Who are the Old Believers, and what do they believe? Sometimes you can hear this word in conversations and read in literary sources. It turns out that these are also Orthodox, only they believe in God according to the old pattern. In this article we will look at the differences between Old Believers and ordinary Christians. What happened in the 17th century AD, and why did the Orthodox church split?
So, in the XVII century, Patriarch Nikon decided to introduce a single pattern of liturgical practice throughout Russia. However, the good intentions were not accepted by everyone unanimously, a part of the population, together with the clergy, regarded these measures as damage to their beliefs. They considered that it was similar to retreat from the ancient customs of death, so they decided to keep the ritual unchanged.
What was the new pattern of worship? Patriarch Nikon insisted on the Byzantine style of administration of services, so that there was no contradiction between the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches. It is because of this that a split occurred in the Russian Orthodox community. Archpriest Avvakum spoke out against Patriarch Nikon, for which he was condemned to eviction. He spent 15 years in an earthen prison, without hesitating in his firm decision to preserve the old ritualism. In 1681, Protopope Avvakum was burned by order of Tsar Fedor Alekseevich.
However, the fate of Patriarch Nikon was also not well. He was removed from the patriarchate in 1667 for trying to put the power of the patriarch above the royal. Nikon also died in 1681.
The Old Believers perceived Nikon's reforms as a temptation of the evil one, therefore they steadfastly resisted any changes.
Many believers experienced a schism in the Orthodox Church as a personal tragedy, because reform abruptly changed the whole way of life and undermined the foundation of faith. Dissatisfied with the reform, they formed the movement of the Old Believers, hiding from everyone in deep forests and inaccessible places. The tragedy was expressed in the fact that the Old Believers went to self-immolation, just to change nothing in their way of life. Sometimes entire villages burned down if the tsarist authorities showed an attempt to introduce reforms into action.
Only in 1971 was the anathema abolished on the Old Believers by the Russian Orthodox Church.
Dozens of people voluntarily burned in the fire, singing loudly psalms. It was an eerie sight, incomprehensible to the mind. This question has been studied in depth by historians of the former USSR, trying to find a reasonable explanation for what happened. In the 1980s, Boris Sitnikov visited the remote villages of Siberia, where the descendants of the Old Believers lived. The professor together with the students collected a lot of unique and interesting material from the first mouth.
What is the old believer church different from the Orthodox? It turns out that there are quite a few of these differences. They concern:
- interpretations of holy texts;
- forms of church service;
- behavior in everyday life;
- features of appearance.
Historians have counted dozens of differences, which were quite significant. The disconnection of the Old Believers and the lack of communications led to additional differences between them.
Church differences are as follows:
- the sign of the cross with three fingers instead of two;
- triple singing "hallelujah" instead of twice;
- the procession to hold against the course of the sun;
- belt bows instead of earthly ones;
- write and speak Jesus Christ instead of Jesus Christ;
- instead of the maiden to speak - maiden.
The worst thing for the Old Believers was the destruction of the holy books that were not written in the Greek style. It was the great tragedy of the once united Russian people.
Why Old Believers did not accept the sign of the cross of the cross? They saw it as a "fig" and attributed to the tricks of Satan. People in all seriousness gave their lives, just to not be baptized by a cookie.
External differences of the Old Believers:
- The pectoral cross of the Old Believers is also different from the Orthodox - it does not depict the crucified Savior.
- During the service the Old Believers cross their arms, while the Orthodox keep them along the body.
- Old Believers do not smoke cigarettes and categorically refuse alcohol.
The clothing of the Old Believers is also different from the Orthodox. Scarves on the heads of women pinned under the chin. Men wear sweatshirts with belts. Also men do not shave a beard and do not wear a tie.
In the household of the Old Believers there were always two canteen sets - for their own and for their guests. Guests were called people of a different faith, including Orthodox Christians of the new type of faith.
Differences in temple architecture
How to distinguish the new church from the old-fashioned church? Externally, the temples can not be distinguished, since they are all built on a single model. Differences can be inside bespopovskih temples - there is no altar. Similar churches can be found in Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania. Russian bespopovtsy build churches with altars, adhering to the old tradition.
The crosses on the domes of the Old Believer churches are made without any decorations. These are just crossbars. There will be no crescent and openwork patterns, as in the New Belief churches.
During service in the Old Believer churches do not include electric lighting, with the exception of the choir. The chandelier in the old-fashioned churches is intended only for wax candles, while the chandeliers of the new-style churches are made with candle-shaped lamps. Also, you will never see painted candles - only natural wax.
Of particular importance are icons. If in modern churches you can find icons in the style of the Renaissance or Italian style, then in the old-style temples there are only handwritten or copper-cast ones. In the Old Believer churches you will never see the icon of Seraphim of Sarov and Matronushka.
Podruchniki - another difference between the Old Believers' churches. These are floor mats, which lie in a pile on the benches.
In Bezpopov's churches of Lithuanian Old Believers, you can even see shops where believers sit during their service.
And the last moment is singing. In Old Believer churches strictly monophonic singing, since any polyphony and accompaniment chords are prohibited.
Today, the Old Believers are not persecuted, as in earlier times, and can live peacefully among people. The Orthodox Church does not attach much importance to how a person puts the sign of the cross with two or three fingers. Both options are considered equal.
Today, you can even choose a godfather from the Old Believers, but only one. The second godfather must be Orthodox. A vow is also taken from the god-old believer, that he will not incline the godson to the Old Believers.