mospat.ru [Google Translation] - On October 31, 2017, Metropolitan Hilarion, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, attended a reception in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation at the Pashkov House in Moscow. Addressing the audience, Vladyka Hilarion said:
Venerable Archbishop Dietrich Brauer!
Dear participants in the reception!
On behalf of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, and on my own behalf, I would like to heartily congratulate Russian Protestants on their remarkable date - the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
I will say at once: for us, Orthodox, this date is not an occasion to rejoice and triumph, just as we would not have dreamed of celebrating the anniversary of the "great schism" of 1054. Then the world Christianity was divided into two parts - the eastern and the western. In 1517, another split occurred - now inside the Western Church, when a significant group of believers, led by Martin Luther, separated from her.
Every schism inflicts damage on Christian unity, and every reformation, if it divides believers into warring camps, is contrary to the spirit of Christ's teaching. For many countries of Europe, the consequences of the Reformation were very deplorable: these were numerous human sacrifices, and desecrated shrines, and broken stained-glass windows, and overthrown statues of saints.
However, today is not the day when we should remember the tragic pages of history. Today, it is appropriate to reflect on what has brought the Protestant tradition into the treasury of world Christianity and world culture. And it turns out that her contribution has been and remains very significant.
Let me remind you that the Lutheran was the greatest composer of all time - Johann Sebastian Bach. One well-known modern theologian, who turned from Lutheranism to Orthodoxy in his declining years, in his book "Bach as a theologian" expressed the opinion that if all Luther's poems were for some reason lost today, they could easily be restored by Bach's scores. Indeed, Bach put most of Luther's church hymns to music. It was these hymns that formed the basis of the ecclesiastical tradition that the Lutherans of the Bach times built with such zeal. And Bach himself was part of this creative process.
Many modern Orthodox and Catholics are used to think of themselves as bearers of the Church Tradition, and Protestants as representatives of a liberal, facilitated, semi-church Christianity. In the era of Luther, the situation was completely different. Lutheranism historically arose as a reaction to those shortcomings of the medieval Catholic Church, which were perceived as a distortion of the original purity, rigor and clarity of the Christian faith and church practice. The main aspiration of the Lutherans was to return Christianity to what they considered to be the original Tradition, dating back to the first centuries of Christianity. For many reasons, they failed to do this. But there was a great craving for traditional Christianity, for true Christianity, for Christianity, which Luther and his followers believed was lost in medieval Catholicism. And Lutherans created their own tradition, which was strictly adhered to for several centuries.
In the bosom of the Lutheran tradition, outstanding theologians worked, whose writings were read by both Orthodox and Catholics. Suffice it to recall that one of the desk books of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, who lived in the XVIII century, was Johann Arndt's "True Christianity" (the same book stood at the place of honor in the home library of Bach). About how high St Tikhon appreciated this book, one of his letters testifies, where he advises: "After reading the Bible, read Arndt, and in other books, as a guest, stroll." In imitation of Arndt, the saint wrote his own work, "On True Christianity."
I would like to dwell on the experience of the twentieth century, which for many Christian communities has become a century of martyrdom and confession. This year we celebrate the terrible date - the 100th anniversary of the bloody October revolution, which initiated the mass persecution of the Church in Russia. Victims of these persecutions were not only Orthodox, but also Catholics and Protestants. Let me remind you that when the Tsar's family was shot, several close people, among whom was a Catholic, Colonel of the Tsarist Army Aloysius Trupp, died with her in the basement of the Ipatiev House. And a few weeks later, the lyutérétric of the Empress Elizabeth Schneider was shot. And on the butovo range, along with the Orthodox, Christians were shot of other faiths, as well as believers of other religions.
Christianity was persecuted, although not so massive and bloody, and in Hitler's Germany. One of the victims of these persecutions was Protestant pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was hanged a month before the end of the war in the Nazi concentration camp Flossenburg. The works of this outstanding theologian of the 20th century today inspire millions of Christians of different faiths.
Many other examples could be cited, which testify to the significant contribution of Lutherans to the common treasury of the Christian spiritual and cultural heritage.
Today, the Protestant world is going through a difficult time. Some communities of the North and West have embarked on the path of liberalizing theological and moral doctrine, it has been declared the norm that in the Holy Scripture is denoted as a sin, introduced the ritual of "blessing" of same-sex unions under the influence of secular ideology and many other innovations. However, a significant part of the Protestants - and this is the absolute majority of the Protestant communities in Russia - continues to stand on traditional positions in moral issues. And we in the Russian Orthodox Church very much hope that this position will remain unshakable. If we follow the principle of "only Scripture", then it must be followed in everything, including those on which the modern secular world has taken a different position.
Dear friends, let us remember that, despite all our differences, we, Orthodox and Protestants, are united by faith in Jesus Christ as God and Savior. We will try to follow the Gospel in our daily life - the covenant that the Lord Jesus Christ left to His disciples for all time.
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever," says the Holy Scripture (Hebrews 13: 8). Times change, fashion changes, different philosophical and philosophical currents arise and disappear, and Christ and His teaching remain immutable. And this is the basis on which we are called to build our life and our testimony.
Let me wish the blessed successes to all Russian Protestants, and to our common home - the multinational great Russia - peace and prosperity.