Church and State in the Modern Age: A Documentary History

By J. F. MacLear | Go to book overview
church for temporal political schemes, for the church belongs to God and must serve Him only. There must be no place in the church for counter-revolution. The Soviet government is not a persecutor of the church. In accordance with the constitution of the Soviet government, all citizens are granted genuine religious freedom of conscience. The decree regarding the separation of the church from the state guarantees such freedom. The freedom of religious equally with anti-religious propaganda affords the believers an opportunity to defend by argument the merits of their purely religious convictions. Hence churchmen must not see in the Soviet authority the antichrist; on the contrary, the Sobor calls attention to the fact that the Soviet authority is the only one throughout the world which will realize, by governmental methods, the ideals of the Kingdom of God. Therefore every faithful churchman must not only be an honorable citizen, but also fight with all his might, together with the Soviet authority, for the realization of the Kingdom of God upon earth.
6. Condemning the former patriarch Tikhon as a leader of counter-revolution and not of the church, the Sobor holds that the very restoration of the patriarchate was a definitely political counter-revolutionary act. The ancient church knew no patriarch and was governed conciliarly; hence the Holy Sobor hereby abolishes the restored patriarchate: hereafter the church shall be governed by the Sobor.
7. Condemning counter-revolution within the church, punishing its leaders, abolishing the institution of the patriarchate itself, and recognizing the existing governmental authority, the Sobor creates normal conditions of peaceful progress of ecclesiastical life. Henceforth all church life should be based upon two principles:

(1) with respect to God, upon a genuine devotion of church people to the original commands of Christ the Savior; (2) with respect to the government, upon the principle of separation of the church from the state.

Building upon these foundations, the church will become what it ought to be; a loving, laboring company of those who believe in God, his Christ, and his truth.

Source: Matthew Spinka, The Church and the Russian Revolution ( New York, 1927), pp. 240-244. Russian text in Deyaniya Drugago Vserossiiskago Pomestnago Sobora 1923 goda ( Moscow, 1923), pp. 6-8.


SUGGESTIONS FOR BACKGROUND AND REFERENCE

References for Document 127.


137
Tikhon's Confession June 16, 1923

Tikhon's spectacular recantation of past policy and appeal for reconciliation with the Bolshevik government resulted in his sudden release from, detention and cancellation of his trial. The patriarch won not only his

From Matthew Spinka, The Church and the Russian Revolution ( New York, 1927). Copyright, 1927, by The Macmillan Company. Reprinted by permission of the author.

-351-

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