I. Community as God

II. Communality and Individualism

III. Greece or Hellas?

IV. He Mission of Christianity

V. From the Community Against Individualism to the Community Against the Community
VI. Who is Right: the Orthodox God or the Catholic God?

VII. Cosmos or Earth, Matter or Life?

VIII. The Genesis of Orthodoxy

IX. The Genesis of Catholicism

X. The History of Russia in the Context of the Evolution of the National Spirit and Orthodoxy

XI. Russia in the Early Twenty-First Century

XII. Russia in the Twenty-First Century (2030-2100)

VII. Cosmos or Earth, Matter or Life?

What does God want? Perhaps he wants power and expansion (proliferation) like all other living things? Perhaps that is why he tempts us to master outer space? And that’s why he is leading us to a practical rather than a theoretical unified God for all Mankind? So that the God of Humanity would supersede the gods of the peoples, just as earlier the God of the people superseded the tribal gods?

Then the God of Humanity will resign Himself to evolution and progress, or will he put a halt to this progress? Or perhaps he will take off into space, on the scale of which the Earth is just a sand particle in the bottom of the ocean?

Here’s another set of questions. What is the human (individual) and the communal I? Does it contain the phenomena of the evolution of dead or initially living matter? What came first: the dead nature of atoms or the living nature of elementary particles? Modern physics tells us that elementary particles can “pretend” to be either particles or waves.

In the second case the human mind itself is a kind of community of these living beings. In such a case Man can also be seen as God, in whose brain live trillions of trillions of “individuals” or physical elementary particles. If we accept this idea, then we accept the idea that living nature comes first, and Newton’s objective laws are simply laws of society, nothing more than statistical vectors of billions of individual wills.

Only one conclusion is important in the context of these questions and answers: it isn’t too important whether we take a religious or materialistic view of the world as our starting point. The important thing is to accept the idea that the reality of God is no worse or secondary than the reality we each possess and even of the reality of physical objects.

The stranglehold of “physical thinking” continues to hamper science, keeping it from making a qualitative leap, including in the study of God, although physics itself has long departed from Newton’s classic views and progressed to the Heisenberg-Einstein type of “schizophrenia.”

VIII. The Genesis of Orthodoxy

Now we can take a look at the historical process of the evolution of religion itself, at how this happened.

One of the initial heresies (or groups of heresies) was Gnosticism, which during the second century became a religion that departed from Christianity and created its own scriptures. The main idea of this religion is that there is a higher Divine Being above the God of the Old Testament, and that this God is completely disconnected from our world, and the world itself is the result of the unskilled work of the lower society, i.e. the Old Testament God. In its activity the human soul must strive for the higher spiritual spheres located above the Old Testament God. Further development of this religion could have led to a division between the God of Man and the God of Nature. Most likely it was an apparent possibility for the time. But perhaps this possibility is quite palpable for humankind of the near future, say of the twenty-second through twenty-fourth centuries? Why not? After all, a teaching is almighty if it is true. Holy words.

During the third century, Monarchianism began to gather strength. This was a doctrine that underscored the monarchic, i.e. sovereign rule of God. The Monarchians considered that the Father, Son and Spirit were three different names for one and the same being, but not three individuals or three roles.

Monarchianism made it possible for the doctrine of the Trinity to be more clearly formulated, the Trinity being a kind of tri-unity. The “continuation” of this belief was the teaching of Arius, who came to the conclusion that only the Father is the true God, and that the Son is his creation, a being created from nothing, and not God.

During the early fourth century (in 325) the Nicene Council condemned the Aryan heresy and accepted the Nicene Creed, which became the symbol of faith:

We believe in one God, father almighty, maker of all things, both visible and invisible. And in one lord, Jesus Christ, the son of God, begotten from the father, only-begotten, that is from the being of the father, God from God, light from light, true God from True God, begotten not made, one in being [homoousios] with the father, through whom all things came to be, both those in heaven and those on the earth, who because of us human beings and because of our salvation descended, became enfleshed, became human, suffered and rose on the third day, ascending to the heavens, coming to judge the living and dead.

