From the Editors
The present article came into being as a term paper by then-Subdeacon and M.Div. student Peter James for the class Russian Church Abroad: Its History and Identity 723, at Holy Trinity Seminary, Jordanville. At its core, it is a close reading of the resolutions of the All-Russian (1917–18) and Pan-Diaspora (1921) Councils about monarchy, interwoven with subtle interpretations of Christological dogma and the history of the relationship between Church and State in the Eastern Roman Empire. As such, it represents an original contribution both to the history of ideas surrounding Church–State relations in the Orthodox world and to attempts to parse different forms of government through the lens of theology. A key novel dimension of the work is that it places the Pan-Diaspora Council’s deliberations about monarchy against the backdrop of the discussions on the same topic that took place at the All-Russian Council. In doing so, it demonstrates that the All-Russian Council viewed the choice of systems of government as a matter of politics, rather than a point of Church doctrine – an observation that is of the utmost historical significance. The fact that the analysis is founded to a large extent on materials published from ROCOR Studies additionally shows how the site has come to fill a niche as a “Wikipedia”, as it were, for the study of Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
After graduating from the M.Div. at Holy Trinity Seminary with the Class of 2022, Peter James was ordained deacon on November 19 and priest on November 20, 2022, at St. John the Russian Orthodox Church in Ipswich, MA. We thank Fr. Peter for his contribution and wish him many years of blessed ministry!
Protodeacon Andrei Psarev and Walker R. Thompson
Inasmuch as the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) was largely founded as a ministry to the refugees of the White movement, it seems only natural that monarchy forms some component of her identity. Yet, how are we to understand the nature of this legacy in an era when the Russian Church has now existed without a monarchy for just over a century? This is a question of significance, perhaps not just for the ROCOR, but for the Church as a whole. From the beginning of the fourth century until the end of the nineteenth, the Church has existed alongside monarchy. It seems understandable, then, that there might be those who advocate for a return to a more “traditional” social order, where the Church occupies a more integral role. Today, in a rapidly transforming social climate where everything seems to become politicized, there is, as there has perhaps always been, a demand for something more “traditional.” However, it is one thing to look into the past and identify a piece of a tradition, and another to understand it on the tradition’s own terms. This work seeks to investigate the relationship between the ROCOR and monarchy. Is monarchy a question of politics or of faith in the Russian Church Abroad? The challenge in understanding a legacy that is quite foreign to us in our present era, arises in part from the fact that while we have been profoundly affected by modernity, while the Church in her essential nature has not. This struggle to come to understand our own ecclesial consciousness brings us back to the same challenges faced by the early Fathers: how the Church is to balance, or rather overcome, the apparent dichotomy between her imminent work in the world and her transcendent nature. On what basis does the Church interact with the State? How are we to understand monarchy and symphonia in the context of the Church’s dogmatic teachings? One of the factors which influenced this study were numerous encounters with individuals who upheld monarchy not merely as an aspect of the Church’s legacy, but as a dogmatic teaching in itself. After living in Russia for several years, the author can recall only a couple of instances in the Church when faithful expressed any sympathy to political monarchy. Interestingly, it was largely in America, not Russia, where the most vocal monarchist sentiments could be heard. With some exceptions, these were largely voices of people who were born and raised in a Western, pluralistic, democratic society. While this may be the perspective of some, it is worth considering whether the Fathers of the Church Abroad themselves understood political monarchy to be an essential component of the faith. Written one century after her founding moments, this work seeks to discern whether monarchy was a political or ecclesial matter for the Fathers of what would become the Russian Church Abroad. The political involvement of clergy in the Russian Church during the pre-Revolutionary period will be reviewed, after which an introduction will be given to the All-Russian Council’s work on Church–State relations and the possible continuity thereof with the 1921 first All-Diaspora Council at Sremski Karlovci.
The Pre-Revolutionary Period and Metropolitan Antonii (Khrapovitskii)
Prior to investigating the politics of the early Russian Church Abroad, it would be helpful to consider the broader context of the political involvement of clergy in the pre-Revolutionary period. At this time, there were indeed members of the clergy who appear to have actively participated in right-wing organizations. Perhaps as many as 10% of members of the Russian People’s Union were clerics.A. A. Ivanov. “Pravoslavnoe dukhovenstvo i pravye politicheskie dvizheniia v Rossii nachala XX veka (po materialam tserkovnoi pressy)” [“Orthodox Clergy and Right-Wing Political Movements in … Continue reading Bishops Innokentii (Beliaev) and Kirill (Smirnov) of the Diocese of Tambov took an active role in promoting local Orthodox monarchical organizations.Ibid. St. John of Kronstadt and Patriarch Tikhon both seem to have had some degree of affiliation with the Russian People’s Union, and none other than Metropolitan Antonii Kharpovitskii was an honorary department chairman of the Black Hundreds.Ibid., 288. However, this neither discloses the degree nor the nature of clerical involvement within these organizations, nor does it reveal the motives on the part of these organizations for seeking the approval of clergy. While the right-wing’s rhetorical use of the Church as a cornerstone of national identity and open support for her long-established privileges through clerical compensation may have contributed to its attractiveness for some,Ibid., 289; 293 it is clear that there was no unified position among pre-Revolutionary Russian clergy with respect to monarchical or nationalist movements. The deans of the Diocese of Ufa (which, it is interesting to none, was headed by Vladyka Antonii in 1900)S. L. Firsov. “Metropolitan Antonii (Khrapovitsky), an Orthodox Publicist and Polemicist of the Late 19th – Early 20th Century – a Sociological and Psychological Portrait”. ROCOR Studies. … Continue reading obliged priests not to join the Black Hundreds. Archbishop Nikolai (Nalimov) of Vladimir and Suzdal refused to bless them, pointing out that clergy must stand outside of political movements.Ivanov, op. cit., 289 In a 1912 issue of the Orlovkskie eparkhial’nye vedomosti [Orel Diocesan Gazette], pastors were warned of involving themselves with these organizations, who at various times were known to engage in the “vile slander not only against ordinary pastors of the Church, but also archpastors…”Ibid., 291 The article went on to remark that “no opposition party dishonors Orthodox as much as these imaginary defenders of Orthodoxy and nation.”Ibid., 290–91 The explanation for these sharp remarks could be found in the frequent attacks launched by the Black Hundred press on members of the clergy who were suspected of insufficient devotion to their cause.Ibid. Further, many of such organizations were suspected of supporting the Church for reasons of political expediency and social legitimacy. Clerical dissatisfaction with Russian Monarchist and Nationalist parties was also apparently linked to distorted views within these factions. Kovalevskii, for example, engaged in anti-Semitic attacks on the prophets and righteous men of the Old Testament. He even went so far as to characterize the entirety of the Old Testament as a book in which “there is nothing sacred.”Ibid., 295 Another interesting example for consideration is none other than the writer M. O. Men’shikov, an earlier proponent of Russian Nationalism and a leading ideologue of the All-Russian National Union.Boris Orlov. “Mikhail Menʹshikov — Sovremennik Ioanna Kronshtadtskogo” [“Mikhail Menshikov: A Contemporary of John of Kronstadt]. URL: … Continue reading In one of his later journal entries, he wrote:
Christianity has failed. Herein lies the root of the Christian tragedy, along with all other great philosophies and faiths. The prophets preached the kingdom of God on earth, when they should have built it. The Prophets thought that the whole mass of humanity is capable of perceiving the idea of love of neighbor… and re-building life around this idea… Socialism is the great recognition that Christianity needs to be built, like an iron road or a tunnel… Authority is what is needed – the ability to force all under a single law… then the kingdom of God will come…A. S. Orlov. “«Khristianstvo ne udalosʹ». «Putʹ Spaseniia» Fragmenty Dnevnikov M.O. Menʹshikova. 1917” [“‘Christianity has failed’. ‘The Way of Salvation’. Fragments of the … Continue reading
What is remarkable about these words, is that they seem to distill a common conceptual framework found among both the far right and left. The Christian profession of the Kingdom of God as perfected reality awaiting its fulfillment at the end of time, becomes entirely reduced to a temporally oriented sociopolitical framework. Political solutions are sought out to eradicate spiritual problems. Four months later, the same Men’shikov wrote in another entry:
The biblical God demanded: ‘thou shalt not covet’… it turns out this is forbidden! Yet it is impossible not to covet – precisely because (property) belongs to another. The Christian God demanded: give everything away! In actuality, it turns out that this too is impossible: what you give away becomes what belongs to another. Socialism is the evolution of religion. In order to not covet, all things need to be common…Ibid.
As it turns out, this very tendency among far right and left political movements was well-known among clergy – including among those who participated in them. Metropolitain Evlogii (Georgievskii), who had a seat on the council of the All-Russian National Union, was quoted as saying that clergy should “be represented in every political party so as to defend the Church’s views.”Ivanov, op. cit., 292. Ivanov concludes that the latter point seems to have been the motivation for many pastors, perhaps even Metropolitan Antonii, to become involved in such organizations. In a few articles, the metropolitan warned members of right-wing organizations against the extremes of Western European nationalism, where they “replaced God with nation.”Ibid., 296. At a spiritual conference in Zhitomir in 1906, Metropolitan Antonii stated that: “Pious God-fearing people always have much more in common with each other than with wretched atheists. I am not ashamed to admit that I feel much closer to a believing Jew or Muslim than to a non-believing Russian.”Firsov, op. cit. The circumstances surrounding his address in Zhitomir were quite significant. He spoke these words shortly after the Kishinev pogrom. During a homily in Zhitomir Cathedral, which the Jewish community would later translate into Yiddish and widely distribute, Metropolitan Antonii described the gruesome events in detail, condemning it along with its perpetrators in the strongest terms:
What mockery it was over the Savior… when those who called themselves his followers viciously attacked His kin… See their devotion to their law… see how faithful they are to their wives, see how hard they work, see how they love their children… God’s fearful punishment… would meet all those villains who would spill the blood that was kin to the God-man, His Most-Pure Mother, the Apostles, and the Prophets.Nadieszda Kizenko. “Metropolitan Antonii (Khrapovitskii) and the ‘Jewish Question’”. ROCOR Studies – Historical Studies of the Russian Church Abroad. URL: … Continue reading
He then continued to accuse the offenders of being “insolent foes of God’s Providence, tormentors of the people loved by God, even after they had turned away from Him…”Ibid. Thus, while it very well may be said of the metropolitan that he was a dedicated monarchist, it certainly cannot be said that he was an anti-Semite or a nationalist in any misanthropic sense.
It appears that Metropolitan Antonii could not conceive of a Russia that was anything other than Orthodox and autocratic.
