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Church and the Ruling Class Category: Church Authoritarian-hierocratic system

Church. Holinnes of the Church
In the works of Nikolai Berdyaev

Characteristic for Orthodoxy is FREEDOM

The Church is a grace-filled unity of love and freedom.

Characteristic for Orthodoxy is FREEDOM. This internal freedom may not be noticed from the outside but it is everywhere present. The idea of freedom as the foundation of Orthodoxy was developed in Russian religious thinking of the XIX and XX centuries. The admission of the freedom of conscience radically distinguishes the Orthodox Church from the Catholic Church. But the understanding of freedom in Orthodoxy is different from the understanding of freedom in Protestantism. In Protestantism, as in all Western thought, freedom is understood individualistically, as a personal right, preserved from encroachment on the part of any other person, and declaring it to be autonomous. Individualism is foreign to Orthodoxy, to it belongs a particular collectivism. A religious person and a religious collective are not incompatible with each other, as external friend to friend. The religious person is found within the religious collective and the religious collective is found within the religious person. Thus the religious collective does not become an external authority for the religious person, burdening the person externally with teaching and the law of life. The Church is not outside of religious persons, opposed to her. The Church is within them and they are within her. Thus the Church is not an authority. The Church is a grace-filled unity of love and freedom. Authoritativeness is incompatible with Orthodoxy because this form engenders a fracture between the religious collective and the religious person, between the Church and her members. There is no spiritual life without the freedom of conscience, there is not even a concept of the Church, since the Church does not tolerate slaves within her, but God wants only the free. But the authentic freedom of religious conscience, freedom of the spirit, is made evident not in an isolated autonomous personality, self-asserted in individualism but in a personality conscious of being in a superpersonal spiritual unity, in a unity with a spiritual organism, within the Body of Christ, i.e. the Church. My personal conscience is not placed outside and is not placed in opposition to the superpersonal conscience of the Church, it is revealed only within the Church's conscience. But, without an active spiritual deepening of my personal conscience, of my personal spiritual freedom, the life of the Church is not realized, since this life cannot be external to, nor be imposed upon, the person. Participation in the Church demands spiritual freedom, not only from the first entry into the Church, which Catholicism also recognizes, but throughout one's whole life. The Church's freedom with respect to the State was always precarious, but Orthodoxy always enjoyed freedom within the Church. In Orthodoxy freedom is organically linked with Sobornost', i.e. with the activity of the Holy Spirit upon the religious collective which has been with the Church not only during the times of the Ecumenical Councils, but at all times. Sobornost' in Orthodoxy, which is the life of the Church's people, never had any external juridical signs. Not even the Ecumenical Councils enjoyed indisputable external authority. The infallibility of authority was enjoyed only by the whole Church throughout her whole history, and the bearers and custodians of this authority were the whole people of the Church. The Ecumenical Councils enjoyed their authority not because they conformed with external juridical legal requirements but because the people of the Church, the whole Church recognized them as Ecumenical and genuine. Only that Ecumenical Council is genuine in which there was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit; the outpouring of the Holy Spirit has no external juridical criteria, it is discerned by the people of the Church in accordance with internal spiritual evidence. All this indicates a nonnormative nonjuridical character of the Orthodox Church.

Eschatological consciousness

Orthodox eschatology means a lesser attachment to the world and earthly life and a greater turning towards heaven and eternity, i.e. to the Kingdom of God.

In Orthodoxy there is the anticipation of new outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, the final and most important feature of Orthodoxy is its eschatological consciousness. The early Christian eschatology, the anticipation of Christ's second appearance and the coming of the Resurrection, was to a greater extent, preserved in Orthodoxy. Orthodox eschatology means a lesser attachment to the world and earthly life and a greater turning towards heaven and eternity, i.e. to the Kingdom of God. In Western Christianity, the actualization of Christianity in the paths of history, the turning towards earthly efficiency and earthly organization resulted in the obscuring of the eschatological mystery, the mystery of Christ's second coming. In Orthodoxy, primarily as a result of its lesser historical activity, the great eschatological anticipation was preserved. The apocalyptic side of Christianity had less of an expression in the Western forms of Christianity. In the East, in Orthodoxy, especially in Russian Orthodoxy, there were apocalyptic tendencies, the anticipation of new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Orthodoxy, being a more traditional, a more conservative form of Christianity, while preserving the ancient truths, allowed for the possibility of a greater religious innovation, not innovations of human thought which is so prominent in the West, but innovations of the religious transfiguration of life. The primacy of the fulness of life over the differentialized culture was always especially characteristic for Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy did not see such a great culture which arose on the grounds of Catholicism and Protestantism. Perhaps this is so because Orthodoxy is turned towards the Kingdom of God which will come not as a consequence of historical evolution, but as a result of the mystical transfiguration of the world. It is not evolution but transfiguration which is characteristic for Orthodoxy.

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