"Orthodox at Heart"—a personal reflection on the church in Russia

Such is the title of my guest post over at The Two Cities blog. If you’re interested in the topic, please check it out and feel free to comment on the article at either site.Much could be said in comparison of American and Russian churches. One topic at which I only hinted (but didn’t have room to explore), is that of the relationship between the church and our respective  political revolutions (in 1775 and 1917). Both revolted against monarchist states, accused of exploiting the wealth and prosperity of the people while infringing on individual rights. Both led to quasi-secular nations that broke with the European tradition of a state church. In the American case, however, religious freedom was emphasized as a divine right, and the replacement oligarchy touted a quasi-Christian deism, in which God could be found through academia (forgive the oversimplification). For Russia, religious freedom was promoted only to undermine the Orthodox Church (associated with the strength of the Imperial upper classes), but later squashed through censorship and persecution. As a result, continued health of the Soviet Union relied on a new standard of orthodoxy, and to stray from such made one an enemy of the State. Despite the ostensible opposition to liberty, this structure secured the government against future revolution, as was seen, for example, in the American Civil War (for Southern Independence) scarcely 85 years after the nation’s founding.

As the commemoration of our American Revolution approaches, we might ask ours uniquely bears on modern affairs, mindsets, and particularly the church, compared to those of other countries. Many Russians ask today whether their own revolution marked a positive or justified turn in national history. If we ask the same in America, what kind of answers emerge?I never thought to ask this question, so I thought I would share.

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2 responses to “"Orthodox at Heart"—a personal reflection on the church in Russia

  1. I read your two posts mentioned here. I also recently watched your presentation online in Canada.
    I converted to Orthodoxy from 5 point Calvinism a few years ago. It was the Christology of the Council’s that decimated my Reformed assumptions. The distinction between Person and Nature revealed the foundation of sand on which Reformed anthropology and soteriology really stood.
    It was actually reformed theologian Keith Matheson’s book “the Shape of Sola Scriptura” that began to expose for me how Sola always reduces to solo scriptura, as the individual will always select for himself his own regula fide, confession, denomination based on his own interpretation of scripture, Matheson exposes individualism in mainstream evangelicalism, but doesn’t even seem to notice how his own position is individually based, having no church with any real authority that can give binding or normative teaching as we see in Acts 16:4.
    Watching RC Sproul and other’s refuse to admit God died on the cross, revealed that the root of nearly every error is a defective Christology. The 6th Ecumenical Council was the back breaker for me. Reformed theology is distinctively a repackaging of the old heresies of Monotheletism and Mono-energism.

    Anyway, I look forward to perusing your blog, as I recently have leaned heavily to the Evolutionary Creationist position.
    Grace and peace.

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    • Thank you for the comment, and I do hope the blog is a helpful resource in elaborating the Evolutionary Creationist position. Though I wrote this article several years ago, I’ve continued to gain much insight from Orthodox theology and fellowship. If you get the chance, please send me an e-mail, as I’d love to ask more about your experience in orthodoxy.

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