Why all the "reformers" of the Church are alike
Lately, demands for immediate reforms in the Church have become more and more frequent. Who stands behind them, and how beneficial are they for the Church today?
Throughout history, there have always been individuals in the Church who are passionate about reforms. They are dissatisfied with the Church's organization, they believe that doctrines have become outdated, that worship practices are too archaic, and that "everything is not as it should be".
These individuals particularly become active during critical or crisis moments for the Church when it seems as if "the Lord is asleep" and "we are perishing" (Mark 4:38). Undoubtedly, today is one of those moments for our Church, which has already experienced many such moments throughout its history. Among reformers trying to "wake up Christ", there are those like Peter and those like Judas. But if Peter awakens to save others, Judas awakens for his own salvation. This difference is significant and needs to be recognized.
"Test the spirits"
Today, many people are puzzled by the behaviour of our hierarchs, speaking of their "insensitivity" and "inflexibility." They criticize both their decisions and their lack thereof, their words, as well as their silence. The UOC leadership is often reproached for its untimely reaction, that it "does not keep up with the times". Letters to His Beatitude are written, and appeals are made, all with the underlying message that "something must be done". Unfortunately, there are very few who perceive everything through the prism of the Holy Scriptures and the experience of the Church, who refrain from hastily following the first available "reformer" and "prophet" but instead "test the spirits to see whether they are of God" (1 John 4:1). After all, "doing" can be done in different ways...
We have already written that behind the sensational in the secular media appeal of a group of priests to His Beatitude with a demand to hold a Council of Bishops and break off all relations with the Russian Orthodox Church is allegedly a banned cleric of the Dnepropetrovsk Eparchy Andriy Pinchuk. We would hardly return to discussing his person again if he had not recorded a 9-minute video commenting on the position of Metropolitan Anthony, voiced by the latter a few days ago. It is this video of Fr Andriy Pinchuk that we will analyze. We do this for one simple reason: to understand the "spirit" behind his words. Would you argue that it is impossible to judge based on one video? We disagree.
To study the composition of water in a river and determine its suitability for consumption, it is not necessary to take several tons of water; just a few drops are enough. This small amount provides the specialist with enough information to draw a conclusion – whether the water can be consumed or not. If we speak in Gospel terms, Christ teaches us to recognize a tree by its fruits. This means that to understand what kind of tree we are dealing with, it is not necessary to taste all its fruit; one is enough. In the same way, there is no need to analyze the speeches, statements, and publications of all supporters of church reforms to understand whether they will lead us to spiritual poisoning or bring spiritual benefit. It is enough to look at the statements of their leader.
So, before us is Archpriest Andriy Pinchuk. He is an active person both in the ecclesiastical and political sense. He likes to talk about his ideas on the Internet and at various meetings and forums where ways to resolve critical situations of the UOC are discussed.
Let's not delve into his entire life history; let's touch on recent events related to his ban from ministry. Formally, the ban on Fr. Andriy was explained by non-canonical actions (holding unauthorized events) on the territory of other eparchies. Pinchuk wrote that Metropolitan Iriney was "pressured", that his decree on the ban was foolish, etc. He argued, "How could they ban me if I was just celebrating my friend's birthday in another eparchy?"
But everyone understands that Fr Andriy was banned "on the basis of merits" for numerous gross and offensive insults against the hierarchs, clergy and ordinary laypeople. The priest himself understands this too.
In a letter to Bishop Iriney, he wrote that he perfectly understands the reason for his ban. It was because of "unacceptable, cruel, offensive, and demeaning expressions, which are unbecoming of an Orthodox priest" and not about a "friend's birthday". In other words, he is well aware of why he was banned from standing at the altar.
Likewise, he knows that all his words in the style of "I won't do it anymore" are deceitful, and he has no intention of changing (read - repenting). Evidence of this is his latest video addressed to Metropolitan Anthony, the UOC Chancellor.
In it, the priest "repented" for his rude words accuses the hierarch of deliberate lies, of "leading Russian collaborators who are destroying the Church" and claims that the bishop "failed his mission," and the "FSB knocked on his klobuk".
He also expresses dissatisfaction with the UOC's leadership, which, in his words, consists of "a clique of pro-Russian bishops who have taken control of the Synod".
Agree that such words might come from someone like a hypothetical "Zinkevych" but not from a UOC priest who just a few days ago, in a "repentant" letter, promised to "carry out his pastoral ministry with a word that heal and cure" and pledged "not to use offensive and demeaning expressions".
Slyness as a sign of "reformers"
Fr. Andriy Pinchuk is a typical representative of all those who have stepped outside the bounds of the Church. They all started seemingly well: being active in promoting certain ideas (often good ones), benefiting the Church, and setting an example for others. However, then that idealism transformed into painful obsession, obsession into slyness, slyness into audacity, audacity into insolence, cynicism, malice, and offence. All of this can be clearly seen in the example of other priests and bishops who left the Church.
All these people are definitely united by one thing – double-mindedness.
