After the February Revolution, the Russian Orthodox Church sought to reconstitute itself to allow broader participation of its clergy and laity in order to fulfill the aspirations of a Church reform movement that had begun around 1900. At the same time, the Church sought to avoid losing its traditional institutional authority in the eyes of believers. To accomplish this, broader participation had to be grounded in sobornost’ – a church ethos of traditional Orthodox catholicity or conciliarism – while avoiding political, secular, and revolutionary influences.
Drawing on many church voices from 1917–1918, this paper sketches the efforts and ultimate success that the Russian Church achieved in reestablishing sobornost’ as its organizational and spiritual foundation. Specifically, it reveals how a revitalized diocesan church press, freed from pre-revolutionary censorship, expressed the widespread hopes that a conciliar church could be
established through active participation of the clergy and laity, and ultimately through the convening of the long-anticipated All-Russian Church Council. Revolution in the church threatened the authority of the Holy Synod and the Preconciliar Committee that planned the Church Council. However, a significant yet relatively unknown episode – the August 1917 elections to the Council’s Presidium – as well as the writings of Sobor members themselves demonstrate how the Council succeeded in institutionalizing sobornost’ at the Council. Although
this quality of sobornost’ expressed “unity in multiplicity,” it was neither quantitative nor geographical, and did not reflect class, estate, or political distinctions. Instead, it expressed a wholeness and communion of ideas that still allowed for vigorous debate.
Keywords: Russian Orthodox Church, All-Russian Church Council of 1917– 1918, sobornost’, Russian Revolution of 1917, religion, church reform, Provisional Government.
Russia Abroad and its Ecclesiastical and Historical Significance
The article is devoted to the analysis of the ecclesiastical and historical significance of the Russia Abroad. It shows a conceptual difference of the Russia Abroad from the Russians oversees which are often mistakenly used as synonyms. The Russia Abroad was a unique phenomenon in the World History of XX century. The Russsian Council of ambassadors’ activities which did not recognize the power of the Bolsheviks have assigned Paris, the main center of the intellectual forces of Russian exiles, the role of the capital of the Russia Abroad. The article shows the role the League of Nations and especially the role of F. Nansen and K. N. Gulkevich at the solution of 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 the Russia Abroad by the States of the League of Nations. Being a temporary State organization without its own territory, the Russia Abroad has its own (Nansen’s) passport and its own anthem, memorable dates and holidays. Only in the Russia Abroad did the Russian culture of the Silver age continue to develop. The particular attention this article gives to the role of the Russian Orthodox Church at the Russia Abroad and to the relations between its leaders abroad, metropolitan Evlogy (Georgievsky) and metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky). Exiled Russian philosophers associated 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 the Russia Abroad, largely due to the competition of hierarchs. The 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 the expiring Russia Abroad Foreign Russia. The 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 the Russia Abroad has been explored. Historians are still only on the way to this worldhistorical 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 and significance of the research and to the use of research on scientific problems in the Russia Abroad to solve the problems of migrants in modern Russia.
Keywords: the 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.
Missiology, Catechetics, Homiletics
Basic Principles of Catechization (based on sources of the 2nd – 5th centuries)
The article defines and substantiates the universal principles of catechization that are not bound to external conditions, but correspond to the main task of introducing people into the Church. This makes it possible to apply them to the catechumenal practice of any period in Church history. Although there is no single continuous catechumenal tradition and during the existence of active catechumenal practice in Church history (the II–V centuries) one can see a significant difference both in the form of catechism and in its content, the analysis of the whole set of ancient catechumenal practices shows that they have certain features in common. This suggests that the catechetical tradition of the Church is consistent with certain principles. There has always been the task of introducing people into the Church. On the one hand, the questions of instructing in faith recurred in the situation of missions to non-Christian peoples, especially in the case of adult baptism. On the other hand, the reference to early catechetical practices in the XX century stems from the solution of the vital needs of the time that arise from the ignorance of formally baptized people. Therefore it seems necessary to trace and analyze the basic principles of catechism, starting from the ancient Church, in order to define the boundaries of concepts and to be able to rely on these principles both in history and in modern times. As such universal principles of catechization, the paper highlights the Church, the unity of faith, prayer and life, as well as the staged approach to catechization.
Keywords: catechization, catechumenate, principles of catechization; churchliness; unity of faith, prayer and life; staged approach.