And in the Holy Spirit.

The catholic and apostolic Church anathematizes those who say: there was a time when he was not; and before being born he was not; or that he came to be from things that are not; or that the Son of God is from a different hypostasis or ousia or mutable or changeable.

Aryanism was just as much an extreme view as Monarchianism, and the main argument after the Nicene Council revolved around the “Nicene Party,” i.e. the group that had won out at the Council, and the followers of Origen, one of the Church fathers who had lived between 185 and 255. His theory of the Trinity was that of a three-tiered Trinity: the Father was above the Son, and the Son above the Spirit. The Nicene Party had a clear vision of the complete divinity of Christ, but wasn’t so clear about the eternal tri-unity of God. The followers of Origen were knowledgeable about questions of the Trinity, but not very well-versed in the divinity of Jesus Christ. Representatives of Origen’s group considered the Nicene people Monarchians (which was unfair), and the Nicene people called the followers of Origen Aryans.

What is the essence of the matter in light of our theory? Was this an argument between the Eastern and Western churches, between Orthodoxy and Catholicism? Right about this time, during the fourth century, between the two councils (the Council of Nicaea in 325 and the Council of Constantinople in 381) the difference between Western Christianity and Eastern Christianity (Greek) was recognized. This occurred during the first half of the “long winter” of the Roman (Italian) people and the time of the “medium spring of the long summer” for the Greeks. The Greeks did gain sweeping and decisive influence in the Empire, which was reflected in the transfer of the capital from Italian Rome to Greek Byzantium (Constantinople), but the Italians, having lived through a hard winter, began to reinstate their influence at about this time.

Origen was a forerunner of this Roman Catholic rejuvenation. He had asserted Christ’s right to “self-determination,” if only on the second tier, under the Father, but at least higher than the (as yet Old Testament) Spirit (which isn’t too far from recognizing the idea that the Spirit comes from both the Father and the Son, after all, both are “higher”). The Nicaeans, rejecting the influence of the Greek Spirit that was dominant at the time, and insisting on Christ’s divinity, were just as far from merging his divinity with that of the Father, i.e. just as far from Monarchianism.

This meant that Greek philosophy, which was an active and independent force within Christianity during the first three centuries of our era, was completely integrated with the Council of Nicaea, consumed by Christianity, but at the same time was transmitted as an independent phenomenon of the spirit to Italian soil. Having produced Christianity, the Greeks ceased to be the individualistic people of Odysseus, who had become a philosopher, and became a political people of a civil community. They became a monarchic and communally religious people. But they did pass on the civilizational baton to the Italians. This is an even deeper layer of the mission of Christianity!

The Italians preserved in vitro the spirit of individualism and the civic community. The transfer of the capital became a visible political decision of a profoundly religious and social choice of third-century Latins. Later this would lead not to defeat, but to the downfall of the Holy Roman Empire, which later overcame the barbarians through Christianity, and conquered them by submitting to them (!). The Greeks weren’t too concerned about the Empire and managed to maintain it for another thousand years (maintained but did not create). Here the foreign won out over the domestic. The eastern empire stuck around only thanks to the complete twisting of religion and all forms of public life constructed around it (the foundation of society is not only economics, but religion as well. The former has a material basis, and the later a spiritual one!).

Proto-Catholicism came from Greco-Roman-Egyptian Alexandria, the place where Origen was born and lived. It was here also in the fourth century that Athanasius lived. Athanasius defended the divinity of God the Son and for the first time raised the question of the divinity and status of the God the Spirit, which is not the Son of God, but does “come from the Father.” At the same time, Ephraimi Syri was called the “lyre of the Holy Spirit” and in Cappadocia (on the territory of modern Turkey) the Cappadocian fathers were gaining a following. They had provided a more precise definition of the Trinity and defended the divinity of the Spirit. They also combated another heresy, Appolinarism, which stated that Jesus did not have a human soul or reason.

