SFI Journal. Issue 31
The Quarterly Journal of St. Philaret’s Institute. 2019. Iss. 31. 264 p.
The Biblical Background of εκκλησία and its Later Application in the Orthodox Ecclesiology
The author compares two types of Orthodox ecclesiology. The first one is the eucharistic/liturgical ecclesiology based on the biblical (Semitic) understanding of the Church as God’s people, gathered around Christ and called to proclaim the coming Kingdom every time the Church comes together ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό (in one place), especially for celebrating the Eucharist. The second is the therapeutic/cathartic ecclesiology associated with the theological school of Alexandria. This type considers the Church not as the image of eschaton but rather as the image of the beginning of all being, the image of creation. In this ecclesiology, the Church is viewed separately from the historically existing church community, as a perfect and eternal Idea. The emphasis is put on the purification of the soul (catharsis), deliverance from passions and healing (therapy) of the fallen human nature. The spirituality and mission of the Church within the second type of ecclesiology are aimed not at the synergistic and prophetic proclamation of the Kingdom of God but at the salvation of the soul of each particular Christian. According to the author, today the Church needs to return to the prophetic nature of Orthodoxy as well as to the fundamental biblical tradition.
Keywords: ecclesiology, images of the Church, eschaton, Catechetical School of Alexandria, Eucharist.
The Characteristics and Boundaries of Eucharistic Gathering in the Writings of Protopresbyters Nikolay Afanasiev, Alexander Schmemann and Metropolitan John Zizioulas
The article discusses the characteristics and boundaries of eucharistic gathering in the works of Protopresbyter Nikolay Afanasyev. It also traces the development of his ideas in the writings of his most notable followers, Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann and Metropolitan John Zizioulas. The notion of eucharistic gathering is central to Fr Nikolay Afanasyev’s Eucharistic ecclesiology, and so is the issue of its attributes and boundaries. In this paper, an attempt is made to formulate a list of criteria by which eucharistic gathering can be identified (all together in one place for the same purpose, the lack of observers, the royal priesthood service of all participants, the spirit of unity and love etc.). Moreover, considering the views of Schmemann and Zizioulas shows how differently they developed Fr Nikolay Afanasyev’s ideas. Whereas Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann maintained the continuity of Fr Nikolay’s conceptual issues, Metropolitan John Zizioulas elaborated his theology in a rather different and independent way.
Keywords: eucharistic gathering, ecclesiology, Protopresbyter Nikolay Afanasyev, Metropolitan John Zizioulas, Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann.
This paper analyzes the anthropological catastrophe which occurred in Russia in the XX c. and discusses, which anthropological and social strategies are possible for redressing it in the immediate, post-catastrophic period. We review how ethical models have changed in Russia, from the prerevolutionary period to the present day, showing that the changes were typically sharp breaks between subsequent ethical models which were dictated by state power in a normative and violent manner. These breaks were damaging and disorienting for ethical consciousness, and gradually deprived this consciousness of sensitivity, eventually degrading it entirely. The paper characterizes the final, post-soviet stages of the process as the formation of “anti-ethics” (in the 1990s), followed by today’s formation of “non-ethics”, i. e. atrophied moral instinct and ethical consciousness.
Next, the paper undertakes an anthropological analysis of the postcatastrophic state of man and society in Russia. Based on the conception of man as the “being-presence” (developed chiefly in Heidegger’s philosophy of Dasein and in the philosophy of Vladimir Bibikhin, in Russia), we conclude that in the post-catastrophic situation man exists in a certain deficient mode that might be termed the “trampled-down presence”. We find examples of this mode of existence portrayed in modern art in the works of Rilke, Klee and Kharms, and also in works of GULAG prisoners. In these examples, man’s mission of self-realization – insofar as self-realization is even possible under such extreme conditions – is qualified as a particular kind of existential practice that we term “registration on the edge”, or “ultimate registration”. Those who accomplish this mission are “ulimate registrars”. The mode of being that we call “trampled-down presence” lacks a full-bodied ethical model (as well as other dimensions of normal beingpresence), although it still has a certain ethos.
Keywords: ethics, ethos, ontology, anthropology, Russia, Russian revolution, archaization, anthropological catastrophe, being-presence, extreme practices, repentance.
Learning Spiritual Discernment
In his article prepared on the basis of his presentation at the conference “Discernimento e vita Cristiana” (“Discernment and Christian Life”), held in Bose (Italy) in September 2018, the author reflects on the relevance of spiritual discernment as one of the traditional Christian ascetic virtues. He states that practicing discernment in today’s world becomes not only a Christian value but one which is common to humanity. Learning discernment skills is a crucial task to all. The author emphasises three aspects leading to fruitful learning of spiritual discernment: 1) the awareness of the close relationship between the Christian and the Church, the need for a profound immersion into the life of the Church, understanding one’s baptism as taking part in “Christ’s death” as well as one’s participation in the Eucharist as partaking in His Passions; 2) eschatological consciousness which becomes a measure of discernment and gives an adequate viewpoint (since the essence of all things is being revealed from an eschatological perspective); 3) growing up to the quality of God’s life, up to the freedom of initiative and willingness to respond, learning through backslides and returns.
Keywords: discernment, St Maximus the Confessor, St Irenaeus, eschaton, baptism, mystery of death, eucharist, repentance, freedom.
