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What is the ideal state?

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Conversation with the  martyred priest father Daniel Sysoev.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hm8DXBDPHf8&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PL8CEAB7C753818017

Question 1

Presenter: Good day, best ladies and gentlemen. We continue are conversations with father Daniel Sysoev, the rector of the parish of the holy apostle Thomas. Today our topic will be a ‘Christian kingdom’ or speaking more broadly, in modern terms (the topic is) the state construction in general. So, the first question:
Father Daniel tell please, what is a Christian state? Or generally speaking, why God made the (institution of) state?

Father Daniel: Good day, best viewers. When we talk about the state, about the state authority, as such, we need to realize that the source of governorship, the upper ruler of the Universe is the Lord, by right of creation. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. It had been willing to Him to make a certain instrument on earth after the Worldwide Flood, in order that people wouldn’t eat each other up like the fishes, as St Basil the Great says. I.e. the purpose of a state is not to build a paradise on earth, but, as Vladimir Solovyov commented it well: not to let people go into the hell (i.e. on earth). Herein is a pure technical purpose of a state. In this respect a state, which maintains the security and justice, is an instrument of God who maintains the order in the Universe. That’s why the enemy of the statehood, the enemy of the order is the satan, who dreams to bring everything to destruction, to revolution, to chaos and to destruction of the global order. Due to the fact that the governorship descends from God, the authority is set up by God, i.e. the instrument of / instinct for the governance itself is set up by God, therefore it is natural for the Church to support the authority (i.e. the government institution). It has been always so in the history of the Church; always the Heavenly citizens, while wandering on earth…  i.e. this great, militant Church, has been trying to support every authority which maintains security and justice.

Presenter: In other words: every authority has two aims: the security, external as well as internal, and justice, i.e. existence of the right laws and a certain court system…

Father Daniel: Yes, off course; the protection of the security of its citizens; including military protection of security and policial.
 

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Conversation with the  martyred priest father Daniel Sysoev. Question 2

Presenter: Is the state considered to be an institution made by God? This is very important because certain people think somehow that the state is the creation of the people, or nation, or society itself.

Father Daniel: All these are an expression of the theory of a social contract which Rousseau introduced. Actually, like the Holy Hierarch Metropolitan Filaret of Moscow rightly said on this topic: we don’t have any evidence in the history that people once had gathered together and made an agreement to give someone something in delegation, etc. When we look on the history of mankind we see that the more ancient the nations are, the more bright expresses itself the idea that the statehood, as such, is related to a certain spiritual dimension of a man; it used to result in a complete deformity, with which Christianity struggled; (for example) deification of the ruler, the emperor; the last, funny, if not to say sad, example is the ‘deification’ of Dmitry Antonovich Medvedev made by the Buddhists; this is the example of an archaic, pagan reflection, when a man, realizing a certain unearthly reality of the state, tries to attribute it to his gods, i.e. demons. As for the statehood, the Bible speaks straight out: ‘Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that are be are ordained of God’ (Romans 13: 1), or literally ranked by God, i.e. their rank is set up by God.
John Chrysostom had rightly remarked: ‘Let nobody think that every ruler himself always is put immediately in office by God, for there can be the rulers who are allowed by God (to come to power)’; i.e. who came to power through God’s allowance; but (nevertheless) the institution of governance itself, - i.e. that there are superiors and inferiors, that there are kings and subjects, that there are masters, lords and those who pay taxes to the them, - this establishment itself originates from the Lord God; without it a complete chaos would have taken place. The statehood is always from God, even if it does not acknowledge it, because that which restrains the chaos is a great good; but herewith you should understand that for the Church all kinds of a state are not equivalent. How so? It’s because there are different forms of the statehood which better or worse copes with that duty for the sake of which they are established. We have said already that the main purpose of the state is security and justice. Concerning security it is more or less clear…

Presenter: Yes, the outward and the inward. The police and the army, to speak figuratively…

Father Daniel: Yes, to speak figuratively… But here arises a problem: What is a danger? For example: Is homosexuality a social danger? More often than not it is not seen as such, if they no body enthral in it violently. From the point of view of the Holy Scripture it is a  socially dangerous act. Why? Because God’s anger falls upon those countries where the homosexuality is legitimized, where it is seen as a norm of life; not there where it is just present, otherwise God would have had to destroy everything, but only there where it is a norm, a norm of life. Those countries which legitimize homosexuality as a norm of life are in risk to draw down upon themselves the wrath of God. In this respect Ukraine and Russia are safe for the time present. Although homosexuality is not prosecuted here, but yet it is not seen as a norm, neither by the society, nor by the state authorities which refuse, for example, to recognize homosexual marriages.

