Staunton, November 17 – Many have been troubled by policies of the Moscow Patriarchate that are inconsistent with the Christian tradition, but now Alfred Kokh, a former Russian vice prime minister, says that the Russian Church has moved so far away from Christianity that it has transformed itself into an independent religion.
According to Kokh in a Facebook post, it suddenly became as clear as day to him that the religion the Moscow Patriarchate is promoting is not Christianity but something else entirely, “a nationalist cult of the Russian state” which justifies anything the Kremlin does (facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=881159558584437&id=100000712037223).
“In this cult,” he said, “human sacrifice again has returned as a means of supporting the divine state and an essentially pagan view of the supernatural qualities of the servants of the cult has arisen. In it, there is no place for Christian mercy and humility; instead, pitilessness to enemies and hypocrisy as the highest form of the human spirit are cultivated.”
The caesaro-papist understanding of Orthodoxy and its close links to the state have frequently opened Orthodoxy in general and the Moscow Patriarchate in particular to charges that it has sacrificed this or that provision of Christian teaching in order to serve the current powers that be.
But Kokh’s suggestion that what the Moscow Patriarchate is offering is not Christianity at all takes that argument a step further. It is certain to spark a new round of discussions about the Russian church and where Patriarch Kirill is taking it, with its defenders rejecting Kokh’s views out of hand but others raising more questions about the nature of that church today.