The purpose of the article is to confirm the relevance of the study of theology in Russia. The most important humanitarian threat to a man of today is the loss of understanding of the eternal importance of human life. On the basis of hermeneutic modelling of macro-historical processes, two consecutive macro-trends of the national cultural and civilizational history are distinguished: the Byzantine and the Western. The first one is characterized by the absolutising the nature of God's perception, expressed in all aspects of human life in the world, beginning with the modelling of the world as an artistic work of the Highest Creator. The second hyper trend is characterized by extreme absolutisation of the human beginning, which is gradually moving away from its Creator. The crisis of modern planetary civilization, increasing risks and real multidimensional catastrophes are associated with the divergence of these мacro-trends. The most important humanitarian threat to a man of today is the loss of understanding of the eternal importance of human life. The specificity of theological knowledge understood as the totality of the fundamental concepts about the Lord, the universe and the man’s place in its creation, all the meaning of life and the purpose of human’s existence and the metaphysical inviolability of the God-human connection in the experience of infinite love, which “never fails” is revealed. The danger of perceiving security as a permanently acquired and completed in time state of reality is shown, as well as the duality of the rhetoric of security itself.
Keywords: Cultural and civilizational historythe ological foundations of spiritual securitythe rhetoric of securitythe crisis
Any cultural community faces threats that are not always realized. They can be internal or external, favourable or destructive. The spiritual values which laid the basis for the foundation of a thousand-year Russian world are inextricably linked with Byzantine church, that gave our Motherland a certain civilizational identity and some specific fundamental concepts.
What are they based on? It is no exaggeration to say that they are based on a theological foundation. Theology is considered not just as one of the disciplines in the structure of academic education, but first of all, as a spiritual aspect and human life that determines the very possibility, in the Apostle’s words, to “turn the mind to God”, for not all doctrines of reality retain this gracious point of view. On the other hand, we know from the words of the Psalmist a sorrowful question: “If the foundations are
destroyed, what shall the righteous do?” (Psalm).
The purpose of the article is modelling disclosure of the main axiological counterpoint of Russian culture. The most important humanitarian threat to a man of today is the loss of understanding of the eternal importance of human life. It is necessary to identify the specifics of theological knowledge and to show the danger of perceiving security as a permanently acquired and completed in time state of reality, as well as to reveal the duality of the rhetoric of security itself.
Macro-trends of the cultural history of Russia and the strategies of its development.
Specific features of theological knowledge
Тhe rhetoric of security
Purpose of the Study
Revealing the exceptional relevance of studying theology in Russia. The study of the theological foundations of the spiritual security of Russia (especially in the educational structure of the Ministry of Emergencies!) is not only well-timed but generally impossible to be overestimated. The cause is in it conveys the real Russian-science foundation to humanitarian knowledge that addresses the sources and meaning of the existence of our country, as well as reveals to a certain ultimate qualitative dimension in purely professional activity. The world that has been turned into an endless workshop and laboratory for experiments, a giant gas station and an endless black hole could be returned to a person as theogenic environment where the way to the temple and reverence for life is for keeps.
Hermeneutic modelling of macro-history
The basis of the research methodology is cultural-philosophical hermeneutics with theoretical support on the fundamental works of domestic and Western European authors: “Notes on World History” by Khomyakov (1900), “Russia and Europe” by Danilevsky (1991), “Byzantism and Slavism” by Leontyev (2007), “The Fate of Russia”, “The Meaning of History”, “Russian Idea” by Berdyaev (1990; 1996; 2007), “On the Watersheds of Thought” by Father Pavel Florensky (1990), “Philosophy of the Name”, “Dogmatic Justification of Culture” by Father Sergei Bulgakov (1999), “Anthropology of St. Gregory Palamas” by Archimandrite Cyprian Kern (1950), Dialectics of Myth by Losev (2001), “Sunset of Europe” by Spengler (1993), “Civilization before the Court of History” by Toynbee (2004), “Sources of History and Its Purpose” by Jaspers (1991), “The End of New time” Guardini (1990, p. 131). The latter, in particular, emphasizes that “any cultural construction that denies God is doomed to failure for the simple reason that God is” (Guardini, 1990, p. 150): according to this understanding, “culture is not what the New time assumed: it is not safe-a beautiful security, but a desperate fight for life and death, and no one knows how it will end” (Guardini, 1990, p. 154). All these authors, raising the question of a positively understood “New middle Ages”, point out at the same time the dangers of a new barbarization of human existence:
The old abysses of primitive times are opening up in this new savagery. The jungle is growing rapidly, absorbing and suffocating all as it goes. All the monsters of the desert, all the horrors of darkness are getting around us again. A man is facing chaos again; and it is getting even more terrible because the majority of people do not notice this, as the machines are working everywhere, different institutions are functioning, scholarly educated people are rattling on (Guardini, 1990, p. 155).
Two consecutive macro-trends of the national cultural and civilization history are distinguished: the Byzantine and the Western. The first one is characterized by the absolutizing the nature of God's perception, expressed in all aspects of human life in the world, beginning with the very modelling of the world as an artistic work of the Highest Creator. The second hyper trend is characterised by extreme absolutization of the human beginning, which is gradually moving away from its Creator. The crisis of modern planetary civilization, increasing risks and real multidimensional catastrophes are associated with the divergence of these macro-trends.
Theological knowledge contains a set of fundamental ideas about the Lord, the universe and the man’s place in its creation, all the meaning of life and the purpose of human’s existence, spiritual death and the metaphysical inviolability of the God-human connection in the experience of infinite love, which “never fails” (1 Cor., 13 : 8).