The Needham Question and the Anthropological Dimension of the Biblical Worldview
The main judgement confirms the Needham question importance yet argues Needham’s explanation, showing some inconsistence of its main idea that European Scientific revolution occurred finally due to implying the concept of Creator standing behind Nature. As an alternative the article discusses the prospects of interaction between two understandings of man’s predestination: the idea of scientific investigation activity explained as his high calling to decipher the book of Nature written by The Holy Author on one hand and the eschatological reunion of The Creator and the creation through new mankind experiencing its transfiguration in Christ Resurrected.
Keywords: theology, anthropology, science, creation, vocation, reunion.
The Theme of Everlasting Life of the Universe in Russian Cosmism
Perception of the world as a living whole is a common feature of the sophiological stance in Russian religious philosophy and of the wide scientist movement known as Russian cosmism. The ontological status of the source of cosmic integrity and vitality is a critical issue in the Orthodox theology. In this context, cosmism is often associated with the doctrine of immanence. The foundation for such an association is analysed in the first part of the article. The core ideas of Russian cosmism are considered in parallel with sophiology and scientism. The second part of the article presents different concepts of eternity in their relation to the idea of Creation. In particular, it is focused on the dynamic quality of time as explicated in the concept of omnitemporality by Lev Karsavin and in causal mechanics by Nikolay Kozyrev. The cosmological and theological implications of Kozyrev’s physics of time are taken into consideration, including the idea that active properties of time may provide a mechanism for a synergetic interaction between Providence and noosphere.
Keywords: cosmism, sophiology, pan-unity, time, eternity, causality, negentropy.
Possible Principles of Dialogue of Natural Science and Christian Theology
Problem of dialogue is examined in the context of the existing tension between the scientific and theological ways of knowing. The method is based on the analysis reflections on this theme of the scientists themselves (mostly physicists), available in the literature. The analysis made it possible to identify objective and subjective difficulties in the way of convergence of two positions and formulate five principles of the dialogue: compliance with the competence boundaries, clarity and transparency of terminology, agreement on the unity of truth, need for joint discussion of axiological and ethical problems. The fifth principle involves the desire to hear and understand other party. The real dialogue of physicists and theologians going on at the St Philaret’s Institute for more than six years is described and analyzed in terms of these principles. A picture of the positions of physicists (agnostics, atheists) and Christians is presented on four topics: Christianity, God and man, knowledge, good and evil. The difficulties in following all the principles revealed during meetings clearly show that the considered real dialogue is in the very initial phase and its further positive development requires effort on both sides.
Keywords: science and religion, physics and theology, conceptual and real dialogue.
“Physics and Theology”: Interview with Roundtable Participants
The Quarterly Journal of St Philaret’s Institute plans to publish the most interesting proceedings of the “Physics and Theology” roundtables. Its methodological grounds are outlined in G. Shpatakovskaya’s paper “Possible Principles of Dialogue of Natural Science and Christian Theology”. We launch the series of publications with an interview with SFI rector Fr Georgy Kochetkov, founder and regular participant in these symposia.
Keywords: science, theology, theories on the origin of the universe, Revelation, cognition.
Russian Religious Philosophy
On Characterising the Slavophiles’ Political Theory: About Ivan Kireyevsky’s Beliefs
Over recent decades, the Slavophiles’ political theory has been relatively seldom made the subject of a special analysis. It has been customary to reproduce traditional historiographic judgments, which cover neither new sources on the topic, introduced over the years, nor the results of developing related topics. The article aims at considering some subjects to characterise more accurately the political beliefs of Ivan Vasilyevich Kireyevsky (1806–1856). As one of the most prominent figures among the Slavophiles, he attracts attention mainly for his philosophical and some of his theological views. By no means rebutting this view, the author provides a brief description of his political beliefs of his mature period (late 1830s). In his writings of that time, Ivan Kireyevsky appears as a political theorist, attentive to the conceptual row, who assumed in 1855 the conservative-liberal nationalist position oriented towards the Anglophile tradition. Of particular interest is Kireyevsky’s position in relation to “law” and “legality”. In contrast to the prevailing interpretation of Slavophilism by Aksakov, disregarding formal legality and almost opposing it to justice (within the dichotomy of an “outer truth” versus an “inner” one), Kireyevsky advocates the unity of justice and legality.
Keywords: history of Russian social thought, nationalism, political theory, Russian liberalism, Slavophilism.
Principles of Christian Education according to A. S. Khomyakov and I. V. Kireyevsky
This article outlines the principles of education characteristic of Russian cultural traditions, in the opinion of A. S. Khomyakov and I. V. Kireyevsky. The founders of Slavophilism identified and described the Russian type of education in relation to European education. The both authors emphasised not the confrontation with the way of thinking, dominant in European science and education, but rather the diversity and value of the native spiritual and intellectual culture, organically evolved over the centuries of Russian history. According to the author, A. S. Khomyakov and I. V. Kireyevsky pointed up three principles specific for Russian education: the equilibrium of convictions and way of life; the integrity of person in the unity of faith and reason; ecclesiality. I. V. Kireyevsky and A. S. Khomyakov as well as their followers not only developed their ideas in theoretical writings but also put them into practice.
Keywords: Slavophiles, enlightenment, education, science, theology.
Contemporary Orthodox Ecclesiology: Ministry and Structure of the Church: Overview of the Conference (Moscow and the Moscow Region, 13–15 May 2019) (O. I. Sidorova)
Book Review: Annenkova E. I. Konstantin Aksakov. The Joyfulness of the Spirit. St Petersburg : Rostok, 2018. 320 p.
Book Review: Introduction to Church History. Part 3. Review of the Sources on Church History in Russia : In 2 v. / Ed. V. V. Simonov. V. 2 : Sources of the XVIII – the early XXI centuries. St Petersburg : Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2018. 485  p.; with coloured plates [16 p.].