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The Visible Religion

The Russian Orthodox Church and her Relations with State and Society in Post-Soviet Canon Law (1992–2015)


Alexander Ponomariov

«The Visible Religion» is an antithesis to Thomas Luckmann’s concept. The Russian Orthodox Church in post-Soviet canon law suggests a comprehensive cultural program of modernity. Researched through the paradigms of multiple modernities and post-secularity, the ROC appears to be quite modern: she reflects on herself and the secular environment, employs secular language, appeals to public reason, the human rights discourse, and achievements of modern science. The fact that the ROC rejects some liberal Western developments should not be understood in the way that the ROC rejects modernity in general. As a legitimate player in the public sphere, the ROC puts forward her own – Russian Orthodox – model of modernity, which combines transcendence and immanence, theological and social reasoning, an afterlife strategy and cooperation with secular actors, whereby eschatology and the human rights discourse become two sides of the same coin.

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This book came to be as a Ph.D. dissertation submitted at the University of Passau, whose text was revised and updated. I am thankful to the colleagues who contributed to the fruition of this work by word and deed: Prof. Dirk Uffelmann (Passau), for his invaluable academic guidance throughout the writing process; Prof. Vasilios N. Makrides (Erfurt), for inviting me to Erfurt to partake in a specialized colloquium on Orthodox Christianity in 2014 that gave me further incentive and insight, for his professional comments on my text and proofreading my translations from Greek, as well as for turning my manuscript into a book in the Peter Lang series; Prof. Thomas Wünsch and Prof. Sandra Hübenthal (both Passau), for discussing with me and commenting on some chapters thereof; Dr. Yan Chen (Passau), for checking my translation from Chinese; Dr. Graham Neil Jackson (Passau), for proofreading my translations into Early Modern English, i.e., the language of Shakespeare and the King James Bible; my language correctors, among them Barry Franklin, for carving out time in their busy schedules in order to brush up the English of my text. All errors are of course mine.

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