In Bishop Artemije’s latest interview on Pentecost (June 3, 2012 NS), given to the Informational Service of the Rashka-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija Eparchy in Exile, he confesses his “Creed.” Here are some basic elements of his confession of faith:
Bishop Artemije decisively and unequivocally confesses, i.e., recognizes that the ecumenist SOC possesses the grace of the holy mysteries, despite the fact that, as he says,“Those individuals have turned from the correct Patristic path, the path of St. Sava.” His reasoning is that “individual sins do not prevent the operation of the grace of God.”
He calls heresy a “personal sin,”and says that “the personal sins of any clergyman, be it a priest or bishop, do not stop the operation of grace, so, despite how the clergyman is, the Mysteries which he performs are valid.” For Bishop Artemije, heresy is to be treated simply as one would any other breach of church discipline: “No matter the stances of individual (heretical) bishops, their Church remains grace-bearing until a conciliar condemnation of their canonical violations.”
Bishop Artemije allows his faithful to attend the liturgies in the eparchies of the ecumenist SOC, and because her holy mysteries are valid they can receive Communion at them. (“Of course, we haven’t stopped anyone from going, nor did we advise them not to go!”)
He says that the Serbian Patriarch and many SOC bishops are heretics (“There are individual Bishops who have tread deeply into heresy” – “the pan-heresy of ecumenism”; “The Patriarch publicly confessed that he is an ecumenist, and through his actions has shown that he is”; “He is a heretic”). But because Serbian Patriarch Irinej and the other bishops of the SOC have not been condemned yet, “Their mysteries are valid.” Bishop Artemije supports this assertion with the words that “a heretic is he who confesses heresy,” but only “condemned heretics’ Holy Mysteries cease to be valid.”
Of the New Calendar, Bishop Artemije says, “it is not a heresy, but it is an error… and the first step of turning from and abandoning the rules of the Holy Fathers, the Holy Canons… which indeed have led Orthodoxy to the pan-heresy of ecumenism and globalism.” He concludes from the above that neither those who follow the New Calendar nor the Old are heretics, “as there are ecumenists in both groups.” Furthermore, because he says neither the New Calendarists nor the Old Calendarists are heretics (rather, the former have only “erred”), in the end he still categorizes the Old Calendarists (or at least some of them) as heretics: “But making the question of the calendar into a dogmatic one, and placing it on the highest pedestal – that is a heresy.”
On the question of the eighth ecumenical council which has already been in preparation for a long time, Bishop Artemije says that the council is being prepared an unorthodox way, and that “the greatest contemporary ecumenists” are preparing it. The lawless decisions of that council do not interest him at all, and he says that those decisions will never be accepted by Christ’s Church, by the Orthodox Church. “If at that council they arrive at union with the Pope and create a new religion,” he continues, “we should remain with the Truth which has always been the same. And that is what the holy fathers passed down to us, and what we received from them, which we did not think up ourselves; that is what St Sava by his collection of the canons gave us, which we have kept to this day, which is the way of Bishop Nicholas (Velimirovich) and Fr. Justin (Popovich), and many, many of our holy and glorious ancestors. Let us remain on that way and with that truth. No matter the consequences – be they crucifixion or a crown.”
In other words, Bishop Artemije is against heresy but also against separating from heretics, and he calls this stance the royal middle way of which the holy fathers spoke, the virtue which is the balance between two extremes. He calls separating from heretics schism, with the claim that schism is as fatal for the Church as heresy. This middle, completely undefined and unclear way, i.e., the space between heresy and cessation of communion with heretics (which he calls straying to the left or right), he calls the Church, and he claims that this “middle church” remains Christ’s Church which the gates of hell will not prevail against.
