In 1988, Russian Christians are publicly celebrating the Baptism of Rus a thousand years ago. Many visitors to Russia report that the churches are overcrowded. Some Western experts estimate that there are at least some thirty million regular Christian worshippers in the USSR. Soviet officials and Russian churchmen frequently affirm that "religion is free."
But such statements are treated with skepticism in the West. Many Christian and secular journalists doubt whether genuine Churches still exist in public. Amnesty International, Keston College, and other well-informed agencies constantly publish reports of Christians being imprisoned or sent to penal work camps or internal exile. Indeed, some believe that Russian Christians who suffer harassment, imprisonment and exile represent the only true Church. Where does the truth lie?
Many of the causes of the present state of affairs date back long before 1917. The story of Russian Christians in the past can illuminate the present. The author believes there is much that is relevant and inspiring as well as informative in the costly witness of the Russian Churches, especially in the phoenix-like resurrection from disaster and oppression.
This readable book is illustrated with fascinating photographs of different aspects of Russia's religious history. The story, as it unfolds, contains many surprises and gives a broad picture of the character of Russian Christianity.
Francis House is an Anglican clergyman who has had a studied interest in the Russian Orthodox Church for more than fifty years.