Regarding his commitment to Tsarist autocracy, it does appear that Vladyka could not conceive of a Russia that was anything other than Orthodox and autocratic. Nevertheless, there may be a subtle distinction between not being able to see Orthodoxy without monarchy, and not being able to see the monarchy without Orthodoxy. Whether Metropolitan Antonii would have supported Roman Catholic or Muslim autocratic rule over a republic which guaranteed rights to the Church is a question which, after all, could only be answered by Antonii himself. Having said that, there are certain facts surrounding Metropolitan Antonii’s support for the All-Russian Union which should be taken into consideration. Firstly, the Union appeared to be one of the few movements at the time that provided legal, moral, and material aid to the Russian peasantry – something in which Vladyka actively participated while at Pochaev Lavra.Ibid. Second, beyond noble acts of charity, the context of Vladyka’s diocese ought not be overlooked. The borderlands along the Western frontier of the Empire were often contested by neighboring powers, who have at various times, sought to acquire an economic, military, and ecclesial foothold in the region. These considerations, along with religious and cultural plurality, meant that the Orthodox were in something of a precarious position. The idea of abstracting state and national identity away from Orthodoxy and autocracy was thus one which may have seemed to threaten the safety of the Church, particularly when liberal reforms would impart freedom to other faiths to proselytize. It was precisely within these regions that the Russian National Union was most active. In a letter to N. A. Berdiaev, Vladyka Antonii wrote:
What drew Father John of Kronstadt to this Union? You mention holy Seraphim of Sarov, and Peter Struve mentioned St Philip and Nilus of Sora… all of them had confessional and monarchical views; all of them (zealously) protected the people from foreigners and those of other faiths… For that matter, where do we get the name ‘black hundreds’ if not from the defenders of the Trinity Sergius Lavra, who were so dubbed by the Poles in 1612?Ibid.
For Metropolitan Antonii, the Union’s activity was entirely defensive. The interweaving of “confessional and monarchical views” with the State’s protection of the Church from “foreigners and those of other faiths” is significant, particularly when placed into the historical context of the Polish-Muscovite War. This connection appears to express a notion of Church–State relations wherein the latter’s role is to defend the former. Within Vladyka’s diocese, questions of national identity and political allegiance seemed to be closely tied to the struggle to preserve Orthodoxy. These concerns thus take on a moral and ecclesial character. While this could be explored with greater depth in a separate work, the idea of a national and state identity linked to Orthodoxy as something resistant to spiritual corruption appears to have been a consistent theme in Metropolitan Antonii’s thought. In his 1916 work “The Christian Faith and War,” Vladyka discusses the importance of armed resistance against foreign invasion. Critically, he does not depict wartime enemies in national terms. Offering the example of the Orthodox Bosnian resistance to the Austrio-Hungarian Catholics, Metropolitan Antonii conveys the sense that enemies are enemies only in as much as they are hostile to the faith.Khrapovitskii, Metropolitan Antonii. “The Christian Faith and War”. ROCOR Studies. URL: https://www.rocorstudies.org/2016/11/16/the-christian-faith-and-war/. (accessed 17.04.2022). This line of … Continue reading At the end of the same paragraph, Vladyka asserts: “What then? Should we quietly have submitted to the Germans? Should we have imitated their cruel and coarse manners? Planted in our country in place of the holy deeds of Orthodox piety the worship of the stomach and the wallet? No! It would be better for the whole nation to die than to be fed with such heretical poison!”Khrapovitskii, op. cit. It seems Metropolitan Antonii approached this topic from something of a moral theological perspective, perhaps taking to heart the words of the Savior: “and do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”Matthew 10:28 This would put Vladyka’s line of thought rather close to that of St. Basil the Great or St. Athanasius of Alexandria with respect to their notion of right governance as the defense of justice and piety.Fr. Alexander Webster, “Justifiable War as a ‘Lesser Good’ in Eastern Orthodox Moral Tradition,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 48.1 (2003): 27; 47; 53. With this in mind, it perhaps becomes clear why Metropolitan Antonii seemed convinced that “monarchy is the only form of government under which the Faith and the Church will not be persecuted.”Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, sostoiavshagosia 8 – 20 noiabria 1921 goda (21 noiabria – 3 dekabria) v Sremskikh Karlovtsakh v korolevstve S.X.iS. [Acts of the … Continue reading As an illustration, Kizenko contrasts Slavophiles such as Konstantin Leontiev and Katkov with Dostoevskii and Khomiakov. The former were preeminently preoccupied with “Russianness” and autocracy, while the latter understood nation and state to be important only insofar as they were Orthodox.Kizenko, op. cit. This is not at all to suggest that Metropolitan Antonii was anything less than a committed patriot. In his work “Tserkovnost’ ili Politka” [“Church or Politics”] penned in connection with the All-Diaspora Council, Metropolitan Antonii defends the ideal of the tsar as one who ensures the cohesion of a multinational Empire. “The diverse tribes inhabiting Russia are supported mainly by the idealization of the tsar in their heart… Tsarist autocratic power is what morally unites both Russian citizens and foreign tribes…”Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 124–129. He continues on to express concern that “our Western enemies – those would be friends – are like unto a greedy vulture, waiting for the time to ambush Russia and take it for itself, much like India or any of their other colonies.”Ibid. It may thus perhaps be said that the metropolitan could not conceive of a Russia without a tsar, just as much as he was worried for the survival of the Church without the monarchy. Vladyka Antonii clearly took into serious consideration the State and nation’s role in the preservation of the Church as well as the potentially disastrous implications for society should the relationship between these institutions be eroded. Like other clerics and hierarchs such as Metropolitan Evlogii, Vladyka Antonii was not blind to the ideological disfigurement and secular tendencies within these organizations. His and other’s involvement with these groups appears to have, in part, been pastoral. In some areas, he sought to redirect their focus and work positively, shepherding them along the narrow path of Church consciousnesses. However, this is not at all to imply that there was not any political element to his line of thinking.
With respect to the Church consciousness, it is this very sense of “otherness” that appears to have been one of the primary considerations of the All-Russian Council’s discussion on Church–State relations.
In the pre-Revolutionary period, there was no single position among clergy regarding right-wing movements. It seems to be the case that organizations such as the Black Hundreds and the All-Russian National Union sought out and enjoyed clerical membership. The motivations for these organizations to attract clergy were at times linked to the real identification of the Church as a guiding moral force. Yet in other instances, the Church was seen as a politically expedient tool, one which provided a banner of social legitimacy. Their reasons for involvement with the Church were not singular. The same appears to be the case for clerical involvement. In some instances, clergy supported what was felt to be a conservative social current that seemed more congenial to the Church than many alternatives. Nevertheless, this support and participation does not appear to imply, at least in most cases, a whole-sale acceptance of a conservative ideology thoroughly tainted by modernism, secularism, and a proclivity to subordinate the Church’s role and teaching to a mere cultural feature of a national, social or state project. These latter considerations appear to have been the reason why many other hierarchs and clergy were deeply opposed to such groups. However, some of those who did choose to participate appear to have imagined such movements to be, perhaps by virtue of their flavor, somehow more capable of being shepherded toward Church consciousnesses. Such appears to have been the character of political involvement among clergy in the pre-Revolutionary landscape. There was a variety of opinion. Those notable pastors who did choose to get involved, appear to have done so with the hope and prospect of not losing or abstracting their own sense of “otherness.” With respect to the Church consciousness, it is this very sense of “otherness” that appears to have been one of the primary considerations of the All-Russian Council’s discussion on Church–State relations. The politically diverse landscape that manifested itself in the wake of the Romanov dynasty’s deposition, reflected in the ideological diversity of the White movement, were certainly some of the considerations which the Church had to confront as a part of her new reality. However, as will become clear, her choice to remain outside of politics during this period was not merely a pastoral, pragmatic, or expedient consideration. Rather, it was founded upon the rock of her dogmatic confession.
The All-Russian Council of 1917–18 and Church–State Relations in Byzantium
The 1917–1918 All Russian Council is a crucial signpost on the road to the First All-Diaspora Council of 1921, particularly insofar as the latter understood itself to be a continuation of the former.Y. A. Biriukova. “The Influence of Political Forces on the Activity of the Southwestern Church Council and the First Russian All-Diaspora Church Council (1919–1921)”. ROCOR Studies. URL: … Continue reading The Southwestern Council at Stavropol in 1919 must also be noted, as it in effect “bridges” the aforementioned councils together. At the Southwestern Council, we see a clear continuity with the All- Russian Council with respect to both its organization and its strong avoidance of politics – despite the pressure that came from the various factions of the ideologically diverse White Movement.Ibid. Two reasons have been put forth for this. The first is that the White Movement was not unified, and to support one particular faction over others would have undermined its efforts. The second is that many of those present at the Council perhaps sought to prioritize rallying around the Church herself as a locus of unity, rather than any particular political project.Ibid. There thus seems to have been a somewhat pragmatic element to the Southwestern Council’s avoidance of politics. However, the decisions of the All-Russian Council of 1917–1918 (with the support of Patriarch Tikhon) for the Church to avoid politics, were not merely limited to any such external considerations. As it will become clear, while there may indeed have been a pragmatic element to the decision of Church–State relations at the council, those considerations appear to have been secondary.
The Reforms of Tsar Peter I saw the dissolution of the Patriarchate in Russia and the placement of the Synod under the direct control and authority of a procurator appointed by the emperor. As a result, the Church of Russia had been unable to convene a Council since the seventeenth century. The immediate wake of the Revolution of 1917 thus provided an opportunity for the Russian Church to re-establish and re-discover its own ecclesial consciousness in a way which had been previously impossible. While this opportunity would, at least for a time, prove to be tragically short lived, the Council quickly began its work in reviewing an array of crucial matters. Questions regarding ecclesial consciousness, and in particular, an Orthodox understanding of ecclesiology and civil life, were major considerations surrounding the discussion of both politics and Church–State relations. In many respects, the discussions involved looking critically at the past and embracing the opportunity in the present circumstances to rectify previous errors. As such, internal Church administration as well as the Church’s relationship to civil authorities were examined through the lenses of conciliarity and symphonia. The breadth of discourse appears to have been quite vast, and questions were approached from a variety of possible angles. At the Council, Nicholas Kuznentsov, in his report “Foundations for the Establishment of the Patriarchate,” argued, in fact, against re-instituting the Patriarchate as it had existed prior to being dissolved by Emperor Peter I. In his presentation, Kuznentsov noted how Patriarch Nikon embodied something of a Roman Catholic paradigm of ecclesiology, considering himself to be a bishop of bishops. In the former Patriarch’s words, taken from Kuznentsov’s report, “the first Bishop is in the image of Christ, and the remaining metropolitans, archbishops, and bishops are in the image of His disciples and apostles.”“Deianiia Pomestnogo Sobora 1917–1918 gg. – Deianie Sorok Pervoe”. [“Acts of the 1917–1918 Local Council: Act 41”]. Dyshu Pravoslaviem [Breath of Orthodoxy]. URL: … Continue reading In order to rectify this crisis, the bishops at that time felt the need to appeal to the Tsar for assistance. From the text of the Council and its reports, it is clear that the topic of Church–State Relations was not considered merely with respect to the political and social turmoil of the present moment, but also, within the broader context of Russian and Byzantine history as well as the Church’s dogmatic teachings. This is brought out particularly in the four sessions of the Council that were held from November 13–17, 1917, which discussed the matter of Church and State through a predominantly theological lens, while also making considerations of a practical and legal nature.
