The Christian traditions of both East and West closely associate abstract theology (that is the reception and expression of revealed truth) with the everyday life style of the individual theologian, placing specific demands on the type of life he leads. The charism of being a teacher in Christ’s Church implies a degree of personal holiness and integrity as well as the willingness to bear the cross of suffering, both voluntary and involuntary. This apparent truth was examined by the first generation of Slavophiles. It is treated in the correspondence of Slavophile circles during the summer of 1853 and was published by N. P. Kolyupanov in the appendix attached to his biography of A. I. Koshelev. Their conclusions were viewed as authoritative by Khomyakov and his group. They may be summarized as follows. Since suffering is a result of one’s own personal sins or of the general sinfulness of the world, the mitigation or even absence of suffering may be viewed as a special gift of grace. In this way, earthly happiness may be seen as something positive - a special benefit granted to the person by God. As a result, it is not necessary to limit one’s happiness, but only to be grateful for it. Happiness for a Christian forms a special type of ascesis, an ascesis much more difficult to perform than suffering, since the happy person is constantly in peril of forgetting God. To remedy this factor, prayer and mortification are necessary - hence the need especially for the monastic form of life. The only thing that should really be forbidden to the Christian is to ask God in prayer to make oneself happy on earth. Further conclusions to this line of thinking among the Slavophiles await further research. But we might pose the following query: can a refusal to practice the ascesis of the patristic tradition bring out to the road of the patristic theology?
Sense of Suffering, Happiness, Grace, Slavophilism, A. Khomyakov, K. Aksakov, Holiness, Sin, Sinfulness, Theology
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