These Cappadocian fathers organized the next council, the Council of Constantinople. A modification of the Nicene Creed was adopted at the Council, including anti-Aryan, anti-Macedonian and anti-Apollinarian statements. The creed adopted at this council became the creed of both the eastern and western churches. Here is a translation:

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead,and the life of the world to come. Amen. [1]

Later, first in the Spanish, French and German churches, the creed was amended to contain a reference to how the Spirit comes not just from the Father, but also from the Son. Rome, which was always cautious and conservative, accepted this formula only 700 years after the Council. The Council itself had set the goal of uniting the church, so the decisions made there still recognized the priority of established Orthodoxy over the as yet nascent Catholicism. It is possible that the addition arose in the minds of Italian believers, but was not accepted by the official Church, in part also in the name of unity (there had been no internal communal unity between the Churches since the end of the third century).

During this period, St. Jerome translated the Bible into Latin, producing the so-called Vulgate Bible. He translated it not from the contemporary Greek (the Septuagint), but from the ancient Greek. This made separation from the western church even more precipitous, at the same time that the western creed had not yet evolved and still coincided with the eastern creed.

The fourth century witnessed the life and works of the great theologian Augustine, who is considered one of the fathers of the western church. His Trinity contains three individual beings of one essence and their relationship is explained with the same of such analogies as the tri-unity of being, knowledge and will, or the tri-unity of thought, whether divine, remembering, understanding or loving. At the same time, he recognized the imperfection of all analogies. The basis of his teaching is the concept of the active Church that became the papal Church, and the idea of grace, which originally was intended by a merciful God to convince human will, then work with it and, finally, give Man the gift of stubbornness. Augustine emphasized that only the elect may receive divine grace and be saved, thus giving the religious world view a certain prestigious and individualistic impulse. Later Augustine’s idea of grace was developed by Protestantism, which sanctified individual initiative and the inequality between men in economic competition.

During the fifth century the discussion of the Trinity gave way to arguments over the relationship between the human and divine nature of Christ and of His earthly mother, the Virgin Mary. The Council of Ephesus was called to condemn Nestorianism, the teaching of the patriarch of Constantinople, who refused to give the Virgin Mary the status of the Madonna. He considered that Jesus the man was born from Maria, but not God the Word, which only occupied his form, i.e. Christ was not a single person, but had two faces. The Council declared that God was born through Mary. Here is the decision of the Council:

…We unite in teaching all men to confess the one and only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. This selfsame one is perfect both in deity and in humanness; this selfsame one is also actually God and actually man, with a rational soul… and a body… Before time began he was begotten of the Father, in respect of his deity, and now in these "last days," for us and behalf of our salvation, this selfsame one was born of Mary the virgin as man. We also teach that we apprehend this one and only Christ-Son, Lord, only-begotten -- in two natures; and we do this without confusing the two natures, They are not divided or cut into two persons, but are together the one and only and only-begotten Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

In keeping with this understanding of their oneness we teach that the Virgin is the Theotokos (Mother of God) since the Word was begotten as man and from his very begetting adopted the temple taken from her.

As for the writings of the Gospels and the Scriptures of our Lord, we know that some theologians recognize as shared (belonging to one aspect), yet in other cases they separate them (as if belonging to two natures). The most worthy of these attach to Christ divinity, and the most unworthy grant him human nature.

“The Formula of Unification”

During the mid-fifth century Pope Leo the Great was struggling against the fourth heresy concerned with the aspect of Jesus Christ. This heresy was known as the Eutychian heresy. Eutychianus considered that the combination of the divine and human natures had produced a mixture that could not be associated with either the divine or the human.

Leo founded the teaching of the power of the Pope as the descendant of the Apostle Peter. He proclaimed himself the imperfect heir to the Apostle Peter, thus emphasizing that the Pope’s position is not based on personal saintliness, but on the law, with priority given to the Church organization over personal conscience, as Augustine had also maintained. At the Council of Chalcedon in 451 the Eutychian heresy was condemned and Christ was proclaimed both truly God and truly man with one (unified) aspect.