Of particular focus was a report given to the Council by none other than (the then lay) Professor Sergius Bulgakov, about whom it is interesting to note that he worked closely with Patriarch Tikhon at the council and, by that point in time, had become a strong critic of both the Revolution and the Tsar’s liberal reforms.Sergei S. Khoruzhii. “Sergei Nikolaevich Bulgakov.” Russkaia Filosofiia: Malyi Entsiklopedicheskii Slovarʹ [Russian Philosophy: A Concise Dictionary], 1995. URL: … Continue reading The report dealt with broad and complex themes such as antinomes of the individual and the collective as well as of the eternal and temporal, both of which are aspects of ecclesiology and therefore related to Christology. Prior to considering these latter elements, the presentation touches upon the relationship between Church and State as seen on an institutional level within history more broadly and in the Russian lands in particular. What is relevant for this work is that the draft resolution does not primarily focus on the distinction between systems of state management (i.e., republicanism, monarchy, democracy, etc.), but rather on how the Church interacts with the State, which in turn, relates to how both spheres understand themselves in relation to the ultimate truth and authority. In other words, it focuses on the nature of the union itself – a union effected by a mutual adherence to the logos.
Before proceeding to the work itself, it is necessary to review certain concepts in order to grasp the context, scope, and focus of the draft resolution better. Of particular importance is symphonia – how it is understood in theory as well as its historical referent in Eastern Rome, or what we have come to call “Byzantium.” First, within Eastern Roman governance of State and Church alike, we do not find strict autocracy as normative.Kaldellis considers that the popular appointment and deposition of Michael V, as well as various moments in the seventh and eighth centuries when the people or the Senate took a prominent political … Continue reading Rather, the vertical dimension of authority was merely one attribute of the State. Within the civic realm, at least initially, the Emperor received his power from the people and the Senate upon his elevation.Although, in reality, these assemblies which ratified the emperor’s accession may have not been free in a modern sense, there are two points that Kaldellis draws. The first is that Caesar’s … Continue reading While the people themselves appear hardly to have been active in the election of candidates, which could have been orchestrated by an heir or other influential members of society (not so radically different from today), their popular support of the Emperor at his accession was understood to grant him legitimacy.Ibid., 103. This popular support was not merely a matter of formality. It could very well be denied. Further, rebellions and popular depositions were certainly within the realm of possibility for those rulers who wielded their power unwisely. It can be said, therefore, that the emperor’s sovereignty was legally and morally valid only in relation to the populace, and on a deeper level, to his adherence to the logos of justice.Ibid., 101. We find, in the civic realm, that there was a horizontal element of authority that balanced the vertical. This balance in turn depended upon adherence to what we might consider to be the Logos of Truth. This is perhaps something to be expected from a Christian civilization that had inherited an already ripened and mature culture from the soil of antiquity, and, after all, began as a republic and later evolved into an empire. Whence do we have an image of “Byzantium” as a paradigm of radically autocratic theocracy? It has been observed that our present conceptions of Eastern Rome have, to a considerable degree, been shaped by a recent historiography which, in all likelihood, may have felt the need to depict that very image so as to provide a sense of legitimacy to its own political project. As Kaldellis relates, “the thinkers of the Enlightenment tended to treat (Byzantium) as a mirror in which to reflect and abjure those aspects of their own societies that they wanted to abolish. Their idea of ‘Byzantium’ was a useful polemical tool, not a scholarly construct.”Ibid., 97. There were mixed elements of monarchical and republican state management and ideology within the Empire, both of which stood in accordance with Classical culture and Biblical cosmology. The one and the many are unified through adherence to the Divine principal, which ensures proper custodianship of authority and unites both elements in the pursuit of the good. In Church governance, we find something similar. A senior bishop’s authority is honorary and his legitimacy is dependent upon the recognition of his peers, which in turn, depends upon his adherence to Orthodoxy. What is more, decisions of the Church must be agreed unanimously (or at least by a majority of bishops) according to the principal of conciliarity, readily visible in Apostolic Canon 34:
The bishops of every nation must acknowledge him who is first among them and account him as their head, and do nothing of consequence without his consent; but each may do those things only which concern his own parish, and the country places which belong to it. But neither let him (who is the first) do anything without the consent of all; for so there will be unanimity, and God will be glorified through the Lord in the Holy Spirit.“The Apostolic Canons.” Church Fathers: The Apostolic Canons. URL: https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3820.htm. (accessed 05.10.2020)
Even on the level of the appointment of a layman to clerical office, there are visible traces of a time in which the people themselves likely took a more active role in the candidate’s ordination – at which we hear the cry of public affirmation: axios! (“worthy”). What we find in Eastern Rome, both in Church and State governance, is a sense that the authority of the sovereign or bishop is dependent upon his participation (that word choice is deliberate) in the Logos of Truth. Right justice and authority is something which belongs to the Divine principal alone, and not to the individual by simple virtue of position. Moreover, that Divine principal is made known, manifest, and acquired only within the context of the community, not individually or in isolation. In Eastern Roman governance, it is clear that there existed a kind of mimesis (imitation) of virtue. While there are plenty unfortunate historical exceptions, what we do not find in either proper Church or civic governance in Eastern Rome, is the normative theory that the authority of a senior bishop or a sovereign is self-referential. That idea, in which we might perhaps already discern a certain anthropocentrism, comes to us later and from a different realm of Christendom.Meyendorff takes note of how the idea of the Roman Catholic Papacy emerged out of a struggle between the Church and feudal society, which had come to subsume it completely by the 10th and 11th … Continue reading
What we do not find in either proper Church or civic governance in Eastern Rome, is the normative theory that the authority of a senior bishop or a sovereign is self-referential.
In order better to grasp the discussion which took place between the 41st and 44th sessions of the All-Russian Council, there are four historical paradigms of Church/State relations which must be considered. The first of which, is caesaropapism – a system in which the Church is governed by or subordinated to the State. Within this framework, it might be that either the political authorities are able to interfere within the internal life of the Church, or that the Church herself becomes entirely absorbed into the framework of the state apparatus.Stanley S. Harakas. Living the Faith: The Praxis of Eastern Orthodox Ethics. Minneapolis, MN: Light and Life, 1993. 347–348. The second form is papocaesarism – a strict theocracy. An example from history would be the Pope of Rome, who exercised political dominion over secular rulers in the Middle Ages. In this instance, the Church takes on a role in which it predominantly becomes an administrator of temporal affairs.Ibid., 347. The third, which may be said to have emerged out of the conflict between the aforementioned systems, is separation of Church and state. In this construct, the two are radically distinguished. Relations may be neutral, but they are both detached from one another.Ibid. Beyond these is a notion of symphonia – a relationship wherein the Church and State are distinct, yet part of a single organism acting in complement to one another for the same body of people, who are themselves members of the one ecclesia. The citizens are in the Church and those in the Church are citizens.Ibid., 348. While, to be sure, this paradigm has not manifested perfectly in history, it arguably reflects the relationship between Church and State in Eastern Rome.Hussey resists the accusation of certain scholars who assert that the Church in Eastern Rome was an example of caesarepapism as evidenced by the resistance to the state authority during the … Continue reading Importantly, none of these frameworks distinguish between forms of government (democracy, monarchy, republic, etc.). They do, however, make a distinction with respect to the nature of the union itself. It is this distinction that ultimately bears dogmatic significance for the Church, her “self-consciousness,” and her mission.
The Pauline notion of individual members being of one body1 Corinthians 12:12–27; Romans 12:4–6. underscores the Christological foundations of the Church. The faithful become initiates into Christ, and they constitute the Church as a community in oneness of mind, brotherly love, and piety (though initiation, adherence, and participation in the Word). To take an example from Tradition, the tower in The Shepherd of Hermas vividly depicts this reality. The tower itself is the Church, and the stones are her individual members (who, it is important to note, do not lose their own person-hood in their union with Christ and His Father).“The Shepherd of Hermas.” The Shepherd of Hermas (Lightfoot translation). URL: https://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/shepherd-lightfoot.html (accessed 11.10.2022) Florovsky provides an … Continue reading The understanding of the Church as a Divine-human institution already bears significance for her task within history, a task which must be understood within the context of scriptural revelation. That the Lord became fully God and fully man, that He became incarnate within time itself for the salvation of the world, leads to the realization that the transformative calling of the Church is not merely a “private” event, but rather, one which encompasses all of humanity and even history itself. The totality of human life is to be transfigured. To Fr. Georges Florovsky’s point, the Church as the “New Creation”Florovsky, 68–69. plays an active role in history and its redemption. This newness and regeneration which occurs within the Church is beautifully underscored in the Sahidic Coptic translation of her rite of initiation: “And afterward, let him say… ‘[do] you believe in The Holy Spirit, the good and giver of life, who purifies the universe in the Holy Church…’”.Paul F. Bradshaw, Harold W. Attridge, Maxwell E. Johnson, and L. Edward Phillips. The Apostolic Tradition: A Commentary. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002, 116. This is ultimately the Church’s task: to prepare for, proclaim, and partially manifest the Kingdom of God (the regenerative life-giving Divine presence) within creation and time… yet, with the knowledge and anticipation of its fullness and perfection only in the coming age, the eschaton.Florovsky, op. cit., 58–67; 70–72.
