Holy Russia?

This article from The Daily Telegraph reports that the revival of the Orthodox Church in Putin’s Russia has a shadow side. It raises all sorts of basic questions about the church and the state being in bed together.

Can a state church ever be free of corruption? Can a state church ever be free of moral compromise, doctrinal compromise and spiritual compromise?

I think there’s a name for this. Isn’t the heresy of the church becoming the king’s puppet called Erastianism?

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  • It is the perennial temptation and undoing of the church to seek the support of temporal powers and elites, and it almost always bears bad fruit. If we look at the times when the church has been corrupted, it has always been caused by yielding to the temptation given to Our Lord in the desert, ‘I will give you all this if you fall down and worship me.’The spread of the Arian heresy was largely caused by the church seeking social acceptance in the later Roman empire after Constantine. The Spanish Inquisition was the consequence of the church seeking the help of the secular power to advance her faith, only to find itself to become an arm of the state. The English reformation was the result of the English church identifying and compromising with the establishment of the wealthy, rather than like St. John Fisher making a courageous stand against the unlawful marriage of Henry VIII.And more recently, the dissent of the sixties and ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ was caused by many in the church, in particular Catholic education, seeking acceptance and legitimacy among the secular academic and media elites. Rather than proclaim the sanctity of marriage, defend the rights of the unborn and show forth the scandal and sacrifice of the cross in the liturgy, many bishops and priests have chosen to follow the path of compromise and silence, effectively turning the faith into a liberal Protestantism if not a therapeutic neo – Gnosticism.

  • I looked around to find out what this is:Wiki-‘Thomas Erastus was a Swiss theologian best known for a posthumously published work in which he argued that the sins of Christians should be punished by the state, and not by the church withholding the sacraments. A generalization of this idea, that the state is supreme in church matters, is known somewhat misleadingly as Erastianism.’Catholic Encyclopedia (CathEn)-‘The name “Erastianism” is often used in a somewhat loose sense as denoting an undue subservience of the Church to the State.’ So I’m thinking, prior to the Reformation, I doubt this question even came up in the way we think about it. I mean, look at the Council of Nicaea: Per CathEn:’The emperor himself, in very respectful letters, begged the bishops of every country to come promptly to Nicaea. Several bishops from outside the Roman Empire (e.g., from Persia) came to the Council. It is not historically known whether the emperor in convoking the Council acted solely in his own name or in concert with the pope; however, it is probable that Constantine and Sylvester came to an agreement.’How awful is that? Sure, ‘undue’ anything is bad, that’s why it’s ‘undue’. But I’m not persuaded that any ‘State Church’ need be ‘subservient’ like Russia’s or England’s.A church can be ‘unduly subservient’ to Caesar and/or corrupt whether it’s the State Church or not.

  • The Church of England–in its foundation and continued interdependence on the State is the best example of Erastianism. For heaven’s sake–the Prime Minister still appoints the bishops

  • “For heaven’s sake…”So to speak!But didn’t Jesus give the keys to Henry VIII?

  • Anonymous

    And look at how corrupt the American church is – in a country where the masonic doctrine of separation of church and state. There is such a heresy as Americanism, which subordinates the church to Caesar (or should that be the Worshipful Grand Master of the Lodge?) despite official separation.That catholicism should be the established religion of every state is implicit in Christ’s injunction that the apostles “teach every nation”, for nations are composed of individuals, and there’s not a single individual on earch who has rights against God.