Presenter: …In fact it is not a marriage at all, is it?!

Father Daniel: Yes, it is a debauchery, a legalisation of the lawlessness. But this is said relatively to the theme of security. On the other side the measure of danger of the (criminal) act can be different. If previously the counterfeiters were executed, now they are not executed; i.e. the measure of a social danger can also change; i.e. the estimation of a social danger of the (criminal) act (changes). The other thing is the justice. It is somehow clear what justice is: the judge must be impartial, he must judge not regarding the person of men (impartially), he must seek the truth; but where actually the truth is? Where is the criterion of the truth? In this case a state gets some inner problems. A state needs the outward to itself criteria of good and evil. A state of itself is not able to work out these criteria. From where? How can it get them? Form what? So herein, in this sphere take place the cooperation of the Church and the state. From the very beginning the Church and the state have been interrelated. It is not because the Church was state-owned and not because the Church has had a great need in the state, although it is needed and indispensable for the earth. We pray for the state, we pray for the our God-protected land, we pray for the lords, for the rulers, for the emperors, etc.

Presenter: Even for the army.

Father Daniel: Right, even for the army. We ask God’s support for instruments which maintain the order on our Earth. It is necessary and good because this prayers are pleasing to God, and by Him are they ascertained. But the Church considers that for the well-being of the state it is necessary for the state to adopt the criterion of good and evil from the Church; because God, who had made the state for the security and justice, had also created the Church in order to teach the Revelation of God, in order to reveal the mysteries of His will in this human world. That’s exactly why it is natural for the Church to exist in symphony with the state authority.
 

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Conversation with the  martyred priest father Daniel Sysoev. Question 3

Presenter: The Christian states appear in the human’s history relatively later. I.e. do we face a new phenomenon?

Father Daniel: Yes.

Presenter: What is the difference from the other types of the state, let’s say (what’s the difference) from the Old Testamental Israel?

Father Daniel: The Old Testamental Israel had been a religious community where the state and the Church were in no way separated at all. The ruler, the priest belonged to the universal, Old Testamental Church, and their duties were inner-ecclesiastical. The Saviour, - with his words: ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s’(Matthew 22: 21), - drew a great line; He separated the sphere of Caesar from the sphere of God. If previously the king, in a certain sense, was considered to be the mediator between a man and God (something like that was even in the Old Testament, when the kings were prophets, like David and Solomon; when the kings, - although they hadn’t had the right for the legislation policy, as the rulers have got it now, because there was one Law given by the Lord, - could replace high priests, etc.), now in the New Testament some other situation has taken place: the state continues to keep its old obligations (which were given immediately after the Worldwide Flood), but the Church passes on to a more higher level; it unites now the whole mankind in order to prepare the people for the City of Heaven, in order to make the humans the citizens of the Heaven; the mission of the Church gets bigger, but the state remains the same. That’s why the Lord separates (them), saying ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s’. The Lord says that on one hand it is not allowed to ignore the Caesar (the apostles forbade, for example, the evasion of taxes, not to pay honour to the state authority, etc. It was forbidden by the Apostolic Church and apostle Peter and Paul speak about it (likewise)), and on the other hand the state had lost its right to rule over the souls of men. Every attempt now to intrude into the souls of men, to impose on him (man) a certain ideology is the recidivism of the ancientry; every attempt of the state to intrude into the sphere of the ideology, - i.e. to create by itself a certain ideology, to work out by itself a certain, as they say now, ‘national idea’, - is, firstly, doomed to failure (we see it with our own eyes: just think how many ‘national ideas’ there had been here in the past twenty years, they were countless, all of them were spilled) because the state doesn’t have this ability, it can adopt it (ideology), but it cannot work it out; and secondly, the state, in principle, should not rule over the state of a man’s soul. It (the state) should maintain security, it should support the Church in this regard, but it should not instead of the Church be occupied with it, i.e. with the spiritual formation of a man.
 

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Question 4

  - Father Daniel, there are states which officially are considered to be Christian, where the majority of the people belong to a Christian confession, - not necessarily Orthodox, - we see there quite another pictures; in particular when the king, for some reason, is the head of the Church; this is characteristic for the Lutherans, or even for the Anglicans. Can we call this a Christian type of the statehood or is it something heretical?

