The rebirth of the Church: what to teach and what to learn
Recently, while giving a lecture to students, he recalled the Renaissance. It was a bright, ambiguous era. On the one hand, a surge in education, many projects, the study of ancient texts, the hope for a brighter future. On the other hand, the revival of paganism, the general decline of morals. Time of Troubles. But many then thought that the truth was in the past, and it was only by chance that this great knowledge was forgotten. There is something in common with the revival of Orthodoxy in the 1990s.
Yan Mateiko. Alchemist
Why medieval treatises are not enough
And indeed, an appeal to ancient texts helped. But not in the way that the preachers of the Renaissance proposed. They managed to spark a spark of search in their hearts, faith in a person and self-confidence. But their ideas, alas, were soon forgotten. Chemistry took the place of alchemy, the arguments of astrologers replaced Newton's equations. The further this movement went, the faster the revived Antiquity became obsolete. Yes, the charming Renaissance preachers were received at the best courts of Europe, and some even performed magical and astrological rites in the residence of the pope. But the era that gave rise to them was a thing of the past. Their place was occupied by simple workers of a new science. Instead of personal charisma, the utopian construction of the state according to astrological canons, strict methodology and systematic development gradually won. The basis of development was not an ancient tradition, but a scientific experiment.
The new science of Galileo, Descartes, Newton developed based on exact knowledge and opposed the tendency of the Renaissance to see in everything the action of various spirits, the influence of angels or planets. But this did not at all mean a confrontation with Christianity. On the contrary, in the fight against unhealthy religiosity, an ally of the new science was the movement for the renewal of the Christian Church. Magical rites in the residence of the pope were equally unpleasant for scientists and ordinary Christians.
Yes, during the Renaissance, much was said about the end of Christianity. And not surprisingly, we read from A.F. Losev descriptions of the reverse side of the revival of ancient paganism:
“The priests keep butcher shops, taverns, gambling houses and brothels, so we have to repeatedly issue decrees prohibiting priests“ for the sake of money to become prostitutes' prostitutes, ”but all in vain. The nuns read The Decameron and indulge in orgies, and in the dirty drains they find children's skeletons as consequences of these orgies. The writers of that time compared monasteries to robbery nativity scenes and to indecent houses. ”
This remotely also reminds the Russian 1990s, when the loss of reference points led to unrest in society. Although, of course, within the modern Orthodox Church, the scale of this disaster was much smaller.
Yan Mateiko. Copernicus. Conversation with God
But the troubled time has passed. The Europeans, inspired by the spirit of the Renaissance, moved on. Christians began to actively study new ideas that modern science offered them. The system of religious education was rebuilt in accordance with the requirements of modern times. Protestants translated scripture and taught people literacy. The Jesuits created modern colleges throughout Europe. The Renaissance was leaving. “He cannot teach us anything in the field of science, but he still has a good memory and rich imagination,” said one of the fathers of the new science, priest Maren Mersenne, about the last preacher of the Renaissance. Renaissance is a thing of the past, and Christians continued their ministry. And although there are many valuable thoughts in medieval treatises, it is practically impossible to continue church life, based only on them.
The author, a candidate of physical and mathematical sciences and a theologian, used to teach at the ZFTS, now he is a teacher at PSTU
In connection with the beginning of the school year and the New Year, we can reflect on the study of which disciplines we should pay attention to. This applies to religious education and self-education of ordinary laity. Indeed, in the final analysis, the position of the Church will not be determined by the decrees of the Synod, but by the way Christians believe. The lack of priests allows the laity to talk more actively about what they believe. So, we need to pay more attention to self-development in order to use modern achievements to actualize the Gospel. It is impossible, like the preachers of the Renaissance, to assume that all the necessary information is already contained in the books of fallen civilizations. But what disciplines are worth paying attention to with the current diversity?
What to learn today?
Firstly, do not reject the old, just because it is old. Some things do not become obsolete, it is only necessary to read them with a fresh look only time after time. This, of course, is about the New Testament. If the Gospel is more or less familiar to everyone, then the Apostle often remains abandoned. This is no coincidence. The very meaning of the apostolic epistles is to create a completely different model of religiosity than the Old Testament religion. The emphasis is on the internal, not on external forms. Accordingly, the more conservative the Christian denomination is, the greater the likelihood that the Apostle will become only a source of quotations. But it is intended to be a handbook on the creation of Christian communities.
Here we also attribute early Christian works (Didache, the Epistle to Diognetus, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Epistles of Clement, etc.). We study it for sure! We use both the synodal text and modern translations (RBO, A. Desnitsky). We actively attract comments: both the holy fathers and modern biblical scholars. And remember that these books were written by living people, albeit inspired by the Holy Spirit. Each with its own characteristics, Today, opponents and conflicts. This is all very interesting, and each era of Christianity can find something of its own in these books.
It is also good to study the Introduction to the Liturgical Tradition, the theology of the sacraments of the Church. There, on the one hand, the richness of meanings and depth, and on the other, theological Today are very different from parish practice, and you need to know about this (it's not just about the connection between confession and communion). It is good, of course, to read the updated Orthodox catechism, but work on its creation has stalled. How it could look, you can see the Catholics: there is a detailed Catechism of the Catholic Church and a short Compendum, and youth YouCat. Discrepancies in the doctrine between Catholics and Orthodox are well known and concern only certain specific theses (about the pope, about the conception of the Virgin, etc.).
What do the parishes do
So, recalling the need for theological knowledge, we turn to practical. Let us look at the list of activities that parishes are engaged in and think about what knowledge is needed to carry out this activity.
