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Dead Church
In the works of Vladimir Solovyov

The Church in its divided and fragmentary condition

This idea of a “dead Church” is not merely the logical conclusion which we believe to be implicit in the propositions advanced by our renowned theologian; he has labored to describe to us the Universal Church as he conceived it under the form of a lifeless body made up of heterogeneous and distinct elements. He has even been inspired to apply to the Church of Christ and to the stages of its historical existence the vision of the great idol recorded in the book of Daniel. The golden head of the idol is the early Christian Church; the chest and arms of silver signify “the Church growing in strength and extent” (the age of the martyrs); the brazen stomach is “the Church in prosperity” (the triumph of Christianity and the age of the great doctors). Finally, the Church of the present, “the Church in its divided and fragmentary condition,” is represented by the two feet with their toes, in which clay is mingled with iron by the hands of men. To accept this ill-omened symbol seriously would mean the denial of the one, infallible and impregnable Church of God founded to last for all generations. The author perceived as much, and in subsequent editions of his work he erased the whole of this allegory; but he found nothing to put in its place. It must, however, be confessed that in limiting the application of this symbol to the official Greco-Russian Church the distinguished representative of that institution displayed both acumen and impartiality. Iron and clay mixed by the hand of man — violence and impotence, and an artificial unity which needs only a shock to reduce it to powder: no simile could better depict the actual condition of our established Church.

Vladimir Solovyov
Russian and the Universal Church
Part I. IV. Russian dissent. The relative truth of the Raskol.

This Church “established” by the Tsar, though totally subservient to the secular power and destitute of all inner vitality, none the less makes use of the hierarchical idea to assume over the people an absolute authority which by right belongs only to the independent Universal Church founded by Christ.

Vladimir Solovyov
Russian and the Universal Church
Part I. IV. Russian dissent. The relative truth of the Raskol.

Secular power came to anti-Christian absolutism

In 1885 an official document emanating from the Russian Government2 declared that the Eastern Church had resigned its authority and placed it in the hands of the Tsar. Few people noticed this significant utterance. …

We are told that the Emperor of Russia is a son of the Church. That is only what he should be as head of a Christian State. But if he is to be so in actual fact, then the Church must exercise an authority over him; she must possess a power that is independent and superior to that of the State. With the best will in the world the secular monarch cannot be truly the son of a Church of which he is at the same time the head and which he governs through his officials.

The Church in Russia, deprived of any point d’appui or center of unity outside the national State, has inevitably come to be subservient to the secular power; and the latter, acknowledging no authority upon Earth superior to itself, recognizing no one from whom it may receive religious sanction, that is to say, a partial delegation of the authority of Christ, has just as inevitably engendered an anti-Christian despotism.

2 Regulations for State examinations in the Faculty of Laws.

Vladimir Solovyov
Russian and the Universal Church
Part I. IX. The fulfillment of a prophecy. Cæsaropapism in action.

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