Problems of Teaching Church History Discussed in St Petersburg
Problems of teaching church history were discussed by Professor Priest Georgy Kochetkov, Rector of St Philaret’s Institute; Protopriest Georgy Mitrofanov, Head of the Department of Church History at the St Petersburg Orthodox Theological Academy; Vladimir Egorov, Head of the Scientific Information Section at the Russian Christian Academy for the Humanities; Alexander Kopirovsky, Professor of St Philaret’s Institute, members of the SFI Department of Church History, students and graduates of the Institute.
Nowadays, the teaching is most often reduced either to an unstructured citation of facts, without identifying problems and conceptual emphases, or to an ideology that is characterised by an unceremonious approach to ‘inconvenient’ facts. These problems are common even to the scientific community.
Although libraries at church higher schools and education institutions for the humanities have no shortage of publications, there are no readers. In fact, there is no students’ community that would take serious interest in issues of church history.
According to Professor Priest Georgy Kochetkov, such a community might appear within informal Christian communities that consider the understanding of history as a vital priority, a spiritual and intellectual need. As for the teaching perspectives, the Rector of St Philaret’s Institute is convinced that these will appear when the problem of the sense of history is raised. It is the issue that one should start a course on church history with.
Christians are the only people not enslaved by history because a window into metahistory is open to them, Protopriest Georgy Mitrofanov recalled. But it is the way to where the reality of the Kingdom of God is revealed. However, it does not occur automatically but requires constant spiritual efforts.