What happened in the fifth century? The Holy Roman Empire ceased to exist, although this was the start of a “long Italian summer” which, it seemed, was to revive the glory and might of the Roman state. But at that time the Roman spirit belonged not just to Italy; under the Empire it had spread throughout Europe and was borne not by citizens of Rome, but by monks and believers practicing Latin Christianity. This meant neither military nor economic might, but rather a spiritual stronghold, religious might. And now we can see that this strength won out in the end and conquered Europe. Mostly through preaching and example!

What was the argument over the aspect of Christ all about? It was an argument over the credibility of Christianity as a religion defending its main mysteries: the Trinity as Unity and Unity as Trinity, and that Christ is both God and man at the same time. Christianity defended its dualism, its internal contradiction, and thus remained a teaching open to further development, reconciling the absolutism of religious consciousness with the relative nature of religious truth (as any other truth). We can see that these were very successful formulae and very profound symbols of man (the individual), the community (God) and communality (the Spirit). The heresies with their unambiguous answers died out since they simplified things and led to false practice. Only the oldest heresy, Gnosticism, was rejected because it appeared at the wrong time.

Islam, which came about somewhat later, appeared not on the soil of a developed civilization, but on the soil of a nascent civilization already fully consumed by the Community. Thus the simplifications in this religion won out: Trinity was rejected, and Christ was rejected as God. In their place we saw the rise of the single Community God and another prophet, but only the greatest of the prophets, Mohammed. But this was a different time: the early Christian Greek spirit was already in “winter” hibernation and the Roman spirit, although it was still in a “summer” period, was consumed by subsuming the lands of the barbarians, and not with building a state or an economy. So Islam met not internal resistance in the East and was attractive to many nations under the influence of the Eastern Empire. In conquered Spain Islam had to confront the young Spirit of the Catholic Church, and in the end was unsuccessful against the Catholic Spirit in other nations of Europe.

During the following centuries (sixth through tenth) Christianity expanded in the West, but did not become more profound. In the East the teachings continued to be pursued in more depth, but without “stalling.” In the West the power of the Roman bishop was gradually growing since there were no other church authorities who could compare with his authority. In the East there were several bishops (patriarchs) sharing the power: the bishops of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. So the highest authority was possessed by the councils called by the emperor. The formal leadership of the East was shored up although the rift between the Churches continued to grow.

After the Council of Chalcedon there were three more common ecumenical councils: the Council of Constantinople of 553, as well as the Council of Constantinople of 680-681 and the Council of Nicaea that met in 787.

At the end of the fifth century the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon were completely rejected by the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Monophysites took control. The Monophysites denied the dual nature of Christ. In 553 Emperor Justinian called the Council of Constantinople that attempted to compromise with the Monophysites although the later refused to accept the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon even after concessions had been made.

During the seventh century a new movement arose, that of the Monophylites who insisted that Christ had one will. But at the Council of Constantinople of 680-681 the “father of Byzantine theology,” Maximilian the Confessor, and Pope Agatho managed to prove the mistake of the Monophylites and defended the theory of Christ’s possessing two wills: a divine will and a human will. Both Constantinople and Rome united at this council, but it was a temporary partnership mostly just for show, one of the reasons for which was the absence of Alexandria at the meetings. Alexandria had been overrun by the Moslems.

The early eighth century (“medium spring of a long winter”) saw the movement of the iconoclasts in the Holy Eastern Empire. The first steps were taken in 719-720 under a Moslem ruler since Islam was categorically against such images. And slightly later similar attempts were made by the Byzantine Emperor Leo III. In 754 the Council of Hieria was held and saw the iconoclasts victorious, but at the Council of Nicaea of 787, which was considered the seventh council, the supporters of icons won out. After that council the struggle continued until in 843 the supporters of icons won once and for all. The main struggle with the iconoclasts took place right during the holy period of the “medium spring of a long winter” of the Greek nation. It is possible that the temporary triumph of Moslem elements specifically during this period left a deep and lasting impression on the further development of Byzantine history.

