Author Topic: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy  (Read 52933 times)

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Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #30 on: December 24, 2006, 04:10:53 PM »
Yes, of course. The question to ask is were they right in making this assumption? After all, Americans (some of them, including one or two who have occupied the White House) occasionally cling to the idea that we have a manifest destiny imposed by Heaven. Are they correct? As Bev pointed out, God is a convenient person to blame when things go wrong, and it is even more convenient to identify our wills with His when things go "right".

By the way, I am sending you one of the sacred combs that Alix sent Nicholas. No, no . . . don't thank me.

And my "pithiness"? There's a new phrase connected to me. Usually I get a lot of "Oh my God, what are you on about now?"
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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #31 on: December 24, 2006, 06:33:24 PM »
Just finished watching the HBO series Big Love this afternoon.  Now I get it. 

Offline Belochka

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #32 on: December 25, 2006, 07:08:54 PM »
This does not mean that all of the nastiness Tsarfan listed is God's will (quite the contrary, according to orthodox Christian teaching --- God cannot will evil) and still less that autocracy was actually His subsidiary company.

Simon

Indeed Nikolai did not have a contract much less a "subsidiary company". It is best to accept the concept as that of a indivisible union.

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Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #33 on: December 25, 2006, 08:37:57 PM »
Surely not "indivisible", or the authority of the Orthodox Church would have been fatally compromised by the end of the autocracy. Although there do seem to be divisions present now that weren't there prior to 1917.

In the end, I suppose that the claims made by the autocracy vis a vis the Orthodox Church resemble the claims by the Papacy vis a vis the Western Church. And just as the Roman Church has survived bad popes, I suppose the Orthodox Church can survive an incompetent Tsar. I'm curious, though. Does the current pretender to the Russian throne advance theological claims?

Simon

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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #34 on: December 25, 2006, 08:39:59 PM »
Indeed Nikolai did not have a contract much less a "subsidiary company". It is best to accept the concept as that of a indivisible union.

So God and the tsar were as one?

Offline Belochka

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #35 on: December 25, 2006, 11:22:37 PM »
Indeed Nikolai did not have a contract much less a "subsidiary company". It is best to accept the concept as that of a indivisible union.

So God and the tsar were as one?

That is not what I am saying.

At Nikolai's coronation, the prayers intoned sealed the indivisable union of the Emperor with the Orthodox Church. Its effect was to form a direct unseverable bond between the Emperor and God.

These two elements does not mean that God and the Emperor were one.  The consequence was that Nikolai was answerable only to God before His conscience and His deeds.

The third element to the equation were the Russian people.

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Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #36 on: December 26, 2006, 06:27:33 PM »
Was the relationship dependent upon the personal beliefs of the consecrated Tsar? For example, did Catherine II have it as a freethinker of the Enlightenment?

How did one deal with abdication in theological terms? Had the Tsar renounced his covenant with God? What about rulers who ascended the throne following the assassination of the reigning Tsar (Peter III, Paul I)?

Could the Russian people renounce the Tsar and thereby remove his authority (in theological understanding)?
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Offline Belochka

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #37 on: December 26, 2006, 11:01:48 PM »
Could the Russian people renounce the Tsar and thereby remove his authority (in theological understanding)?

The people did renounce their Emperor and at the same time symbolically severed their spiritual bond with the Orthodox Church as it was understood at the time.

Margarita
« Last Edit: December 26, 2006, 11:05:47 PM by Belochka »


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Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #38 on: December 26, 2006, 11:10:54 PM »
Actually, I think my question was poorly phrased. Which "people" renounced the Tsar, and how did they have the authority to speak for the rest of the Russians? Was this kind of authority vested in the March 1917 government? I suppose one might also ask in what sense the "people" gave their consent to Tsarist rule, since of course there was no plebiscite at an imperial accession.

My impression is that the notion of "divine right" is pretty fragile, although I do get why autocrats believed in it.

Simon
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Offline Belochka

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #39 on: December 26, 2006, 11:20:32 PM »
Was the relationship dependent upon the personal beliefs of the consecrated Tsar?

The mystery of the Emperor's relationship was personal and entwined with the spiritual. The relationship was not an empty formality.

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Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #40 on: December 26, 2006, 11:26:02 PM »
His personal relationship with God, surely. His political relationship with God, as expressed through Tsarist (autocratic) rule, would have had to be more coherent than that, or the concept would have changed with each ruler. In other words Nicholas II was not the same kind of ruler as Catherine II, which would indicate that the political understanding of the theological underpinnings of autocracy has changed. The different understandings of the relationship between the altar and throne surely reflected the temperaments of the men and women who occupied either at any given period.

Simon
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Offline Belochka

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #41 on: December 26, 2006, 11:29:49 PM »
Was this kind of authority vested in the March 1917 government?

Simon

No, because of two fundamental reasons:

1. The Imperial Laws were expunged.

2. Prince Lvov was elected by his peers before the Provisional Government took power.

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Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #42 on: December 26, 2006, 11:32:26 PM »
In that case, wouldn't it be accurate to say that Nicholas himself severed the connection to his people through the instrument of abdication? Although I am still perplexed by how to understand the concept of "his people", failing any means for them to express their will.

Simon
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Offline Belochka

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #43 on: December 26, 2006, 11:45:37 PM »
His personal relationship with God, surely. His political relationship with God, as expressed through Tsarist (autocratic) rule, would have had to be more coherent than that, or the concept would have changed with each ruler. In other words Nicholas II was not the same kind of ruler as Catherine II, which would indicate that the political understanding of the theological underpinnings of autocracy has changed. The different understandings of the relationship between the altar and throne surely reflected the temperaments of the men and women who occupied either at any given period.

Simon

Whilst the concept was held to be the same, the differences are related to how each individual ruler acted according their learned conscience entrusted to God to help guide their free Will.

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Offline Belochka

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Re: Theological Underpinnings of the Russian Autocracy
« Reply #44 on: December 26, 2006, 11:59:30 PM »
In that case, wouldn't it be accurate to say that Nicholas himself severed the connection to his people through the instrument of abdication?

Simon

If the Abdication was realized to be free and unfettered then perhaps the answer would be yes, but in Nikolai's case, depending on how you choose to view the circumstances behind that final Imperial Act, the answer would better support the belief that it was the people who severed their connection with their Emperor and not the other way round.

Margarita
« Last Edit: December 27, 2006, 12:01:40 AM by Belochka »


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