Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Forms of Government and Antichrist - II

Previously we saw that the Orthodox Church views Christian kings as the bulwark guarding against Antichrist’s final appearance in the world.  Today we see how she views other forms of government - democracies and republics - as articulated mainly by the great theologian and hierarch Archbishop Averky Taushev (reposed in 1976).  The most directly related portions have been highlighted, but much surrounding material has also been included to allow the reader to see the larger context in which they ought to be viewed.

            . . . About his preceptor, Fr. Seraphim wrote:  “Archbishop Averky’s view of the contemporary world was sober, precise, and entirely inspired by the Sacred Scripture and Holy Fathers of the Church:  He taught that we live in the age of the Apostasy, the falling away from true Christianity, when the ‘mystery of iniquity’ has entered its final stage of preparation for the ‘man of sin,’ Antichrist.”
Like Fr. Seraphim, Archbishop Averky had made an extensive study of the philosophical roots of the apostasy.  As Fr. Seraphim noted:  “Archbishop Averky traced the development of this Apostasy in particular from the time of the schism of the Church of Rome (1054), through the era of Humanism, the Renaissance and Reformation, the French Revolution, nineteenth-century materialism and Communism, culminating in the Russian Revolution of 1917, which removed the last great barrier to the working of the mystery of iniquity and the coming of Antichrist.”
As we have seen, Archbishop Averky was in the direct spiritual line of the nineteenth-century Russian prophet St. Theophan the Recluse, whose prophecies—like those of his contemporary St. Ignatius Brianchaninov—he saw unmistakably being fulfilled around him.  St. Theophan had prophesied the fall of the Orthodox Tsar and its terrible aftermath, which he said must come as a punishment for the faithlessness, freethinking, amorality, and blasphemy among his countrymen.  “When royal authority falls,” Theophan had said, “and the people everywhere institute self-government (republics, democracies), then there will be room for the Antichrist to act.  It will not be hard for Satan to prepare voices in favor of renouncing Christ, as experience showed during the French Revolution.  There will be no one to pronounce the authoritative veto.  And so when such regimes, suitable for disclosing the Antichrist’s aspirations, are instituted everywhere, then the Antichrist will appear.”
            This was exactly what Archbishop Averky saw happening in the contemporary world.  “The fundamental task of the servants of the coming Antichrist,” he wrote, “is to destroy the old world with its former concepts and ‘prejudices,’ in order to build in its place a new world suitable for receiving its approaching ‘new owner,’ who will take the place of Christ for people and give them on earth that which Christ did not give them.”  In the words of St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, “The Antichrist will be the logical, just, and natural result of the general moral and spiritual direction of mankind.”
            Like his beloved St. John of Kronstadt, Archbishop Averky found that the most difficult thing to endure as an Orthodox pastor was to witness the apparent triumph of evil in the world.  He saw Christians of all different denominations “keeping step with the times,” unconsciously collaborating with the servants of the coming Antichrist by preaching humanistic, chiliastic ideas of “world progress” and earthly blessedness—ideas which appear motivated by “Christian love,” but which are in reality profoundly foreign to true Christianity.  “Bearing one’s cross is the natural way of every true Christian,” Archbishop Averky affirmed, “without which there is no Christianity.”
            Archbishop Averky was especially wounded at heart when he saw Orthodox leaders trying to keep up with these apostate trends for the sake of “ecumenical” progress, thus contributing to the “new Christianity” of the Antichrist—a “Christianity without the Cross” (Hieromonk Damascene, Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works, 3rd ed., Platina, Ca.: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2010, pgs. 734-5, bold emphasis added).

Afterword:  This should not be understood to mean that the Orthodox Church forbids democracies, republics, and other forms of elected government (e.g., her own local church councils are highly democratic, and democratic village governments, etc. have always co-existed with Orthodox kings); but rather that the final decision, the final authority, in matters of government ought to rest with a Christian king, if a nation is blessed enough to have one, and not with ‘the people’, a supreme court, and so on.

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