Reading this interview, one comes to the conclusion that the teaching of Bishop Artemije is identical to that of the Synod in Resistance, the Cyprianites, which is based on the claim that the True Church consists of true believers and heretics, that it is composed of “healthy” and “ill” members; as the members of the Body can be sick, i.e., they can be in error concerning the Orthodox Faith, and therefore their spiritual union with the God-Man can be damaged; however, even if those members are sick, they are not dead; they are still part of the Body and belong to it; exactly how it happens with a healthy human body in which an unhealthy organ can exist, or on a tree which can also have unhealthy branches.
This kind of teaching can be acceptable only if we are talking about individual lay members of the Church, who do not represent the Local Church in the manner that a bishop represents his eparchy, or the Patriarch his Patriarchy. And in the interview with Bishop Artemije, the question is precisely about the Patriarch and bishops of the ecumenist SOC. If a patriarch or bishop preaches heresy “with head uncovered” from the amvon, then, according to the Fifteenth Canon of the First-Second Council of Constantinople, he is not just a sick member of the Church, but a “false bishop” and “spiritual wolf,” from whom the other members of the Church must flee if they wish to remain within the Church. Although he quotes that same Fifteenth Canon as one of the main justifications for his separation from the SOC, Bishop Artemije claims that those “false bishops” and “spiritual wolves” still remain grace-bearing members of the True Church, with all episcopal rights: governance of eparchies, performing the Eucharist, ordaining clergy, etc. These remain in the Church as “sick” members until they are condemned, as according to Bishop Artemije, “a heretic is he who confesses heresy,” but only “the mysteries of a condemned heretic cease to be valid.”
As a confirmation of their theory, identical to that of Bishop Artemije - that only after a conciliar condemnation do the mysteries of heretics cease to be valid- the Cyprianites bring forward cases of the Ecumenical Councils, such as when they summoned Nestorius of Constantinople three times (to the Third Council in Ephesus) or Dioscorus of Alexandria (to the Fourth Council in Chalcedon) to appear for trial, but until that moment, they considered that these heresiarchs still held their episcopal thrones, from which their words and deeds were the in name of the Orthodox Church, as Her representatives. We ask ourselves, is a conciliar judgment really necessary for the condemnation of a heretic, as the Cyprianites and Bishop Artemije claim? At first glance it seems that the response to this question is positive. Nonetheless, we recall the heretic Arius who in this visible world was invisibly cast out of the Church long before the First Ecumenical Council in 325 AD. For when Our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to the Holy Hieromartyr Archbishop Peter of Alexandria as a twelve-year-old child with torn garments, and when St. Peter asked him, “O Creator, who has torn asunder Thy raiment?” The Lord replied, “The mindless Arius has, for he separated from Me the people whom I bought with My blood.” This occurred before the martyrdom of St. Peter in 311 AD. Here we see an elucidation of the Lord’s words to Nicodemus: “He who does not believe has already been condemned” (Jn. 3:18), and the words of the Apostle Paul: “A heretic, after a first, then a second, admonition, reject… knowing that he has condemned himself” (Tit. 3:10-11). Here we must notice that there is an obvious difference between the mystical organism of the Church and Her visible, exterior organization. On this basis, we can say that Christ cut Arius off from the mystical organism of the Church, but in the exterior organization of the Church the Holy Fathers of the First Council condemned him. Keeping this mind, one must ask what use is it to someone to be a member of the exterior organization of the church if the very Head of the Church has cut him off from Her mystical body?