What did this victory mean?

In its fight with Islam, Greek culture insisted on its right to Orthodox ritual, but at that time ritual began to dominate, and the teachings became just as dogmatic as the ritual. At the basis of this choice apparently lay the desire to preserve the Empire at any cost, which was accomplished by conserving considerable spiritual and cultural experience, in religious, economic, social and political forms. The Orthodox God became a god in himself, apparently hoping to last for the future “long cycle” in order to “go to battle” during the 1500s and 1600s. But the Greeks didn’t manage to do this on their turf. Some 70 years before the start of the “spring” they lost Constantinople and their independence, but Byzantine refugees to the West provided impetus for the religious revolution that unfolded during the sixteenth century in the West. The Greeks and Greek culture became one of the great cultural forces of the Renaissance and fueled the intellectual and spiritual energy of the Reformation.

But can the Community God be mistaken in his prediction?

Yes, if the forecast is made for more than 600 (666?) years, and the fall of the empire occurred precisely beyond this limit of the “medium winter of a long winter.” This wasn’t a mistake, but a piece of bad luck for the new Greek Spirit that was emerging during the rise of the iconoclastic Moslem elements.

After 750 Eastern Orthodoxy established itself as a religion of passive assimilation of the world, as an adaptive religion and not a transforming religion. It was precisely after 750 that the religion became Orthodox.

The Greeks discovered the formula whereby at one pole stood the absolute Greek state which forced its will on the Greeks and other peoples under the Empire, and at the other stood the Greek people who assimilated with other nations.

After 750 the Byzantine Greeks created a culture in which political forms remained imperative and even aggressive, and all that lay outside of the state became flexible and fluid, malleable for outside influences and given to reconciliation. The Church, as one of the main institutions in the state, also became imperative and strict, having firmly established its dogma and liturgy. People raised in this church were passive and visionary, but at the same time clever and shrewd. Anything that found itself inside the Byzantine world, under the power of the Empire, became familiar, almost cozy. That which remained outside the Empire did not exist until the state declared war on it, as with the barbarian threat to the inner world of Byzantium.

In the West a new type of society and man that was in many ways the opposite had formed by the new “long cycle” in Italian history.

After the decline of the Holy Roman Empire there came a period of feudal disintegration. The state and non-state institutions of Roman civilization disappeared almost completely or seemed like islands of civilization (like the city of Rome) surrounded by barbarians who also ruled them.

The political system was clearly sacrificed, but for what? To the super-task of Christianizing the barbarians. At that time the East had no such mission since it had made peace with Islam (if not capitulated, after the iconoclasts), and with the schism of the Eastern Church into several churches professing different trends in Eastern Christianity and recognizing collegiality, i.e. the democracy of Christian communities. The West remained aggressive as a teaching and unified in its church, having recognized the rule of the Roman Pope over the entire Christian world. This power was granted not for the Pope’s deeds, but to serve political ends. This led to a formula that was the complete opposite of the Orthodox one: political mosaic and a single expansionist faith, men who were politically and socially active, but not in the name of the state, rather in the name of faith.

Everything was different in Catholicism and Orthodoxy after 750: the state, the Church and people themselves. So the dream of unification was never fulfilled and never even came close to fruition.

Having rejected a single state, the West produced yet another phenomenon, the phenomenon of the rise of close European peoples undergoing different stages of a “big cycle”: the French, the Germans, Italians, British and Spanish. Later this would become the basis of Western European historical polyphony and would allow Western Europe to play an important role at any time, providing a leading country or group of leading countries and outsiders during each historical period. So the “long winter” could not be a universal disaster in Western Europe. Instead, it became a local problem for individual countries. The Byzantine Empire did not withstand the next “winter” of 1320-1510.

