A draft catechism has been compiled in Moscow and is now being discussed. We have seen it. It is very long and has clearly been composed by intellectuals (judging by their condescension to ‘ordinary Orthodox’ and lack of observation of how we ordinary Orthodox live our faith). And it is also clear that they have copied from the post-Vatican II Roman Catholic catechism, or versions of it, like the pseudo-Orthodox Parisian ‘Dieu est Vivant’ catechism, which dates back some 35 years to modernist Catholicism. This draft is based on an over-complicated, self-justifying intellectual approach, full of quotations from the Scriptures and the early Fathers, some of them taken out of context, some of them taken from a heretical document falsely attributed to St Isaac the Syrian. Rather than a question and answer approach, it has adopted a patronizing approach, ensuring that very few real Orthodox will ever read it, which is for the best.
This draft catechism is clearly marked by modernism, suggesting like the Parisians’ hero-heretic, Origen, that salvation is for all and that Darwin is also Orthodox. Its bureaucratic language and Western jargon about ‘human dignity and rights’ and ‘a social concept’ expresses not Orthodox theology, but the politically correct ‘scientific’ theology of Western doctoral students. Unlike ROCOR’s Fr Seraphim Slobodskoy’s simple and classic catechism ‘The Law of God’, which is also very popular inside Russia, this draft is not accessible to ordinary Orthodox. Clearly, the whole thing has been written by those closer to the humanism of Pope Francis than the Orthodox Faith and people. Someone in Moscow, who has studied in a Western University, wants a Vatican II-style Council in the Orthodox Church. For example, this draft never mentions our Russian Orthodox dress code and seems to think that fasting is not very important.
Unlike ROCOR’s Fr Seraphim Slobodskoy’s simple and classic catechism ‘The Law of God’, which is also very popular inside Russia, this draft is not accessible to ordinary Orthodox.
Marked by the language of secularist rationalists from outside the Church, the document presents the Church of God as a religious institution, not the Risen Body of Christ, radiated and penetrated by the Holy Spirit. The authors want to make this institution acceptable to the secular world by avoiding the dogmatic revelations of the Holy Spirit and all areas of controversy. Orthodoxy is just a ‘confession’ and heretical groups outside the Orthodox Church are also called ‘Churches’. It seems to prefer political correctness to the Truth that sets free. Thus, there is little about the Fall and its consequence of ancestral sin. A sign of Roman Catholicism comes in its attribution of papal-like powers to the Patriarch of the Russian Church and equally to its superficial description of the filioque heresy. A sign of Protestant-style Judaism comes in its over-emphasis on the Old Testament, as if the New Testament were just an extension of the Old.
Marked by the language of secularist rationalists from outside the Church, the document presents the Church of God as a religious institution, not the Risen Body of Christ, radiated and penetrated by the Holy Spirit.
The authors of this draft are clearly involved in the ecumenical heresy, which is conducted by intellectuals who have little or no contact with ordinary Orthodox and is conducted behind our backs, even behind the backs of bishops. There is here no dogmatic clarity at all, and yet that is the very thing we expect from a real Catechism. There is here no theology in the Orthodox ascetic sense. It would be better to throw away this draft of intellectuals and start again, this time employing Orthodox writers, who have ascetic, dogmatic and pastoral experience. They will know what is acceptable to us who strive to live an Orthodox way of life in our monasteries and parishes, where ordinary Orthodox strive to observe Russian Orthodox values and, for that matter, our dress code. Whoever the authors are, they need to realize that the 1960s are over and imitation Roman Catholic/Protestant Paris-Crestwood ‘theology’ with it. Get real! We live in 2017.