Besides this, what council of bishops, the local Council of the SOC or the great Ecumenical Council, according to Bishop Artemije, could condemn heretical ecumenists and declare them to be without grace? This question is not only ironic, but absurd, for it has long been clear, and this Bp. Artemije also confirms, when he mentions the matter of the Eighth Ecumenical Council, that ecumenists lead all the councils of all the contemporary Orthodox churches, not to mention the extremely ecumenist composition of the future Eighth Ecumenical Council. Aside from an ostrich with its head in the sand, could anyone ever hope that Ecumenists will condemn themselves?!? Let us return to the 15th Canon of the First-Second Council of Constantinople. Why would this important canon, on which Bp. Artemije himself bases his position, call an “uncondemned heretic” a “false bishop” if he is still a bishop, and why would it praise those who immediately cease communion with him, if he has not actually been condemned yet? It is impossible that a canon could encourage someone to abandon his canonical bishop without waiting for a competent tribunal - one which is made up of bishops in council. The underlying reality here, of course, is that heresy is such a grave thing that, according to the canons, everyone must have the right to retreat from it immediately, without waiting for confirmation from authority. If an “uncondemned heretic,” however, as Bp. Artemije claims, is still an Orthodox hierarch in the full sense of the words, which implies the alleged validity of his mysteries, then distancing from him before a conciliar decision represents a great danger – a danger to him who distances himself, in that, firstly, he deprives himself of the grace-filled holy mysteries which are received through the bishop, and secondly, that he will become a schismatic by separating from the grace-bearing Church.
St. Theophan the Recluse (+1894) said that there was no need for further conciliar anathemas of the heretics of his time, because they had already been condemned in earlier decisions. Commenting on the words of St. Paul, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, then let him be anathema” (Gal. 1:8), he writes: “The Apostle only began anathematizing. From that point on, the Church set about determining which errors deserve punishment. In these times, there is no point in waiting for a special church act for these evildoers to be subject to punishment. They have already bowed their heads beneath that sword when they accepted thinking opposed to the truth and began stubbornly to insist on it.”
It appears here that St. Theophan accepts a strict, “uncreative” interpretation of the canons. For the “new” heretics of his time, a conciliar judgment was not necessary, because their teachings in fact were not new, but rather long-known and condemned by the Church. Theoretically, for a new heresy, which has not already been condemned by a council or fathers, a conciliar condemnation is necessary. St. Theophan, however, doubted that a single heresy exists today that would be completely new.
The heresy of Ecumenism, the heresy of heresies – the pan-heresy - is impossible not to recognize as a conglomeration of all the old heresies, which ecumenists bring into union, against which every hierarch is obliged to defend Orthodoxy.
The most important thing, however, is this: there exists a Judgment of God and a judgment of man. The judgment of God precedes the judgment of man, which in reality consists of showing and publicizing that God has already condemned the heretics. So the authority of hierarchs of the Church to anathematize is not independent of the judgment of God, but rather represents its inexorable consequences and obedience to that judgment. Hence the reason that heretics are “false bishops” even before a council judges them – for God has judged them already.
Along with this, it should be stated that the Hierarchical Council of the Russian Church Abroad in 1983 anathematized the heresy of ecumenism. According to the teachings of the Holy Fathers, an anathema which is given by the Church visibly cuts heretics and schismatics off from the church at the same moment that it is said. From the very text of this anathema, it is clear that it condemns all the Local Churches which, though considering themselves Orthodox, directly or indirectly participate in the ecumenist movement, along with all those who are even in communion with these heretics:
“To those who attack the Church of Christ by teaching that Christ’s Church is divided into so-called ‘branches’ which differ in doctrine and way of life, or that the Church does not exist visibly, but will be formed in the future when all the ‘branches’ or sects or denominations, and even religions will be united in one body; and who do not distinguish the priesthood and mysteries of the Church from those of the heretics, but say that the baptism and Eucharist of heretics is effectual for salvation; therefore to those who knowingly have communion with these aforementioned heretics or advocate, disseminate, or defend their new heresy of Ecumenism under the pretext of brotherly love or the supposed unification of separated Christians, ANATHEMA!”
It is not the Church itself that cuts man or men off from taking part in the Body of Christ, the Church, and salvation, but the sin of heresy, because a heretic is outside the Church before judgment, having separated himself from Her by his faith. The Church judgment is not a guillotine, but a diagnosis of spiritual death. St. Nicholas of Japan wrote: “The Church demonstrates its love even to those who are going from Her into the outer darkness. She gives anathemas in the hope that they will repent from fear of condemnation, not from a human community, but from the Kingdom of Glory which is coming.” Whoever today does not agree with this historical anathema on ecumenism, “helping or defending their heresy,” automatically falls under this same anathema. The anathema on ecumenism cannot be of only local importance, as the Cyprianites and those like-minded with them claim, for it has a great meaning for the entire world, as the heresy of ecumenism is world-wide.
