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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Alexis Khomiakov (1804-1860)

This was taken from the book "The Orthodox Church" by the Metropolitan Bishop Timothy (Kallistos) Ware.

"In the field of theology, nineteenth-century Russia broke away from its excessive dependence upon the west. This was due chiefly to the work of Alexis Khomiakov (1804-60), leader of the Slavophil circle and perhaps the first original theologian in the history of the Russian Church. A country landowner and a retired cavalry captain, Khomiakov belonged to the tradition of lay theologians which has always existed in Orthodoxy. Khomiakov argued that all western Christianity, whether Roman or Protestant, shares the same assumptions and betrays the same fundamental point of view, while Orthodoxy is something entirely distinct. Since this is so (Khomiakov continued), it is not enough for Orthodox to borrow their theology from the west, as they had been doing since the seventeenth century; instead of using Protestant arguments against Rome, and Roman arguments against the Protestants, they must return to their own authentic sources, and rediscover the true Orthodox tradition, which in its basic presuppositions is neither Roman nor Reformed, but unique. As his friend G. Samarin put it, before Khomiakov 'our Orthodox school of theology was not in a position to define either Latinism or Protestantism, because in departing from its own Orthodox standpoint, it had itself become divided into two, and each of these halves had taken up a position opposed indded to its opponent, Latin or Protestant, but not above him. It was Khomiakov who first looked upon Latinism and Protestantism from the point of view of the Church, and therefore from a higher standpoint: and this is the reason why he was also able to define them.' Khomiakov was particularly concerned with the doctrine of the Church its unity and authority; and here he made a lasting contribution to Orthodox theology.

Khomiakov during his lifetime exercised little or no influence on the theology taught in the academies and seminaries, but here too there was an increasing independence from the west." [1]

Works online:
The Church is One


The Church is One

Third Letter to William Palmer

Twelfth Letter to William Palmer

On the Western Confessions of Faith

A PDF file about Khomiakov:
A Study of the Interplay of Piety and Theology.pdf

Related Links:
The role of the layperson in the Orthodox Church

Fr. George Florovsky (1893 - 1979)


[1] pages 123-124, from the book "The Orthodox Church: New Edition" by Metropolitan Timothy(Kallistos) Ware.


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