It is in accordance with Chalcedonian thought that symphonia becomes not only a possibility, but even an aspect of tradition which is to be celebrated. Within historical projects, however, there has been a sort of “balancing act” between the Church’s imminent work in the world and her transcendent vision. There is a temptation to abandon worldly affairs wholly in the sole pursuit of transcendent ends, an extreme which entails something of a distorted vision of reality. This tendency, in its radical and disordered orientation, may stem from a presupposition that the world is inherently irredeemable. This constitutes a sort of “retreat from history.”Florovsky describes this tendency: “it would be an entire separation from the world, an ultimate flight our of it, and a radical denial of any external authority.” (Ibid., 70.) Alternatively, the Church could seek to subdue the entirely of life to Christian authority and rule, building secular life around Christian principals.Ibid. The former becomes a rejection of the goodness of creation as well as the Church’s task in “the here and now,” while the latter constitutes an abandonment of her ultimate “transcendent” purpose as she becomes reduced to an administrator of temporal affairs. Florovsky notes how this latter approach, through the Church’s loss of her eternal referent, has predominantly led to “the more or less acute secularization of Christianity itself.” Interestingly, Metropolitan Antonii relates an episode from his well-known series of lectures on repentance, in which he cites a phenomenon which was common in his time. A schoolteacher, officer, or any civil servant on the state payroll comes to a priest once a year in order to fulfill his legal obligation to confess and commune. Addressing prospective clergy, Metropolitan Antonii discusses what to do when the state official arrives at confession and informs the priest that he is an atheist.Antonii and Christopher Birchall, tr. Confession: A Series of Lectures on the Mystery of Repentance. Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1975, 31. The reduction of the Church to something of a cultural or moralizing force belonging to the state or nation creates a situation wherein she becomes oriented towards the support a temporal order, abstracting her referent in “the age to come.” Enforcing Christian principles for temporal ends may ultimately mean divorcing those same principals from their Christian context. On the contrary, both the temporal and eternal elements are meant to balance one another. The world is to be shepherded towards the eschaton. The civic realm and the Church are meant to work synergistically in order to better humanity and bring it towards its transcendent end in Christ, rather than reducing theology and Holy Tradition to a means of supporting a temporally oriented project or structure. In accordance with a metaphysical analogy first put forward by Emperor Justinian, and latter set down classically in the ninth century Epanagoge,“Church and State”. The Russian Orthodox Church. URL: https://old.mospat.ru/en/documents/social-concepts/iii/ (accessed 24.11.2022) according to which the Church may be seen as an image of the soul and the State as an image of the body, caesaropapism might very well reflect a paradigm of fallen humanity. Within the Church’s “self-consciousness,” the work of transforming the world must be understood as a partial manifestation of that same union with the Godhead to which the world was called from the beginning, for which it was created, and which has since been made possible by the divine economy of Christ, is now being realized in the Holy Church, and ultimately awaits its fulfillment in the age to come. Considering the above, it might be said that certain models of Church–State relations carry an implicit internal framework that influences the orientation of the Church’s focus. Each framework could be said to correspond loosely to certain Christological models to varying degree. If separation of Church and state may be, in a sense, more Nestorian, symphonia would be perhaps the closest to the Chalcedonian ideal. Accordingly, it is possible to have either a proper or a problematic (indeed, one might go so far as to say Orthodox or Heretical) union of Church and state within any given form of government.
These are the core considerations that appear to inform much of the All-Russian Council’s discussion of Church and State relations. The report begins with the moment of symphonia’s historical genesis in Christendom, and one of the profound implications it had for the Christian consciousness. For the faithful of that era, the event was nothing short of a revelation of the redemption of history itself.
For the first Christians of history, the future was not clear. They did not perceive nor accept history. We, however, stand upon the foundation of over one thousand years of historical experience. We understand history and her path. History includes motherland and government… The turning point in dogmatic consciousness and the reassessment of state life occurred at the miraculous appearance of the cross in heaven to Saint Constantine, equal to the Apostles. The Church crowns him as the “equal to the Apostles”, not because the Church became a dominant force in any outward sense, but because under Constantine, the task of the state came to be understood precisely as service (of) the Church.“Deianiia Pomestnogo Sobora 1917–1918 gg. – Deianie Sorok Pervoe”
The draft resolution then shifts focus towards a critical evaluation of this tradition’s historical continuity within the Russian lands:
This understanding (symphonia) of the relationship of the Church to the State was cherished by ancient Rus. From the time of Peter the Great, however, the Protestant element infiltrated the relationship between the Church and the State, by virtue of which the Church became merely one of many parts of the state machine… Accordingly, our ecclesiastical self-consciousness has suffered damage, become distorted, and assumed a disfigured character through the effects of caesaropapism.Ibid.
The subordination of the Church to the ruling dynasty through the abolition of the Patriarchate and the placement of the Church under the direct authority of a state procurator, effected something of a transfer of universal authority to the state. By contrast, the sovereign had historically been subject to ecclesial authority and understood his role as one of mutual custodianship. Bulgakov continues to address the Council: “we cannot consider the Patriarch we have chosen to be legitimate until his election is approved by the Government: this is a perverted practice that has historically led to the ultimate expression of caesaropapism.”Ibid. Interestingly, this latter point is something which Metropolitan Antonii himself may very well have agreed with. The late Metropolitan, despite being ardent in his respect and support for the state and dynasty, “never concealed his other views about Church–State relations in Imperial Russia and was an ardent supporter of the restoration of the patriarchal office. Most of Vladyka’s publications up to 1917 were concerned precisely with the latter subject.”Firsov, op. cit.
Absolutism can be understood as a kind of “civic papism,” and a secular democracy might be a more radically individualistic version of the same.
Coming back to the Council, the draft resolution interestingly appears to hint at a lack of Christocentricity within the framework of caesaropapism, regardless of whatever form of government it may happen to manifest in. “We are guilty of Papism, be it the Papacy itself, bolshevikopapism, or democratopapism.”“Deianiia Pomestnogo Sobora 1917–1918 gg. – Deianie Sorok Pervoe” It is as if the draft resolution highlights what may very well be a common, shared element between caesaropapism, papocaesarism, and modernity as a whole – secularism. In each construct mentioned, the authority of an absolute monarch, a bishop, or citizen within a government of self-rule becomes self-referential. That is to say, the locus of universal authority resides within his person by virtue of position or “right” outside of his relationship with the Truth. Absolutism could therefore be understood as a kind of “civic papism,” and a secular democracy might be a more radically individualistic version of the same. This might be readily contrasted to the Eastern Roman paradigm, where, at least in theory, authority belongs to the divine and universal principal alone. Legitimacy of authority depends upon participation within the principle of the Logos of truth. The report continues:
And so we now need, first of all, to clarify what our church consciousness is: do we understand what our faith takes into account? Do we profess our faith in a manner which takes into account the very nature of the faith? Is that faith necessarily connected to certain political conditions? Of course not. It is not bound by them. Otherwise… we would subordinate the Church to political ideology.Ibid.
Ultimately, the apparent issue with each of the aforementioned paradigms appears to be that authority no longer becomes a question of adherence to universal values. Rather, it becomes ipso facto the property of a particular role or position, outside of participation in or union with Christ. Accordingly, it is indeed possible to have either a proper or a problematic polity within any given form of government, autocratic or otherwise. The same might be said of ecclesiology: the aforementioned distinction between the locus of authority and truth residing within the person by mere virtue of “right” or position, irrespective of adherence to the Word, is perhaps one of the defining features of the Roman Papacy as opposed to the Orthodox conciliar model.
For us, the question of political forms is a technical question, because it is said: ‘Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.’ (Mt. 22:21; Mk. 12:17; Lk. 20:25). Therefore, for the Faith and the Church, it is not the political forms of state life that are important, but the Christian inspiration with which they are created. The Church does not prescribe ways to achieve political goals. The Orthodox consciousness differs from the Catholic one… with their theory of two swords for spiritual power. The idea of a Holy power subordinated to church administration is present there. But in Orthodoxy, we speak of the (inspiration) of the Spirit of God in human life, of him who ‘bloweth where he listeth’….cf. Jn. 3:8; Ibid.
The shift in focus from the institutional structure towards the mystical union of God and man in Orthodoxy, allows for the dichotomy of Church and State to be transcended altogether. This is an eschatological vision of the Church as a body whose origins are outside of time. Personal and collective adherence to the Divine Word orients the faculties of human existence towards its Divine end.That the person is made in the image and likeness of the Triune God necessarily means that virtue, or attributes of divinity, are, in a certain respect, attributes of a healthy or complete human … Continue reading,In connection with what was spoken of previously regarding adherence to the Logos of truth or the logos of Justice, we are speaking of deification. This is something which is accomplished not by ideological adherence, coercion, or legal formality, but by the Holy Spirit Himself, with whom Man willfully cooperates.
The Church of Christ illumines the world in the Light of Truth. She is the salt of the earth. There simply cannot be any boundaries to her influence. She is the new leaven transforming the whole of human life… For truly The Lord Jesus Christ became incarnate. He took upon Himself the burdens of human life… all affairs of life must equally strive towards seeking the will of God and its fulfillment through the assent of free will. Such is the demand of our faith; this lived Christian consciousness, singular and undivided, is driven by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.Ibid.
Through the Incarnation, the Lord has renewed human life in its totality (to include the faculty of the will). It is upon this basis that the Church can breathe inspiration into civic life. According to this scheme, good and bad governance becomes a question of the proper or improper orientation of a bishop’s or a sovereign’s will. The spirit of God is able to dwell within and illumine the hearts and minds of men, no matter what their external conditions (forms of state management) may be, so far as they strive for the Good. Put plainly, “the normal mutual relationship between the Church and the state in accordance with a proper ecclesiastical consciousness was connected not with this or that political form and the organization of power, but with the reception and adherence to Christian consciousnesses in the civic sphere.”Ibid. This speaks to the ideal of symphonia, which might be plainly understood as the outworking of man’s struggle for salvation on a macrocosmic scale. This is, for the Church, something truly desirable.
Therefore, when determining the internal relationship between the Church and the State, the guiding principle in Christian consciousness is not the mutual alienation and divergence of the two elements, but in contrast, their greatest possible convergence. This is the result of the internal influence of Church elements on the state sphere, in whatever external form the latter may be expressed…Ibid.