The experience of falling apart from God of huge human masses at the end of New Age turned into incalculable suffering, that was not known on such a grand scale by the previous generations. This is primarily a loss of understanding of the intrinsic value of a human life. Being outside of the primordial Paradise, the historical man preserved memory of it as a place of meeting with his Lord. According to Archimandrite Cyprian Kern, each culture keeps alive the thirst for “keeping and cultivating the garden”, which comes from its experience as memories of divine destiny for the first men (Kern,1950, p. 376).
It is impossible to talk seriously about the fundamental theological perspective of understanding reality connected with faith in the almighty and all-good Creator of the world, without taking into account the eschatological disclosure of the metaphysics of evil and Easter Victory over it in the Light of the Resurrection of Christ.
The idea of angels and a falling part of them getting apart from God, which directed its poisonous arrows at man, is fundamental in almost all monotheistic traditions, and besides it is contained in one form or another in any religious experience. It involves a special look at world time, in which the extremely dramatic apocalyptic completion of the struggle with the forces of evil on the threshold of eternity is carried out.
In this regard, security should not be perceived as some kind of everlastingly acquired and completed state of reality in time – moreover, the extreme danger lies precisely in the possible broadcasts of such an understanding, which St. Apostle Paul warned about: “... while people are saying: “Peace and security”, destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape” (1 Thess).
Remaining true believers and a fortiori Orthodox Christians, we cannot but understand all this duality of security rhetoric itself: the enemy of the human race would like to make his work here irreversible – in mirages of infinite time, but the latter in essence indicates the finiteness and threshold, in overcoming which the revival of fallen mankind is carried out and it also marks the entry into that “regeneration”, where “God will wipe every tear from their eyes” (Rev) and “there should be time no longer” (Rev).
The cultural and civilizational being of the human race is historical and acts as an indication for innumerable, but absolute limit that is approaching us from the future, awakening in the experience of our faith and its prophecies eminently vague fancy ideas, but spiritual concentration and sobriety associated with understanding the limitations of our purely human knowledge and opportunities, but also with the hope in incomprehensible mercy of the Omniscient Creator.
In work “Dogmatic Justification of Culture”, Father Sergei Bulgakov pointed to the cosmological foundations of human activity: “God created man as the apex of the world, as a cosmic being, and the world – as a human being, id est, man is cosmic, and the world is human”; “man continues to reveal the divine plan about the world” (Bulgakov, 1999, p. 637). Noting that a person is called to be a co-creator of God and that the world is given to a person projectively, the author regrets that “a person became a prisoner of outer space due to an improper attitude to the world” (Bulgakov, 1993, p. 638). Culture acts primarily as a creative attitude, contrary to an adaptive one. According to Bulgakov, there are two ways that are being opened for humanity to realize a person’s creative abilities: the path of civilization and the path of creativity (culture). Civilization is an adaptation to the conditions of natural life. Culture is a human’s creative attitude to the world and himself ... These two paths have biblical foundations of interpretation: “... the path of slavery to the world, the path of Cain and Cainites, blacksmiths and inventors of tools, and the path of culture – the path of the people of God” (Bulgakov, 1993, p. 639). “In Christianity,” says Father Sergei, “the contrast between culture and civilization takes especially distinct forms. Civilization in its development could take possession over a man and destroy his/her spirit, that is, turn a human into an antediluvian creature (descendants of Cainites)” (Bulgakov, 1993, p. 641). Culture appears as a process of humanizing of the world – Bulgakov sees this as “the last task of culture”: “The task of culture is the work of divine humanity, that is, hominization of the world and deification of a person. In this sense, the task of culture is completely unlimited”, because “the unattainable limit of cultural creativity is the Kingdom of God”. Speaking about the religious foundations of culture, Father Sergei writes: “A cult is the spiritual centre of culture”, and therefore any “haphazardly” is a renunciation of culture in favour of civilization” – “every human work ... is designed as ars” (Bulgakov, 1993, p. 642).
Revealing the exceptional relevance of studying theology in Russia
Therefore, we can say that there is not always an obvious theological aspect in every human relation to reality ... “Without God, you’ll get nowhere” or its old Russian version “Without God, it is not up to the threshold!” – this is what people said in ancient Russia, but the meaning of this phrase retains its eternal significance for all times and periods both existentially-personal and globally-historical.
We would like to complete this material with the words used by Berdyaev in his end-of-life article “Russia and the New World Era” written back in the middle of the 20th century:
One can imagine the extraordinary growth of the economic and political power of Russia and the emergence of a new type of civilization of the American type, with a predominance of technology and with a preoccupation with loaves and fishes, which did not exist in the past of the Russian people. However, our will should be aimed at creating a different future, in which a fairly social problem will be solved. However, the religious calling of the Russian people will also find itself, and the Russian people will remain faithful to their spiritual nature (Berdyaev, 1996, p. 326).
The reported study was funded by RFBR, project number 20-011-00272 «S. N. Bulgakov: pro et contra. S.N. Bulgakov's work in historical and modern contexts»
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27 February 2021
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National interest, national identity, national security, public organizations, linguocultural identity, linguistic worldview
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Okeanskaya, Z. L., Okeansky, V. P., Orlova, E. V., & Kulagina, M. A. (2021). Theological Foundations Of Spiritual Security Of Russian Culture And Metaphysics Of Evil. In I. Savchenko (Ed.), National Interest, National Identity and National Security, vol 102. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 719-724). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2021.02.02.90