Disclaimer: In some of our articles, especially under the Modern Issues section, we present readers with challenging issues to examine, reflect upon and research. The material is neither supported nor rejected by us, and no one is responsible for its content, other than the original source. Therefore readers are requested not to make any complaints, but to take time to reflect on the material from an Orthodox perspective.

The Heresy of Arianism in Modern Day Russia

If you have been following us, by now you will probably have become accustomed with our view that the current Russian political and religious authorities are astute adherents of the heresy of Social Gospel, which are just the old communist ideals repackaged, despite claims that “communism fell in 1989”. We exposed much of how these chiliastic efforts are rooted in a distorted view of Christianity that traces back to Arianism. This chiliastic idea of the “Kingdom of heaven on Earth” resurfaced numerous times throughout history. According to the Arian heresy, the “Christian Roman Empire” is to be understood as the definitive Church earthly authority. Ever since, the idea that one earthly institution has authority over matters of faith has resurfaced numerous times. The whole institution of papacy is in fact the living example of this authority.

Specifically in Russia, this perversion reared its ugly head under Peter the Great who subdued the Church to a government committee named “Most Holy Governing Synod”. This really laid the foundations for the atheistic sergianist Soviet Church. But let us focus a little bit more on the current situation, and examine if indeed this situation is still the case in modern Russia. A relatively recent article revealed that Putin assigned the following three books to Russia’s regional governors as mandatory reading:

  • 1) The Philosophy of Inequality, by Nikolai Berdyaev
  • 2) The Justification of the Good, by Vladimir Solovyov
  • 3) Our Tasks, by Ivan Ilyin

One that has read the Orthodox Survival Course (available on our site at http://orthodoxaustralia.org/ennobling-literature/) can easily recognize the first two names: Nikolai Berdyaev and Vladimir Soloviev.

Berdyaev was fully refuted as a dangerous humanist philosopher by Fr Seraphim Rose, and the course covers this subject extensively. Here is one very relevant quote from Berdyaev:

““The world is moving towards a new spirituality and a new mysticism; in it there will be no more of the ascetic worldview. “The success of the movement towards Christian unity presupposes a new era in Christianity itself, a new and deep spirituality, which means a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit”.

With Solovyov the situation is a little bit different. He was an astute follower of the same philosophical ideology in Russia until the very last year of his life. Three years before his repose he wrote the essay mentioned above (The Justification of the Good ), in which he made a strong argument for the need for the same kind of “authority” (Dostoyevsky called it “The Grand Inquisitor”) in charge of enforcing the “moral values” in society (there are other philosophical authors who wrote much along the same lines, one such being Sergii Bulgakov and his “On The Divine Humanity”. We won’t go into these other philosophers here).

Solovyov, as opposed to Berdyaev, did seem to get it in the end, because in the final year of his life, two years after writing his previously mentioned essay, he received a revelation from God which resulted in his final work: “A Short Tale of Antichrist”. In this last piece he admits that all these humanist philosophical currents (he had embraced before) basically lead in fact to the coming of the Antichrist at the helm of this “Revived Roman Empire”. And even as Catholic cardinals themselves admitted in the past, the Antichrist will come as a “pacifist, ecumenist and ecologist”.

Just don’t ask if Mr Putin has made Solovyov’s last essay “mandatory reading” as well.


But what about the third author … Ivan Ilyin?

“Ivan Ilyin … A strong anti-Communist, but definitely not a democrat, insofar as in his books he wrote that the only viable option for Russia were an iron hand and a implacable authoritarian system, and was even “soft on Hitler” to the point that in his 1933 book National Socialism: the New Spirit he stressed that one had to understand and support his function as a bulwark against Communism”. He was also an admirer of Mussolini.


The book quoted in the list “Our Task” is better translated as “Our Mission” and makes the case for an authoritarian regime in Russia that has close resemblance to a fascist dictatorship, but with a spiritual mission … the same messianic (chiliastic) role of Russia as “the moral and spiritual leader of the world”.

“In contrast, Russian Orthodox thinkers have often offered a theological cover to Moscow’s imperial ambitions. In recent years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has embraced aspects of this Christian imperial ideology, demanding that state officials read some of the religious philosophers who came into their own in the twilight days of the Russian Empire. These include Nikolai Berdyaev, a self-described Christian socialist whose ideas tended toward a kind of religious anarchism but who envisaged a messianic role for Russia in the world, and the fascist Ivan Ilyin, two prominent intellectual figures in the first-wave Russian diaspora. Berdyaev and Ilyin despised one another but held a certain common ground on Russian exceptionalism and Christian empire”


Boy, what a combination. But leaving joke aside, it is crystal clear Mr Putin dreams to revive a Roman Empire that is an authoritarian dictatorship, a combination of communism and fascism, with spiritual (orthodox) connotations – sort of some kind of “kingdom of heaven on Earth”
Here is the title of another one of Ivan Ilyin’s books: “Resistance to evil by force”? That is anti-christianity … The very idea of the “Grand Inquisitor” is right in that title. Nothing in Orthodoxy is done by force – that is what both communists and fascists tried. Just throwing some “higher ideals” in the mix does not change its nature. Orthodoxy is all about free will … not coercion …

But just on a related note, it is important to make the clear distinction here between the Byzantine Empire and Roman Empire. Constantine the Great was a saint not because he created an “Orthodox Empire”. Far from it. What he did was to create a political context where the Church could flourish without political interference. He just allowed the Church to do her job (mission) and protected it from attacks. In contrast, Roman Empire is one of unconditional authority and submission … and this is where the distinction lies … very important distinction.

Download PDF