Difference between revisions of "Sophianism"
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Sophianism (from Greek Σοφια "wisdom") is a heresy which has been condemned by the Russian Orthodox Church. Sophianism has roots in Wisdom theology, nineteenth and twentieth century Russian theology, preeminently Sergius Bulgakov through the influence of Vladimir Solovyov. Russian Orthodox priest Georges Florovsky and Orthodox theologian Vladimir Lossky opposed the interjection of the deity Sophia. Lossky stated that it was a misguided uniting together of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary into a single deity or hypostasis of God.
Official Pronouncements Condemning Sophianism
Decree of the Moscow Patriarchate
- "By our decision of 24 August, 1935, No.93 it was determined:
- i) The teaching of Professor and Archpriest S.N. Bulgakov -- which, by its peculiar and arbitrary (Sophian) interpretation, often distorts the dogmas of the Orthodox faith, which in some of its points directly repeats false teachings already condemned by conciliar decisions of the Church, and the possible deductions resulting from which could even prove dangerous to spiritual life -- this teaching is to be recognized as alien to the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ, and all its faithful servants and children are to be cautioned against an acceptance of this teaching.
- ii) Those Orthodox Reverend Archpastors, clergy and laity who have indiscreetly embraced Bulgakov's teaching and who have promoted it in their preaching and works, either written or printed, are to be called upon to correct the errors committed and to be steadfastly faithful to "sound teaching"."
Decree of ROCOR
Decision of the Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad of the 17/30 October 1935 concerning the new teaching of Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov on Sophia, the Wisdom of God:
- "i) To recognize the teaching of Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov on Sophia the Wisdom of God as heretical.
- ii) To inform Metropolitan Evlogy of this Decision of the Council and to request that he admonish Archpriest Bulgakov with the intention of prompting him to publicly renounce his heretical teaching concerning Sophia and to make a report about the consequences of such admonition to the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
- iii) In the event that Archpriest Bulgakov does not repent, the present Decision of the Council which condemns the heresy of Sophianism is to be made known to all Autocephalous Churches." 
The 1935 decision of the Church Abroad was based on Archbishop Seraphim (Sobolev) of Boguchar’s Novoe uchenie o Sofii (Sofia, 1935), as well as on the arguments of St. John (Maximovitch). St. John, in his book The Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God, discusses at length why the sophianism of Sergius Bulgakov is heresy, specifically one as destructive as Nestorianism. Speaking of those who attempt to deify the Theotokos, he wrote:
- In the words [of Fr. Sergius Bulgakov], when the Holy Spirit came to dwell in the Virgin Mary, she acquired "a dyadic life, human and divine; that is, She was completely deified, because in Her hypostatic being was manifest the living, creative revelation of the Holy Spirit" (Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov, The Unburnt Bush, 1927, p. 154). "She is a perfect manifestation of the Third Hypostasis" (Ibid., p. 175), "a creature, but also no longer a creature" (P. 19 1)....But we can say with the words of St. Epiphanius of Cyprus: "There is an equal harm in both these heresies, both when men demean the Virgin and when, on the contrary, they glorify Her beyond what is proper" (Panarion, "Against the Collyridians"). This Holy Father accuses those who give Her an almost divine worship: "Let Mary be in honor, but let worship be given to the Lord" (same source). "Although Mary is a chosen vessel, still she was a woman by nature, not to be distinguished at all from others. Although the history of Mary and Tradition relate that it was said to Her father Joachim in the desert, 'Thy wife hath conceived,' still this was done not without marital union and not without the seed of man" (same source). "One should not revere the saints above what is proper, but should revere their Master. Mary is not God, and did not receive a body from heaven, but from the joining of man and woman; and according to the promise, like Isaac, She was prepared to take part in the Divine Economy. But, on the other hand, let none dare foolishly to offend the Holy Virgin" (St. Epiphanius, "Against the Antidikomarionites"). The Orthodox Church, highly exalting the Mother of God in its hymns of praise, does not dare to ascribe to Her that which has not been communicated about Her by Sacred Scripture or Tradition. "Truth is foreign to all overstatements as well as to all understatements. It gives to everything a fitting measure and fitting place" (Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov)."
- The Sophian Heresy and Attempts to Feminize God, December 13, 2007
- Protopresbyter George Grabbe, Toward a History of the Ecclesiastical Divisions Within the Russian Diaspora, Living Orthodoxy, Vol. XIV, No. 4, July-August, 1992, p. 38
- St. John Maximovitch, The Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God, (Platina, Ca: St. Herman Press, 1978), p. 40f
- Sergei Bulgakov, Sophia, the Wisdom of God: An Outline of Sophiology (Library of Russian Philosophy), Lindisfarne Books, 1993. (ISBN 0940262606, ISBN 978-0940262607)
- Vladimir Lossky The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, SVS Press, 1997. (ISBN 0-913836-31-1) James Clarke & Co Ltd, 1991. (ISBN 0-227-67919-9)
- Oleg A. Donskikh, ‘Cultural roots of Russian Sophiology’, Sophia, 34(2), 1995, pp38-57
- Brenda Meehan, ‘Wisdom/Sophia, Russian identity, and Western feminist theology’, Cross Currents, 46(2), 1996, pp149-168
- Thomas Schipflinger, Sophia-Maria (in German: 1988; English translation: York Beach, ME: Samuel Wiser, 1998) ISBN 1578630223
- Mikhail Sergeev, Sophiology in Russian Orthodoxy: Solov’ev, Bulgakov, Losskii, Berdiaev (Edwin Mellen Press, 2007) ISBN 0773456090 and ISBN 9780773456099, 248 pages