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Russian Orthodox


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The Russian Orthodox Church

The fiercest despot in the history of Russia, Ivan the Terrible, pushed back the boundaries of his kingdom, annexing Siberia and taking control of the Volga River.

Russian Orthodox ChurchMoscow's importance as a center of Orthodox Christianity was enhanced through this expansion. Russian Orthodoxy had become a force to be reckoned with.

The Russian Orthodox Church resisted strong attempts to bring it under the control of Rome.

Influence of the State in Church Matters

Peter the Great interfered frequently and increasingly in church matters, making the church little more than a department of state. Church revenues came under state control, and priests became civil servants, often despised by the populace. Peter also reorganized schools and monasteries, bringing them under the control of the state.

In 1721, Peter the Great abolished the traditional Patriarchal system, replacing it with a council of bishops, controlled by a layperson, who was himself under the direction of the Tsar.

The church became so firmly linked to the Romanov family that when the dynasty fell in 1917, the church was taken down with it.

Breakaway Groups

Alongside the official Russian Church were groups of believers looking for separation from the state. There were those who repudiated the hierarchy of the institutional church, even some that were similar to those in the West. The Baptists were there. The Union of Evangelical Christians had a presence in Russia, as did some more mystical sects known as the Khlysty, the Skoptsy, and the Dukhobors.

The Soviet Revolution

The 1917 Revolution brought the church into bondage. After 1928, each year brought stricter controls. Most churches were requisitioned for use by the state, and proselytizing was made illegal.Russian Orthodox Church

The Soviet Constitution of 1929 ostensibly guaranteed the freedom to hold religious services, but restricted these services to buildings registered for worship, and the state saw to it that these were made fewer each year.

With the breakup of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Russia and the former Soviet Republics have opened up for evangelism. Most Russian Christians are still Orthodox, although many of their church buildings remain closed or used for other purposes.


Overview of Bible Study