    -  It is a pure heretical attempt to mix the Caesar’s things with the things of God; quite direct! Not without reason this phenomenon appears precisely during the Reformation, precisely when a sovereign ruler attempted to take in the place of the overthrown (Roman-Catholic) hierarchy. When the hierarchy is overthrown, it is necessary for Christians to organize somehow the Church; that’s why instead of the Church (a separate Kingdom of God on earth) appears some organization of the Church, with superintendents like in the Lutheranism, or the kings or the queens like in the Anglicanism, which (i.e. the monarch being the head of the Church) is off course simply a sacrilege. In the true, undamaged (undefiled) Orthodox Church there had been this kind of temptation, but it was condemned by the VII Ecumenical Council; the emperors-iconoclasts had made an attempt to take in and enslave for themselves the Church; like the emperor Leo used to say: ‘I am the emperor and I am the priest’.

  - Then a one interesting nuance comes out: It comes about that the Russian Empire fell into this heresy to some extend likewise, because in the basic law was stated that the Sovereign Emperor of all Russia functions as the head of the ‘Greek Catholic Apostolic Church’.

  - Yes, off course this teaching has been anti-canonical; we can even clearly say heretical as long as we give this phrase a certain religious meaning. If we talk about some administrative wardship, then this is off course the exceeding of authority, absolutely; the criminal abuse of power. If we are talking about the doctrinal meaning, - i.e. that the head of the Church is the Tsar, - then this is simply a true heresy. The head of the Church is Christ, the King of the kings and the great High-Priest. Except Him there are no other heads of the Church. And if we talk about Church as the Body of Christ, then we should say that it is ruled by the successors of the apostles, but in no way by the kings and the state rulers. The power of the kings and the rulers descends form the pre-Christian times; for example, what is the difference between the power of an emperor now and the power of the Emperor Nicolay II, for example, or the power of the Emperor Augustus? Principally there is no difference. In both cases it is about the ruler who functions over the society, who is some kind of a guarantor of security and justice who leads the society to certain goals; but in fact it is present in the paganism too. If a head of the state pretends to have a control over the souls of men, then this is, off course, in contradiction with the Lord’s purpose. That’s why the idea of symphony, - i.e. the assonance, ‘synchronous sounding of the state and the Church’- is imbedded in the nature both of the Church and the state; it’s clear that two works of God must not be in conflict with each other; it’s natural. On the other hand a symphony means that each has its own place; if a priest would start to wheedle out the taxes (as they want to do it now in Trans-Baikal region, in so far as I have heard; where they want to make use of a priest in order to cope with the tax liability), it would be a complete disgrace, an absolute disgrace; on the other hand if a priest would thrust his nose into the Tax Code or something like that, for example, it would be an absolutely unjustified action. The same would happen if the state would thrust itself into the sphere of the religion, or if it would create its own, ‘civil religion’(this phenomenon is well described by Legoyda in the USA, but the same problem exists in Russia likewise); this is the problem (i.e. crime) of organizing a religion, attempted by the state; it is an abuse of authority alike, in both cases it transgresses the Saviour’s commandments; as you know ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s’. We must understand what are the things that are God’s, and what are the things that are Caesar’s in the society. It’s interesting that the phrase ‘union of the Church and the state’ is somehow a new one; in the classical tradition of Justinian is said not about the union of the Church and the state, but about the union of the priesthood and the kingdom; i.e. this is some unity, some kind of a one Christian organism where two different branches of power exist: the spiritual branch of power  – the priesthood, and the worldly branch of power – the state authority. The majority of the Church Fathers acknowledged that the spiritual authority is higher; like John Chrysostom used to say: ‘the priesthood is higher than the kingdom’.
 

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAWU-H9SRzs&feature=related
Question 5

How far uncanonical  was the abolition of the institution of the  patriarchate by Peter the Great and the subjection of the Church to the Chief Procurator of the Synod?

• It was certainly uncanonical. It was indeed a revolt of the governing authority against the Church. It was indeed a usurpation form the governing authority. It was an absolutely uncanonical deed, all the more so (if we are talking about the Synodic decision), as the declaration of the recognition of the Synod, - i.e. its ecclesiastical protocol which was sent to the Patriarch of Constantinople for the affirmation, - was sent him in predeterminedly perverted form. That’s why we cannot in all conscience say that Constantinople’s Patriarch and other Patriarchs supported the Synod, i.e. the establishing of (a new) Synod, because it (this affair) had been linked with a lie. It had been an absolutely uncanonical situation which led to the actual collapse of the Empire. According to the regulation of the VII Ecumenical Council every governing person who hinders the annual convocation of the Episcopal Councils is subjected to the excommunication from the Church.

Had this phenomenon been somewhere else, where the Patriarch could be abolished and a certain Synod could be appointed instead of him?

