A radical Old Believer group known for its rejection of money and passports as marks of the Antichrist.
The Adamant confession (adamantovy), emerging from the rich tapestry of Old Believer traditions in Russia, represents one of the more radical expressions of dissent against the Russian Orthodox Church’s post-Nikonian reforms. The Old Believers, or Old Ritualists, are a faction within Eastern Orthodox Christianity that sought to preserve the liturgical practices and rituals of the Russian Church as they were before the sweeping reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon between 1652 and 1666. These reforms were aimed at aligning Russian Orthodox practices with those of the Greek Orthodox Church, but they inadvertently sparked a schism, leading to the formation of various Old Believer groups, each with its own distinct beliefs and practices.
The Adamant confession distinguished itself by its staunch refusal to use money and passports, which they believed bore the seal of the Antichrist. This radical stance underscores the group’s deeper theological and eschatological convictions, viewing such items as emblematic of a corrupt world dominated by Antichrist forces. This belief is part of a broader narrative within some Old Believer communities, particularly the Bespopovtsy, or priestless Old Believers, who renounced the formal church structure and sacraments (except Baptism), proclaiming the absence of a legitimate ecclesiastical authority on earth.
Old Believer communities, including those adhering to the Adamant confession, are marked by a profound commitment to preserving the pre-Nikonian liturgical traditions and a wariness of external influences that could dilute their faith. Their practices, such as the use of two fingers (instead of three) for making the sign of the cross and the rejection of polyphonic singing in favor of traditional monodic chant, are seen as vital to maintaining the purity of Orthodox Christianity. These rituals and beliefs are not mere preferences but are considered essential to the salvation of one’s soul, embodying centuries of spiritual wisdom and power.
The history of the Adamant confession, like that of many Old Believer groups, is a testament to the complex interplay between religious belief, social identity, and resistance to centralized ecclesiastical and state power. Their emergence and evolution reflect broader themes in Russian religious history, including the tension between tradition and reform, the struggle for religious autonomy, and the enduring significance of ritual in the expression of faith.