“". . . presents the most penetrating and comprehensive analysis of church-state relations available for the early Soviet period. . . . Roslof has identified an important topic and told his story well." -William B. Husband, author of Godless Communists
Red Priests recounts attempts by Russian clergy to adapt the Orthodox faith to revolutionary changes in Russia during the first half of the twentieth century. It focuses particularly on the fate of priests who tried to combine Christianity and Bolshevism in the early Soviet era. Their movement was called renovationism, also known as the Living Church.”
“Roslof (United Theological Seminary, Ohio) has produced a wonderfully successful and clearly written study of the Russian Orthodox clergy, who attempted to reconcile Christianity with the goals of the Bolshevik state . . . by actively accommodating Orthodox religious beliefs and institutions to new Soviet realities. This renovationist church faced a hostile world, opposed by the hierarchy of the traditional Orthodox Church and trusted by neither Orthodox believers nor the Soviet state. The first chapter is an insightful reading of the best secondary literature on the Orthodox Church and the rise of renovationism, especially in the era of the 1905 revolution. The remaining six chapters are abreast of the secondary literature but rooted in fresh archival research that is really fruitful, making possible a new and convincing picture of the history and significance of renovationism. Roslof finds renovationists neither self-serving renegades nor naive stooges, but believers who acted out of religious conviction. Stalin's decision in 1943 to support the traditional, patriarchal church not only ended the renovationist alternative but made it very difficult for the church to reform, to define its place and role in a modern Soviet, and then post-Soviet, world. An important contribution to understanding modern Russia. Summing Up: Essential. Upper—division undergraduates and above.”
— J. T. Flynn, emeritus, College of the Holy Cross , 2003jun CHOICE.