Testimony to the catechumens of faith in the Church (on the example of early Christian sources from the 2nd to the 5th centuries)
The article is devoted to the understudied issue of the testimony to the catechumens of faith in the Church. On the example of early Christian sources from the 2nd to the 5th centuries, a comparison is made of the usage of three definitions in catechistic and non-catechistic texts: “Church is the body of Christ”, “Church is the assembly of believers” and “Church is the people gathered around the bishop”. As a result, a conclusion is drawn about the peculiarities of the testimony of the Church to the catechumens in comparison with faithful members of the Church. In catechetical texts there is a conscious selection of those definitions, which can be called primary for ecclesiological consciousness of the Ancient Church. Important for a number of ancient texts, the idea of the unity of the Church around the Bishop is not reflected in catechetical texts, while the definition of the Church as an Assembly of believers is already found at the earliest stages of the catechism. The revelation of the Eucharistic, mysterious aspects of the unity of the Church through the image of the Body of Christ in different catechetical practices was carried out in different ways. In Theodore of Mopsuestia’s “Catechetical Homilies” this sacramental aspect is one of the central, whereas Clement of Alexandria and St. John Chrysostom reveal through the image of the Body of Christ, first and foremost, the ethical commandment of love for brothers – members of the same Body.
Keywords: Church, the Body of Christ, Assembly of believers, catechetical homilies, sacraments.
On the problem of missionary reception of religious images of Samoyed peoples in the mission of the Russian Orthodox Church at the present stage
Missionary activity among the indigenous and small peoples of the North is inextricably linked with the reception of the culture of the people to whom the mission is addressed. Many elements of pagan beliefs have become part of culture and have been identified with the traditional way of people’s life. In turn, the interaction of representatives of indigenous peoples with the settlers provoked a change in the pantheon of pagan gods and characters of folk epics, who became identified with Christian saints and biblical characters. The mission in this case should be based on interaction with prevailing national images that reflect Christian ideas and values. In the analysis of Samoyed culture, certain similarities were found between pagan gods-antagonists and the antithesis of the Christian God Almighty and the devil, known in Christian culture. The article discusses the influence of Pagan epic characters similar to Christian God on missionary activity. The hypothesis of this study was that the borrowing of national images could facilitate missionary activity among the indigenous peoples of the North, provide an appropriate cultural code to transmit the Divine Revelation to the peoples.
However, as a result of the work done, it was found that when identifying characters of the pagan epic with Christian saints and God, there is a high probability of countertransference of the negative properties and qualities of the characters to the Christian images, which will have a negative impact on missionary activity in general. Studying and working with national images will effectively optimize missionary activity and avoid methodological errors in planning and building missionary activities in an ethnocultural context.
Keywords: Orthodox Christianity, missiology, mission, missionary work, concepts history, culture, ethnography, missionary field.
Preaching in Russia in the second half of the nineteenth century (based on the materials of the journal “Guide for Rural Pastors”)
The article is devoted to the analysis of materials about church sermon, published in the journal “Guide for Rural Pastors” (weekly publication at the Kiev Theological Seminary; 1860–1917) in the second half of the nineteenth century. Consideration is given to the issue of reviving preaching among the parish clergy in the post-reform period, as well as the problem of the quality of preaching activities of the rural clergy. The article presents the opinions of the authors of the journal in these areas, as well as the controversy that arose in the periodical press around the publications. It is noted that the authors of the “Guide” recognized teaching as one of the main elements of pastoral ministry, which was not typical of the Russian Orthodox Church at that time. The development of preaching was one of the main tasks of the journal. Almost all publications on homiletics published at that time were reflected in its pages. However, the position of its authors, who declared the revival of the sermon, but at the same time correlated its current situation not with the New Testament or Early Christian norm, but with the pre-reform time, did not agree with the opinion of the authors of other church and secular publications that stated a deep crisis of teaching. The quality of individual publications on this topic and the sermons published in the journal were repeatedly criticized by other publications.
Keywords: sermon, church preaching, pastoral ministry, homiletics, church publicity, “Guide for Rural Pastors”.
