Now it is not what is pleasing to God or the Church that is good, but what is ‘progressive,’ ‘liberal,’ revolutionary; that which is ‘right-leaning’ is the concatenation of all evils. ‘It is in agreement with Marx!’ – this is the highest praise for any teaching, for any opinion. Even holy Christian doctrine is assessed on the basis of this new standard. Thus, all of Christianity’s fundamental teaching concerning the personal struggle of repentance and humility is cast aside, while only some sort of ‘social teaching’ is taken up and given consideration, and in it only that which one can reinterpret in a liberal-revolutionary way is approved.
…they wish to ‘correct’ the Church’s understanding of Christianity, replacing it with their own, in which the teaching of Christ is shown to bear a remarkable resemblance to all the most recent teachings and actions of the godless, up to and including revolutions, expropriations, and bombings. On the basis of such interpretations of Christianity, in renunciation of the authority of Church, there have appeared a ‘Christian Brotherhood [?!] of Struggle’ and a ‘Christian Socialism,’ and who knows whether there will appear at some point ‘Christian’ brigandage, etc., etc.
If socialism looks upon itself as a world-view, what, then, is this world-view? It is, first of all, a consistent materialism. A materialistic understanding of history, as acknowledged by the socialists themselves, comprises the essence of the entire theory of their teaching, its cornerstone, according to the expression of Bernstein. “One must seek the basic reasons of all social changes and revolutions not in the heads of men and not in their views on eternal righteousness and justice, but in changes in the means of production and distribution” (Engels). If socialism is so closely bound up with materialism, how can it bear any relationship to religion? Crudely distorting the moral and educational significance of religion, the materialistic criticism of Marx and Engels sees religion as the mere ‘handiwork of man,’ the product of ignorant imagination or profit motives; and God Himself as a reflection of economic relations. Even in the Christian God they dare to see an ‘anthropological idealization of a capitalism which thirsts for power and satisfaction.’ Religion is called forth, in the words of Engels, ‘by the dark, primordial ideas of man concerning his personal nature and that which surrounds him,’ and is defined in its permutations “by class, and consequently economic, relations”. Religion seemed to Marx to be a superstition which has outlived its time, ‘a dead question for the intelligentsia, but an opium for the people.’ According to this, Marx considered ‘freedom of conscience from the charms of religion’ to be ‘the assistance of the people toward real happiness.’
Socialism is the ‘mystery of iniquity’ which the holy Apostle Paul prophesied (II Thess. 2:7). Is there any need to refute socialism? No, it is sufficient merely to say what socialism is, and those who have still kept their faith in Christ to any degree will reject this ungodly scandal with horror. The believing man is absolutely unable speak of any agreement between socialism and Christianity whatever. Socialism is not only not ours, it is our declared and dangerous adversary. It is guilty of enmity toward Christianity and deserves no condescension. It is our enemy. Every member of the Church must be aware of this, and it is essential that the Church explain this for all the world to hear. If passing into heresy entails separation from the Church, passing into socialism is an error more grievous than any heresy, and is even more deserving of punishment. ‘If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema’ (I Cor. 16:22). We have already seen how socialism ‘loves’ Jesus Christ. It is necessary to commit all inveterate socialism to anathema. Ravening wolves must be driven from the flock, else the whole flock will perish. How can one speak of the ‘Christianization of socialism’? These are empty words. Can one Christianize atheism? ‘Christian socialism’ is a contradiction in terms. What is Christian cannot be socialist. If we do not loudly and openly declare that socialism is the enemy of Christianity, nothing will result except harm and scandal. All compromises are inappropriate here. One must look one’s enemy in the eye. To underestimate danger is always deleterious.
St. Hilarion (Troitsky)