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Title: The Church of England and Russian orthodoxy : politics and the ecumenical dialogue, 1888-1917
Author: Bibbee, Jeffrey R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2735 9662
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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Traditionally, historians have approached ecumenical activity as being motivated by secularisation theological zeal and missionary cooperation. One vital flaw in this triptych's limited analysis of ecumenical activity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is its failure to account for the influence of foreign policy on the relationships between Churches. This account of the Anglican-Russian Orthodox dialogue between 1888 and 1917 illustrates how the traditional interpretations of such activities fail to explain fully the motivations and actions of the ecumenical dialogue. The Anglican-Russian Orthodox dialogue was influenced greatly by the political aspirations of the British embassy in St Petersburg and its desire to develop a new conduit of communication with the Russian state through Constantine Pobedonostov the chief procurator of the Russian Holy Synod and advisor to Alexander III. As a result, the Church of England's relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church was encouraged and exploited to providea non-political cover for the embassy. Although the initiative was stillborn in terms of diplomacy, it did introduce the subsequently pivotal influence of William Birkbeck into the ecumenical dialogue with the Russians. Birkbeck's approach to reunion differed greatly from his predecessorass he sought to bring about reunion by promoting cultural, social, political and religious understanding instead of purely focusing on the theological differences between the two Churches. Birkbeck attempted to recast Russia and her Church in a positive light to overturn the negative perceptions of Russia amongst the majority of the English public. Birkbeck's efforts resulted in numerous publications that addressed themes previously unimportant in ecumenical writings and in several high-profile trips by leading Anglican clerics, such as Bishop Creighton and Archbishop Maclagan of York. This thesis examines the direct contact with Russian leaders and the importance of the 1888 celebrations at Kiev in changing the direction and impact of Anglican-Russian Orthodox relations and Birkbeck's publications personal trips and efforts with clerical delegations to implement a new type of ecumenical dialogue utilizing cultural and political, asw ell as religious themes to create sufficient mutual understanding to form a platform on which to build Christian unity. Birkbeck and the Anglican-Russian Orthodox dialoguea re an appropriate case study to show that religion, ecumenism and foreign policy in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were intersecting and cross-pollinating.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available