21 март 2013

Agony of Church - st. Bishop Nikolai of Serbia (4)...


Judaism was destined for the people of Israel only. The Christian Church was destined for the people of Israel too, but not for them only. She included Greeks as well.

The Greek polytheism of Olympus was destined for the Hellenic race only. The Christian Church was destined for the Hellenic race too, but not for it only. She included Indians as well.

Buddha's wisdom was offered to the monks and vegetarians. Monks and vegetarians the Christian Church included in her lap, but also married and social people too.

Pythagoras founded a religious society of intellectual aristocrats. The Christian Church from the beginning included intellectual aristocrats side by side with the ignorant and unlettered.

The Persian prophet, Zoroaster, recruited soldiers of the god of light among the best men to fight against the god of darkness. His religious institution was like a military barracks. The Christian Church included both the best and the worst, the righteous and the sinners, the healthy and the sick. It was a barracks and a hospital at the same time. It was an institution both for spiritual fighting and spiritual healing.

The Chinese sage, Confucius, preached a wonderful ethical pragmatism, and the profound thinker, Lao-Tse, preached an all-embracing spiritualism. Christian wisdom included both of them, opening Heaven for the first and showing the dramatic importance of the physical world for the second. Islam--yes, Islam had in some sense a Christian ambition: to win the whole world. The difference was: Islam wished world-conquest; the Church, the world's salvation. 

Islam intended to subdue all men and bring them before God as His servants: The Church intended to educate all men, to purify and elevate them, and to bring them before God as His children.

And all others: star-worshippers, and fire, and wood, and water, and stone, and animal-worshippers had a touching sense of the immediate divine presence in nature. The Church came not to extinguish this sense but to explain and to subordinate it; to put God in the place of demons and hope instead of fear.

The Church came not to destroy, but to purify, to aid and to assimilate. The destination of the Church was neither national nor racial, but cosmic. No exclusive power was ever destined to be a world-power. The ultimate failure of Islam to become a world-power lies in its exclusiveness. It was with religion as with politics. Every exclusive policy is foredoomed to failure: the German as well as the Turkish and the Napoleonic. The policy of the Church was designed by her Divine Founder: "He that is not against us is for us." Well, there is no human race on earth wholly against Christ and wholly unprepared to receive Him. The wisdom of the Christian missionaries therefore is to see first in what ways Providence has prepared a soil for Christian seed; to see which of the Christian elements a race, or a religion, already
possesses, and how to utilise these elements and weld them into Christianity. All that--in order to make Christianity grow organically, instead of pushing it mechanically.

In conclusion let me repeat again: the wisdom of the Church has been inclusive. Inclusive was the wisdom of her Founder, inclusive the wisdom of her organisation and of her destination. Exclusiveness was the very sickness and weakness of the Church. That is why we in the East in the time of sickness of the Church looked neither towards Peter, nor Paul, nor John, but towards the Holy Wisdom, the all-healing and all-illuminating. For St Sophia in Constantinople, the temple dedicated to Christ the Eternal, includes in itself the sanctuaries of Peter, Paul and John; moreover, it is supported even by some pillars of Diana's temple from Ephesus and has many other things, in style or material, which belonged to the Paganism of old. Indeed, St Sophia has room and heart even for Islam. The Mohamedans have been praising it as the best of their sanctuaries! 

I speak thus to you because I am sure you will not misunderstand me. And because I know you, the British, to be a race of the world-wide spirit, I dare to make this appeal to you.

Look to the Holy Wisdom! Look beyond Peter, and Paul, and John--through them and still beyond them! Every Church has her prophet, her apostle, her angel. Look now over them all to the very top of the pyramid, where all the lines meet!

Either Christianity is one, or there is no Christianity. Either the Church is universal, or there is no Church.

There lived once upon a time twelve men as different as any twelve men could be. And the Holy Wisdom united all of them into one spiritual body. Such was the first Church of the twelve, and such ought to be the last Church of the milliards: different in all her parts, but cemented by the Holy Wisdom into one glorious building. Christ, God's Holy Wisdom, includes all of us, why should we exclude each other? He was
sent for the salvation of China and Japan and India as well as for that of the Jews and Greeks. Well, let us quarrel no more about the "circumcision" while a milliard of human beings are still waiting to hear for the first time the name of Jesus Christ--yea, for the first time after two thousand years! Let the present time be the new Pentecost for us all. I speak to you, the British: don't look around you and wait; it is yours to start. All the peoples of earth are looking towards you and listening to you. Don't be too shy to start. 
To start what? To start a revival of the primitive wisdom of the Church, i.e. to confess and declare:

That Christianity in its integrity is one and indivisible; That Christianity is not a precious stone preserved in a box called the Church of England, or the Church of the East, or Rome, but that it is the common good of mankind, destined for all continents and all races; That there is no constituent of the present European civilisation, but the Christian religion, which could stop the brutal struggle among men, in one form or another, and guarantee a Godlike peace profitable for the whole of mankind.

All of us, small or great nations, are now looking to you with respect, not only for the victory over a revived anachronical Paganism in Central Europe, but also for a formulation of the new ideal, of saving power for
all men.

Great is our expectation indeed, but it is justified by your gifts, given to you by Providence. Therefore let your hearts be larger than your Empire and your national Church, and the respect of mankind towards
you will be warmed by love. Surely there can not be built a greater Empire than yours, humanly speaking. The only greater Empire than yours will be Christ's Empire. And if you are longing for something greater
than your present possession, you are indeed longing for this universal, pan-human Empire of Christ. Otherwise you would be sticking either at a stagnancy or at something impossible. Both would be unwise: nature tolerates no stagnancy and punishes experiments with the impossible.

But who am I to teach you? "A reed (from the wilderness) shaken with the wind"? Not I but the present despair of the world teaches you. I am only a loud amongst many suffocated cries from West and East, from North and South, directed to you: lift up your hearts and listen! God is now doing a great thing through you, and the whole world is expecting a great thing from you. What is this great thing? How to reach it? Pray and
listen! One thing only is sure, that this great thing will come neither from any Foreign Office nor from any War Office, but from the living Christian Church. Yes, she is still living, although she looks dead. She
is only sleeping. But Christ is standing beside her now, calling: "Rise, ye daughter! Talitha Cumi!"

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