Nature as Activity: The Orthodox Teaching of Metropolitan Anthony

Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky of blessed memory was the founding first hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. A reform-minded young hierarch in Russia, he became a foe of nihilistic revolutionary forces, and then helped lead the formation of the Synod in exile during the departure of the White Army from Crimea to Constantinople, eventually finding a base for ROCOR in Serbia during the interwar years. One account of his life even suggests that he as a young man could have been a partial inspiration for Alexei Karamazov in Dostoevsky’s fiction, as the young real-life Alexei (his birth name) had met the great Orthodox novelist. In any case, Metropolitan Anthony’s writing on redemption provoked controversy and sometimes condemnation, because of his emphasis on Jesus Christ’s struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was attacked as holding an allegedly heretical view under-emphasizing the Cross. St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, a younger contemporary and admirer of Metropolitan Anthony who had been mentored by him, wrote that Vladyka Anthony’s writings on this topic should be viewed as coming from a deeply loving pastoral heart even if seen as unclear, and not made the focus of undeserved scandal. The article linked below, by the author “N.A.” writing in a European ROCOR publication in 1996, contextualizes Metropolitan Anthony’s writing on the topic in the view that nature involves activity, related to the two natures and two wills and energies of Jesus Christ as fully God and fully man, as key to His redemption of us as human beings. (This article was posted recently to the online group Historical Studies of the Russian Church Abroad; thanks to the site and the poster for sharing it.)

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