The annual biblical and theological school of the Novgorod diocese with the participation of the Heritage College
Religious education and catechesis. First of all, it is necessary to study age-related psychology (at what age what happens to a child, adolescent, midlife crisis, etc.). Patristic writings, as we know, practically do not touch on this issue and consider the child "a small adult." Therefore, say, St. Theophan the Recluse actively studied contemporary pedagogy and took the best from there. Having studied age psychology, you need to continue to study the specific age with which we interact. This may be child psychology, adolescent, midlife crisis, etc. In addition, modern pedagogy is required. The well-known thesis “now there are such children, they absolutely do not know how to learn” speaks more about the qualifications of the teacher than about the children themselves. And of course, the study of "children's" problems will inevitably lead us to family psychology.
Missionary activity. Perhaps the most difficult. Real missionary work requires familiarity with modern teachings. And at a serious level. This is cosmology, and biology (especially genetics, anthropogenesis and neurobiology), and philosophy, and modern atheist authors. Of course, reading such literature greatly changes a person’s Today. The picture of the world is becoming more complicated, more interesting. But many old Today are very naive. If in doubt, it’s best not to read and call it “temptation”. The next generation will relate to this more simply, as we calmly relate to the "Heresy of Copernicus." Once upon a time, people sincerely believed that the doctrine of the motion of the Earth around the Sun is contrary to Christianity.
Interaction with medical institutions. Unfortunately, our medicine is becoming increasingly commercial, and at least you need to understand the basics. I will take to the basics the very concept of evidence-based medicine, the basic parameters of the body (what are called vital sighs – temperature, blood pressure, pulse, respiration). Moreover, it is necessary to monitor precisely modern medicine: there is a huge amount of data, and in the old treatment regimens they constantly find problems. Yes, of course, self-medication is dangerous. But it is no less harmful to drink “just in case” the antibiotics prescribed by the doctor for ARVI. This is not directly related to Christianity, but it is still very useful. Those working with young people should be interested in reproductive health, especially in the context of the influence of hormones on adolescent behavior. The most daring can get acquainted with the topic of sexual education, but here it’s not for everybody. The fact is that there is not enough Christian literature in Russian on this subject (and there is practically no Orthodox Christian literature), and popular publications, as a rule, are very loyal to sexual minorities, which makes reading and analyzing these books difficult.
Interaction with addicted people (alcohol, drugs, games, etc.). Of course, everyone needs to know at least the basics of the psychology of addiction and modern ways of dealing with it. Of course, only a few lead groups for addicts, but it's still worth understanding the basic principles. Too often we face this misfortune in our lives. In addition to dependence, it is important to understand at least general things about the psychology of interdependent relationships and not to confuse painful forms of behavior with Christian love. Disciplines are quite complex, because the border between voluntary sacrifice and co-dependence is very difficult to find. However, extreme forms can be seen. Here we add the basics of clinical psychology. It’s good to understand that religiosity and religious neurosis are not the same thing. And of course, find out that clinical depression is not "laziness", but a serious illness.
Social service. Christianity has always been associated with social ministry. Therefore, of course, at least the basics of modern charity need to be understood and not sacrificed to false volunteers in an electric train. And if there is time, it is better to learn more. Courses, including church ones, are now sufficient. It is also necessary to get acquainted with the basics of crisis psychology and how to help a person in case of psychological trauma. Of course, this should be done by professionals. And yet, a person living in Russia, in case of a problem, often goes to the temple than to a psychologist. And if you don’t help, then at least we don’t do much harm. Any conscious Christian should be able to do this. And all sorts of "God punished you so much" must be a thing of the past, like the indistinct succession of "Always erupt a baby," calling the victim a miscarriage.
In the classroom of the educational project "Psychology for the Church"
There are many more interesting areas that you should know about and teach them to children and adults. This is information security, and the upbringing of youth, and history, and political science. All this is important, interesting and useful. And all of this would be nice to learn.
Where is this taught?
What is the situation with obtaining such an education within the Russian Orthodox Church? Differently. On the one hand, for those who wish there is a lot of information available. In social service, in general, in abundance, there are free courses available. There are also training programs for catechists, where even the standard is the creed, and practical information in equal proportions.
But if we look at the seminar program for preparing future priests, then the picture is much sadder. Even evening catechists must attend two semester courses in pedagogy and two psychologies. And the future full-time priests found two times less of these items to be sufficient. And even this is variable and can be replaced by seminary for other courses.
Photo from the site "Seminar of our time"
The priest is not taught to interact with real people. There is pastoral theology in the curriculum, but it is more occupied with the high image of a pastor in patristic theology. The most recent textbooks on this subject were written 50 years ago based on pre-revolutionary works. Instead of dialogue skills (or even better understanding psychotherapy) – lectures on homiletics. A practical guide for clerics is more occupied with liturgical books than with people. Unless in missiology you can see modern books in the list of references. But in general, the seminar program continues to be inspired by the ideals of the pre-revolutionary theological school. Otherwise, how can we explain that the ancient dead languages (Latin, Ancient Greek, Hebrew) in total are allocated more hours than even the New Testament. And the skills vital for the shepherd (and not the contractor) are generally placed in the variable part.
Alas, the seminary graduate will have to finish his studies for a long time if he wants to speak the same language with specialists in those areas with which he interacts one way or another. In general, education is one of the fastest-changing areas and it is not worth hoping that “time-tested” pre-revolutionary programs will help lead Christian ministry in an ever-changing world.
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