Today in Christian History – July 12

1944 – Death in Paris, from throat cancer, of Sergius Bulgakov, an Orthodox priest living in exile. He had helped found the St. Sergius Theological Institute in Paris where he taught dogmatic theology.

During his study at the seminary Bulgakov became interested in Marxism and took part in the Legal Marxism movement. Under the influence of works of Russian religious thinkers (Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Vladimir Solovyov, etc.), in the course of his meetings and arguments with Leo Tolstoy he found his religious beliefs again. He wrote a book about his evolution (Sergey Bulgakov, From Marxism to Idealism, 1903). Such an evolution was common for the Russian intelligentsia of the time, and he soon became one of their recognised ideologists.

There is conflict in the studies regarding how conservative Bulgakov was. A classmate of Bulgakov’s said he had been called a „jingoistic monarchist” and that he did not attend discussion groups. Together with Petr Struve, Bulgakov founded the illegal liberal Union of Liberation (which later emеrged as the Constitutional Democratic (Kadet) Party, the largest party in Russia between 1906–1907), and was one of the key persons in the journal Liberation (1902–1905). Because of the circle’s secularism, which conflicted with Bulgakov’s religious views, he left the society to join the liberal nationalist and socio-Christian Union of Christian Politics. When that circle was dissolved Bulgakov was more active in the Orthodoxy, so his leanings became liberal conservative.

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