The Holy Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II on Orthodoxy and Ethnocentrism
The following was written by Saint Nicholas the Tsar-Martyr of oyalussia (1868-1918) to St. Nikolai, Archbishop of Japan (1836-1912), who was a much-revered Orthodox missionary in Japan. The words of St. Nicholas the Tsar-Martyr were written on October 9, 1905 (Old Style), shortly after the defeat of Russia in the Russo-Japanese War, which began in February of 1904 and ended in September of 1905 with the Treaty of Portsmouth, brokered by the U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt. St. Nicholas’ words have special meaning in our age, where ethnocentrism, which once served the Church in its formative years, has succumbed, as the Tsar-Martyr states, to a sort of crude tribalism that impedes the missionary work of the Church and ushers in the heresy of phyletism (the idea of the superiority of a particular national Orthodox Church). While every Orthodox tradition can boast with great benefit of the spiritual exemplars that adorn its worldly history and culture, whenever culture, race, or nationalism takes precedence over fidelity to the Faith and its catholic (universal) nature, the Church is defiled and those who place nation above God quickly see their national and cultural priorities crushed and abandoned. This should warn us all that loyalty to God is above all worldly things.
“You have shown to all of us how the Orthodox Church of Christ is alien to all worldly dominion and every tribal animosity, that She equally embraces with love all tribes and peoples. During the difficult time of war, when the weapons of combat broke the peaceful relations between peoples and rulers, you, fulfilling Christ’s covenant, did not leave the flock entrusted to you, and the grace of love and faith gave you strength to withstand the test of fire, and in the midst of war and strife, to keep the world of faith and love in the Church erected through your labors.”
— Excerpt from: Orthodox Tradition, XXXIV, Number 3. 2017