book was published three times (the third time – by Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra), and was highly appreciated by the monks, skilled in praying practice. For example, elder Barsonophy of the Optina Skete wrote thefollows: “It is necessary to read this book several times to apprehend completely all depth of its contents. Itshould deliver a great pleasure to the people having inclination to contemplative life; may God give, that thereading of it should bring you not only high spiritual pleasure, but also a help in saving your soul”
.It would not be strange, if some expressions used by the author of this book seemed not quite clear for somebody and required the further explanations. It could not in itself lead to the interdictions, which, by theway, elder Hilarion learned only indirectly, through the third persons. We know that even Holy Fathers'writings directed against some heresies were sometimes interpreted for the benefit of other heresies; for example, monophysites used some works of St. Cyril of Alexandria, written against Nestorius. It is not at allthe fault of St. Cyril writings, which had a definite purpose and had perfectly achieved it. And in this casealso, it was necessary to look at the purpose of the book and at the essence of the problem, and continue anexplanation of the question if any misuses or misinterpretations appeared.The Synod Epistle said that Fr. Hilarion had put forward a certain new dogma about the Name of God;thus, it is necessary to understand, in what sense it might be true. The word “dogma” sometimes means a particular part of the Orthodox doctrine. In this sense, new dogmas cannot appear, and we shall see that elder Hilarion did not invent any new doctrine in his book. However, “dogma” means also a formula or definition,and in this sense new dogmas appeared in the history of the Church and they certainly ought to appear because of new heresies. Therefore, elder Hilarion in his book offered such a formula having quite a definite purpose; however, this formula was not absolutely new, as it had already appeared in the writings of St.Father John of Kronstadt. The arisen disputes showed very clearly that the question about reverence of the Name of God was put forward quite in time, and thus both explanation and definition of this question wasreally required. In fact, Fr. Hilarion did not at all intend to put forward any doctrine question by his book: thedogmatic disputes begun only after insulting declarations – oral and printed – against reverence of the Nameof God. Besides all, the Name-worshippers of Athos did not mean to ratify a new dogma by themselves, i.e.to find some obligatory definition for the whole Church, but on the contrary, they constantly sought a councilconsideration, because only in this way any true definition may become a dogma.Therefore, it is necessary to consider with all attention, against what sort of errors a formula “the Nameof God is God Himself” was directed, and what did St. Father John of Kronstadt, elder Hilarion,hieroschemamonk Anthony (Bulatovich) and their adherents mean by these words.Let us notice that when this expression, strengthened and repeated more than once, had appeared in thewritings of St. Father John of Kronstadt (some years before the Athos disputes), this fact passed unnoticed. Itmeans that if the academically educated part of the Russian clergy, who later condemned “the heresy of imyabozhnichestvo”, had ever read the Father John's writings, they did not attach to them any essentialdogmatic significance.Archbishop Nikon (Rozhdestvensky) himself, – the future organizer of devastation of the Russianmonasteries on Athos (accompanied by the beating, mockeries and even by murders of monks-onomatodoxes, and also by destroying of icons), – before all these disputes wrote: “The name of God isalways Holy. It accomplishes our saving Sacraments; it seals up the truth of our oaths and promises. By it wedefeat our visible and invisible enemies.
The name of God is the same as the incomprehensible essence of God, opening itself to the people
. – These words expressed the same doctrine, against which the author struggled afterwards, even by the help of armies. What was a reason of such a change? We can find theanswer in the Synod Epistle of 1913, which without any substantiation announced the most strong and greatsayings of the Scripture about the Name of God and glory of God to be simply “descriptive expressions”, i.e.the words meaning nothing in essence.Therefore, Archbishop Nikon also followed in his writings those standard expressions about the Nameof God that became for him and for many others as decorous but
words, which we can repeat without
The conversations of schema-archimandrite of the Optina Skete, elder Barsonophy with his spiritual children. SPb, 1991, p. 58.
“Troitsky listky”, 1899, v. 5, p. 137. Here and further is italicised by the compiler.