THE HOLY TRINITY, UNIVERSALISM AND INDIVIDUALISM
It has become a cliche to say that we live in a 'global village', that globalization is all around us. No-one denies it. But there is a controversy between those who think that globalization is good and those who think that it is bad. On several occasions in recent years, I have heard the opinion among anti-globalists that Christianity is responsible for globalization. Although this is nonsense, it does serve to illustrate one of the many anti-Christian prejudices of the secular world. How?
There is no doubt that the universalism which underpins globalization stems from monotheistic religion. We see it very clearly in the Old Testament. Having realized that paganism is a myth, dependent on the illusion that the demons who inhabited fallen nature, mountains, seas, rivers, trees etc, are gods, part of humanity discovered the One God. This was the foundation of Judaism and later of Islam, which is the cousin of Judaism, an Old Testament religion like Judaism. 'There is no God but Allah', says Islam, just as Judaism says, 'There is no God but Jehovah'.
The revelation of the New Testament that God is a Trinity was made especially clear in the Gospel of St John, but was crystal clear already in Matthew 28, 19. It also made clear the revelation of the Holy Trinity in the Old Testament, for example in Genesis 1, 26, which had not been grasped. Sadly, ever since, humanity has been tempted to slide back into the Old Testament.
Thus, Judaism for the most part rejected the Trinitarian revelation, the Semitic tribes who became Muslim did the same. In Western Europe, those Christians who became known as Roman Catholics also partially slid back, compromising the Christian teaching of the Holy Trinity in confessing the filioque, making the Trinity into a new philosophical form of virtual monotheism. We should not forget that the filioque originated from Spain, where the intellectual classes were Jewish and Muslim, and it was their influence that lay behind the filioque.
The sixteenth-century schism among the Roman Catholics, known as 'The Reformation', led to a deepening of this Old Testament influence. Guarding the filioque, but rejecting some of the post-filioque, that is, medieval, deformations of Western Christianity, known as Roman Catholicism, the Protestants also rejected centuries of divine revelation in Christianity. Indeed, the most extreme Protestants, the Calvinists, in Switzerland, Holland, Scotland and elsewhere, seem almost to have rejected the New Testament itself, referring back to the Ten Commandments and Jewish Tradition.
Little wonder that the English Puritans under Cromwell massacred Roman Catholics, financed by Dutch Jews. Little wonder that some Protestants actually developed anti-Trinitarian Unitarianism. Little wonder that in the contemporary globalized world, led by Protestant, Capitalist America, monotheist Judaism play such a prominent role. Little wonder that the great conflicts of today's globalized world are between Protestantism, allied with monotheist Judaism, and monotheist Islam. There is no room here for the variety, unity in diversity, of the Trintarian Christianity of the Orthodox Church.
Thus, to say that (Orthodox) Christianity is responsible for the universalism of globalization is absurd. But it is true to say that those who have rejected the teaching of the Holy Trinity, either never accepting it, or else deforming it through the heresy of the filioque, are largely responsible for present-day globalization. For in adopting a deformation of the understanding of God, they either maintained or else reverted to the monotheist universalism of the past.
However, every deformation has two sides. A deformation of Trinitarian thought and life, that is, a deformation of Orthodox Christianity, saw humanity lapse back into centralized universalism (Roman Catholicism, based in Rome, just as Judaism/Zionism was and is based in Jerusalem/Zion), but it also saw humanity lapse back into individualism.
This is the other side of the universalist coin. This was the cause of Protestantism, which is a universal individualism, the very foundation stone of modern secularism. This is the foundation stone of the modern clamour for 'human rights', which justifies societies where everything is permitted - including the murder of millions of unborn children every year, the freezing of human embryos and medical research on the cells of their innocent bodies.
And herein lies the explanation for the very strange criticisms of the Orthodox Church, heard from Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.
On the one hand, Roman Catholicism will tell you that the Orthodox Church is all divided, even that it does not even exist, that it is split up into countless branches.
It seems that they have not read the Epistles in the New Testament, addressed to the churches in Corinth, Salonica, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Rome etc. No pagan centralism here, but Local Churches. Their criticisms are merely looking at the Christian Church through centralizing, Roman Catholic, fundamentally secular, spectacles. It is secular, because it sees the Church in terms of a worldly, human organization, an institution, not the Divino-Human, Risen Body of Christ. Roman Catholicism is blinded by a secular mentality, which, sadly, it has actually dogmatized. However, Christ came not to Rome, but to Jerusalem.
On the other hand, Protestantism rejects the Orthodox Church, because, as they say, 'I have no rights', 'there is no freedom of opinion', 'it is too orthodox'.
In reality, there is plenty of freedom of opinion in the Church, but we do accept the revelations made to the Church, founded by Christ and continuing to this day. Either we accept Christ, or else we do not. As regards details of opinions on secondary matters, Orthodox show plenty of freedom of opinion. However, Protestantism does not grasp this, because it is blinded by a sectarian mentality: 'I do not agree with the Church, therefore I will make up my own 'Church''. This, under the secular pretext of 'human rights', is in fact merely pride, a rejection of Christ, the ultimate Humility.
Both groups, universalists and individualists alike, are in fact prisoners of their own mentalities, cultural captives, who have yet to replace the culture of this world with the culture of the Church, the culture of the Holy Trinity.
Over sixty years ago, amid the horrors of the Second World War, the Russian theologian, Vladimir Lossky, wrote that the only alternative to the Trinity is hell (1). When I first read this, I did not fully appreciate what he meant, but now I have a much clearer idea.
He was not only talking about the fate of Old Testament mankind, who were locked up in hades and required Christ to come and free them in the Resurrection. He was also talking about the fate of modern mankind, which, having rejected the revelations of Christ, has reverted to the errors of the past. In today's world, where globalization and individualism live side by side, we are indeed seeing hell resurfacing on the planet. Contemporary mankind is tormented by its old demons, who have been allowed to come up from hell by man's rejection of the revelation of the Holy Trinity. The prophecies of the saints are coming true, that at the end of time, hell will be emptied, for all the demons will be on earth. There is indeed no real alternative: the Holy Trinity or hell. Contemporary mankind is now beginning to understand this.
See God in Trinity, P. 66 of The Mystical (sic) Theology of the
Eastern (sic) Church, Cambridge 1957.