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Fr. Sergei Nikolaevich Bulgakov

Born: 16 (28) June 1871; Livny, Oryol, Russia
Died: 15 January 1944; Paris, France

The risen Lord lives with us

Christ, the Son of God, came to earth, was made man, uniting His divine life with that of humanity. This divine-human life He gave to His brethren, who believe on His name. Although He died and rose again and ascended into heaven, He was not separated from His humanity, but remains in it. The light of resurrection of Christ lights the Church, and the joy of Resurrection, of the triumph over death, fills it.
Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
The Orthodox Church


The redemption thus consists in the self-identification of the sinless New Adam with the sinful old Adam and in the New Adam's living-out the life of the old Adam with its sinfulness.
Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
The Lamb of God
5. II. The High-Priestly Ministry of Christ

Tabor Light

The element of light most fully expresses the interpenetration of the spiritual and the natural, the sophianic nature of creation, its permeability with divine energy ("the Light of Tabor").
Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
«Апокалипсис Иоанна»
Глава XXII и последняя. Конец и эпилог.

Problematic of originations in the Holy Trinity

The entire problematic of originations, particularly with reference to the Holy Spirit, is connected with the impersonalistic presupposition of the primacy of the divine nature with respect to the hypostases, and the latter must therefore originate in the nature. On the contrary, existence as subjects, i.e., independently of the nature, is proper to the three hypostases, although, to be sure, such an opposition or distinction is possible only in abstracto, not in re.

The generation of the Son and the procession of the Holy Spirit cannot be generalized and counted as two «originations». Rather, these are two images of God in these two images of love. The Father is the Subject of this self-revelation, the Principle, the «Cause»; whereas the Son is the One Who gives Himself for this revelation of the Father. He is the One Who reveals the Father, the One Who Speaks, the Word. Generation here should by no means be understood in the anthropomorphic sense of origination or production, for this aspect of generation belongs only to temporal being, to being that has an origin. It must be understood as a spiritual image of the love of the Engendering One and the Engendered One, but by no means as the image of the originating one and the originated one.

Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
The Comforter
2. The Procession of the Holy Spirit

Smugness, self-esteem, banality

“Simultaneously with intellectual growth and scientific development, my soul was irrepressibly and imperceptibly submerged in the sticky mud of smugness, self-esteem, banality.

I was in my twenty-fourth year, but already for almost ten years faith had been undermined in my soul and after some stormy crises and doubts religious emptiness reigned. My soul began to forget religious anxiety, the very possibility of doubts was extinguished, and from a bright childhood there remained only poetic daydreams, the gentle haze of reminiscences always ready to melt away. O, how dreadful is this sleep of the soul, for it is possible not to awake from it for an entire life! Simultaneously with intellectual growth and scientific development, my soul was irrepressibly and imperceptibly submerged in the sticky mud of smugness, self-esteem, banality. A kind of gray twilight set in as the light of childhood was fading away. And then unexpectedly this happened… Mysterious calls resounded in my soul and it rushed to meet them…

Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
Unfading Light
1. How Is Religion Possible? pp.7-8

Christian anthropology

Man, according to his very creation, is not only an individual being but also a progenitor. In contrast to the angels, who represent in themselves a concordant multitude, a 'sobor' (council), mankind is a multiunity, a genus. Mankind is bound by common descent from one ancestor, the first-created Adam, and has one nature in common. In this sense humanity is created in the image of the Holy Trinity, in which the 3 hypostases also possess one nature, and in it share one life in common. The basic Christian dogmas of the Fall and of Redemption are associated with this fact. According to the teaching of the Church, through the person of the first-created Adam all mankind is damaged by Original Sin, for in him «all sinned» (Rom. V:12). But in the person of the New Adam, Christ, all human kind is reinstated “For as in Adam all die, so also in the Christ shall all be made alive” (I Cor. XV:22), and for this reason ὁ Λόγος σάρς έγενετο, Christ's Incarnation, the fact that He became man implies that He took on the entire human nature, the whole and complete Adam. Christ in His human nature possessed a concrete human individuality, was a definite person.

This was Jesus of Nazareth, the son «as was supposed» (Luke III:23) of Joseph and Mary, He possessed definite ancestry and definite kinship. He lived in a definite place at a definite time, belonged to a definite historical epoch, spoke in a definite language, which was Aramaic. If He were not to possess a definite individuality His very humanity would not be genuine. If He would have lacked individuality in this way He would have differed from every other man in this particular characteristic. But simultaneously with being a definite man – Jesus, the son of David – Christ was also an all-man an all-individual. He contained in His human natixre the whole of mankind – all the fulness of Adam’s nature and all its hypostatic images, similarly as the first Adam potentially contained in himself all the individualities of future mankind. Only by being an all-man could Christ redeem the whole of humanity and become its new progenitor, the New Adam, starting with Himself a new generation of the sons of God. Adam’s humanity in Redemption becomes Christ’s humanity. It represents a living multiunity which has one life in Christ, but at the same time it is an absolutely real multitude of hypostatic images, which are united in this oneness of life.

This multi-une humanity, as one whole, is the Body of Christ, which consists of many members united, however, in their life in Christ, As a multiplicity of individuals it is a living ‘sobornost’ – that is, such a harmonious existence, in which both the separate existence of each one and of all together is a complete reality. Comparing the Church to a body, the Apostle Paul simultaneously shows us both the common life in the body and the multiplicity of its members, and the living link which exists, between these members. “But now hath God set the members of each one of them in the body… and if they were all one member, where were the body? But now there are many members, but one body” (I Cor. XII:18-19).

