Comparing “Russian World” Teaching to Mystery Babylon: Part One of Two

Comparing “Russian World” Teaching to Mystery Babylon: Part One of Two March 16, 2022

After Russia’s President Vladimir Putin had his military invade Ukraine, on February 24th, the Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University in the USA issued a statement in various languages which has so far been signed by over 500 church leaders, many of them in various Orthodox Church denominations around the world, which condemns Russia’s current and unprovoked assault on Ukraine. This statement is entitled “A Declaration on the ‘Russian World’ (Ruskii Mir) Teaching.” It is a condemnation of an ultra-Russian nationalism as a religious concept, an idea that has become pervasive in Russia in this century and is adopted by both Mr. Putin and Moscow’s Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Bible relates that God instituted nations. My book, Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Philistia (1990), begins, “Every nation is entitled to a land of its own. . . . Nations have always been God’s plan for man. In the beginning God told man to ‘fill [populate] the earth, and subdue it’ (Gen 1.28; 91). To accomplish this, God ‘made’ the nations (Deut 26.19; Ps 86.9). Even in the Messianic kingdom, ‘nations’ will come to Jerusalem to worship God (e.g., Isa 2.2; Zech 14.16). The concept of nations, however, does not justify the belligerent nationalism which sparks wars of conquest.”

In this present post, I quote just over half of this Declaration. In a followup post, I will compare this teaching of Russian nationalism with a prophecy in the Bible’s last book, the book of Revelation, about “mystery Babylon the great, mother of whores and of earth’s abominations” (Rev 18.5). The following excerpts appear in this Declaration:

The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, is a historic threat to a people of Orthodox Christian tradition. More troubling still for Orthodox believers, the senior hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church has refused to acknowledge this invasion, issuing instead vague statements about the necessity for peace in light of “events” and “hostilities” in Ukraine, while emphasizing the fraternal nature of the Ukrainian and Russian peoples as part of “Holy Rus’,” blaming the hostilities on the evil “West”, and even directing their communities to pray in ways that actively encourage hostility.

The support of many of the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate for President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine is rooted in a form of Orthodox ethno-phyletist religious fundamentalism, totalitarian in character, called Russkii mir orthe Russian world, a false teaching which is attracting many in the Orthodox Church and has even been taken up by the Far Right and Catholic and Protestant fundamentalists.

The speeches of President Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill (Gundiaev) of Moscow (Moscow Patriarchate) have repeatedly invoked and developed Russian world ideology over the last 20 years. In 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimea and initiated a proxy war in the Donbas area of Ukraine, right up until the beginning of the full-fledged war against Ukraine and afterwards, Putin and Patriarch Kirill have used Russian world ideology as a principal justification for the invasion. The teaching states that there is a transnational Russian sphere or civilization, called Holy Russia or Holy Rus’, which includes Russia, Ukraine and Belarus (and sometimes Moldova and Kazakhstan), as well as ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking people throughout the world. It holds that this “Russian world” has a common political centre (Moscow), a common spiritual centre (Kyiv as the “mother of all Rus’’), a common language (Russian), a common church (the Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate), and a common patriarch (the Patriarch of Moscow), who works in “symphony” with a common president/national leader (Putin) to govern this Russian world, as well as upholding a common distinctive spirituality, morality, and culture.

Against this “Russian world” (so the teaching goes) stands the corrupt West, led by the United States and Western European nations, which has capitulated to “liberalism”, “globalization”, “Christianophobia”, “homosexual rights” promoted in gay parades, and “militant secularism”. Over and against the West and those Orthodox who have fallen into schism and error (such as Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and other local Orthodox churches that support him) stands the Moscow Patriarchate, along with Vladimir Putin, as the true defenders of Orthodox teaching, which they view in terms of traditional morality, a rigorist and inflexible understanding of tradition, and veneration of Holy Russia.

. . . . . . . .

Therefore, we reject the “Russian world” heresy and the shameful actions of the Government of Russia in unleashing war against Ukraine which flows from this vile and indefensible teaching with the connivance of the Russian Orthodox Church, as profoundly un-Orthodox, un-Christian and against humanity, which is called to be “justified… illumined… and washed in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God” (Baptismal Rite). Just as Russia has invaded Ukraine, so too the Moscow Patriarchate of Patriarch Kirill has invaded the Orthodox Church, . . .

In view of the “Russian world” teaching that is devastating and dividing the Church, we are inspired by the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Tradition of His Living Body, the Orthodox Church, to proclaim and confess the following truths:

[I will now quote the Declaration’s six New Testament texts (five sayings of Jesus and #3 is from the apostle Paul) and omit commentary contained in it. To read this entire Declaration, go to the following URL: https://publicorthodoxy.org/2022/03/13/a-declaration-on-the-russian-world-russkii-mir-teaching/]

  1. “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not from here.” (John 18:36)
  2. “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21)
  3. “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
  4. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
  5. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”” (Matthew 9:13)
  6. “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
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