemed themselves by rejecting the worldly para-synods of world Orthodoxy. Recall that the Stoglav sobor was a local synod, hence affecting only the Russian empire in 1551. Therefore, the condemnations of the three fingered sign of the cross and other things do not apply outside of Russia. Hence, there is no reason why the Old Ritualists of a moderate persuasion, such as myself, would hold anything other than the fact that the Old Calendarists and the Russian resisters are fully grace filled, having no part with the corrupt Muscovite patriarchate or the Phanar. In other words, the Old Belief makes sense only within the canonical tradition of Russia, and only there. Therefore, the Old Ritual is the canonical core of the Russian church, but not the Orthodox church as a whole. It remains however, that the liturgy of the Old Russian church, the typikon of the Studion with modifications from Patriarch Joseph, is the most ancient used in the Orthodox church as a whole. We Russian nationalists have quite a debt owed to the Old Rite for preserving the ideas of Old Russia from the assaults of the 18th century domination of heresy and Masonry in the highest echelons of the Russian state. Hence, the moderate Old Rite would hold that the synod of Valentine and the RTOC are not strictly canonical, but still grace filled. They are in error, but not in open heresy, as the Patriarchate of Alexander and the more extreme Old Believers would hold. We do maintain however, that since the compromise with the Soviet state, the Moscow synod, later “patriarchate” is bereft of grace and a mere arm of the Soviet state, serving only to destroy the catacomb church in the USSR and justify the crimes of the Soviet state and its western hangers on.
10. As far as the typikon is concerned, there is no fundamental canonical difference among the monastic typikon of St. Sabbas, the Great Church typikon, or the compromise typikon of the Studion. Even with each typika there are many variations, each based on the needs of the community and the resources at one’s disposal. I largely serve matins and vespers alone, and hence, do a abbreviated version of the typikon of Moscow under Patriarch Joseph (the last patriarch before the schism, and an important publisher of liturgical works). All my liturgical books can be traced back to Joseph. For a larger parish with a professional choir, etc, there is no excuse to abbreviate anything. But, to coin a phrase, the typikon exists for man, not the other way around. The typikon is a basic template that can be modified according to the needs of the parish or community.
11. In these sinful times, times of apostasy, it is no surprise that the church is getting smaller and more defensive. The Orthodox church exists only in the Old Calendar resistance groups of various kinds, all united as part of an organic whole, despite the bickering of the often incompetent bishops. Finding a holy bishop and maintaining a rule of prayer is all that is required of us at this time.