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The Quarterly Journal of St. Philaret’s Institute

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

Priest Pavel Florensky’s view of Orthodox ecclesiasticism in his article “Near Khomyakov” (1916)

Dmitry Gasak, First Vice-Rector, St. Philaret’s Institute
pp. 99–120
DOI: 10.25803/26587599_2023_48_99
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, against the background of the religious upsurge in Russia, the question of the essence of ecclesiastical life, of the quality of human life which a person acquires when they enter the Church, lives in the Church, became topical in the circles of religious and philosophical revivalists. At the same time, the quality of ecclesiasticism could be assimilated both in human life as a whole and in its individual aspects. Not only a person’s behaviour or their word, but also his very thought could be accepted as ecclesiastical (or non-ecclesiastical). Even theological writings, regardless of their subject matter, could be evaluated accordingly. The discussion concerning the ecclesiastical nature of the theological thought of authors who did not have holy orders or even special theological education, that is, the “right” to theology, and the corresponding “authority”, but had a significant influence on ecclesiastic thought and practice of church life, was particularly acute. Among other issues, the question of the ecclesiasticism of the Slavophiles, especially of A. S. Khomyakov, whose centenary was celebrated in 1904, was hotly debated. Priest Pavel Florensky, critically examining Khomiakov’s theological thought and activity, came out with an article in which he put the question of the ecclesiasticism of Khomiakov’s thought as the central issue in the evaluation of the entire legacy of the founder of the Slavophiles. In questioning the ecclesiasticism of Khomyakov’s legacy, Florensky unwittingly set it against his own experience, thus assessing his own ecclesiasticism and the nature of his attitude to the Church. The article is dedicated to an extramural dialogue between the two influential thinkers of Russian Orthodoxy and an attempt to see how Florensky’s ecclesiasticism reveals itself in his critique of Khomyakov. Special attention is paid to those properties of thought and lifestyle which exhibit priest Paul’s understanding of ecclesiology in his critique of Khomyakov’s ecclesiology. In particular, it is of interest to note Florensky’s polemical remarks on the spiritual nature of the Church, on the relationship between the spiritual and the material in the Church’s sacraments, on the epistemological foundations of Church thought, and others.
Keywords: theology, ecclesiology, Russian religious philosophy, Florensky, Khomyakov, ecclesiasticism, orthodoxy
For citation: Gasak D. S. (2023). “Priest Pavel Florensky’s view of Orthodox ecclesiasticism in his article ‘Near Khomyakov’ (1916)”. The Quarterly Journal of St. Philaret’s Institute, iss. 48, pp. 99–120.

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