We are ultimately speaking about the deification of man and the cosmos. Political forms are in and of themselves unable to “switch on” or “switch off” the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit working in man’s heart and in creation. No political form is capable in and of itself of forcing or ensuring deification, and likewise, no political form is capable of preventing apostasy. What is ultimately important is man’s willful striving towards union with God through the renewal of the Lord’s likeness within himself. Through this pursuit, all aspects of human life are transformed, whether civic or private. It is on this basis that the Church is outside of political forms. People themselves receive the Spirit of God. “It can be said that if the Church is alive and well, then both culture and statehood will be inspired by this life. This is the task of the Church, its tradition, the way of its improvement in history. There was nothing where the grace of the Church would not penetrate. There was, at least, no indication of this…”Ibid. This is not a vision in which the Church as mere institution exerts temporal authority over the people through coercive measures, nor does it become an apparatus of the state, but rather, it is a vision in which the state (as a body of people) are within the Church, wherein “The Holy Spirit… purifies the universe.”Bradshaw, 116. “The Church, according to the inner law of her being, cannot refuse to recognize, enlighten, and transform the whole life of humanity; to permeate it with her rays. In particular, she seeks to fill statehood with her own spirit, to instill within it in her own image.”“Deianiia Pomestnogo Sobora 1917–1918 gg. – Deianie Sorok Pervoe”. The latter portion of the report concisely relates the following:
This is the thinking which defines (the Church’s) worldview and her relations with the state and politics. Ancient Rus was established upon this spiritual foundation. A normal mutual relationship between Church and State according to the Church’s consciousness was not necessarily bound to this or that political form or organization, but to recognizing Christian consciousness within the state sphere. Therefore, even now, when, by the will of providence, Russian Tsarist Autocracy has collapsed and new state forms are set to replace it, the Orthodox Church does not have any rulings over those forms on the basis of their political expediency. Yet she does immutably stand firm upon the understanding that all state authority must be Christian service. Before the face of the Church, any political form can be justified, if only it is filled with the Christian Spirit or, at least, seeks it. On the other hand, opposition to this Spirit transforms every state organization into the dominion of “the beast…”, makes it a play for selfishness…This opposition, according to the evidence of history, is possible under any form of government, equally under the autocracy and under the rule of the people.Ibid.,This latter point seems to be a reference to that primeval paradigm, of the very first person in all of history who erroneously considered that all authority given to him by God was his own … apart … Continue reading
The significance of this draft resolution for the present discussion (though its implications are admittedly vast), is that it places, from a dogmatic perspective, all forms of government firmly within the realm of politics. Nevertheless, it must be mentioned that it was not universally adopted as a statement by the Council – at least initially. While the draft was met with approval by the majority, there were a few voices who contested it on various points. Remarkably, however, the minority did so solely on the grounds that they desired to draw even deeper and clearer demarcations between Church and State. Some desired a legal statement which would protect the Church and guarantee her freedom and independence. There were several reasons for this. First, it was unknown at this time what attitude the new government would have towards the Church. Second, some officials simply sought to craft a document which could not be interpreted as the Church surrendering her own internal management to state oversight, as had been the case for the previous two centuries. As council member Valerian Radzimovskii put it:
Suffice it to recall that the previous organs of Church power were state bodies… because of which, the state principle always prevailed… the former state procurator was of exceptional importance in the affairs of the Church. Formally, he stood watch over the Church’s dealings. Without his approval, not a single decision of the Synod could be put into effect. In reality, the instructions of the state procurator themselves carried the full force of law and all cases were resolved under his direct influence. Such was the attitude of the State towards the Church in the old days!“Deianiia Pomestnogo Sobora 1917–1918 gg. – Deianie Sorok Vtoroe”. [“Acts of the 1917–1918 Local Council: Act 42”]. Dyshu Pravoslaviem. URL: … Continue reading
Prince Evgenii Trubetskoi acknowledged the concerns of Nikolai Kuznetsov, the author of the report on the re-establishment of the patriarchate, who brought up the example of Byzantium under the influence of the Arians and Iconoclasts. He then suggested that the draft should contain a clause which explicitly limits state oversight to the Church’s external influence on civic life alone, and that the state may have no say in her internal management.Ibid. Vasilii Zelentsov, however, went even a step further, going so far as to object even to this minimal degree of cooperation with the state.Ibid. His concerns, however, were fundamentally the same:
‘My Kingdom is not of this world.’ Be it as it may that Government is also a divinely established institution, and as such, may be in union (with the Church), the Church must not in any way be in subjection to the State as it was during the days of Peter I, when they treated the Church as a ‘department of Orthodox faith.’ The Church was treated as a cultural-educational institution under state subordination. According to its nature and origin, the Church is independent.Ibid.
Zelentsov, given his objections to even the most minimal degree of cooperation with the State, perhaps seemed more ready to accept separation of Church and State, if it could mean safeguarding the Church against caesaropapism. Aphanasy Vasiliev, while not going nearly as far as Zelentsov, likewise had similar concerns in mind. He likewise sought to insert a clause which explicitly limited the State’s oversight.“Deianiia Pomestnogo Sobora 1917–1918 gg. – Deianie Sorok Pervoe” Interestingly, he raised some minor objections to the report on the basis that a simultaneous affirmation of Church–State union and denunciation of caesaropapism seemed to be contradictory.Ibid. Moreover, what possible union could the Church have with a new government that considered Orthodoxy to be merely one of several official religions?Ibid. However, Archbishop Evlogii, who firmly endorsed the draft, noted that Vasiliev did not principally disagree with Bulgakov. Rather, Vasiliev simply had mistakenly missed the draft’s pervading principle: that the Church is not merely an earthly institution, but a leaven which gives life to the entirety of human existence.Ibid.
Most of the proposed redactions of the draft were not adopted by the Council. Vasiliev proposed to remove the end of the Article 3 related to state oversight which read: “insofar as these duties do not violate state law.” His proposal was rejected.Ibid. Pavel Rossiev’s proposed addition to the Article 3, stating that “these laws, founded upon the canonical and dogmatic foundations of the Church, protect the primacy of Orthodoxy amidst other faiths”, was rejected.Ibid. Dmitrii Olsufev’s proposed addition to the article that the statement “is affirmed for all citizens of the Russian state regardless of faith denomination” was also rejected. After a lengthy and somewhat heated discussion, later followed by a recess, the Council voted on whether to follow Vasiliev’s and Zelentsov’s proposal to remove Article 4 altogether, which read: “The state oversees the dealings of the Church merely insofar as [those dealings] may comply with state law and supervision is carried out in conjunction with judicial state bodies.” The Council voted against that proposal, as well. Bishop Germogen motioned to emphasize that the legal process of review be “conducted under particularly orderly juridical proceedings.” His addition was also rejected. Kuznetsov proposed an additional clause that “state authorities observe the dealings of the Church but in no way have any jurisdiction within the internal life of the Church… and that juridical dealings be conducted in a particularly orderly manner.” This addition was rejected. D. A. Olsufev’s proposed addition that “the state authorities do not interfere in the dealings of the Church and observes them merely through considerations of their correspondence to basic civic law” was also rejected. Indeed, Article 4 was voted to be kept in its original form, as was Article 5, which stated that the “government recognizes the ecclesiastical hierarchy and ecclesiastical institutions according to the powers and meanings given to them by ecclesiastical decrees.” Article 6, which reads: “state laws on Church matters may be issued only with the agreement of Church authorities”, was accepted in its original form after a lengthy discussion. A proposed addition to Article 7, which stated that: “the head of the state, the minister of (faith) denominations and head comrade minister of (faith) denominations must be Orthodox Christians,” was also rejected by the Council.
In the midst of these proceedings, there was one remarkable moment when Kuznetsov commented on how the members of the Council were quite evidently far too conceptually limited to the realities of the former regime.Ibid. After all, the Council had begun to discuss legal proposals which affect a candidate’s eligibility for state office. However, as Kuznetsov pointed out, in any parliamentary or republican system (which could very well have been what replaced the dynasty at that particular moment), it is the members of state bodies themselves who elect or appoint people to those positions.Ibid. Moreover, many members of the council appeared to be stuck firmly in a far more institutionally oriented framework of ecclesiology.
Does adherence to Orthodoxy as some kind of formal metric carry any guarantee that someone is truly Orthodox in faith and in understanding?… We continue to be under the influence of the former regime, wherein adherence to Orthodoxy was some kind of requirement, which provided various rights and privileges. However, in reality, Church (life) became limited to one’s being recorded in the official books of baptisms and marriages. And how many of these formally Orthodox people were entirely indifferent!? How many were opposed to the Church!?
Despite Kuznentsov’s words, numerous other proposals and a few redactions were given based upon a a more juridically and institutionally oriented ecclesiological framework. Quite curiously, one approved redaction (essentially the same as the one which had been rejected in connection with Article 7) read: “the head of the Russian state, the Minister of Confessions and Popular Enlightenment, as well as their comrades, must be Orthodox.”Ibid. Another redaction asserted that clerics are entitled to the same rights and privileges as state officials.“Deianiia Pomestnogo Sobora 1917–1918 gg. – Deianie Sorok Tretʹe”. [“Acts of the 1917–1918 Local Council: Act 43”]. Dyshu Pravoslaviem. URL: … Continue reading Although some minor amendments were also inserted (many of which were matters of word choice and punctuation), most other proposals were not accepted by the council. The few that were accepted, quite understandably, were those that sought to limit state interference in Church affairs.Ibid. Nevertheless, the irony here is inescapable. The same voices who echoed Zelentsov’s sentiments about the state reducing the Church to a “department of Orthodox faith” or a “cultural-educational institution”“Deianiia Pomestnogo Sobora 1917–1918 gg. – Deianie Sorok Vtoroe” appeared to be unable to escape the conceptual captivity to their previous reality. As Kuznetsov had alluded to only just before, their various proposals and amendments were firmly rooted in a juridical/institutional framework of a flavor characteristic of the Russian Church’s existence for the previous two centuries. Indeed, these moments themselves appear to be symptomatic of that very same problem that informed the entire draft resolution on Church–State relations at the All-Russian Council: an abstracted sense of ecclesial consciousness.
The Church’s reduction to a state administrative body under Peter I resulted in a crisis of ecclesial consciousness. Through Christological and Pneumatological considerations, the Council’s draft resolution rigorously reaffirmed the Church’s role as the “new creation”.
The discussion of Church–State Relations in the All-Russian Council of 1917–1918 was by no means contextually limited to the political and social turmoil of the present moment. Rather, the topic was approached from the broader perspective of Russian and Byzantine history. What is more, this perspective was predominantly theological in nature. The Church’s reduction to a state administrative body under Peter I seemed to result in a crisis of ecclesial consciousness. Through Christological and Pneumatological considerations, the draft resolution rigorously reaffirmed the Church’s role as the “new creation,” wherein she manifests the Kingdom of God within history and shepherds the whole of creation towards its fulfillment in “the age to come.” Her foundation is the Holy Trinity. The union and restoration of the cosmos, through the work of the Holy Spirit, is unable to be limited, bound, or subordinated to any political form. He is truly capable of enlivening, renewing, and transfiguring humanity and the world under any external circumstance. What is significant for this discussion, is that the vocal minority of the Council did not oppose the draft on this basis. Rather, their minor objections were focused on ensuring the protection of the Church against the administrative overreach of the state, primarily as a reaction to the previous regime and partially as a preventative measure for the uncertain future. With these considerations in mind, it appears that the question of monarchy was indeed, from a dogmatic perspective, a matter of politics at the All-Russian Council of 1917–1918.
The First All-Diaspora Council of 1921 at Sremski Karlovci
The Sremski Karlovci council considered itself to be a continuation of the All-Russian Council, both with respect to its proceedings as well as the fact that the work of the latter (along with the Southwestern Council at Stavropol) was unable to be brought to completion.“His Eminence Antonii, Metropolitan of Kiev and Galicia, with the unanimous decision of the members of this Assembly… participated with the blessing of the Patriarch of Serbia, strictly observing … Continue reading With respect to certain procedures, there was a visible attempt to remain in continuity with the All-Russian Council. During the session held on November 25, Bishop Benjamin (Fedchenkov) provided something of an explanation for a representation at the council of the mandated presbyter delegates (presviterskii sovet), a body that was distinct from the general assembly, which could effectively act as a “buffer” against the lay majority and their potential influence over the internal judgments and rulings of the Church. This was coupled with “a lengthy explanation of the deviations from the resolutions of the All-Russian Council… on practical and canonical, religious and conciliar-psychological grounds.”Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 29–36. Count Apraskin objected, proposing instead to remain faithful to the procedures of the All-Russian Council:
There must be an authority which guides us in the understanding and execution of Church canons… For this Council, the All-Russian Council of Moscow must be such an authority. [There were] around 70 bishops of the Russian Church [there], of whom as many as 20 have already been sealed by their own blood in martyrdom. The strongest, most learned theological forces from all possible spheres of theological thought were represented at this Council together with all possible academic sources; up to 600 clerics and elected laymen from all of Russia were its members. This Council, in all its works, was distinguished by an exceptional respect for the Church canons and put them as the basis of its decisions…. in the present Assembly under modern conditions, when there are no academic sources at hand, all church canons should be viewed exclusively through the prism of the All-Russian Council.Ibid.
