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Yurkevich, P.D. Society. Personalities Konstantin Leontiev

Konstantin Pobedonostsev

Born: May 21, 1827; Moscow
Died: March 23, 1907; Saint Petersburg

Konstantin Petrovich Pobyedonostsyev (Russian: Константи́н Петро́вич Победоно́сцев) was a Russian jurist, statesman, and adviser to three Tsars. He is usually regarded as a prime representative of reactionary views and was the "éminence grise" of imperial politics during the reign of Alexander III of Russia, holding the position of the Ober-Procurator of the Most Holy Synod, the highest position of the supervision of the Russian Orthodox Church by the state.

Unbelief in the power of good

Of what sort was the basic feature of Pobedonostsev, his “character trait that strikes the mind”? Unbelief in the power of good, the non-belief of the monstrously divided official Russian Church [I speak here all the time here not about the Universal Church, not about Orthodoxy as the preserver of Divine sanctity, but about our national Church in its historical and empirical, its human side.] and the Russian state. … A nihilistic attitude towards man and the world on the soil of the religious attitude towards God — here is the pathos of Pobedonostsev, in common with the Russian state-governance, set within an historical Orthodoxy.

Believed infinitely in the might of evil

Pobedonostsev was a religious man, he prayed to his God, he saved his soul, but towards life, towards mankind, towards the world process he had an unreligious, an atheistic attitude, he did not see anything of the Divine in life, nor any sort of reflection of Divinity in man; only a terrible, a gaping abyss of emptiness was revealed for him in the world, the world was not for him the creation by God, he never had a sense of the Divineness of the world soul. This spectral, this ghastly old man lived under the hypnotic power of evil, he believed infinitely in the might of evil, he believed in evil, but in the Good he did not believe. The Good he considered impotent, pitiable in its lack of might. He — was among the number of those hypnotised by the fall into sin, shutting off the genesis, cut off from the mystery of God’s creation. The devil rules the world, defines the course of universal life, penetrates into human nature right down to its roots; the good, the Divine do not possess any objective power, upon the good it is impossible to build life, with the power of good it is impossible to tie together any sort of historical perspectives.

Orthodoxy does not believe in the Kingdom of God upon earth

Orthodoxy does not believe in the Kingdom of God upon earth, only in Heaven does it expect it, and the earth it leaves to the devil. One only good deed can and ought to be done upon the earth — to hold back the course of evil, to halt it, to curb it by force, to freeze it down. And in Orthodoxy there is the teaching about the religious significance of the state, which the Church empowers, not to build the Kingdom of God upon the earth, but rather to restrain the kingdom of the devil, by force to stop the world from the ultimate catastrophe. The uniting of Orthodoxy with state absolutism came about on the soil of a non-belief in the Divineness of the earth, in the earthly future of mankind; Orthodoxy gave away the earth into the hands of the state because of its own non-belief in man and mankind, because of its nihilistic attitude towards the world. Orthodoxy does not believe in the religious ordering of human life upon the earth, and it compensates for its own hopeless pessimism by a call for the forceful ordering of it by state authority. [Here my in itself basically accurate thought is not altogether accurate and is too exaggeratedly expressed. The image alone of St. Seraphim of Sarov introduces the corrective to my formulation.]

The apotheosis of state authority

In the coming true theocracy Christ will tend not to have a vicar-substitute, He Himself will rule the world, His truth will reign sovereign…

Non-belief in the objective power of good upon the earth, non-belief in the meaning of world history, in the non-mediated might of God Himself within the earthly community, — this non-belief is also the basis of state positivism, the apotheosis of state authority. Catholicism likewise did not believe in the Divineness of mankind, in the might Divine within earthly human history, and it created a teaching about the arrangement of the earth under the assist of Papism. Papocaesarism and Caesaropapism, the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, and the Byzantine emperor, the Vicar of Christ, — alike they grew out of an unreligious, atheistic attitude towards earthly mankind, which cleaves to non-belief in God-manhood and in the God-manness of historical fates, in a non-belief in this, that Christ Himself wilt reign upon the earth (Chiliasm).

These — are the two pseudotheocratic currents in world history, alike opposed to true theocracy, hostile to faith in the reign of God Himself upon the earth. In the coming true theocracy Christ will tend not to have a vicar-substitute, He Himself will rule the world, His truth will reign sovereign; Godless mankind, recognising as worthwhile only forceful restraint, will become a free God-manhood.

Christ cannot have human vicarage in the person of the tsar or high-priest. He — is Himself the Tsar and High-Priest, and He will reign in the world. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven”.

Official Christianity does not see the victory of Christ upon the earth

This is something to ponder…

For Pobedonostsev, as also for the official teaching of the Orthodox Church, everything in a fatal manner comes to ruin, to the triumph of evil; for Pobedonostsev, as in general also for Orthodoxy and official Christianity, eschatology is something foreign, there are no great historical tasks, there remains no place for historical perspectives, there is no meaning in the process of history, there is no awaited religious triumph in the end time, the victory of Christ upon the earth. Pobedonostsev has an hatred for life, he does not see the Divine in the world, he does not sense the image of God in man, and terrible to say, he learned this from Orthodoxy, it was from the official Christianity that he garnered his nihilism. This is something to ponder.

The Church has shut off God

Infinitely remote from Christ but sincerely attached to the Church.

I do not think, that with Pobedonostsev there was a vivid feel for Christ, he was infinitely remote from Christ, in his heart he did not know Christ; but the feel of Christianity, a closeness to the Church, a sincere attachment to its spirit was tremendous in him. Pobedonostsev — was of a tragic type, for this was one of those, in which Christianity has killed Christ, one for whom the Church has shut off God. Christ rendered God infinitely close to man, He filiated mankind into being sons of the Heavenly Father; the spirit of Pobedonostsev makes God infinitely remote for man, it recasts the son into a slave.

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