From religious reform movement to the Church: Problems of institutionalization of Russian Orthodox Renovationism during the Soviet Period of Russian history

Golovushkin Dmitriy Aleksandrovich, PhD, associate professor, The Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia (St. Petersburg, Russia)

Golovushkin D. A. From religious reform movement to the Church: Problems of institutionalization of Russian Orthodox Renovationism during the Soviet Period of Russian history, Religiya. Tserkov’. Obshchestvo. Issledovaniya i publikatsii po teologii i religii [Religion. Church. Society: Research and publications in the field of theology and religious studies], Saint-Petersburg, 2014, vol. 3, pp. 70–93.

doi: 10.24411/2308-0698-2014-00005

Language: Russian

The article is dedicated to one of the most important theoretical and methodological issues related to the study of the phenomenon of Russian Orthodox Renovationism of the first half of the 20th century — the problem of institutionalization of the Renovationist movement in the Soviet period of Russian history. It seeks to find out, whether it is possible to consider the creation of the Renovationist church structure in mid-1920s as an evidence for institutionalization of Renovationism as a new religious phenomenon.
The article shows that the classical theories of institutionalization of religion (E. Troeltsch, M. Weber, T. Lukman), linking this process with the fixation of social forms of religion and subsequently identifying the concept of “religious institution” and “religious organization”. At the same time, the concept of institutionalization of traditional religious ideologies, developed by German sociologist N. Luhmann and extended in the notion of “religious model of society” by Russian researcher E. A. Ostrovskaya, can serve as an effective methodological tool. Institutionalization can’t be reduced to creation of institute of religious professionals, it also includes the stage of forming an original religious doctrine and system of theological reflection.
The experience of organizational and ideological development of Renovationism in 1920s was initially developed as a modification of Orthodox reformism, but in 1922–1923 it contained a whole range of fundamental contradictions blocking this process. The materials of the most important events in the history of Renovationism of this period — resolutions of Local Councils of 1923 and 1925 — indicate that Renovationism failed to achieve consistency between the nature and depth of religious reforms, psychology of ordinary believers and social realities of the time, that led to intractable conflict between Renovationism and religious model of the society.
As a consequence, Renovationism of the Soviet era wasn, t able to find self-substantiation and eventually came to leveling. In this regard, it can be argued that Renovationist Church didn, t grow to an independent Church and was as a result of consistent ideological and organizational development (including church split) of religious reform movement within the Ortodox Church.
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Key words: Renovationism, Renovationist Split, Renovationist Church, Religious Institute, Religious Institution


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