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The Orthodox Nationalist: Modern Day Sergianism (Vitaly Ustinov) – TON 090617


Dr Matthew Raphael Johnson explains what ‘Sergianism’ is and why it did not cease to exist once the Soviet State fell.

Metropolitan Vitaly (Ustinov, 1910-2006) was the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile from 1985 until his death. He lead this beleaguered body as the USSR fell to pieces. What was expected to be an ecstatic celebration turned into genocide as liberalism showed itself more powerful and violent than Stalinism.

He's best known for his opposition to the Russian exile church joining the Patriarch in Moscow. He was clearly a threat to this faction, since they broke into his monastery in Mansonville, Canada and forced him into a mental hospital. Given a clean bill of health, he returned to his duties.

The return to the MP was a brilliant political move that was a disastrous religious one. Yet, the church is not primarily political. The problem with the MP is that it was founded precisely and solely as a political organization. Those following this "church" were termed followers of Metropolitan Sergius (1867-1944) and thus "Sergianists." Patriarch Sergius became infamous for his 1927 profession of forced loyalty to the USSR and the connection of the "church" to the Soviet state. Sergianism became a canonical heresy in 1928 and again in 1937 and was constantly referenced by Russian Orthodox exiles to the present time.

"Sergianism" is the belief that being "accepted" by the powerful is a positive good in itself. That "recognition" by powerful people matter That being "mainstream" is a virtue and thus, being "extreme" is not

Today, churchmen cower in fear that they might one day be called a "racist" or "anti-Semite." This is a common example of Sergianism that bishops today would rather not discuss.

To him, this was the essence of Stalin's Patriarch. It wasn't even primarily that it served such perverse ends. It was more that it took the organization to be identical with the organism. Yet today, this is precisely how the overwhelming majority of Orthodox people in the west define themselves. Vitaly's stand against Stalin's purely political organization was only in part an attack on the USSR. It was only secondarily that. Rather, it was primarily about the fear of being branded and removed from polite society.

Like "usury" is defined as "excess interest on loans," Sergianism is defined as "serving the Soviet state." These deliberately narrow definitions exist to salve the conscience of the army of bishops and pseudo-intellectuals whose entire world is based on compromise with power and the eternal drive for respectability.

Presented by Matt Johnson

The Orthodox Nationalist: Modern Day Sergianism – TON 090617


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