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The Quarterly Journal of St. Philaret’s Institute

ISSN: 2658-7599 (print)
2713-3141 (online)

The Ecclesiological Foundations of Fr. Sergius Bulgakov’s Project for Partial Intercommunion

Yulia Antipina, Postgraduate student, St. Petersburg Theological Academy, St. Petersburg, Russia
pp. 29–44
DOI: 10.25803/26587599_2023_45_9
This article examines Fr. Sergius Bulgakov’s project for the establishment of Eucharistic communion between the Anglican and Orthodox Churches in the context of the history of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius, paying special attention to the project’s ecclesiological foundations, including: a “molecular” method to acquisition of church unity, “spiritual intercommunion”, and unity of faith as expressed in common prayer, “substantial dogmatic agreement”, and the “sacramental blessing” of church hierarchy. The study is accompanied by and concludes with the first-ever publication in Russian language of the 1935 edition of the project’s text, entitled “partial intercommunion”. Upon the founding of the Fellowship in 1928, Fr. Sergius expressed doubts as to the possibility of Eucharistic reunion between the Anglican and Orthodox Churches in the near future, though by five years later he had completely changed his opinion and become a primary advocate of intercommunion. It is important to note that initial conceptions of partial intercommunion differed from those of open intercommunion, as practiced in Protestant churches where any baptised Christian is invited to receive at the Remembrance of the Lord’s Supper, and were based upon an understanding of church unity as a gift of the Holy Spirit, rather than as an achievement of ecclesial-political agreement. In addition to sacramental (eucharistic) paths toward the attainment of church unity, Fr. Sergius acknowledged the charismatic path for building communion steadily through the sacrament of Soborovanije, accompanied by communion in prayer, life and theological dialogue. This accent on the sobornal nature of the Church, understood as the common fellowship of the whole Christian world through acceptance of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, makes it possible to call Bulgakov’s teaching on the Church “charismatic ecclesiology”.
Keywords: Theology, Ecclesiology, Fr. Sergius Bulgakov, Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius, ecumenical movement, church unity, partial intercommunion, charismatic ecclesiology, church unity
For citation: Antipina Yu. N. (2023). “The Ecclesiological Foundations of Fr. Sergius Bulga­kov’s Project for Partial Intercommunion”. The Quarterly Journal of St. Philaret’s Institute, 2023, iss. 45, pp. 29–44. DOI: 10.25803/26587599_2023_45_9.

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