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Academic Periodical

The Quarterly Journal of St. Philaret’s Institute

The Origin and Purpose of Church Canons in N. P. Aksakov’ Writings

Marina Naumova, Vice Rector for Development, St. Philaret’s Institute; Postgraduate student, SS Cyril and Methodius Theological Institute of Post-Graduate Studies (Moscow)
pp. 130–151
DOI: 10.25803/26587599_2022_42_130
This article analyses the views of the church historian and canonist N. P. Aksakov on the origin and purpose of church canons. The originality of his views lies in the fact that he considered the canons as norms that appeared in the Church from the very beginning of its existence. They may not have been called canons, but they were essentially rules that relied on apostolic tradition and in fact set the standard for church life. These canonical norms shaped the church order in the pre-Nicaean period of church history. The main characteristic of this order was its synodic nature. The Church was born as a free, conciliar, self-governing body, which finds direct expression in its structure. During the first three centuries of its history the Church met regularly in councils and decided on its own internal life. Aksakov insists that the legitimate church system has been violated, secular principles have been introduced into church life, as a result of which the Church has lost the synodic character of its life, and with it its freedom and independence. The restoration of the disrupted order can only take place on the same basis on which it was once established, that is, on those immutable canonical principles which derive from apostolic tradition and have been confirmed by experience in the life of the pre-Nicaean Church. Although much of Aksakov’s writings are more about conciliarity than synodality, it is stated in the article that he was guided by the ideal of a synodal Church, which he found in Holy Scripture and Church tradition.
Keywords: theology, canons, canonical tradition, canonical norms, church order, synodal activity, pre-Nicaea period, apostolic tradition

Last IssueIssue 44 (autumn 2022)

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