Education as a way to integrate knowledge. Interview of Аlexander Kopirovskiy with Olga Sigizmundovna Popova to the 25th Anniversary of the Transfiguration Brotherhood
Toward a Baptismal Ecclesiology: Faith Content and Ecclesial Context
This article focuses on the study of the essence and structure of the church in the context of contemporary Orthodox ecclesiology. A theological definition and dogma on the Church do not yet exist, though XIX and XX century’s theologians have made significant contributions to our understanding of the issues involved. This article analyzes the essence and influence of Eucharistic ecclesiology on the development of our understanding of the Church in the XX century, pointing out that Eucharistic ecclesiology pays little attention to making sense of baptism, which many modern Christians understand as nothing more than a ritual. We might be able to significantly supplement Eucharistic ecclesiology by making reference to the meaning of baptism as the beginning of life in the church and entrance into the Eucharistic fellowship. This article looks at baptism in both its broad and narrow contexts: as threefold submersion accompanied by the words “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”, and as the sacral mystery of Enlightenment. Both linear and cyclical models for understanding baptism are considered, as well as various approaches to making sense of the Church’s understanding of baptism, including those of St Cyprian, St Basil the Great and other fathers of the Eastern Christian Church. In conclusion, an eschatological understanding of baptism emerges, as entry into the mystery of the Christian faith in the crucified and resurrected Christ. This is a reality that is integral to life and demands constant growth from Christians, but in its fullness this reality can be revealed in an eschatological perspective.
Keywords: Baptism, Baptismal Ecclesiology, Eucharistic Ecclesiology, Church, St. Cyprian, St. Basil.
This article takes as its starting point Fr Nikolay Afanasiev’s significant study entitled “The Church Which Presides in Love”, in which in addition to treating the long-discussed relationship between local and universal ecclesiology, Afanasiev proposes an innovative interpretation of the church primate (hierarch), which presupposes the practical refusal of any manifestation of primacy in favour of the conceptual imagery of priority, previously unexplored in academic discourse. According to Afanasiev, priority is an exclusively spiritual quality of the church community which exceeds others in the charisma of Christian witness because of its foundation in the love of Christ. This article examines the possibility of extending this understanding of primacy based on a priority of love, as proposed by Fr Nikolay Afanasiev in the context of interrelations between local church communities, to the internal life of any given local Christian community. The author supposes that it is possible to extrapolate from the priority of love as the foundation of authority of a particular local fellowship in relationship to others, in order to conclude that within each community it is this charisma of love that becomes the foundational, if not unique criterion of the community’s spiritual maturity and the extent to which it is living its calling. Turning the priority of love into a fundamental and pervasive life principle for the local church community makes it necessary, in the author’s opinion, to integrate imagery depicting the “flashing” or “shimmering” manner in which the Church of God appears within history into our conceptual understanding of orthodox ecclesiology. This “shimmering” indicates the lack of self-sufficiency of any given empirical form of church, without respect to its scale in numbers and degree of institutional effectiveness.
Keywords: Eucharistic ecclesiology, universal/local church, primacy, priority, church authority.
“The Republic of Autocephalous Churches” as a Model of the Orthodox Church
In 2018–2019 World Orthodoxy entered a phase of severe institutional crisis, which exacerbated the contradictions existed between the autocephalous churches. The article analyzes the ecclesiological causes of the crisis. The author points out that in Orthodox ecclesiology there are at least two conflicting normative theories describing the structure of the Orthodox Church in different ways. The first is based on the principle of pan-Orthodox unity, the second is based on the principle of independence of autocephaly. The first model describes the position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and is supported mainly in Greek-speaking churches. The second model describes the position of the Russian Orthodox Church, to which the so-called “New patriarchies” are usually joined. As one of the main causes of the crisis, the author also emphasizes church decisionism, within the framework of which it is impossible to reconcile the principles of pan-Orthodox unity and independence of autocephaly. A characteristic feature of the modern Orthodox ecclesial landscape is the lack of the institution of law at the level of relations between autocephalous churches. The source of the ecclesial order is not the common rules to all participants of inter-Orthodox relations, but the sovereign will of the autocephalous churches. In the final part of the article, the author proposes, as an alternative, the contours of normative ecclesiological theory based on the main principles of republicanism: freedom as non-dominance and the rule of law.
Keywords: ecclesiology, inter-Orthodox relations, republicanism, decisionism, autocephaly, primacy, freedom as non-dominance, canon law.
