That's right. These schismatic groups, like Old Calendarists, as far as I can tell have the same theology as the rest of the Church, but separate over what could be called political issues - disputes with bishops, the calendar, beliefs the rest of the church has compromised through ecumenical meetings, that sort of thing. They don't have a different view of the Trinity or salvation or anything like that.
But what I've noticed in my experience is that there seems to be a lot of pride amongst these groups, what Father Seraphim Rose called the "super-correct faction." A lot of internal arguments and disputing that's not very Christlike. I just haven't seen much good fruit from these groups, or sufficient evidence to take their claims seriously. The exception might be publications - Holy Transfiguration Monastery has produced excellent liturgical texts that I don't hesitate to recommend and many people like the Scriptures and Synaxarion from Holy Apostles Convent.
Another good thing to keep in mind is that some of these schismatic groups are extremely "online." These aren't things you'd ever really run into in real life, normal Orthodox practice. The internet can give outsize visibility to some schismatic ROCOR spinoff in Australia that really only has a handful of members. It's really straining credulity to think this little group or that is the "real" Orthodox Church. It's not that different from when Independent Fundamentalist Baptists insist that Pastor Jim with his Baptist congregation in the Swiss Alps was keeping the real church alive for 1500 years, or that Most Holy Family Basketball Court is preserving the Real Catholic Church.
I'm an Old Calendarist, and I've made no secret of it. I see no good reason not to be (list below), I do not disparage others for being in a group other than my own.. I'm happy enough for people to come to the light of Orthodoxy. I'm comfortable being in a "schismatic" group for the God I worship would not cast me out, if all things were identitical for the sake of a bishop. I can't imagine God saying to me "Since you were baptized and took communion with this "schismatic" group, you're damned forever, you should have sought out Archbishop Elpidophorus, or one from a priestly line that cooperated with the Soviet persecutors for then I would have accepted you." It's rather silly when you think about it.
My sentiments resonate with this monk in ROCOR/MP who wrote this article
. Other reasons I remain with the Old Calendarists are:
1) I see no good reason for the Calendar change. There is as much reason to adopt the Papal Calendar as there is to use Daylight Savings Time. (I may be forced to use the latter while I function in the world, but will not be forced to use the former)
2) The "schismatic" group I'm with does full english services, which aren't available elsewhere. I view it as foolish to attend foreign language services you don't understand. (1 Corinthians 14:6-19
). As someone who does some of the reading/chanting, I understand how much instruction is in there. It's not surprising that people like Georges Florovsky learned theology just by listening to the services. With that in mind, I view it as a huge problem to not have services in the main language of the host country. Orthodoxy has been around long enough in NA that it shouldn't be an issue, especially now that a lot of the heavy lifting in translating is done.
3) I have a problem with the MP, I don't see how it's changed from the Soviet days, what repentance has been shown? Leaving Ecumenism aside for now, if strict interpretations of canons are so very important, how was the Apostolic Canon
30(31) resolved? (
If any bishop
obtain possession of a church by the aid of the temporal powers, let him be deposed
, and all who communicate with him.