Tuesday, August 27, 2013

( 8 ) " The " Third Rome " and Russia: Russia Inherits the Orthodoxy Legacy. "

By Sodium

Recorded human history tells us that all empires, sooner or later, had fallen, however the reasons might have been. The Eastern Roman Empire, ( or Byzantium for short ), was no exception. Its seat of power, Constantinople, finally fell in 1453 A.D. to the Ottoman Muslim conquest. That was a blow, not only to the great seat of political power, but also to the imperial Orthodox Church whose seat of theological power was also in Constantinople.

In spite of the Byzantium fall, the " great mother " of all Christian churches, world wide, the Orthodox Church has survived till present time in the Middle East, Russia, Balkan, and Greece.

However, the struggle between the Orthodox Church in the East and the Latin Church in the West,( Rome ),continued. " While the psychological blow to Eastern Christianity of defeat and loss of power was huge, it is important to note that Islam did not become the eternal deadly enemy of Christianity in these Eastern reaches of the world; they all lived too close together for that. Whatever the now subject Christians felt about it, there was little choice but intimate coexistence on both sides."

It was the Russian Tsar (Caesar), Ivan III,  who moved quickly after the fall of Constantinople, [ to declare Moscow the " Third Rome " ], as the center of religious power for all Christianity, meaning to the Latin Christianity in Rome and Byzantine Church in the East. Such a title " Third Rome " meant a great deal to Russia: " it represented a messianic vision of a new civilizational and spiritual role, an obligation that had now fallen upon Russia to preserve the true faith of Christianity against the heresies and evil of both Roman Catholicism and Islam."

However, there are historical records which attest to the fact that the Eastern Orthodox Church in Moscow, or the " Third Rome " preferred a coalition with the Muslims of the Middle East than a coalition with Christianity in the West, in Rome. In other words, the division of Christianity into Orthodox Church in the East, ( Russia, the Balkan, the vast majority of the Christians in Middle East plus Greece ), and Latin Christianity in Rome, had reached the point of no return. In other words, the split has become permanent until our present time. Let us read what the Byzantine scholar Vasilios Makrides at the University of  Erfurt argues in this connection:

" It is particularly interesting to observe certain anti Western coalitions [ across ] otherwise incommensurable lines which took place at that time, namely between Orthodox and Muslims in the Eastern Mediterranean area....Orthodox and Ottoman anti-Westernism were far from being identical, but their eventual " cooperation " was not out of the ordinary....An analogous attitude towards Muslims and Western Christians can be observed in thirteenth century Orthodox Russia. Tsar Aleksandr Nevsky gave preference to a coalition with Tatars and Mongols over an anti-Muslim alliance and a union with Rome, which has been proposed to him in 1248 (A.D) by Pope Innocent IV. "

It has become clear that the old Russian Orthodox suspicions of the West has not changed, but might have become greater to the point of another Russian Tsar of several centuries later had repeated what had Tsar, Aleksandr Nevsky, had done in 1248 A.D. If one compares the year of 1248 A.D. in which the Russian Tsar, Alexander Nevsky, made an alliance with the Muslim Tartars and Mongols, with the year 1453 A.D. in which Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire, one would find that even after the passing of 205 year, (that is more than two centuries), the suspicions between the Orthodox Church in Moscow, ( "Third Rome", after the fall of Constantinople ), and the Latin Church in Rome continues unabated, even to the present time of the 21st Century.

In short, what we are witnessing, in this topic, is what Graham Fuller, the author of the book, " A World Without Islam " has made it clear in the following brief paragraph:

" The Russian state is thus revivifying its nationalism, national traditions , and glories in particular through the magnificent cultural vehicle of the Russian Orthodox Church."

All of this attests, once more, to the fact that the state, any state, can use the Church for political expediency and global reaches, if such a state has what is required to do so. Russia has what it takes to do so. And hence, it has inherited the great legacy of the Eastern Orthodox Church, " the great mother " of all Christian Churches known in the realm of Christianity, since day one, when the Eastern Roman Empire adopted it to be its state religion. As one looks around, at that time, one might have found that Russia had parallel powers, if not equivalent powers, to what Byzantium had once, at its peak of geopolitical power. In short, no other power was more qualified to inherit the torch of the Orthodox Church than Russia. And so it was, and so it had come to pass, as we shall see in the next topic. 


Next topic will be topic ( 9 ) Russia and Islam: Byzantium Lives !              

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