Various Thoughts on the Ecclesiology of Vatican II
A return to the biblical understanding of the “people of God” in referring to the Church implies a change in our understanding and perception of the Catholic Church itself on the part of the fathers participating in the Second Vatican Council. Specifically, all those who make up the church and perform various services and functions within the church are a part of the people of God. A dynamic relationship between charismatic and hierarchical ministries should be integrated into common and individual consciousness and influence the accelerated growth of
communities and the intensity with which the Gospel is proclaimed. Charismatic and hierarchical ministries are gifts, and those who have been given them should not use them as instruments of power or domination over their fellow Christians. Nor should these gifts be used toward personal goals, in order to shore up any sort of power – small or large – but should be used to bring us closer to the Kingdom of God on earth here and now, the full embodiment of which will occur only with the Parousia of Jesus Christ.
Keywords: Vatican II, Lumen gentium (“A Light to the Nations”), people of God, charismatic ministries, hierarchical ministries, kingdom of God.
“Contemporary Orthodox Ecclesiology: Church Unity and Divisions in the Church”. Theology and Research Conference. An Interview with Fr Georgy Kochetkov, Deacon Vasiliy Felmy, E. A. Pilipenko,P. Vasiliades, Archimandrite Kirill (Govorun), Th. Bremer, Fr Stephan Lipke
This series of interviews published in the SPhI Journal is a foretaste of what will be heard at SPhI’s annual conference focusing on issues of contemporary Orthodox ecclesiology. The conference “Church Unity and Divisions in the Church” will be the most recent in a series: “Between Eucharistic Ecclesiology and the Reality of Parish Life” (2017), “The Nature of the Church and Its Boundaries” (2018), “Ministry and Structure of the Church” (2019). On the one hand, the Eastern and Western churches continue to take steps, if not towards reunion, at least towards increased dialogue and the elimination of historically accrued stereotypes. On the other hand, a number of new challenges to church unity have appeared. In particular, there have been a number of recent events in the Orthodox world, such as the non-participation of several local churches in the Pan-Orthodox Council, the establishment of a new metropolis under the jurisdiction of Constantinople in Ukraine, and the debates around the status of the Archdiocese of Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe. In light of these tendencies, we ask Orthodox and Roman Catholic theologians to answer a number of questions about the nature of church unity and the prospectives for preserving visible unity between Christian churches in the contemporary world.
Keywords: Church unity, sobornost, conciliarity, Christian dialogue, types of ecclesiology, Phyletism, borders of the Church.
A Commentary on One of Gregory Palamas’ “Chapters” Preserved in Antipalamite Sources
This article analyzes a chapter contained in a collection of antipalamite extracts taken from the works of St. Gregory of Palamas, which after being read at the Council of 1351 caused such agitation that the controversy around the Palamite and his opponents was brought to a halt by the Emperor. The chapter comes to light in an essay of Arsenios of Tyre relating to the Council, is also preserved in other antipalamite sources, and is taken from Gregory’s 3rd Refutation of Akindin. The article shows that the antipalamites, following Nicephorus Gregoras, quote an original text, while what has come down to us in the Palamite manuscripts has been subject to later correction with the goal of softening careless expressions of thought. In the original version, Gregory relies on his own liberal interpretation of expressions from the works of Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagite. The article also gives other examples of changes made to the works of Gregory Palamas by the author himself, which have been brought to light by contemporary scholars (the 3rd letter to Akindin, “Dialogue Between an Orthodox and a Barlaamite”, “On the Holy Spirit”, and others). The author comes to the conclusion that it is wise to proceed with caution when using the works of Gregory Palamas as a primary source in the reconstruction of the history of the Palamite controversy or Palamite theology.
Keywords: late-Byzantine theology, Palamite Controversy, Gregory Palamas, 1351 Council of Constantinople, Corpus Dionysiacum, Dionysian Corpus.
Imagination in the spiritual practices of East and West: a comparison of approaches
The article presents a comparison between two opposite approaches regarding the role of imagination in prayer. The positive approach is illustrated by the method of contemplation of Gospel passages, which is contained in “Spiritual Exercises” of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The negative view is presented by the teachings of St. John of the Cross and the hesychast authors. Even though the two approaches differ from each other significantly, there exists also a common
ground, first of all regarding the negative aspect of the activity of imagination. But while its opponents categorically reject any revelations through the faculty of imagination because of the risk of deception, Ignatius of Loyola opts for careful discernment of interior “movements” with the help of special rules. Another conclusion concerns the complementary role which these opposite views may play in relation to each other. For the Ignatian contemplative method, the need to subordinate the work of the imagination to a “single spiritual movement” in the search for a way to follow Christ, as well as a clearer understanding of the danger of unconscious projections through the imagination, if we are talking about a person who is not sufficiently “cleared of passion,” and/or immature in psycho-emotional terms. On the other hand, before those who oppose involving imagination in the process of human communication with God, the question arises of how to help a believer experience a deep and comprehensive encounter with the Christ of the Gospels, which are the invaluable source of the mysteries of His earthly life.
