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How Russian Émigré Introduced Fundamentalist Protestant Conspiracy Theory To Russian Orthodoxy

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Oh well! Do with this as you wish. It has some sound of truth to it, but not the full picture. I will not share: From the Eurasia Review: How Russian Émigré Introduced Fundamentalist Protestant Conspiracy Theory To Russian Orthodoxy – OpEd by Paul Goble


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Dan Everiss

Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 12:07 PM

From: info@saintedwardbrotherhood.org
Subject: From the Eurasia Review: How Russian Émigré Introduced Fundamentalist Protestant Conspiracy Theory To Russian Orthodoxy – OpEd by Paul Goble
Date: Fri, 17 Jun 2016 19:40:52 +0100

Begin forwarded message:

From: Bishop Chrysostomos 
Subject: Re: rom the Eurasia Review: How Russian Émigré Introduced Fundamentalist Protestant Conspiracy Theory To Russian Orthodoxy – OpEd by Paul Goble
Date: 17 June 2016 18:15:56 GMT+01:00

Dear A:

Evlogia Kyriou.

This is not entirely off the track, though I am not sure that Panchenko’s simplistic scenario regarding the actual source of contemporary eschatology in Russia is a compelling one. As on Mt. Athos and in Greece, much of the material that circulates about eschatology and apocalyptic issues is a product of the influence of Protestant fundamentalism and the literalistic, sensationalistic frenzy that its eschatology generates. I have seen books in Greek about such matters that are literally taken word-for-word from American publications, and often those of the most disreputably fanciful kind, examining this or that conspiracy with absolutely naive and silly conclusions.

Of course, in saying all of this, I would argue that in an increasingly agnostic and materialistic age, when Christian teachings and prophecies about the struggle with evil, as well as the care that we must take to be vigilant in not being misled by the world’s “wisdom," are dismissed outright or ridiculed, we should not exclude eschatology as an integral part of Christian revelation. It would be foolish to imagine that there is not  a spiritual content to human history and that prophecies and teachings about the ascendency of evil in the world are fantasy. Nor would anyone but a fool fail to see that a fundamental alignment of evil against good is at least coalescing in our times.

However, prophecy and an understanding of prophetic events belong to the realm of mystery. Even the frenzy that fundamentalists have created about 666 (which is actually, in the original Greek texts, presented with letters that can be transformed into a number) misses the mystical elements in the teaching about the “seal” ( or less accurately, the “mark”) of Antichrist or the Beast. Moreover, “end times” prophecies have abounded in Christianity from early times, and the Fathers of the Church (as well as Scripture) teach us to be cautious about interpreting them.*

In the end, Orthodoxy is about our transformation and deification by Grace in Jesus Christ, our conquest over evil, and an end to the world as we know it, in the final confrontation between good and evil. This leads to our restoration, if we develop and refine the good within us and turn from sin and evil, as “sons of God” and our inheritance of a New Earth. Much of this “end times” furor leads one away from concentrating on the practice of our Faith and the necessary inner preparation for the tribulations of “end times” and the renewal of life.

“Psychic" revelation passing as prophecy, unhealthy speculation about signs and wonders, and conspiratorial views of life should never be allowed to distract us from all of the salubrious, positive, joyful aspects of our Faith. They expose Orthodoxy to ridicule, are drawn from heterodox sources, and should be approached with immense caution. Just as the Fathers were wise not to incorporate the mystical book of Revelations into public worship, so they caution against a fruitless pursuit of conspiracies and plots. They aim us at Christ.

Least Among Monks, † Bp. Chrysostomos

* In Byzantine times, for example, it was predicted that the world would end in 1492, on the basis of certain calculations. Rather, the “New World” was discovered.

On Jun 17, 2016, at 5:56 AM, C K wrote:

How Russian Émigré Introduced Fundamentalist Protestant Conspiracy Theory To Russian Orthodoxy – OpEd

Orthodox Church
Conspiracy thinking has never been absent from the Russian Orthodox Church, but one of its current central themes – that the Anti-Christ will soon appear – has an interesting origin. According to a Russian scholar, this idea comes from Fundamentalist Protestantism in the US and was introduced into Orthodoxy by an émigré professor.
The idea that the formation of the EU, the IMF and humanitarian organizations are all signs of the Anti-Christ’s imminent arrival and that all of them are being directed by a super-secret computer in Brussels was developed by American Baptists in the late 1970s and then transmitted to the Moscow Patriarchate, according to Aleksandr Panchenko.
The researcher at the Moscow Institute of Russian Culture makes this argument in an article entitled “A Computer with the Name of the Beast,”(in Russian; Antropologichesky forum, 27 (2015): 122-141; on line at anthropologie.kunstkamera.ru/files/pdf/027/panchenko2.pdf and summarized atttolk.ru/?p=27036).
As the Tolkovatel portal notes, “belief in conspiracies has a first-order importance for millenarianism of the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries,” something that “isn’t surprising” given that “millenarian ideas always predispose their followers to a belief in conspiracies” that others can’t or won’t see.
In the 1970s, what is known as the New Christian Right in the US came up with a number of these based on its reading of the Bible and its conclusion that recent developments in the world point to the end times, with the arrival of the Anti-Christ and then his overthrow by God.
Russian Orthodox writers devote far less attention to the interpretation of the Bible than do these Protestant fundamentalists, Panchenko says; and consequently, the appearance of the conspiracy theories that have been widespread among the New Christian Right within Orthodoxy requires an explanation.
The story is complicated, and Panchenko traces each of its stages. But the basic outline is as follows: In 1981, a US Protestant fundamentalist named Mary Stewart Ralph published in Alabama a book entitled, “When Your Money Loses Value, the 666 System in Action” which linked signs of the approaching end times to a computer named “the Beast” in Brussels.
Ralph’s book attracted a great deal of attention in the US but it would not have affected Russian Orthodoxy had it not been for a Russian studies professor at the University of South Alabama named Paul Vaulin (1918-2007) who translated portions of it for broadcast to Russian audiences.
Paulin escaped the Soviet Union at the time of the Soviet-Finnish war and after many adventures landed in the US where he attached himself to the radical religious-nationalist wing of the Russian emigration and attracted some attention for books like “The Regiment of Kitezh” (1977) about a plot to overthrow the communist dictatorship.
He also gained a certain notoriety among leaders of the Russian emigration in the West for claiming he had written a Russian poem more important than anything Pushkin had produced and for building a bomb shelter in his summer place in Maine because of his expectation of an imminent nuclear war.
Vaulin’s translation of Ralph’s book fell into the hands of the Mount Athos religious figure Paisiy Eznepidis (1924-1994) who played up the idea of a super-secret computer and the ways in which price codes and the number 666 were a threat to all true Christians. He told visiting Russian Orthodox clergy about this and they took these ideas back to Russia.
“In this way,” the portal says, “American Baptist eschatology conquered the heart of Russian Orthodox.”


Paul Goble
Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at paul.goble@gmail.com .