This behaviour was observed, for instance, in the former Metropolitan of Vinnytsia, Simeon. He knew that the clergy of the eparchy and the cathedral did not support his desire to join the OCU. Therefore, he assured his brothers in faith until the last moment that he would remain in the UOC. Meanwhile, he was actively “working” on taking over the cathedral and the eparchial administration. Where is the honesty and straightforwardness here? Nowhere. Only deceit and cynicism.
The same cynicism was displayed by the former clergy of the UOC – Drabinko and Kovalenko. While in the UOC, they spent years stating that the UOC should not be labelled as the "Moscow Church" due to its full administrative independence. However, as soon as they stepped outside the Church's boundaries, they changed their tune immediately.
How can priests who have moved from the UOC to the OCU speak words that evoke nothing but shame in normal people?
"I used to preach to you about the Russian world, but now my eyes have been opened" or "Now we can pray calmly for Ukraine." But who prevented you from doing that before? Nobody. So why lie? It's incomprehensible.
Schizophrenia and double-mindedness
Whoever you take from these "truth-seekers", it turns out that all of them have an unresolved gestalt. When were you genuine, then or now? What should your followers do when you, like a weathervane, change your position next time? Just imitate your movements?
The apostle James spoke very well about such people: "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways" (James 1:8). In the Church Slavonic version, this phrase sounds even more accurate: "A man with a double soul is unsteady in all his ways." In the Greek variant of this verse, the word "double-mindedness" is δίψυχος (dipsychos), which literally means "two souls". Essentially, a clear parallel can be drawn between double-soulness (or double-mindedness) and schizophrenia.
The word "schizophrenia" comes from the Greek Σχίζω (from which we also have the word "schism"), which means "to split" or "to divide" and φρήν (phrēn) meaning "mind," "thinking," or "thought." Thus, those who "combine" the Gospel with a sledgehammer, repentance with outright lies are infected with this form of "schizophrenia". When representatives of the OCU hold the Gospel in their left hand while pepper-spraying with their right hand or cutting the doors of a church with an angle grinder to gain access to the altar, you understand that this is schizophrenia, a spiritual and psychological illness.
This schizophrenia is also evident in people like Fr. Andriy Pinchuk, who can write about love for one's neighbour and immediately follow it with ten insults and baseless accusations about "FSB agents' manuals".
One wonders, can our Church leadership, seeing this double-mindedness, act in accordance with the demands of those infected with such spiritual disorders? Can the UOC hierarchs seriously listen to people who are indifferent to the future of the Church? After all, the same Pinchuk, in an interview with "UWN," says that he cannot imagine what will happen if autocephaly is simply declared: "Today we need to break away from the Moscow Patriarchate, and tomorrow we'll think about what to do next." This thought process is reminiscent of the main character in Margaret Mitchell's novel "Gone with the Wind": "I'll think about it tomorrow."
But can the UOC Synod think the same way? Probably not.
"Fallen yourself – help others?"
However, there is another feature in the behaviour of Pinchuk, Drabinko, Kovalenko, Shostatsky and many others: a lack of peace inside, restlessness and fuss. Advocates of the idea of a "complete breakaway" constantly pester others with provocative questions and arguments. It feels like something is burning inside them, not allowing them to live peacefully. They justify their behaviour with war, shelling, deceased or fighting relatives, and even persecutions against the Church.
Yet those whom they criticize, living under the same shelling, having deceased or fighting relatives, behave much more calmly. They strive to live in the Church and know God through it. Despite the horrors of war, they try to learn from meekness and humility from Christ. So why do these "activists" deprive them of the right to have an opinion? Why do they label them as the "fifth column" and "pro-Russian"? Is it not because they value not the truth but the proof of their "rightness" and self-assertion? As Dostoevsky said: "We demand, not ask." This, by the way, is a characteristic of all those who do not want to listen to others, who do not want to engage in dialogue but act from the position of "everyone who disagrees with me is a heretic or a schismatic." Any extreme is from Satan.
Likewise, the desire to drag someone else into the abyss is also from Satan. The spirits of malice act on the principle of "fallen yourself – help others". And unfortunately, those who do not like the Church but are in no hurry to leave it also act on the same principle.
How else can one explain the logic of Fr. Andriy Pinchuk, who doesn’t like everything in the UOC, who sees the OCU as a "gracious Church in Eucharistic communion with all Churches in the world," but who stubbornly refuses to leave the UOC? Why is he still in the UOC? Is it not because he won't be able to agitate people against the Church in the OCU, gather signatures, organize dissatisfied priests, and engage in other "useful" activities?
We would very much like such an intelligent man as Fr Andriy to realise that his words go against the words of Christ so that he and his associates would understand that you can change something in the Church for the better only when you yourself have become better. It is directly in line with the words of Seraphim of Sarov: "Save yourself, and around you, thousands will be saved." By the way, this is the logic that our Primate adheres to, and that is why the faithful trust him unconditionally.
For Fr Andriy and his comrades to be trusted in the same way, one must first be saved oneself. Probably then, they will no longer be interested in any church "revolutions".