I found this jewel from Jaroslav Pelikan’s Spirit of Eastern Christendom.
But something new came into existence when Byzantine Christiantiy was imported to Russia.  A Christian philosophy of history became a constituent element of Russian theology as early as Hilarion of Kiev, whose polemics against Judaism put special emphasis on the interpretation of history.
“It was ‘Cyrillo-Methodian’ because the Apostles to the Slavs, Cyril and Methodius, had brought not only the gospel of Christ, also its consciousness of national vocation, to their converts.   This was true in some ways also of Western missionaries, but the dominance of the Latin Mass carried with it the obligation to impose on Western Europe a single–and foreign–liturgical language.  By contrast, Cyril and Methodius were anxious to give to the Slavs the whole body of Byzantine liturgical texts in their own language.   The national consciousness of the Slavs owed much to its origin to their conversion, and on the other hand Slavic theological thought was first awakened by meditation upon the religious destiny of the nation”

p. 297

In other words, in some way Orthodox Christianity created the Russian people.  This has implications for nationalist discussions today.  In the Protestant West it is common hear, “But Christ abolished nationalism and distinctions and all.  After all, consider Galatians 3:28.”  Fair enough, I shut my mouth in front of the Bible, if that’s what the Bible is actually saying.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Okay, I just want to ask some questions out of this passage, and if the absurd conclusions follow, then we can rule out that St Paul probably didn’t intend for the passage to be interpreted in the way that no ethnic/national distinctions are allowed.

1.  If this passage rules out national and ethnic distinctions, then it also rules out sexual distinctions.

2.   If (1), then the ideal “Christian” is a hermaphrodite because sexuality has been abolished in Christ.

3.  However, (2) is absurd so we can probably drop the charge against nationalism.  Let’s see what St Paul says about national distinctions in Acts 17.

From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.

I don’t want to read too much into the verse, but there you have it.

Conclusion coming…


One Response to “Neo-Cyrillo-Methodians”

  1. I definitely think the emphasis is on our union with and life in Christ, not nationalities or sexuality. The Preacher of Preachers, St John Chrysostom writes:

    Ver. 28. There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female: for you all are one in Christ Jesus.

    See what an insatiable soul! For having said, We are all made children of God through Faith, he does not stop there, but tries to find something more exact, which may serve to convey a still closer oneness with Christ. Having said, you have put on Christ, even this does not suffice Him, but by way of penetrating more deeply into this union, he comments on it thus: You are all One in Christ Jesus, that is, you have all one form and one mould, even Christ’s. What can be more awful than these words! He that was a Greek, or Jew, or bond-man yesterday, carries about with him the form, not of an Angel or Archangel, but of the Lord of all, yea displays in his own person the Christ.


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