“And whether one member suffereth, all the members suffer with it; or one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and severally members thereof” (26-27). The harmony of the multi-unity is love, which unites it into the Church. Church unity is the inner norm for the life of Christian mankind: reunited by the Spirit of God it grows in unity. Such growing is thus depicted by the Apostle – we must, through true love “grow up in all things into Him which is the head, even Christ; from Whom all the body fitly framed and knit together, through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love” (Eph. IV:15-16).

The 'sobornost' of the Church, that is – union in love – thus becomes the Body of Christ which is being accomplished, and at the same time contains in itself the guiding principle and ideal for the fellowship of mankind. In its simplicity and childlike, unassuming, originality it was revealed to the world in the life of the Primitive Church, in which newly converted Christians lived in religious communion and unity of love. “And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, according as any man had need. And day by day, continuing stedfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they did take their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people” (Acts 2:44-46).

What is it that particularly attracts our attention in this picture of the simple life of the Primitive community? The fact that church love, the 'sobornost' of the Church is not confined to the temple and prayer, but spreads to the whole of their life. They do not draw a distinction between that which is of the Church and that which is not, for they included the whole of life into the fulness of Church unity. And thus silently, through an example from actual life, it is pointed out to us that the sobornost of Church life knows of no limitation and in principle leaves nothing to the lower, animal principles – on the contrary, that it desires to melt all and recast all in the fire of Church love. But in the further history of the Church, in fact very soon after, this sobornost pauses on the threshold of the temple and does not go further. It limited itself, leaving life beyond the doorstep of the temple, devoid of the consecration of the Church, The Church could never succeed, however, in forgetting the most cherished dreams of its childhood, which ought to have become the aim and striving of the grown man. For the activity of the Church, the power of its 'sobornost' ought to spread to the whole of the life of its members and consequently to the whole of the life of Christian society. Christ through His manhood lives in every man, as He Himself testifies to this in the questions He puts at the Last Judgment (Mat. XXV).

The 'soborny' body of the Church is the Body of Christ, His humanity. Its very existence is associated with the Incarnation, in fact one can say that it is His divine Incarnation. For the Incarnation was accomplished not only for the time of the earthly presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It also maintains an abiding significance. It exists not only within time, but also in eternity, and only by the power of this eternity it preserves an abiding value: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and to-day and for ever” (Heb. XIII:8).

All the members of the Church, for themselves, have this power of the Incarnation, for they are bound to Christ in His Body. This reality of the Body of Christ acquires for itself a direct and immediate fulfilment in the Sacrament of the Body and Blood, in the Divine Eucharist. In this sense the Eucharist is the fulfilment of the divine reality of the deification of mankind, an abiding and extended Incarnation. In truth, what does this Sacrament signify in its fulness? Directly, it is the Lord’s Table, intended for the faithful, for their communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, for their union with Christ. But this its purpose becomes derivative in relation to its more general meaning. Partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ only becomes possible owing to the fact that this very Body and Blood of Christ actually exist – while their existence is a consequence of the accomplished Incarnation. Therefore Communion first of all witnesses to the Incarnation that has been fulfilled and the Mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ in itself represents this Incarnation, as if it takes place afresh, or more accurately, as if it were extended.

Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
The Eucharist
and the social problems of modern society

See also



  • Fr. Sergii Bulgakov, Towards a Russian Political Theology
  • Sergius Bulgakov, Judas Iscariot - Apostle-Betrayer
  • Fr. Sergei Bulgakov, Unfading Light
  • Fr. Sergei Bulgakov, The Lamb of God
  • Fr. Sergei Bulgakov, The Comforter
  • Fr. Sergei Bulgakov, The Bride of the Lamb
  • "Sergei Bulgakov" on Google Books
  • Paul Valliere, Modern Russian Theology: Ortholdox Theology In A New Key
  • Bulgakov, Sergius (2002). The Lamb of God. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publish. Co. pp. 531. ISBN 0802827799.
  • Bulgakov, Sergius (2004). The Comforter. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publish. Co. pp. 398. ISBN 080282112.
  • Bulgakov, Sergius (2002). Bride of the Lamb. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publish. Co. pp. 531. ISBN 0567088715.
  • Bulgakov, Sergius (2009). The Burning Bush: On the Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publish. Co. pp. 191. ISBN 978-0802845740.
  • Bulgakov, Sergius (2003). The Friend of the Bridegroom: On the Orthodox Veneration of the Forerunner. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publish. Co. pp. 190. ISBN 0802849792.
  • Bulgakov, Sergius (1988). The Orthodox Church. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press. pp. 195. ISBN 0881410519.
  • Bulgakov, Sergius (1993). Sophia, the Wisdom of God: An Outline of Sophiology. Hudson, NY: Lindisfarne Press. pp. 155. ISBN 978-0940262607.
  • Bulgakov, Sergius (1997). The Holy Grail and the Eucharist. Hudson, NY: Lindisfarne Books. pp. 156. ISBN 0940262819.
  • Bulgakov, Sergius (2008). Churchly Joy: Orthodox Devotions for the Church Year. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publish. Co. pp. 147. ISBN 978-0802848345.
  • Sergei Nikolaevich Bulgakov,(1995). Orthodoxy and Modern Society. Variable Press, pp. 62. ISBN-13: 9781929829033.
  • Bulgakov Sergius on
  • Bulgakov Sergius on Google Books

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