Questions for reflection: Christ and culture in Russia

[Peter Carl Fabergé, Box with a Miniature: Warrior at the Crossroads, 1908–1917. Moscow. Silver gilding, filigree, shaded, and painted matte enamel—Bequest of Mrs. Jean M. Riddell, 2010 / [CC0] The Walters Art Museum]

Use these questions on your own or in a group to reflect on the history, theology, and political context of Orthodoxy in Russia.

1. How did the Soviet era cause a disconnect with the past in the Russian Orthodox Church (pp. 6–11)? What were some of the early responses to this disruption from Orthodox Christians?

2. How did Christianity come to the Rus (pp. 12–15)? What were some of the major debates over who counted as “Russian Orthodox” and why they did? Name one thing from the article that seems relevant to today’s news.

3. What did Orthodox worship look like before the Revolution (pp. 16–19)? Name some spiritual themes and emphases that stood out to you.

4. Why was Bible translation so controversial in Russia (p. 20)? If you’ve read our issue #143 on the Bible in America, how do the debates over translation in Russia compare with those in the United States?

5. How did the novelists discussed in our article on culture (pp. 21–25) describe Russian faith? If you have read any of these novelists’ work, do you agree? Why or why not?

6. How did Christians within the Soviet Union witness against communism (pp. 28–33)? How would you characterize their different approaches? Which stories spoke to you the most? 

7. How did Russian emigre theologians (pp. 34–37) witness against the Soviet threat? What were some of the major themes of their thought? Which of these thinkers would you most like to learn more about and why?

8. How do the last three decades of Russian history (pp. 38–41) connect with stories you read earlier in the issue? 

9. Which story from our gallery (pp. 43–47) most resonated with you? Why?

10. How do you see themes of the issue reflected in our interview about how Russian artists are reckoning with the past (pp. 49–51)?

11. What are some things you learned from this issue that you did not know before?

By the editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #146 in 2023]

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