Christian Calling and the Polis
The article deals with the relationship between the Christian calling and the polis in the age described by means of the concept of “secularism”. The paper looks at how this concept evolved in the Christian era and what its content is in our time. It is argued that modern Western secularism has no atheistic orientation and does not seek to eradicate or marginalize religion. The modern understanding of secularism is based on the “thesis of differentiation”, which implies that different parts of society no longer draw meaning from religion. The article raises the question of what role religion should play in a society where it is no longer an all-encompassing reality. From the author’s point of view, the Christian calling in the epoch of secularism implies a rejection of the dominant role of Christianity, including Orthodoxy, in the state affairs and recognition of legal equality of all religions in society. The adoption of Christian secularism, the public most pluralistic political space, is the only alternative to the authoritarianism of the church, which is conjoined with the state. The article attempts to prove that if the Christian calling is to practice theosis, understood as a communion between God and man, acquired through the ability to love, then a Christian should treat people who do not share his/her faith with ascetic theosis. Theosis policy means that Orthodoxy cannot be imposed on anyone. It is necessary to develop legal structures and cultural practices that give space to the unique individuality of each member of society.
Keywords: religion, policy, Orthodoxy, society, secularism, pluralism, theosis.
Christian vocation and social life: formulation of the problem in the activities of the group of “32” St. Petersburg priests
The article analyzes the church situation in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century and the first attempts of the Russian Orthodox Church to influence the country’s public life. The focus is on a number of documents, declarations, brochures issued by a group of “32” St. Petersburg priests (the Union of church renovation, the Brotherhood of zealots of church renovation) and practical activities of the members of this group in establishing church-public relations. It is concluded that at the beginning of the 20th century the church for the first time begins to perceive society as an independent force located outside the church fence. The condition for a possible dialogue is the active participation of both parties in social construction: ward restructuring church parish, justification of social activity in the prospect of approaching the kingdom of God. The key concepts in the church-public rhetoric at the beginning of the century are the concepts of “the truth of Christ”, “the voice of the Church”. At the height of the revolution of 1905-1906. the 32-x group is trying to become the mouthpiece of the Church’s free voice. They speak out on the issues of the “Black-Hundred” pogroms and State Duma elections. Orientation to new social forces leads the clergy to pose acute political issues, beyond the solution of which the intelligentsia could not conceive social progress. At the same time, the church for the first time formulates the criteria by which the programs of political parties are evaluated, in terms of approaching the ideal of Christian public life.
Keywords: Russian Orthodox Church, the revolution of 1905–1906, the church renovation, a group of “32” St. Petersburg priests, social life.
The concept of “non-religious Christianity” of Dietrich Bonhoeffer as a response to the challenges of time
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945) is a famous German theologian, member of German Resistance movement, who died in a Nazi concentration camp. In his theological letters to his friend and pastor Eberhard Bethge emerges his theological concept of “non-religious Christianity”. Formulated only in sketches in personal letters to his best friend, the concept became a significant contribution to the development of Western theology of the 20th century. The article reveals the significance of the researched concept as an appeal to the church based on the ministry of the Christian Church in the modern world, which has become nonreligious. The content of the concept is revealed in a number of theses formulated in the theological letters. Firstly, religiousness is defined as an individual and metaphysical understanding of Christian life. Secondly it is claimed that believers recognize the transcendence of God through fellowship. Thirdly, according to Bonhoeffer, the modern world has become mature (adult) and has learned to answer the most complex questions without resorting to God. Therefore, the church must learn to live in a non-religious world in the image of a serving community. This requires a revival of catechesis, that is, the consistent entry of new members into the mysterious and dogmatic teachings of the Church, on the one hand, and the external openness of the Christian community to the testimony of Christ, on the other.
Keywords: Christian community, epistolary, German theology, Resistance movement, non-religious Christianity, Bonhoeffer.
The Fruits of Interfaith Communication under the Metropolitan of Leningrad and Novgorod Nicodemus (Rotov)
Metropolitan Nikodemus (Rotov), who headed the Leningrad Diocese in 1963–1978, was at the same time chairman of the Holy Synod Commission on Christian Unity (since August 3, 1963; since May 30, 1972 he headed the Commission on Christian Unity and Interchurch Relations). The Metropolitan made his cathedral city widely open to church delegations, not only for all those from over the Orthodox world, but also for other Christian confessions. In those years, for the sake of establishing and deepening fraternal inter-confessional relations and for
participating in theological interlocutions, Leningrad was visited by Catholic Bishop Johannes Willebrands (Cardinal and Chairman of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity since 1969) and Archbishop Martti Simojoki, head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. By building and strengthening business and personal ties with high hierarchs of different confessions,
Metropolitan Nicodemus sought to get the most out of such contacts for his native Church and for the Leningrad Theological Academy.