Such a Cyprianistic “Middle” or “Royal” way of avoiding extremes which Bp. Artemije preaches is, at least, an extremely dangerous misunderstanding, because he misplaces the patristic rule for avoiding extremes in asceticism into the context of the confession of faith. Like all the Holy Fathers, St. Maximus the Confessor praises sharpness and implacability: “I advise that heretics as heretics should not be helped for the support of their mindless beliefs, but rather one should be sharp and implacable. For I do not call that love, but rather misanthropy and apostasy from divine love when someone supports heretics in their delusion, to the greater destruction of those who hold to that error.”
Sharpness, implacability, tenacity and fearlessness are patristic attributes in fighting and being zealous for the faith: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness or peril, or sword?... neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus Our Lord.” (Rom. 8:35-39). Such were all the saints of Christ’s Church. Not one of them was not spiritually aflame, on the right, zealous; not one of them did not walk the narrow, confessional path which leads to eternal life. The New Testament calls and spurs us to zeal: “And when He had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple… and said, Make not My Father’s house a house of merchandise… And His disciples remembered that it was written, the zeal of Thine house hath eaten me up…” (Jn. 2:15-17);“Do not be slothful in zeal; be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord” (Rm. 12:11); “For I am zealous for you with Divine zeal…” (2 Cor. 11:12); “It is good always to be zealous in goodness” (Gal. 4:18); “And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?” (1 Peter 3:13); “It was needful for me to write to you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3); “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Rev. 3:19)
From this it is clear that in the matter of the defense of the faith, fiery zeal is within the ethos of the Orthodox Church, that is, the guiding principle for living according to the truths of the faith and the defense of true faith.
The Lord in Revelations criticizes the lukewarmness of the Laodicean church with the following words: “I know thy works, that thou art neither hot nor cold: I would thou wert cold or hot.” (Rev. 3:15). St. Gregory the Theologian interprets these words from Revelations thus: “Although the middle course of works cannot be rejected – this is why marriage is accepted as a kind of middle between virginity and fornication – in faith, however, the middle and lukewarm is worthless.” “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of My mouth.” The Laodicean, bland lukewarmness is needful only for ecumenists, the masons of a new church and religious order in the framework of a New World (democratic) Order. Is it accidental that the word “Laodicea” is composed of two words: “laos” which means “people” and “dikeo” which means “ruling,” – in other words, people’s rule, or democracy? Thus, the Laodicean lukewarm, middle way is exactly what is being determined today as having the greatest value in the heretical West, and now is violently being forced on us Orthodox Serbs.
Bishop Artemije, as we have already seen, holds the “Royal” or “Middle” way in the matters of the faith, keeping quiet about the fact that the patristic teaching of the Royal, Middle way is exclusively connected with spiritual life, in which the Fathers truly praise the middle as the golden mean blessed by God, for the sake of avoiding two extremes: turning to the left (spiritual weakening) or right (excessive asceticism). He calls separating from heretics schism, with the claim that schism is just as fatal to the Church as heresy. In the question of the faith, the “middle” or lukewarm way was always labeled by the Holy Fathers as the way of the Laodicean lukewarm and bland church which disgusted the Lord. This space between heresy and cessation of communion with heretics, Bishop Artemije calls the Church to which belonged the Holy Fathers, St. Sava, Bishop Nicholas (Velimorovich), Fr. Justin (Popovich) and many, many of our glorious and holy forefathers. Is this truly so? Did even one of the holy fathers belong to this middle Laodicean church? Absolutely not!
