"An effective sermon in Russia means a sermon before the world", -- said V. A. Ternavtsev in 1901 in his paper presented at the Religious-Philosophical meeting in St. Petersburg.
The sources of many false teachings and heresies which in our days have enveloped the church circles throughout the whole world should be searched in a spiritually-intellectual atmosphere of the 20th century. Of course, the genealogy of heretical consciousness is probably just as old, as the sin itself, but we are not about to analyze it.
For more than two centuries the most talented section of Russian intelligentsia, traditionally inclined to teaching, has been a proponent of ideas which in many ways determined the spirit of our times. The problem is, however, that the elite of Russian creative thought, with a few exceptions (A. Khomyakov, N. Gogol, F. Dostoevsky and some others), enticed by Western humanism, succumbed to an unrestrained secularization and for a long time remained outside the boundaries of the Church.
The concept of "Russian intelligentsia" has acquired a laudatory connotation in the West. However, this is human appraisal only. Richly endowed, but lacking the wisdom of humility, the "poverty of spirit", how will it face the Terrible Judge? It is, primarily, the Russian intelligentsia which bears the serious guilt of seducing the "little ones" -- the Orthodox Russian people who used to be the only guardian of everyday confession of faith. Preaching the soul-destroying "enlightenment" and atheism, this intelligentsia plunged their people into an infernal darkness where for nearly 80 years they have been ceaselessly "crying and gnashing their teeth".
Having lost their spiritual equilibrium, Russians have become "a byword among the nations", confirming Dostoevsky's terrible words: "When there is no God, everything is permitted". The current chronicle of today's Russia, any report of events -- testifies to the truth of these words.
"The Devils" have been taken possession of Russia gradually and everywhere, in politics and in culture. The ideology of "paradise on earth" of atheists and a catastrophic evolutionism of nihilists were naturally bound with the "lyricism" of destruction of the self-sufficient art. The Godlessness of some tried to replace "individuality by a herd instinct" (F. Dostoevsky), and the spiritual damage of others entailed an indiscriminate passion for everything esoteric, if not bluntly occult.
Unhealthy exaltation, mysticism blended with the premonition of a catastrophe ("We stand on the brink of history" -- V.A. Ternavtsev) fused into a kind of venomous atmosphere, which poisoned more than one generation of Russian intelligentsia. All these countless adepts of Nietzsche, Steiner, anthroposophists, occultists, Rosicrucians, Satanists, destroyers of all kinds were tirelessly sowing the "seeds of the mysterious rose", these "flowers of evil", which are still bringing their monstrous fruit.
The atmosphere of the cultural elite of that time was permeated with occult moods and searchings. As N. Berdyaev remembers: "There was a great deal of unconscious falsehood and self-deception in the air, and little love of the truth. Many desired to be deceived and seduced. None could stand criticism. All wanted to be true Rosicrucians, as it was in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries when Freemasonry held sway over the minds and hearts of Russian people. But there was more naivete then. People have an ineradicable need to play a role in life, to be part of something most important, to the center determining human destinies" . Aesthetization of evil, revelry of blasphemous false wisdom and demonism amounting to elemental impulse to cosmic destruction, all this combined with a purely Russian maximalism brought Russia to the catastrophic collapse of 1917.
Against the background of Vrubel's paintings and A. Skryabin's "Ninth Symphony" ("the black mass"), accompanied by the "flammes sombres" of Skryabin's "Poeme satanique", one heard incantations of A. Blok, V. Bryusov, F. Sologub, A. Bely, Vyach. Ivanov and others, trying to "accomplish the mystery, the mystery of cosmic destruction and ruin" .
Many were captivated by Anna Schmidt's mystical treatises, "The Third Testament" -- the Testament of spirit whose revelations were expected in the future.
Vl. Soloviev's biographers recorded a meeting which occurred a few months before the philosopher's death. This meeting may be regarded as a certain sign, a demonic sneer, having a sinister mystical connection with Soloviev's life-long passion for "Sophia", the Eternal Femininity. We are talking about Anna Schmidt, whom Andrei Bely would later call the "Sologub's gray touch-me-not". This unremarkable teacher from Nizhni Novgorod, an old maid supporting her mother on a meager income, was secretly engaged in writing mystical treatises on the Church and the Third Testament. The madness of these treatises was combined with the most daring mystical contemplations. A. Schmidt would send her manuscripts to Soloviev and insist on their meeting. She confessed to him that she considered herself to be Sophia incarnate, and Soloviev -- the incarnate Christ. Frightened by the blasphemous madness of his mystical admirer, Soloviev rebuffed her cruelly: "Your confession provokes greatest pity and sadly intercedes for you before the Most High... I shall burn your confession, both of its versions, not only as a precautionary measure, but as a sign that all this is nothing but ashes... Please do not talk to anyone about me, rather use your free moments praying to God" . Soloviev who all his life hoped for the revelation of the Soul of the world, the heavenly Aphrodite met her frightful double -- Anna Schmidt -- on the eve of his death. This was to be "his last and the most terrible temptation".
"The Third Testament" of Anna Schmidt was later published by S. Bulgakov.
In the preface to the book "From the Manuscripts of A. N. Schmidt" S. Bulgakov refers to A. Schmidt's work as a mystical treatise of "paramount significance which could easily stand the comparison with the works of the first-class European mystics, such as J. Boehme, Poredge, Swedenborg, a.o. 
In his "Recollections about Blok" Andrei Bely wrote: "read "The Third Testament" of A. N. Schmidt, and there you will find the keys to many problems plaguing Blok of those days; not everyone finds these keys incomprehensible. Thus, they are understood by S. N. Bulgakov, V. I. Ivanov, N. A. Berdyaev, P.A. Florensky. A. A.'s (Blok's L.P.) many literary colleagues remain in the dark about them, since, of course, he did not discuss gnostic themes with them" .
