A True Teacher who Stayed Faithful to his Calling until the Very End
Gregory Borisovich Gutner was born in Moscow, in 1960. In 1983, he graduated from the Moscow Institute of the Petrochemical and Gas Industries (Department of Applied Mathematics). In 1998, he defended his dissertation for a Research Doctorate, and in 2009, for a full Doctor of Philosophy Degree. At SFI, Gutner headed the Department of Philosophy and the Humanities, and he was a leading scholar in Philosophy at the Russian Academy of Sciences. For the last several years, he has led round table discussions at SFI, dedicated to making philosophical sense of totalitarianism, and taken active part in the “Physics and Theology” round tables, which have fostered discussion between leading Russian theoretical physicists and SFI professors. For many years, Gregory Borisovich taught Philosophy and the History of Scientific Thought at SFI, as well as giving lectures in Ethics and Logic at the Theological College.
Fr Georgy Kochetkov,
Rector of SFI and Spiritual Father of the Transfiguration Brotherhood
What does a person feel when his close friend or family member, brother in Christ or teacher departs to be with the Lord? In such cases, we always feel irreparable loss. We can bear witness to the fact that Gregory Borisovich was a man of deep and sincere faith – a real brother in Christ, a real scholar, an honest man who took care in the quality of his Christian life. In our time, this is no small feat.
He has a wonderful family. I hope that this family will remain with the Lord and in our brotherhood, and that his children will grow up well and endeavour to live by all that is kind and good that they saw in their father. And I hope that the spiritual family in which he lived – his church family – will also endeavour to see themselves as inheritors of all that is kind, good and wise, that they saw in Gregory Borisovich. At this time, both we and they are praying that the Lord accept him into His habitation and lead him into the Heavenly Kingdom. We all pray for the eternal memory of or brother Gregory!
We always want people who shine brightly to leave a bright and unfading memory behind them. In our forgetful times, it is extremely important not to forget the most important thing, which is that it is the Lord who makes a person shine, and His light is indeed unfading. We are to live in such a way that this light doesn’t fade in us.
Deputy Rector of SFI and Chairman of the Transfiguration Brotherhood
Both for us and for the Institute, the loss of Gregory Borisovich is enormous. In our time – in this era of doubt, which it would be difficult to call “Christian” – Gregory Borisovich was both a scholar, a man of thought and proficient in modern philosophy, and a true man of faith who was active in the church. And – as is incredibly important – he was able to unite faith and knowledge not only in his mind, but also in his life. And I believe that we saw the fruits of this in his teaching, in the works that he published, in his church life and simply in the way that he related to others.
He was a remarkable teacher, a true professor who tried to awaken thought in his students. I don’t believe that anyone who attended his lectures at our institute, or elsewhere, will ever forget him. He was also a remarkable supervisor and counsellor – it was easy to work with him and many people learned a great deal from him. I want to note that despite his illness, he did not neglect either his teaching or his scholarly work – he stayed true to his calling up until the very end.
Nor can I neglect to say something about him as a Christian brother. His spiritual path was not an easy one. At one point, he distanced himself from the brotherhood, but after a period of reflection, life experience and prayer, he made a renewed and conscious commitment to enter the brotherhood and be a true member of a small Christian community. He understood that Christian faith, as well as Christian thought, needs to be embodied. And thus did he embody his Christian faith up until the very end.
It is hard to speak about someone close to you in the past tense. Now we will remember Gregory Borisovich in listening to his lectures and in reading his books and articles. It is imperative that we publish the collection on totalitarianism that he worked on for such a long time and in which he managed to interest us all. We haven’t just lost a major scholar, although true scholars are few and far between – there are a lot of students, people who have learned a great deal and mastered many tings – but true scholars are numbered in the single digits.
He left us not in decline, like a yellow leaf falling from a tree, but in mid-flight. He could have, and probably would have, accomplished a great deal more had he had more time. It seems to me that it was in his last years that he really flowered; he acquired inner freedom, maturity, strength and peace. He became something more than an expert in Philosophy, he became truly wise. It was as if everything within him calmed down and came together. Whereas previously, perhaps, he sometimes made less-than-precise moves, it is already for a significant number of years that we observe a real inner peace in him. This is a sign that a man has matured and is prepared for the Heavenly Kingdom.
We continue to mourn his loss because being together with him was simply very nice. I was there when he took communion for the penultimate time, and at his final communion it is evident from the photographs that this is a mature man, yet at the same time as simple as a child – such people are, themselves, the Kingdom of Heaven!