Changes to procedures (the establishment of an internal council of presbyters), he argued, would undermine the authority of clergy and therefore “lead the work of the assembly to the shaky ground of personal canonical interpretation and endless disputes.”Ibid. The proposal to abolish the council of presbyters was immediately passed by the assembly. Ironically, it was this very proposal and its appeal to the authority of the All-Russian Council that would allow for the highly politicized and unified lay majority to influence the proceedings that took place on November 30, 1921 during the session held on the “Spiritual Rebirth of Russia.” It was at this session, which dealt with the restoration of the Monarchy, where the divisive address “To the Children of The Russian Orthodox Church In Dispersion and Exile” came into being.
While adherence to certain procedures and principals of the All-Russian Council was maintained at Sremski Karlovci, the discussions which took place on November 30 along with the corresponding resolutions marked a clear departure from the above-studied minutes of the All-Russian Council regarding politics. To be sure, the tone was certainly colored by the recent and continued atrocities of the Revolution and Civil War. However, there was another factor which contributed to the unique character of the First All-Diaspora Council. The Karlovci Council comprised a majority of lay participants, including many distinguished and active members of various monarchical organizations.Biriukova, op. cit. The structure of each representative district at the Council had a lay-to-clerical ratio of 2:1. Additionally, the military districts had double the number of representatives.Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 5–8. The atmosphere was tense. As early as the second session of the Council, there is evidence of clear and targeted pressure directed at other participants by members of the monarchical factions. A. F. Trepov, a member of the Supreme Monarchist Council, managed stir up a commotion against the former chairman of the Fourth State Duma, Michael Rodzianko, in order to pressure him into not participating.Biriukova, op. cit.; Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 27–29. Rodzianko, it is significant to note, also happened to have been the vice-president of the All-Russian Council of 1917–1918.Nicholas Zernov, op. cit. During the second session of the Council, he solemnly withdrew due to the “growing dissatisfaction among the members of the Church Assembly with his presence.”Ibid. The gravity of the event was recorded in a diary entry by one of the participants:
The affair with Rodzianko has shaken me. I had the feeling that I was looking at a man who was being led to the executioner’s block… the presence of a group of monarchists had been revealed at the assembly, of people who wished to use the Church as a tool. Metropolitan Antonii has been trying hard to smooth everything out, but he does not desire to fight against them… There was a private session about Rodzianko. The priests are for him, the laymen against him.Ibid.
It cannot be ruled out that this dynamic may have very well informed the aforementioned discussion regarding the mandated council of presbyters, which happened to take place during the following session. It was then, that Vasiliev, in an effort to hold fast to the principal of conciliarity, spoke out against the council of presbyters. He did, however, also make an appeal to the principal that the flock should follow their pastors, rather than pastors follow their flock. “After all…” he continued, “laity came to the Council not to make war with their pastors, but in order to work together and under their leadership…”Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 29–36. Despite such appeals, the pressure from the lay delegates persisted. After the conclusion of that session, Archimandrite Antonii, Hieromonk Nikolai and Hieromonk Feodosii visited Bishop Benjamin at his residence, where they lamented the state of affairs at the Council. “A secular spirit pervades the assembly, hardly anyone goes to the services, laypeople control everything, the bishops have receded into the background, the priests are a minority.”Zernov, op. cit. Regarding Church–State relations, those same voices together confided that “they all stood for the full independence of the Church.”Ibid. Five days later, a similar event took place. N. E. Markov, one of the more vocal members of the lay monarchist faction, attempted to bar G. Spasskii from further participation in the assembly, requesting that his removal be accomplished not by a 2/3 majority vote as per protocol, but by a simple majority.Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 41–42. The assembly was clamorous once again:
The Bishop is nervous and angry. The words ‘tsar’ and ‘monarchy’ can be heard the whole time… People immediately flare up in irritation. The Metropolitan definitely wants to have done with the Council, but the Council lives on… Even Bishop Apollinarii is filled with indignation at the conduct of the Markovites… Kvaskov is right, the monarchists have made out a draft and now they are demanding that it be endorsed with the signature of the Council… Professor Lanitskii from Berlin called on our Bishop. He wants to leave, he does not consider the Council to be ecclesiastical. At the sessions, they argue and argue, and always about the Tsar.Zernov, op. cit.
The heated discussions were broken up by a brief intermission, wherein I. V. Nenarokоmov made a presentation on the current state of diaspora parishes and means for their possible development under the present circumstances:
“The defense (of Christianity) must,” he asserted, be “in the form of spiritual strengthening… The parish must be an entirely whole and independent unit that does not fly a party flag… the attitude (of the Church) to State power and its various forms is determined by the latter’s attitude towards Christianity in general and Orthodoxy in particular.”Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 41–42.
Only then, he asserted, would parishes be a powerful moral force. This sentiment, which quite clearly reiterates the principals of Church–State relations upheld by the All-Russian council, was accepted by the council unanimously.Zernov, op. cit. Before continuing, it must be mentioned that there were indeed other areas where the assembly demonstrated a clear ecclesial focus and continuity with the All-Russian Council. One such area was the section on missions, which proposed sending clergy to study at other Christian theological institutions in order to manifest the light of Orthodoxy.Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 76; Likewise, members of the predominantly lay majority were not always aggressively preoccupied with secular matters. There was a moment, for … Continue reading Nevertheless, what is clear from the Karlovci council and accounts thereof, is that the areas that were in disharmony with the All-Russian council were precisely those which were of particular interest to the highly politicized and unified lay majority.
Predictably, the struggle between the two factions came to a head on November 30 during the session held on the Spiritual Rebirth of Russia. It was by virtue of their numerical superiority that the monarchist faction managed to pass their previously drafted statement which not only declared it necessity to return to autocracy but named the Romanov dynasty specifically. “The majority of the council’s members found it necessary not to stop at merely acknowledging that principle (of a return to monarchy), but rather to bring it to its logical conclusion. It felt it necessary to indicate, if not an heir, then the dynasty of the Romanovs.”Ibid., 46–53. It was precisely this latter point, which the opposition contended to be a political matter. “(The minority) considered that raising that particular question is to relegateRus. nizvoditʹ the authority of the Church… they said: ‘however dear to us the earthly kingdom may be, the kingdom of heaven is more precious.’”Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 46–53. Accusations were made against the minority that the clerics were attempting to secure themselves a more favorable position with the new government.Ibid., 120. From Archbishop Anastasii’s opening remarks, it seems that one of the other counterarguments made against the minority was the accusation that “not to mention the Romanov dynasty in the Council’s resolution means to reject it and thereby inflict an undeserved insult, whereas an open recognition of this historical and universally respected dynasty, would be an atonement for our common guilt before the venerable Tsar-martyr.” Indeed, at times, the predominantly lay monarchist faction would attack those who did not support their project, weaponizing the newly martyred Royal Family with accusations of betrayal of the Holy Martyrs and support for their enemies. Just prior to reading aloud the section’s drafted statement, Markov declared:
We do not know for sure whether prince Mikhail Alexandrovich is alive, whether the heir Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich is alive. But we took an oath to the heir, we took it not at the bazaar, but in the temple. Well then!? Has anyone withdrawn this oath? If the oath has indeed been lifted, then a Church assembly should declare this openly and welcome the Revolution, announcing the deposition of the house of Romanov.Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 46–53.
Bishop Benjamin countered these attacks, clearly feeling the need to defend the minority’s patriotic standing and loyalty to the dynasty under such painful and burdened accusations.
The majority believes that they stand on ecclesial grounds, but there is no doubt that the majority’s point of view is political… Markov lied that the minority does not recognize the Romanov dynasty. The minority does not say this. On the contrary, absolutely everyone recognizes the house of Romanov… but the minority does not consider it appropriate from the Church’s point of view to mention the Romanov House at an ecclesial Assembly… I deeply revere and honor the memory of Tsar Martyr Nicholas II and his Royal Family… If I were present not at an ecclesial council, but at a political assembly, I would fervently advocate this thought…Ibid.
Bishop Benjamin went on further to accuse the majority of seeking political solutions for “spiritual renewal,” rather than ecclesial ones.Ibid. “Even now, they think that it is only possible to build a state politically. The majority stand on this ground, but His Holiness the Patriarch told the bishops to be outside of politics and stand on spiritual ground.”Ibid. Despite whatever resistance the predominantly clerical opposition could muster, the drafted statement with the inclusion of the dynasty passed with 58 votes against 31.Ibid., 123. Three hierarchs and the majority of the clergy were numbered among the roughly 35% of participants who opposed the statement.Ibid., 129.
The politicized lay majority mounted targeted pressure in order to remove members of the Council who did not sympathize with their project.
For the purposes of this study, what remains to be understood is that the principal of monarchy was nevertheless accepted unanimously.Ibid., 47. The objection which the minority provided, at least publicly, was that the drafted statement specifically mentioned the dynasty of the Romanovs. However, such an objection already constitutes a divergence from All-Russian Council, in that the assembly endorsed a specific form of state management. Nevertheless, the intense pressure placed upon the minority by the monarchist faction is a factor which cannot be entirely overlooked. As a consideration, therefore, it is worth bearing in mind that the politicized lay majority, in unified accord, mounted targeted pressure in order to remove members of the Council who did not sympathize with their project, including none less than the former vice-president of the All-Russian Council. Attacks against their opposition included charges of treason and betrayal of the Holy Martyrs, during a period when the wounds of their beloved homeland were still very much gaping and fresh. It is clear that these accusations were anguishing enough to make the minority feel the need to reaffirm forcefully their deep love for their Tsar and homeland. Yet, perhaps painfully, they also understood that they were compelled to draw a line.This sentiment might conceivably be brought out in the wording of the note that was passed to the assembly, accompanied by 34 signatures, which read: “we the undersigned, declare that the statement … Continue reading Of deeper significance is one of the more elaborately articulated points that was set against the minority position:
[The minority] proceeded from the consideration that the Church, as an eternal, Divine institution, is not internally bound to any specific form of government and therefore must not dogmatize any one in particular. But as they delved into this issue, there was an undeniable break in their consciousness… they could not help but see that the Church, as a fact of history, lives in the conditions of space and time. It is like the ladder of Jacob going to heaven… nevertheless, its foundation is still on the earth, [whereby] blessings and grace are brought down upon all of human existence…Ibid., 121.