The Laodicean “Middle Church” serves for only earthly goals, that is, only for the deception of a naïve people’s conscience and leading them to the spiritual executioner, those who pander to the body and kill the soul (Mt. 10:28). It is interesting to notice all the absurdity of such a belief, as it is obvious that Bp. Artemije has torn away from his maternal, ecumenist SOC, because of the ecumenist heresy, but at the same time those who have done the same thing as well he calls the extreme right – schismatics who are the same as the ecumenist heretics on the extreme left. He separates himself from the extreme right by not considering his schism schismatic, as he considers the holy mysteries of those from whom he separated valid. What does this mean? If the Patriarch and bishops are ecumenist heretics, that is, the false bishops as they are defined by the 15th canon of the First-Second Council of Constantinople, then his separation from them is truly justified. On the contrary, Bishop Artemije recognizes as valid the holy mysteries of the heretical Patriarch and bishops because they are allegedly uncondemned, and in this way he falls into the sin of schism because he separated from valid, grace-bearing bishops and the valid, grace-bearing ecumenist SOC, on whose canonical territory he is making a parallel church structure by founding parishes and monasteries. Not only that, he separated from the entire family of Local Orthodox Churches, i.e., the Ecumenical Church.
In the end the question arises: to what church do Bp. Artemije and his followers belong, if they have created a schism from the official ecumenist Ecumenical church which has turned to the left, and consider the True Orthodox Church a schism which has veered to the right? Does some kind of buffer, middle church exist? The description of such a “middle church” fits only that of the Laodicean church from the Apocalypse which disgusts the Lord and which is called to ZEAL AND REPENTANCE (Rev. 3:19).
Hieromartyr Nicholas (Velimirovich) of Žiča describes Laodicean lukewarmness in one of his works:
“Fear and calculation make people neutral… In times like ours, when a huge world war is being waged between faith and faithlessness, when organized atheism rises with all of its strength against Christ, against God’s Ten Commandments, against families, souls and love of humanity, and that not only in Communist states, but more or less in all countries, neutrality is betrayal of Christ. For who can help the truth against lies, and does not, helps the lie. In the battle between truth and falsehood, justice and injustice, neutrality means aiding the evil. Like a sharp sword, Christ divided men into two groups: “Whoever is not with Me is against Me.” Those who are neither hot nor cold, but neutral, are disgusting to Him…”[citation?]
In any case, zeal (the spiritual right) can be “not according to knowledge,” and this has often been present through Church history to this very day. The abuse, however, of some things, ideas, or principles does not mean that those things, ideas or principles are bad in and of themselves. Such manipulation of terms is a most dangerous thing especially when this is meant to weaken the fight for the faith. In our unfortunate times all and everything are manipulated. Nationalism, patriotism, and traditionalism have been put in the pillory stocks before contemporary opinions with which the New World Order is trying to reeducate and change the mindsets of all people beneath the heavens. With every new compromise in questions of the faith, however– a tactic characteristic of this Laodicean version of the church militant - we draw ever closer to the last day [ just omit that we know -…too clumsy to fit anywhere] of earthly history about which Our Lord posed the question: “When the Son of man cometh, will He find faith on the earth?” (Lk. 18:8)
In sum:We True Orthodox consider that the ecumenist heretics are cut off from the mystical organism of the Church invisibly (because of their insistence on their heresy) as well as visibly, for we believe that the Anathema of the Russian Church Abroad of ecumenism is completely valid and binding for all. On this basis, we, who in this way and by the paradigm of the Holy Fathers confess the faith, believe that the True Orthodoxy of the Russian Catacombs and the Russian Church Abroad as well as the Greek and Romanian Old Calendarists’ holy fight are the only canonical option today, for it is they who constitute the Church which has preserved Orthodoxy and the patristic teachings in all things. As St. Nikiforos of Contantinople wrote, “You know, even if a few remain Orthodox and pious, then they are the Church, and the authority and governance of Church institutions remains with them.”
in the year of our salvation 2012