V.V. Rozanov was also an outstanding figure of those years. According to N. Berdyaev's apt expression, "his thinking was not logical but physiological" . Speaking at the religious-philosophical gatherings at the beginning of the century, he would rebel against the Cross and express his hostility towards Christianity, because he missed pagan pleasures and elemental life in it. His paper on "Adogmatism of Christianity" (1902), "Concerning Sweetest Jesus and the Bitter Fruits of the World" (1907) and especially "The Dark Image" (1911) speak of some frightful interpretation of Christianity. Besides, "only flesh was ontologically convincing for him" . It is not surprising that in the Bible he would find "only the stories of labors and births, only the song of passion and love... thus religiously retreating into pre-Christian cults and returning to the worship of elements, to the religion of birth-giving powers" .
Shortly before his death he admitted to N. Berdyaev: "I am praying to God, but not to yours: to Osiris, Osiris!" .
The same pernicious spirit had infected many Russian "minds". According to G. Florovsky "individual paths by which the members of Russian intelligentsia returned to, if not faith then to religious topics, were interweaving in a very diverse manner, forming, as it were, a dense forest" . The denseness of atmosphere was particularly felt in the drawing rooms. For example, in the famous Merezhkovskys' salon, where the most brilliant representatives of Russian creative elite would assemble. The anti-clerically disposed N. Berdyaev wrote about it as follows: "In Merezhkovskys' drawing room one felt absorbed by an impersonal atmosphere; one felt under some kind of an unhealthy magic spell, probably similar to the one prevailing in sectarian circles, in the non-rationalistic and non-evangelical type sects; the same sort of magic I later experienced among the Steiner's followers" .
Let us note that Rudolf Steiner, anthroposophist and Rosicrucian, had many pupils and followers in Russia. Among them were not only the eerie A.R. Mintslova, but also Andrei Bely, Vlach. Ivanov and many others. The famous future heretics-"theologians" P. Florensky and S. Bulgakov were no strangers to such occult moods. Berdyaev remembers that P. Florensky was also involved in the occult and, possibly, had the relevant aptitude for it. He wrote: "One felt alienated from Florensky by his inclination to the occult, his antagonizing fundamental feeling of the world being under the spell, also his languor, absence of a concept of freedom, faint feeling of Christ, his stylization and decadence, which he introduced into Russian philosophy. Florensky struck me with his moral indifference, substitution of ethical values by the aesthetic ones... He was a peculiar Platonist in his own interpretation of Plato. Plato's ideas acquired an almost sexual character with him. His theologizing was of an erotic kind. All this was new in Russia. In his own way he was also expecting the new era of the Spirit in Christianity
(?! - L.P.), but he was bound and shackled. He was also an initiator of Sophiology, although he did not elaborate and develop it to the extent S. Bulgakov did later on . Bulgakov was considered to be the central figure of Orthodox "Renaissance" at the beginning of the twentieth century. Subsequently he became one of the founders and inspirers of the "Paris school" of theology.
Even when Russian intelligentsia found itself in the grip of despair and feeling of being abandoned by God and the increasing longing for the Church, it tragically lacked humility and disposition to asceticism. Thus it was at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. This is the way things are now as well. The break of the cultural elite with the Church and its subsequent return into its fold was by no means humble. This was what archimandrite Konstantin (Zaitsev) called "the sinister significance of the flowering of our secular theological thought and our brilliant church journalism" .
The doubtless spiritual delusion (Russ.
prelest' in the ascetic sense of the word) of Russian theologizing thought manifested in its turning to esoterism and mysticism (ancient gnostics Basilides, Valentinus, also J. Boehme, Paracelsus, Swedenborg a.o.) This delusion was bound with a militant nonacceptance of Patristic tradition and high-minded attitude to dogmas, canons and liturgical discipline of the Church. "Theological thought grew out of the habit of lending its ear to the heartbeat of the Church. And it was losing access to this heart" 
This has caused not only substitution of theology by religious philosophy, but also, by now habitual, substitution of the Church dogmas by theologumena. Confusion of ideas and concepts of those times has determined the further destiny of the pseudo-Orthodox religious philosophy. The objective was reached: the heresy of Sophianism and other forms of theological modernism were firmly introduced into the life of the "universal Orthodoxy".
 Nikolai Berdyaev, "Samopoznanie" (Self-knowledge). Opyt filosofskoy avtobiografii). YMCA-Press, 1949-1983, p. 222.
 Prot. Georgii Florovsky, "Puti russkago bogosloviia" (The Ways of Russian Theology), Paris, 1937, p.487.
 Vladimir Soloviev, "Pis'ma" (Letters), St. Petersburg, 1923, v. 4, pp. 11-12.
 See Sergei Bulgakov, "Vladimir Solov'ev i Anna Schmidt. Tikhiya dumy" (Vladimir Solov'ev i Anna Schmidt. Quiet Thoughts), Moscow, 1918; YMCAPress, Paris, 1976, p. 78.
 Andrei Bely, "Vospominaniia o Bloke" (Recollections about Blok), Epopeia (literary monthly), April, 1922, No. 1, p. 167.
 N. Berdyaev, ibid., p. 170.
 Prot. G. Florovsky, ibid., p.461.
 Ibid., p. 461.
 N. Berdyaev, ibid. p. 169.
 Prot. G. Florovsky, ibid., p. 462.
 N. Berdyaev, ibid., p. 162.
 N. Berdyaev, ibid., pp.184-185.
 Archimandrite Constantine, "Chudo Russkoi istorii" (The Miracle of Russian history), Jordanville, 1970, p. 257.
 Prot. G. Florovsky, ibid., p. 503.