Thus, in Russia, Orthodoxy began to emerge from its Eastern isolation and to regain the universal
spirit without which it is not Orthodoxy, not an eternal answer to the
longings, hopes, and strivings of the world, but a withdrawal from this world
into comfortable, intimate little dead ends.
The tragedy is that
this development in Russia was not the only one, but in fact, century by
century and year by year, there grew as well that terrible divarication which
ended in the triumph of Bolshevism. Again there have been many disputes over
the Western or the Eastern sources of this evil. Any oversimplification is
inappropriate here. Never has the connectedness of everything in history, the
interweaving of freedom and determination, of good and evil, seemed so clearly
revealed as in the growth of the Russian catastrophe. The final rootedness of
everything lies in those same depths in which the spiritual choice is made.
Simultaneously with the growth of light in Russia there was a growth of darkness
as well, and it is a terrible warning, judgment, and reminder that the darkness
proved the stronger.
On the historic road
of Orthodoxy the Russian chapter is now of course the final one, the last. Here
Orthodoxy once more became history and was recognized as a way and a task, a
creative inspiration for life. The way seems cut off, and in persecution and
the blood of martyrs a new chapter in the history of the Orthodox Church is
beginning. The past as well must be judged by them; they bear witness to the
fact that what is eternally living and victorious over “the world abiding in
evil” can only be rooted in whole-hearted faithfulness to Christ.