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Russian Baptists and Orthodoxy: 1960-1990: A Comparative Study of Theology, Liturgy, and Traditions Paperback – 14 Feb 2014
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This is an outstanding work of historical research, which probes in detail the relationship between Russian Baptist communities and the Russian Orthodox Church in the period 1960-1990. Constantine Prokhorov draws from a very wide range of Russian primary sources and personal interviews to show that in this period Russian Baptist life re ected Orthodox thinking and practice in a number of crucial areas. His argument, which is presented in an appealing and a compelling way, has profound implications for an understanding of evangelical-Orthodox relationships in Russia and also elsewhere. Dr Ian Randall Senior Research Fellow Spurgeon's College, London
About the Author
CONSTANTINE PROKHOROV is a historian and writer from Russia. He holds a BA in History from North Kazakhstan State University, a BA in Theology from Odessa Theological Seminary and a PhD from the International Baptist Theological Seminary, Prague. He has authored several books and numerous articles on history and theology that have been published in both English and Russian. Constantine is a deacon of Central Baptist Church in Omsk, Russia and is married with three children.
Top customer reviews
The work is scholarly, based on the doctoral thesis by the author, however draws material not only from academic research ('book knowledge') but also from the oral tradition of the indigenous Russian evangelical church. The particular focus is the period 1960-1990, covering the latter period under Khruschev, the Brezhnev administration and the final years of the Soviet Union.
The wide-ranging work covers issues such as theological influence, arguing that the 'Arminian' soteriology of the Russian Baptists is not a western import, but rather the synergistic theology of the Molokans and their Orthodox roots. The ceremony and sacramental belief and practice of the Russian Baptists are scrutinised from the perspective of an insider. Attitudes towards holiness/worldliness, providence, the vindication of believers and so forth are also explored, revealing a distinctive worldview and folk wisdom which has much in common with traditional Eastern Orthodox thought. There is interesting discussion of the Slavophile notion of the spiritual East versus the corrupt West.
On several occasions the author concedes that some features of Russian Baptist church culture might have roots in other Christian traditions, such as Weslayan soteriology, a high view of the sacraments among Baptists in the past or the conservative cultural practices of evangelicals of a earlier age. These could have been explored more.
Besides the analysis of the particular issues under investigation this book identifies key names and dates which may be unfamiliar to those outside the tradition and subculture being studied. At many points Prokhorov 'puts his finger' on phenomenon others have observed but not necessarily 'nailed'. For example the quotation from Prokhanov (often called the Spurgeon of Russia) about the 'inborn mystical grief' of Russian spirituality - very perceptive.
At some points the author has possibly not entirely overcome the cultural distance and the challenge of relaying to a non-Russian speaker cultural realia outwith their experience. For example "to send new hymns to Moscow for fraternal control" would better have been translated "to send any new hymns to Moscow for the 'brothers' to check them and approve them'. Likewise when speaking of seven Baptist 'sacraments' the phrase 'rites of passage' would have helped to explain what is being described. I am quibbling; these are minor shortcomings.
As with any work of this nature, there is an element of overstatement to make a point. I am not entirely convinced that Russian Baptist churches function like Eastern Orthodox monasteries, especially on the issue of marriage/singleness. Reverence for the Bible as an artefact is distinctive, but I am not sure it is quite the same as the reverence for icons; Bibles are certainly never personally addressed in prayer or anything like that.
Anyway, buy this book and read it. It will give you priceless insight into the Russian Baptists and their history and 'spirit' (dukh).