Orthodoxy and Gnosticism in Russia: The conflict between the Orthodox Church and American missionary groups in the post-Soviet Russia

JVF Conference Papers

This essay is a reflection on the religious situation in contemporary Russia, and it is based on the writings of Eric Voegelin, Harold Bloom and Nikolay Berdyaev.

In his Science, Politics and Gnosticism, Eric Voegelin interpreted some modern mass movements, including Marxism and communism, as variants of ancient gnosticism. A similar view, only in application to religion in America, was defended by Harold Bloom in his American Religion: The Emergence of Post-Christian Nation. Although Nikolay Berdyaev did not write on gnosticism specifically, his study of the religious roots of the Russian Communism can be seen as an analysis of the development of gnostic tendencies in the Russian society of the past century.

This essay applies the insights of these scholars to the religious situation in contemporary Russia and presents the conflict between American Protestant missionaries
and the Russian Orthodox Church as the clash between two different religious temperaments, two different belief systems, which had a long history of turbulent coexistence in Russia: the Russian Orthodoxy and the Russian (sectarian) form of gnosticism.

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