6. Russian Orthodoxy (41 pages)
From Schmemann's A History of the Orthodox ChurchPage 34
The “Synodal Period.”
Canonically the synod was recognized by the Eastern patriarchs, and the sacramental and hierarchical structure of the Church was not harmed. Therefore the abruptness of the reform did not lie in its canonical aspects but in the psychology that produced it.
Through the institution of the synod the Church became a governmental department, and until 1901 its members in their oath called the emperor “the high judge of this Sacred College,” and all its decisions were adopted “by its authority, granted by His Imperial Majesty.” This way of thinking is best expressed in the Spiritual Rule of Bishop Theofan Prokopovich, the chief assistant of Peter in his ecclesiastical reforms; he brought into Russia all the basic principles of the Protestant territorial Church, its concept of the relations between Church and state, according to which the visible or earthly Church was conceived as also a religious projection of the state itself.
This radical, fundamental falsehood of Peter’s reforms was not recognized by the Russian authorities and was not repudiated, in fact, until the Revolution of 1917.
There was a basic ambiguity in the relations between Church and state which infected the thinking of both state and Church alike. It must be emphasized that the Russian Church in essence and in good conscience did not accept Peter’s reform. For it the emperor remained God’s Anointed, and it continued to accept this anointment in the terms of Byzantine or Muscovite theocracy. Therefore state and Church interpreted the imperial authority in different ways, proceeding from almost contradictory presuppositions. The Russian Church was now anointing Western absolutism with the Byzantine anointment to the throne, meaning the consecration of the earthly emperor to serve as Christian basileus. From this point of view, Byzantine anointing with oil is theocratically a limitation, not the absolutizing of imperial authority. And for one day the splendid Western officer, by “divine” right of blood and inheritance the unrestricted master of millions of people, seemed indeed to be the Byzantine basileus or the Moscow tsar. In his sacred robes, with the Cross on his head, he seemed again an icon of the sanctified Christian empire. The Church and the people always regarded him as an icon, but beginning with Peter the state itself was not aware of it; on the contrary, it was constructed wholly on the principles of Western absolutism. This difference between the relations of the state to the Church (the “Department of the Orthodox Confession”) and the relations of the Church to the state (“God’s Anointed”) composed the main falsehood and discrepancy of the synodal period.
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Reference address : https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/schmemann-orthodoxy-6-russian-orthodoxy.asp?pg=34