• Yes, in the Hellenic Church had been this thing. In the Hellenic Church by the example of Russia this thing was made. After that Russia achieved the overthrow of the legitimate Orthodox governor, when Russia put over Greece a Lutheran queen, this situation had taken place there. In this case Russia was a source of this disgrace. Another example that we can mention is an instance of Georgia; the establishing of the Georgian Exarchate  - an absolutely lawless action of Alexander I. It doesn’t have any shade of legitimacy.

That is to say the intervention of the Tsar in the established canonical territories?

• Yes. It is one thing if a Tsar enhances or downgrades a city or changes the borders of a Metropolis, it is allowed off course; by the way – the borders of the archdioceses  are directly dependent from the borders of the regions; so principally it is possible. But to abolish or to establish a Local Church is not in the power of the Tsar. Again, such an intervention is off course unlawful.
But relatively speaking these are small things, because in case of the ecclesiastical administration the original structure of the Church is the Episcopal (structure), - i.e. the bishops, whom the presbyters and deacons assist, - that has been preserved everywhere. The other thing is how the administration of the episcopate has been carried out; (in this case it had been) more uncanonical than normal. But if we’re talking about the most frightful thing that a state can make, then it would be an attempt to create its own ideology, forcing the Church to follow it. As an horrific example I can mention the national-socialistic Germany with its attempt to create the German Patriotic Church. It is an attempt to bring a foreign to Christianity ideology into the Christianity, and in this way to create a new ‘christianity’, - as they said, - ‘purified from the heresies of predudice’s’. It is simply a governmental attempt to bring the heresy into the Church. This is a classic example of what absolutely is not allowed to do. We can give one more example, off course, – it was an ideology of ‘liberation’; it was an attempt to hybridize Christianity not with nazism now, but with the communism. Fortunately, in Russia (or in former Russia; USSR then) this attempt quickly failed (I mean the Renovationist schism); and afterwards the minor attempts of renewal hadn’t had some particular success. It’s God’s mercy that the state set a goal on destroying the Church; i.e. it decided not to act pretendedly, but to destroy her physically. Due to this it actually neutralized her.
 

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Question 6

Father Daniel, it turns out that in relation to the Orthodox Church there are gentile and heterodox states in the modern world. But is there any Orthodox statehood?

• Officially the Orthodox states are Greece and Cyprus; the Orthodoxy is formally the official religion of Finland. Together with Lutheranism they are two national (or state’s) religions.

But in Finland there are nevertheless more Lutherans.

• There are two official religions - Orthodox and Lutheran. I don’t say that it (Orthodoxy) is the only one religion there.

But in Greece there are Mohammedans, Jews, Buddhists too.

• Yes, but they don’t have the status of the national (or state’s) religion. The status of national religion has only the Orthodox Church there. Furthermore there are places where the schimatics has the status of the national Church, this is for instance in Macedonia the case; i.e. the republic of Macedonia, where the schismatic Church is the national Church; but the legitimate Church is being oppressed and prosecuted by the state of Macedonia. As concerns the national religion as such, many say: ‘Why Orthodoxy doesn’t seek for the possibility to become a national religion?’. As we know our patriarch Alexey II rejected the proposal, - which was offered him both by Yeltsin and Putin, - to make Orthodoxy the national religion; it has to do with the fact that the Church wants to act free, she wants that her voice could be independent from the state. The work of the Church is to teach people, by right of being an institution of the Word of God; the dependence from the state would rather bring harm in this case, because the state would say: ‘This you have to learn, because I need it; but don’t learn that’ (as if a father or schoolmaster treats his pupil). The Church is subjected only to Christ and in this respect she is obliged to be free. The wise governors always knew what is the place of the Church and what is the place of the governor. Tomorrow is the celebration of the Elevation of the Precious Cross of the Lord; we commemorate the Elevation of the Cross, but we commemorate also the establishing of the Christian Empire in times of the holy Constantine and the Emperor Heraclius (in relation to the reappearing of the Cross of the Lord). But what do we perceive  in all these things? Yes, the Lord chooses the governor, - St Constantine, for example, - for the fulfilling of His plans, for the victory of Christianity over the pagan Rome, for the victory of Christianity over the worship of demons; but the Emperor Constantine knew very well that he was a ruler, (but that) the Church - is another thing. There was one episode in the Church’s history, during the Nicaean Council, i.e. the I Ecumenical Council. They  brought before the Emperor a huge package with complains of the bishops against each other. The Emperor preliminary ordered to tie it with a string, sealed it with an imperial seal. When all the bishops gathered together, after all decisions were made, he said: ‘Bring me please a roaster’. When the roaster was brought, he threw that whole package therein, saying: ‘It is not the business of the Emperor, - who is a bishop of all the external affairs of the Church, - to be occupied with the trial over the bishops. It is not befitting for a layman to judge the bishops’. This is an example of the true governmental mentality, when a man, being a subject of Christ, understands what his place is (for example to defend, to help, to support the Church, to be able to unite the Church, to be able to terminate the spread of that teaching which the Church recognized as a heresy, i.e. it is about the Arianism). But what is the limit (of the governor’s position inside the Church), where does it end? (The answer is:) It is not up to the governor to get in the internal ecclesiastical matters. Despite the fact that there had been famous theologian-emperors, - like the holy Justinian, for example, or the Emperor Manuel, - the Church  has never regarded the decisions of the Emperors as something essential. Every determination of the Emperor, or edict, which relates to the doctrine, she (the Church) observed as an opinion (and besides less authoritative than the bishop’s) , not more than that.
 