The main values of the Orthodox Greeks became collegiality (Church community democracy), absolutism and Christian mysticism (St. Sophia). Christ isn’t necessary in this formula since collegiality is communality, and the ideal of St. Sophia is communality. Also, absolutism is equated to the person of the ruler and fealty of the people. Individualism has no place or is put in a dependent, enslaved role. The community and subjugation to it reign supreme.

For Orthodoxy after 750, the arguments over the Trinity and the aspect of Christ became somewhat superfluous. They remained in the past and only brightened the Byzantine faith with their pretty but lifeless ornament.

What were the contenders fighting for? Could it be that several centuries of the struggle to preserve individualism turned out to be in vain? No, but the primacy of the community proclaimed early in the epoch did win out, and the individual received a huge space for freedom, not in the outside world, but inside. Individuality gained freedom within the confines of a complex system of Byzantine cultural symbols. The Byzantines, as opposed to the Catholics, discovered for themselves the possibility of direct communication with God, with God’s energy, and their grace (meditative mysticism) was not connected with the philosophical quests or grace of select minds, but with monastic immersion in the harmony of divine light. This was an entire world and a fairly stable system, otherwise it would not have resisted Moslem influence for so long. Prior to its fall, Constantinople existed for some decades surrounded by Moslems, not as the capital of a great empire, but as an island.

Orthodoxy gave birth to another phenomenon: the almost complete isolation of the “literate elite” from the people and a lifeless, phlegmatic “spirituality.”

To what conclusions can we come?

Christianity arose during the first century of our era as a new embodiment of the Greek spirit which, using Judaism as a starter, in essence, reformulated its national culture. Two centuries later, during the latter half of the third century, the Latin version of Christianity appeared and used Christian symbols, but emphasized its own priorities. The most important thing in Greek Christianity is putting individualism under the control of the community and creating morals of the absolutist empire state to which the Aryan Greeks strove, starting with the conquests of Alexander the Great. The spirit of the great Hellenic civil community died out along with the Peloponnesian revolution (counter revolution) of the third and second centuries B.C. The Greek Communal God chose the Eastern Empire as a more stable structure, preferring it to the Athenian or Spartan hegemony. The citizen did disappear with it, leaving the free philosopher in his wake. Odysseus the traveler and colonizer became Odysseus the philosopher, and Odysseus the philosopher became Odysseus the monk during the early Christian centuries.

Following the new reincarnation in the eighth century, the Greek spirit, earlier based on values of autocracy, the Christian community and personal spiritual freedom, took another step away from individualism and at the same time created a Byzantine culture as a more harmonic and closed culture. The value of autocracy was reinforced by the value of collegiality, i.e. by a special kind of democracy completely based on the self-determination of the Christian community under the control of the imperial chancellery (i.e. the Christian community turned into a more structured, developed and state-oriented “collegiality”). The value of personal spiritual freedom, which was manifested primarily in the mutual development of Christianity and Platonism during the early centuries of Christianity and allowed the individual to consider faith from a critical stance, was exchanged for the value of mystical Christianity, later known as isychasm, which set as its goal the direct vision of God through a series of ritual prayers and, as a result, through the ascetic way of life.

What were the consequences? Autocracy and collegiality created a truly organic social system that the Russian Orthodox always dreamed about. Mysticism helped to create men who lived not so much using their reason as much as their soul and senses, and helped to direct personal creative activity toward the communal reason. It is important to note that this occurred in individual behavior and in small groups of people in which the communal effect does not occur naturally or is poorly reflected.

The flip side of Byzantine harmony was the closed nature, the isolation of society, its passivity and distaste for expansionism, including economic expansion and internal subjugation to such a harmonic and communal but simpler and more active Islam. This is why the Byzantine empire did not fall but rather melted under the heat of encroaching Islam. This is a very interesting historic fact. The Eastern Empire had such great forces for defending itself from the outside world that it survived the great Arab and Mongol expansions, not to mention multiple wars, including wars with the Slavs and with the Roman Christians. Constantinople survived destruction by the crusaders during the early thirteenth century and arose from the ashes. But during the cold “winter” of the fifteenth century it succumbed to the Turks.