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Academic Periodical

The Quarterly Journal of St. Philaret’s Institute

Church Unity and Doctrinal Authority in Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov’s Book “At the Walls of Chersonesos”

David Gzgzyan, Cand. Sci. (Philology), Dean, Faculty of Тheology, professor, St. Philaret’s Institute (Moscow, Russia)
pp. 40–63
DOI: 10.25803/26587599_2022_42_40
The article touches upon the theme of the unity of the church, which arises in the context of a hypothetical polemic between the bearers of the pro-Catholic and conservative Orthodox positions. In the absence of any developed ecclesiological teaching, the content of the fundamental features of the Church listed in the Nicene-Tsaregrad Creed remains the subject of academic and theological reflection. The text of the essay At the Walls of Chersonesos was used as a material for this reflection because it discusses the problem of church unity with rare frankness and directness, which was facilitated by the genre of an imaginary conversation between fictional characters chosen by Bulgakov. The views presented during the controversy are still valid today, but the analysis made it possible to reconstruct from the words of the opponents a position which, although occasionally qualified by them as doubtful or even unacceptable, turned out to be a possible alternative to the idea of an institutionalized authority, actually defended by both polemicists, because their disagreement was mostly only about the form of institutionalization, be it the Council or a special person vested with exclusive authority to proclaim the doctrinal truth. The article is concluded by proposing the basic ecclesiological dilemma of two opposing views on the nature of church unity, which implies a choice between the unlikely but authentic and the easily accessible but false version of the unity-authority relationship.
Keywords: theology, ecclesiology, Church, unity, authority, reception, community, S. N. Bulgakov

Last IssueIssue 44 (autumn 2022)

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