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Question 7

In the history of the Ottoman Empire and Russian state there were instances when the Patriarchs were appointed by willful decision of some ruler. How far canonical is it?

• The 30th regulation of the holy Apostles and the resolution of the VII Ecumenical Council forbid the participation (that is when only by the willful decision of the ruler some bishop or other would be appointed) of the state authorities in the election of the bishop. For example the iconoclastic Council in Illyricum in AD 754, - where the Emperor personally elected the new Patriarch of Constantinople, - was recognized as illegitimate. Moreover, the Patriarch himself acknowledged that by reason of his election by the Emperor he has never been a Patriarch. So, this kind of intervention is not acceptable. Another thing is that the Emperor always had the right to nominate the candidate. By the way, it used to be the right of the laymen; originally the bishops were elected with the knowledge of the laymen and on the recommendation of the laymen; the opinion of the laymen had always been taken into account (it’s about the Byzantium). So, the Emperor, - being the first layman in the Church, - had the privileged right to express his desire of a candidate that he wanted to see as a bishop. But again, the Church was absolutely not obliged to follow it (i.e. the wish of the Emperor). In the Russian Church this connection has been lost, starting from Ivan III. It had been most pronounced in the rein of Ivan the Terrible, when the Tsar in fact dictated the role…

But generally in the time of Troubles there had been a situation when four Patriarchs appeared.

• Where?

In Russia.

• In Russia had never been four Patriarchs at the same time, there had been three Patriarchs at the same time. There were Patriarch Job, Patriarch Germogen and Patriarch Ignatius.

Still the situation is unusual.

• Yes, this was a chaos. In fact such incidence’s did often happen in the history of the Church. The chaos of the state affects the Church alike, because all the passions, - that are usually hidden inside the people, - crawl out on the surface. That’s why the state which restrains the onslaught of evil is a good thing. But again, if we are talking about the future as it is… hm... I don’t know. The Patriarch Sergy thought that the Constantine’s epoch is ended. He thought that a new time has begun - the time of the Church in persecution. How long will this present peace (i.e. the peace that has the Church now) will last, we don’t know. Anyhow, with all the drawbacks of the present government, of the present regime, the Church is flourishing now, and has got the freedom which she never had, since the time of Constantine. Another thing is how she uses this freedom. Whether she uses it for the benefit of the nation of God or for the benefit of something else, it is by now a second theme; the Christians, the presbyters, the bishops will give their own account for themselves to God.

How does the Church, - in relation to the whole period of her existence, - relates to the death penalty? I know this question is a political one, it is up to the king to behead someone, but…

• The Church has never condemned the death penalty.

Even if the Emperor is a pagan?

• Yes, off course. The Holy Scripture speaks straight out: ‘For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil' (Romans 13: 4). As you know the sword is for no other purpose than cutting the head with it. So that’s why the Church has always recognized the right of the death penalty, which proceeds from the Divine right, out of which originates the institution of state itself, as we talked about it already. But again, the Church has got the Divine right to request for the pardon; it can make intersessions, the right of intersession, - as it used to be here, in Rus, - is the integral right of the Church. The right of the Church is to request the mitigation of punishment for those who may (who are willing, intend to) mend, not for all and sundry, but for those only who may (are willing to) mend. It is impossible to take away this right from the Church; the Church should make use of it at every opportunity.

Okay, thank you very much, father Daniel.

• May God save and I wish you blessed feastday of the Elevation of the Precious Cross.

Thank you very much and all the best.
 
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