Keywords: imagination, Ignatius of Loyola, John of the Cross, hesychasm, contemplation, self-deception, prayer.
Priest Vladimir Vostokov – Member of the White Movement and Founder of the Brotherhood of the Life-Giving Cross
The article examines the views and activities of the priest Vladimir Vostokov, who played a prominent role in the social and political life of the White South during the Civil war as the leader of the Brotherhood of the Life-Giving Cross organized by him. The author analyzes the reasons for the transformation of the Brotherhood into an Orthodox right-wing nationalist party, as well as the relationship of the priest Vladimir Vostokov with the Church authorities in the South of Russia, the clergy, the Orthodox community, and right-wing political forces. His controversial, but certainly outstanding personality is considered against the background of political processes that took place during this period. For the first time in historiography, this problem is subjected to a comprehensive study and is considered on the basis of sources based on the documentation of a Special meeting of the Volunteer Army, the Provisional Supreme Church administration, the All-Russian National Center, and memoiristics. The author comes to the conclusion that the extremes of the position of the priest Vladimir Vostokov, the idea of a Jew-Masonic conspiracy that he preached, and the desire to include anti-Semitic statements in the official Church discourse at all costs, were perceived negatively. Therefore, the Brotherhood of the Life-Giving Cross created by him did not receive the support of the highest Church authority of the White South. Having been created initially to protect the faith, if necessary even by force of arms, the brotherhood began to acquire the features of a political organization, and was noticed by the right part of the spectrum of political forces. At the same time, Vostokov’s preaching talent, his fervent struggle for faith and love for the Motherland made him a popular preacher among the people. Perhaps this was facilitated by the everyday anti-Semitism of the Cossacks. Of course, the personality of its founder played a decisive role in the fate of the Brotherhood of the Life-Giving Cross.
Keywords: Orthodox clergy, Civil war, political views, White movement, rightwing parties, nationalism, Brotherhood of the Life-Giving Cross.
Russia Abroad and its Ecclesiastical and Historical Significance
The article is devoted to the analysis of the ecclesiastical and historical significance of Russia Abroad. It shows a conceptual difference between Russia Abroad and the Russians oversees, the concepts which are often mistakenly used as synonyms. Russia Abroad was a unique phenomenon in the World History of the 20th century. The activities of the Russian Council of Ambassadors, which did not recognize the power of the Bolsheviks assigned to Paris, the main center of the intellectual forces of Russian exiles, the role of the capital of Russia Abroad. The article shows the role the League of Nations and especially the role of F. Nansen and K. N. Gulkevich in solving the problems of Russian refugees, exiles and emigrants. Official representation in the League of Nations of the Council of ambassadors and other Russian public organizations and the acquisition of their internationally recognized Nansen passport meant de facto recognition of Russia Abroad by the States of the League of Nations. Being a temporary State organization without its own territory, Russia Abroad had its own (Nansen’s) passport and its own anthem, memorable dates and holidays. Only in Russia Abroad did the Russian culture of the Silver age continue to develop. Special attention in the article is given to the role of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia Abroad and to the relations between its leaders abroad, – Metropolitan Evlogy (Georgievsky) and Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky). Exiled Russian philosophers connected their main hope for spiritual overcoming of the political split between Russians outside and inside Russia with the Russian Orthodox Church abroad. Despite its positive role, the Russian Orthodox Church abroad, unfortunately, could not become the main connecting and organizing force of Russia Abroad, largely due to the rivalry of hierarchs. Russia Abroad was unable to overcome its internal political disunity and create a unified will. The second and third waves, as well as the new generations of the first wave, could not breathe strength into fading away Russia Abroad that was fading away. Russia Abroad disappeared along with the collapse of the Communist system, which was facilitated by its opposition and struggle.
So far, only the tip of the huge iceberg of Russia Abroad has been explored. Historians are still only on the way to this world-historical phenomenon and the development of its religious and philosophical, literary, scientific, technical, artistic and architectural heritage. Special attention is paid to the scientific and practical value, significance and usefulness of the research of scientific problems of Russia Abroad in order to solve the problems of migrants in modern Russia.
Keywords: Russia Abroad, the Russians oversees, the Russian Orthodox Church, the League of Nations, F. Nansen, K. N. Gulkevich, Metropolitan Evlogy (Georgievsky), Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky), the Russian Foreign Congress of 1926.
Review of the Conference “Translation of the Church Service into the Russian Language” (Moscow, December 5, 2019)
Review of the Conference “I Neplyuyev Readings. Heritage of N. N. Neplyuyev and Spiritual Renewal of Russia” (Moscow, December 20, 2019)
Book review: Psychology of Religion in Russia in XIX and early XXI centuries : [Joint monograph] / Ed. by K. M. Antonov. М. : PSTGU, 2019. 534,  p.