This counterargument, summarized by Archbishop Anastasii (Gribanovskii) in his address, could very well be an allusion to the work of the All-Russian Council by virtue of its remarkable resemblance. Its consequences are twofold. First, the assertion that the Church (considering the analogy of Jacob’s Ladder) is somehow dependent upon a particular form of government for it to stand properly and thereby allow grace to flow downward upon humanity, presents an ecclesiological framework with disastrous consequences.Two implications which may be readily drawn form the work of the All-Russian Council are the following: first, this statement implies or presupposes a deficiency in the Godhead, that the Holy Spirit … Continue reading Its contorted focus contradicts the All-Russian Council’s dogmatically founded position on Church and state relations – a clear expression of caesaropapism. Second, the counterargument implies that, on the part of the minority, there was indeed a conscious attempt to remain steadfast in loyalty to the All-Russian Council. It is known from accounts of the Karlovci synod that some of the members of the clerical opposition were vocal in their desire for the Church’s complete independence. Indeed, the accusation that the clerics were attempting somehow to safeguard themselves against possible retaliation from the current government by not strongly aligning themselves with the monarchist movement does not seem to hold ground, given that the impetus for the Church’s desire for independence at the Moscow Council was not the uncertain political future, but rather her experience under the previous regime for the past two centuries. With these considerations in mind, it appears that there was a desire, if not a robust attempt, to maintain accordance with the protocols of the All-Russian Council by the ⅓ clerical minority. If the future actions of ROCOR hierarchs may be of any indication as to their sentiments regarding monarchy as either an ecclesial or political matter, one might consider the decision by the 1923 Council of Bishops to avoid the topic of monarchy in sermons and to follow the Patriarch’s directives instead.A. A. Kostriukov. Lektsii po istorii Russkoi Tserkvi (1917—2008): Uchebnoe posobie. Moscow: St. Tikhon’s University Press, 2018. URL: … Continue reading On the other hand, it could be said that this was influenced by the sanctions that Patriarch Tikhon brought against the Karlovci Council for not complying with church protocols on politics. In response to the Karlovci synod, the Patriarch on May 5, 1922 issued Decree 348, which dissolved the Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority Abroad. The ROCOR Bishop Council of 1922 turned it into a “temporary” Synod of Bishops (the form in which it exists today).Andrei Psarev. Chapter 2. “Marinating Conciliarity Over Frontlines and Ideologies”, 21. … Continue reading It seems that Metropolitan Antonii’s flock may have considered that the Patriarch, who was put under house arrest, was likely coerced by the authorities into acting as he did.Ibid. However, it is important to note that Patriarch Tikhon did not give in to any of the Soviets’ other demands, including the transfer of all Church property abroad to the state.Kostriukov, op. cit. Moreover, he was a firm supporter of the Moscow Council’s project regarding Church–State relations and, prior to his imprisonment, he decreed that the Church should remain outside of politics. In his “Apolitical” address to the Russian Church of October 8, 1919, the Patriarch stated: “We can decisively declare that it is not up to the Church to establish any particular form of government, but rather up to the people themselves. The Church is not tied to any specific mode of government, since this has but a relative, historical significance.”Psarev. Op. cit.
The All-Russian Council’s statement on Church–State relations was by no means limited to the external considerations of the turmoil of post-Revolutionary politics. The Council’s draft resolution was theological in its focus and vast in its historical perspective. It is a “conservative” work, inasmuch as it rejects separation of Church and state, while re-asserting, after two centuries of distortion under caesaropapism, her ecclesial consciousness. The All-Russian Council’s work contends that symphonia is something far more profound – or rather “other” – than “monarchy.” Its essential element is mutual adherence to the Logos on the part of both Church and State in their common custodianship of the world. As a bishop’s authority depends upon the recognition of his peers, which in turn depends upon his adherence to Orthodoxy, so did the authority of the sovereign in Eastern Rome depend upon his adherence to the logos of justice and the affirmation of the populace. Symphonia, therefore, is related to conciliarity and theosis, rather than to any political form as such. Through Christological and pneumatological implications, the draft rigorously reaffirmed the Church’s role as the “new creation,” wherein she manifests the Kingdom of God within history, and shepherds the world toward its fulfillment in the eschaton. With respect to the founding moments of the Russian Church Abroad, much like the pre-Revolutionary Russian Church, the majority of ROCOR clergy sought to defend their sense of “otherness” despite tremendous pressure from right-wing organizations. While monarchy may have been something dear to the hearts of many council fathers, evidence suggests that it was nevertheless understood (by most) to be a political matter. Therefore, there was not only a precedent for a diversity of opinion with respect to monarchy and the Church, but that more than this, a case can be made that many of the fathers actively fought to defend the Church’s consciousness. This is not something which simply occurred in ROCOR’s founding moments, but a struggle which continues for the Church Abroad today.One may only consider the actions of certain outstanding members of ROCOR clergy during the Holocaust, Father Pimen’s “Address to the 4th All-Diaspora Council,” or the Church’s abiding … Continue reading The Church does not require a monarchy to fulfill her mission: otherwise, the ROCOR would have dissolved after the dissolution of the Empire.
|↵1||A. A. Ivanov. “Pravoslavnoe dukhovenstvo i pravye politicheskie dvizheniia v Rossii nachala XX veka (po materialam tserkovnoi pressy)” [“Orthodox Clergy and Right-Wing Political Movements in Russia at the Beginning of the 20th Century: Church Press”]. Nauchnyi dialog 1/2021, 289. (In Russ.) https://doi.org/10.24224/2227-1295-2021-1-286-305.|
|↵4||Ibid., 289; 293|
|↵5||S. L. Firsov. “Metropolitan Antonii (Khrapovitsky), an Orthodox Publicist and Polemicist of the Late 19th – Early 20th Century – a Sociological and Psychological Portrait”. ROCOR Studies. URL: https://www.rocorstudies.org/2017/02/21/metropolitan-Antonii-khrapovitsky-an-orthodox-publicist-and-polemicist-of-the-late-19th-early-20th-century-a-sociological-and-psychological-portrait/ (accessed 23.11.2022)|
|↵6||Ivanov, op. cit., 289|
|↵11||Boris Orlov. “Mikhail Menʹshikov — Sovremennik Ioanna Kronshtadtskogo” [“Mikhail Menshikov: A Contemporary of John of Kronstadt]. URL: https://www.kotlin.ru/vedomosti/2005/12/26/vedomosti_14330.html. (accessed 23.11.2022)|
|↵12||A. S. Orlov. “«Khristianstvo ne udalosʹ». «Putʹ Spaseniia» Fragmenty Dnevnikov M.O. Menʹshikova. 1917” [“‘Christianity has failed’. ‘The Way of Salvation’. Fragments of the Diary of M. O. Menshikov”]. Vestnik Arkhivista. URL: https://www.vestarchive.ru/2012-3/2484-lhristianstvo-ne-ydalosr-lpyt-spaseniiar-fragmenty-dnevnikov-mo-menshikova-1917-g.html. (accessed 22.10.2020)|
|↵14||Ivanov, op. cit., 292.|
|↵16||Firsov, op. cit.|
|↵17||Nadieszda Kizenko. “Metropolitan Antonii (Khrapovitskii) and the ‘Jewish Question’”. ROCOR Studies – Historical Studies of the Russian Church Abroad. URL: https://www.rocorstudies.org/2020/01/03/metropolitan-antonii-khrapovitskii-and-the-jewish-question/ (accessed 23.11.2022)|
|↵21||Khrapovitskii, Metropolitan Antonii. “The Christian Faith and War”. ROCOR Studies. URL: https://www.rocorstudies.org/2016/11/16/the-christian-faith-and-war/. (accessed 17.04.2022). This line of thought might even be found in in the address “To the Children of the Russian Orthodox Church Who are Dispersed in Exile.” We find that the destruction of the civil war is portrayed in predominantly spiritual, rather than in ideological terms: “Churches have been defiled, holy objects profaned, a battle is being fought against God… people perish, power is in the hands of the godless, the Church is under persecution… May the Lord forgive us and our land our great sins and transgressions…”.Quoted from: “Appeal of Russian Pan-Diaspora Council of 1921 for Restoration of Monarchy”. ROCOR Studies. URL: https://www.rocorstudies.org/2016/03/10/appeal-of-pan-diaspora-for-restoration-of-monarchy/. (accessed 01.07.2021)|
|↵22||Khrapovitskii, op. cit.|
|↵24||Fr. Alexander Webster, “Justifiable War as a ‘Lesser Good’ in Eastern Orthodox Moral Tradition,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 48.1 (2003): 27; 47; 53.|
|↵25||Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, sostoiavshagosia 8 – 20 noiabria 1921 goda (21 noiabria – 3 dekabria) v Sremskikh Karlovtsakh v korolevstve S.X.iS. [Acts of the All-Diaspora Church Council Held at Sremski Karlovci in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes from 8–20 November (21 November–3 December) 1921]. Sremski Karlovci: Srpska manastirska Shtamparija, 1922, pp. 124–129.|
|↵26||Kizenko, op. cit.|
|↵27||Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 124–129.|
|↵29||Y. A. Biriukova. “The Influence of Political Forces on the Activity of the Southwestern Church Council and the First Russian All-Diaspora Church Council (1919–1921)”. ROCOR Studies. URL: https://www.rocorstudies.org/2022/02/02/the-influence-of-political-forces-on-the-activity-of-the-southwestern-church-council-and-the-first-russian-all-diaspora-church-council-1919-1921/. (accessed 23.11.2022)|
|↵32||“Deianiia Pomestnogo Sobora 1917–1918 gg. – Deianie Sorok Pervoe”. [“Acts of the 1917–1918 Local Council: Act 41”]. Dyshu Pravoslaviem [Breath of Orthodoxy]. URL: http://dishupravoslaviem.ru/deyaniya-pomestnogo-sobora-1917–1918-gg-deyanie-sorok-pervoe/. (accessed 23.11.2022)|
|↵33||Sergei S. Khoruzhii. “Sergei Nikolaevich Bulgakov.” Russkaia Filosofiia: Malyi Entsiklopedicheskii Slovarʹ [Russian Philosophy: A Concise Dictionary], 1995. URL: http://www.vehi.net/bulgakov/index.html (accessed 23.11.2022)|
|↵34||Kaldellis considers that the popular appointment and deposition of Michael V, as well as various moments in the seventh and eighth centuries when the people or the Senate took a prominent political role (sometimes by force), illustrates a strong undercurrent of popular sovereignty in Eastern Rome. This, among other considerations, leads Kaldellis to the conclusion that “the people’s right to make and unmake emperors was not questioned, and was slighted at the emperor’s peril… the main justification that emperors gave for their rule and specific policies was that they benefited the Roman people (and thereby pleased God).” Further: “The emperors were nominally in charge of the public space of the politeia but only as its custodians, not its owners…”. The emperor was “an emperor of the Romans and not simply emperor in his own right.” (Anthony Kaldellis. The Byzantine Republic: People and Power in New Rome. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Universitly, 2015, 43–57; 89–90; 95–110.)|
