Scientific review

A review of the specialist’s thesis by I.L. Kozlova, Ph.D. in Religious Studies.

The phenomenon of war, however regrettable, is an integral element of human existence, as evidenced by numerous historical facts. Therefore, the problematics of the causes and regularities of the emergence of states of armed conflict or peace in society is relevant in our time. Valentin Konstantinovich aims to reveal in his qualification work the significance of the activities of the largest religious movements and organisations in Europe before and during the First World War.
The work consists of two chapters (each with three paragraphs-sections), an introduction, a conclusion and a list of references

In the first chapter, the author examines the activities of religious organisations in the countries of the Triple Alliance. The first section of the first chapter analyses the evidence of the integrating or disintegrating functions of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany and Austria-Hungary. For example, such as: the clergy’s support of nationalist sentiments in society with the official anti-war position formulated by Pope Benedict XV (p.12); the struggle for the priority of the religious or the political, which allowed the paradoxical situation to emerge « when there was simultaneously a Pope and an Antipope and an Emperor and an Anti-Emperor » (p.22), patriotic and missionary activity in foreign policy activities (p.27), etc., and others. The second section of the chapter is devoted to Evangelical-Lutheran denominations in Germany. The author, referring to the work of the modern religious scholar Smirnov M.Y., notes the genetic conditioning of Protestant ethics by German philosophy, born under the influence of Lutheran theology, and writes that « it was in the Lutheran environment that the ideas of German nationalism and reaction arose and developed » . The final part of the first chapter describes the peculiarities of the Islamic movement in the Ottoman Empire.

Concluding the first chapter, the author notes a paradoxical fact: the Triple Alliance was formed by three states in which « the dominant religious movements were Lutheranism, Catholicism and Islam – openly hostile to each other » , while the religious organisations of these countries « were in symbiotic relations with their governments and unconditionally supported their imperialist claims ».

The second chapter contains the results of a study of the situation of religious organisations in the countries of another military-political bloc – the Entente. In the first section of the chapter, based on historical observations, it is concluded that « by the beginning of the twentieth century, the Catholics of France managed to endure with honour all the trials of the century of revolutions, to pass through the Jacobin terror, the Bonapartist dictatorship and secularisation, while retaining the status of the most widespread confession in the country » . The author highlights and emphasises the importance of the activities of the monastic orders that actively cooperated with Catholic hospitals, as well as the institution of chaplains in the French army . Similarly, the importance of financial investments of Anglican religious orders in support of the military and the role of the institution of chaplaincy in Great Britain are noted (p.46), but this is already in the second section of the chapter, which is devoted to the Anglican Church, which has a special place among other branches of Protestantism, due to the fact that it combines Catholic and Lutheran elements, as well as the fact that the Reformation in England was not  » from the bottom « , but  » from above  » (p.43).

The third paragraph is about the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia, which on the eve of the « world conflagration » acted not only as a spiritual institution, but also as a participant in patriotic activities, actively developing various targeted programmes for the needs of the Fatherland . The author puts forward the thesis that the church « acted as a force cementing society with its spiritual authority » and supports it with historical evidence of the activities of parish trustee councils that carried out all kinds of collections for the fronts , sanitary army detachments consisting of monks and novices , monasteries that allocated premises for infirmaries and refugees , and others. The role of church preaching, oral and printed, is noted, as well as the importance of spiritual and moral support in the form of pastoral care and inspiring examples of personal courage provided by priests among the soldiers on the front line

Positive aspects of the work:
The graduate qualification work is written in a lively and clear language using numerous sources. The author skilfully uses a methodological framework based on the principle of historicism, which allows to recreate a comprehensive picture of what happened.

The shortcomings of the work include:
the disproportion in the distribution of material in the first and second chapters in relation to the third chapter and the fact that not all the sources used in the citations are reflected in the list of references.

However, these individual shortcomings do not reduce the merits and significance of the work done as a whole. Valentin Konstantinovich’s graduate qualification work shows a high level of mastery of historical and factual material, interest in the subject, good research abilities of the author and deserves the highest evaluation. The results of the research can be used in the preparation of courses in history, political science and sociology of religion. I would like to express the hope that he will continue his work on such a relevant topic in the future.


I.L. Kozlova, Ph.D. in Philosophy