Keywords: Leningrad Theological Academy, Metropolitan Nikodemus (Rotov), Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, Archbishop Martti Simojoki, theological interlocutions.
The attitude of the Russian Church Abroad to non-Orthodox Christianity under Metropolitan Filaret (Voznesensky)
The article is devoted to the attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR) to the Ecumenical movement and non-Orthodox Christianity. Although the ROCOR is often referred to as a structure that did not welcome contacts with non-Orthodox people, this is not really true. Social contacts and theological dialogue took place under metropolitans Anthony (Khrapovitsky) and Anastasy (Gribanovsky). The situation began to change under the third first Hierarch of the ROCOR, Metropolitan Filaret (Voznesensky), when the “zealots” party began to influence the leadership. At the same time, there was also an attitude to ecumenism formed in the ROCOR. According to the official definitions of the ROCOR, ecumenism is a doctrine that denies the existence of the Church and seeks to create it in the future on the basis of existing Christian movements. The tightening of the ROCOR’s position with regard to non-Orthodox Christianity was expressed in the decree of the Bishops’ Council of 1971 on the acceptance of non-Orthodox Christians by the first rank, that is, through baptism. However, this decision met with objections and was often not implemented at local level. Meanwhile, the ROCOR was preparing to anathematize ecumenism. The Bishops’ Council of 1983 decided to condemn ecumenism, and in 1984, ROCOR published the text of the anathema. It implied that the adherents of the “theory” were condemned, as well as those who denied the apparent existence of the Church. The blurred text of the anathema, as well as the dominance of the “zealots”, subsequently gave the ROCOR leadership a reason to criticize the humanitarian ties and theological dialogue acceptable to the Church. All this led to further radicalization of the Russian Church Abroad. However, such ill-considered decisions were very difficult to make. Already under Metropolitan Filaret, a party of hierarchs and clerics was formed, inclined to reconciliation with the local churches and not welcoming the “zealot” policy.
Keywords: Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, The World Council of Churches, Ecumenical movement, theological dialogue, Roman Catholic Church, Protestantism, Metropolitan Filaret (Voznesensky), Archimandrite Panteleimon (Metropoulos), hieromonk Seraphim (Rose).
Publication of archival documents
Under what conditions can the Sacrament of Baptism be administered?
Preparation for publication, foreword and note by O. V. Borisova
It is the first time when a document characterizing the situation with the sacrament of Baptism in Tashkent and Central Asian diocese in postwar years is introduced for scientific use. It is a letter from rector of the St. George Church of Samarkand, Archpriest Pyotr Knyazhinsky to Bishop Guriy (Egorov) who chaired the Tashkent and Central Asian diocese in 1946–1953. The letter is written in 1948 and raises the question of the need to prepare the children and babies for baptism. Archpriest Pyotr describes difficult situations connected with child baptism which he had to deal with: mixed marriages, non-Christian parents and godparents. Such situations, as the author of the letter suggests, do not allow the priest to take responsibility for the baptism of children who cannot receive Christian education. The letter, blessed by Bishop Guriy, was published in diocesan edition of “The orders and information for Tashkent and Central Asian Diocese” and was spread to all parishes. Acute issues raised by Archpriest Pyotr were brought before the general court of the diocese clergy. The historic context of writing the letter is restored in the introductory article and the conclusion is made that the questions of education of clergy and laymen and conscious entry into the Church were among the most important questions raised in the Tashkent diocese in post-war years, when the restoration of church life here began.
Keywords: Tashkent diocese, church, baptism, education, Christian education, Archpriest Peter Knyazhinsky, Bishop Guriy (Egorov).
Conference overview “Feeling Alive. Mission and Young People in Central and Eastern Europe” (Osijek, February, 18–21, 2020)
Overview of roundtable discussion “Soviet Peasants on the Eve of Collectivization” (Moscow, March, 19, 2020)
Вook review: “Khodakov M. A. Chrestomathy on Iconology”. Moscow :
PSTGU Publ., 2020. 172 p.