Soon the Orthodox Church will convoke a Great and Holy Council, the first such council in over a millennium. Though by no means ecumenical in any official sense (at least not yet), it is a historic meeting, for which I have felt a deep and abiding ambivalence.
The other night, my wife happened to dig up an old notebook. I flipped through its pages and happened upon this quotation from Sergei Bulgakov:
My moving my pen on a piece of paper, thus redistributing the atoms of ink, paper, the steel of the pen, and so on, is in principle just such a cosmic event as astronomical or geological catastrophes, though perhaps of lesser force (and even this is not certain, for we cannot measure these two events against each other).
I recently submitted an invited chapter for a book called, The Ecumenical Edwards. The following (slightly edited) excerpt observes how Jonathan Edwards’s thoughts about the will comport with Bulgakov’s view that freedom and necessity are united in God, particularly when it comes to the “decision” to create. Continue reading “God’s Free Necessity: One Way Jonathan Edwards is Like Sergei Bulgakov”
I like Sergei Bulgakov, but that doesn’t mean I always agree with him. Let me put it this way: I also like Ke$ha.
So now I am going to sum up Part II of Orthodoxy without Empire. Last time I talked about the church-culture limen and two inadequate ways of relating to it. In Part II, I argue that a more coherent account of this limen can actually be found in the rubble of the Byzantine Empire. I know that sounds counterintuitive when you consider that one of the options I criticize is a kind of neo-imperialism, but hear me out, because I think what I am working toward is actually an anti-imperialistic. It’s this socio-political ideal called symphonia.
The following is an excerpt of an invited chapter on intersections between Edwards and Orthodoxy. It is still a bit of a rough draft. Be nice.
Sophiology is the child of Russia’s “Silver Age,” which one might think of as the 1960s of the late 1800s. It was a period of immense religious, philosophical, and artistic experimentation. Intellectual radicalism and political radicalism often go hand-in-hand, and Russia at the time was no exception. Conservative “slavophiles” were engaged in a kind of culture war with the more liberal “westernizers.” The former upheld the old traditions and Christian faith of Holy Russia. The latter wanted to remake their homeland in the image of secular Western Europe. Because the church was effectively an arm of the state, radical intellectuals tended to see it as a backwards and corrupt institution (and rightly so). Vladimir Solovyov broke the mold, navigating between the Scylla of autocracy and the Charybdis of secularism by deploying the metaphor of Holy Wisdom – Sophia – to incorporate culture, and thus openness to its insights, into the stream of church tradition. This made Solovyov something of a radical slavophile; he critically incorporated western philosophy (especially German idealism) and western values (such as individual rights) into a political philosophy that was deeply informed by Russian Orthodox spirituality.
A Plan for Eerdmans to Make More Money
Let me start off by saying that it is not entirely accurate for me to say that Augustine mysteriously disappears from Bulgakov’s theology. He is more like a ghost, occasionally manifesting himself in the open, but most of the time he lurks in the dark corners of Bulgakov’s books, leaving his slimy ectoplasm between esoteric lines of prose. But “Mysterious Disappearance” sounds more intriguing than “the Invisible Augustine,” and I cannot resist the opportunity to plagiarize the wit of Tony Baker (who crafted possibly the best title for any paper I have ever heard presented anywhere).