Khlysty can probably best be considered as an offshoot or splinter group that broke off from the Russian Orthodox Church. Grigori Rasputin first heard about this sect during his stay at one of the monasteries.
It seems as the monks who were eventually to compose membership in the sect of Khlysty had little or no regard for the strict rites associated with the Russian Orthodox Church. To them, these rituals were mere formalities and were to be adhered to only to avoid a clash with Church authorities. The Khlysty members held their own belief that they were representative of the true Orthodox faith however they pledged to keep their sentiments to themselves.
Credit for the foundation of the sect goes to a member of the brotherhood by the name of Danila Filipich. The name means “Men of God". It was at the beginning of the eighteenth century when he had this to say to his followers.
“Keep my laws secret, entrust them neither to your father nor to your mother, be steadfast and silent even under the lash or the flames; thus you will enter the kingdom of Heaven, and even here on earth receive the bliss of the spirit."
The Khlysty sect was now shrouded in mystery and it was from this mystery that it drew its strength. Their membership, while strictly obeying the rules of the Orthodox Church as a cover, had their own agenda.
Amongst themselves, the members of the Khlysty sect believed that the Orthodox Church’s rituals and prayers were only necessary from those who did not have true enlightenment. They believed that the Church’s prayers and rituals were a product made for men by men and not inspired by God.
Here are some of the basic tenets of the Khlysty sect:
First of all, and probably most important, is that God is constantly being reincarnated in the form of man. This was not subject to any time constraints and could occur at random times here on earth. That birth at Nazareth, it was not an isolated event but has been repeated at various time throughout history and is still being repeated.
One might ask “How does this happen?” Well it seems that is the Khlysty belief that it can only be achieved by total self denial and submission to the Holy Spirit. Once one becomes numb to all the worldly sensations, one can no longer sin. Once he can no longer sin he will be blessed with the power to heal, prophesize, raise the dead, and save other souls from the eternal fires of hell. When Judgment Day is upon us, these folks will also be able to deliver rewards to those they deem worthy and to cast out punishments on the rest of us.
Here’s the catch. The Khlysty belief also stressed that in order to be repentant in the eyes of God, one had to have committed a boatload of sins in their lifetime. In other words, the lower you were during your lifetime, the more likely you were to achieve salvation. The provision was that you had to be truly repentant.
We all know that most religions try to regulate sex in one form or another and Khlysty is no different. It seems that they held the belief that if one was married while member of the sect, and that marriage was in turn blessed by a priest, you have just committed a grave sin against the Holy Spirit and were now considered as a candidate for being the Antichrist. If you were married before entering the sect, you had to abandon your beloved and if you had any children, they were now considered your sins.
This didn’t stop the Khlysty’s from expressing other forms of love. “Spiritual marriages” were allowed which permitted partners to sleep with each other but no “relations” were to occur.