|↵35||Although, in reality, these assemblies which ratified the emperor’s accession may have not been free in a modern sense, there are two points that Kaldellis draws. The first is that Caesar’s powers were voted upon by the people. Although senior politicians feared that the republic was irreparably damaged because they had lost authority, that loss was precisely what the people wanted. Second, and more importantly, the existence of the popular assemblies themselves bears witness at least to a theoretical principal that “legitimacy was grounded in popular consent.” There thus appears to have been a real sense of continuity of Republican ideology within the Empire, particularly when considering that emperors could fear deposition if they wielded their powers in an unpopular manner. (Ibid., 100.)|
|↵39||“The Apostolic Canons.” Church Fathers: The Apostolic Canons. URL: https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3820.htm. (accessed 05.10.2020)|
|↵40||Meyendorff takes note of how the idea of the Roman Catholic Papacy emerged out of a struggle between the Church and feudal society, which had come to subsume it completely by the 10th and 11th centuries. Nominations to ecclesial office were conducted by secular authorities, as a “reward for dutiful service to a household.” Appointments could often be purchased and these practices became so common that the notion of simony as directly opposed to canonical norms came to be, for all intents and purposes, lost. The Gregorian reforms, which were in many respects an intense reaction to this corrupt model, were a major factor in the radical transformation of the papacy into a monarchy as it began to reassert itself over and against secular authorities. (Aristeides Papadakis and John Meyendorff. The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy: The Church 1071–1453 A.D. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1994, 18–24; 34) A corresponding manifestation of such a model in the civic realm might be found in Western Absolutism and works in the way set out in Hobbes’ Leviathan. The latter is founded upon the presupposition that the human faculty of the will is intrinsically wicked, as evident within Hobbes’ conception of the “state of nature.” This notion of the inherent depravity of the will, Hobbes’ justification for a more radically autocratic system, is also held in common with Monothelitism – a Christological heresy condemned by the Church at the Sixth Ecumenical Council. Within both concepts, the human will is reduced to passivity (be it political or theological) on account of its radical depravity. In short, it cannot be redeemed and therefore must be either subdued or over-powered.|
|↵41||Stanley S. Harakas. Living the Faith: The Praxis of Eastern Orthodox Ethics. Minneapolis, MN: Light and Life, 1993. 347–348.|
|↵45||Hussey resists the accusation of certain scholars who assert that the Church in Eastern Rome was an example of caesarepapism as evidenced by the resistance to the state authority during the iconoclast and monothelite controversies. (J. M. Hussey. The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990, 303–304).|
|↵46||1 Corinthians 12:12–27; Romans 12:4–6.|
|↵47||“The Shepherd of Hermas.” The Shepherd of Hermas (Lightfoot translation). URL: https://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/shepherd-lightfoot.html (accessed 11.10.2022) Florovsky provides an important caveat to this image: “On the one hand, the Church is composed of human personalities, which never can be regarded as merely as elements or cells of the whole, because each is in direct and immediate union with Christ and His Father – the personal is not to be sacrificed or dissolved in the corporate, Christian ‘togetherness’ must not degenerate into impersonalism…” This distinction, rooted in the Church’s Christological doctrine, finds its ultimate referent in the Trinity, which Florovsky describes with the phrase: “a symphony of personalities.” (Georges V. Florovsky. Bible, Church, Tradition an Eastern Orthodox View. Belmont: Nordland, 1972, 67.)|
|↵49||Paul F. Bradshaw, Harold W. Attridge, Maxwell E. Johnson, and L. Edward Phillips. The Apostolic Tradition: A Commentary. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002, 116.|
|↵50||Florovsky, op. cit., 58–67; 70–72.|
|↵51||Florovsky describes this tendency: “it would be an entire separation from the world, an ultimate flight our of it, and a radical denial of any external authority.” (Ibid., 70.)|
|↵53||Antonii and Christopher Birchall, tr. Confession: A Series of Lectures on the Mystery of Repentance. Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1975, 31.|
|↵54||“Church and State”. The Russian Orthodox Church. URL: https://old.mospat.ru/en/documents/social-concepts/iii/ (accessed 24.11.2022)|
|↵55||“Deianiia Pomestnogo Sobora 1917–1918 gg. – Deianie Sorok Pervoe”|
|↵58||Firsov, op. cit.|
|↵59||“Deianiia Pomestnogo Sobora 1917–1918 gg. – Deianie Sorok Pervoe”|
|↵61||cf. Jn. 3:8; Ibid.|
|↵62||That the person is made in the image and likeness of the Triune God necessarily means that virtue, or attributes of divinity, are, in a certain respect, attributes of a healthy or complete human nature. This is in turn brought to fulfillment by the Theanthropos, Who, in His incarnation, takes upon Himself the same nature and the cosmos – deifying them in a manner according to their nature, yet beyond it. (For a rather comprehensive look at these considerations found in St. Maximus’ Letters to Thallasius and Ambiguum, see: Demetrios Harper. The Analogy of Love: St. Maximus the Confessor and the Foundations of Ethics. Yonkers, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2019.)|
|↵63||In connection with what was spoken of previously regarding adherence to the Logos of truth or the logos of Justice, we are speaking of deification.|
|↵69||“Deianiia Pomestnogo Sobora 1917–1918 gg. – Deianie Sorok Pervoe”.|
|↵71||This latter point seems to be a reference to that primeval paradigm, of the very first person in all of history who erroneously considered that all authority given to him by God was his own … apart from obedience to and participation in His Word. Therein began the very first apostasy against God’s authority through independence and self-directness. This paradigm may, quite tragically, be all too readily found in any form of Government wherein the sovereign begins to see his authority as belonging to himself, apart from his adherence to the Logos of Truth.|
|↵72||“Deianiia Pomestnogo Sobora 1917–1918 gg. – Deianie Sorok Vtoroe”. [“Acts of the 1917–1918 Local Council: Act 42”]. Dyshu Pravoslaviem. URL: http://dishupravoslaviem.ru/deyaniya-pomestnogo-sobora-1917–1918-gg-deyanie-sorok-vtoroe-2/. (accessed 23.11.2022)|
|↵76||“Deianiia Pomestnogo Sobora 1917–1918 gg. – Deianie Sorok Pervoe”|
|↵85||“Deianiia Pomestnogo Sobora 1917–1918 gg. – Deianie Sorok Tretʹe”. [“Acts of the 1917–1918 Local Council: Act 43”]. Dyshu Pravoslaviem. URL: http://dishupravoslaviem.ru/deyaniya-pomestnogo-sobora-1917–1918-gg-deyanie-sorok-trete/. (accessed 23.11.2022)|
|↵87||“Deianiia Pomestnogo Sobora 1917–1918 gg. – Deianie Sorok Vtoroe”|
|↵88||“His Eminence Antonii, Metropolitan of Kiev and Galicia, with the unanimous decision of the members of this Assembly… participated with the blessing of the Patriarch of Serbia, strictly observing the sacred canons of the Orthodox Catholic Church, and guided by the definitions of the Holy Council of the All-Russian Orthodox Church of 1917–1918 and its traditions.” (Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 3–5); Biriukova, op. cit.|
|↵89||Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 29–36.|
|↵92||Biriukova, op. cit.|
|↵93||Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 5–8.|
|↵94||Biriukova, op. cit.; Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 27–29.|
|↵95||Nicholas Zernov, op. cit.|
|↵98||Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 29–36.|
|↵99||Zernov, op. cit.|
|↵101||Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 41–42.|
|↵102||Zernov, op. cit.|
|↵103||Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 41–42.|
|↵104||Zernov, op. cit.|
|↵105||Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 76; Likewise, members of the predominantly lay majority were not always aggressively preoccupied with secular matters. There was a moment, for example, when Markov himself expressed the concern that there was a tremendous pastoral need for the diaspora in Hungary, where there was not even a temple for the faithful to worship in. (Ibid., 55)|
|↵108||Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 46–53.|
|↵110||Deianiia Russkago Vsezagranichnago Tserkovnago Sobora, 46–53.|
|↵117||This sentiment might conceivably be brought out in the wording of the note that was passed to the assembly, accompanied by 34 signatures, which read: “we the undersigned, declare that the statement on the question of monarchy given by the majority from the Section on the ‘Spiritual Revival of Russia,’ no less with the mentioning dynasty, is of a political nature…” (Ibid., 50)|
|↵119||Two implications which may be readily drawn form the work of the All-Russian Council are the following: first, this statement implies or presupposes a deficiency in the Godhead, that the Holy Spirit requires a political form in order for Him to work “best” in the world. Second, a form-dependent mechanism for grace amounts to a theological framework that lacks Christocentricity and entirely circumvents the question of the participation of human will in theosis. As such, it may be said to be something of a Monothelite construction.|
|↵120||A. A. Kostriukov. Lektsii po istorii Russkoi Tserkvi (1917—2008): Uchebnoe posobie. Moscow: St. Tikhon’s University Press, 2018. URL: https://azbyka.ru/otechnik/Istorija_Tserkvi/lektsii-po-istorii-russkoj-tserkvi-1917-2008/ (accessed 18.07.2022).|
|↵121||Andrei Psarev. Chapter 2. “Marinating Conciliarity Over Frontlines and Ideologies”, 21. https://www.academia.edu/47495316/CHAPTER_2_Maintaining_Conciliarity_Over_the_Frontlines_200band_Ideologies_1918_1922_ (accessed 25.11.2022).|
|↵123||Kostriukov, op. cit.|
|↵124||Psarev. Op. cit.|
|↵125||One may only consider the actions of certain outstanding members of ROCOR clergy during the Holocaust, Father Pimen’s “Address to the 4th All-Diaspora Council,” or the Church’s abiding document for clergy “On Involvement in Politics”; cf. the comments on the article: Mikhail Shkarovskii. “The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and the Holocaust”. ROCOR Studies. URL: https://www.rocorstudies.org/2019/12/07/the-russian-orthodox-church-outside-of-russia-and-the-holocaust/ (accessed 22.01.2022); Pimen Simon. “Address to the 4th All-Diaspora Counci”. ROCOR Studies. URL: https://www.rocorstudies.org/2017/01/16/address-to-the-ivth-all-diaspora-sobor/ (accessed 09.12.2020); “On Involvement in Politics”. ROCOR Studies. URL: https://www.rocorstudies.org/2017/04/03/on-involvement-in-politics/ (accessed 14.09. 2022).|
A very interesting article. But why no mention of the All-Russian Council’s support of the patriarch’s 1918 anathema on Soviet power? Do you call that a political act or not?
Good evening Father Andrew!
For m. Anthony they are Theological because The Church is a Monarchy.
Think of the meanings and specific words in our prayers.
One word among many others TSAR.
Как же можно наш земной опыт земных царств прилагать к Царству Христову?
Какой, чей опыт вы хотите хотя бы приблизительно применить? Ивана Грозного? Петра Первого? Римских, китайских, японских императоров? Европейских королей?
Трости надломленной не переломит и льна курящего не угасит, вот Он какой Небесный наш Царь.