The existence of parties in the Russian Orthodox Church 1480–1580 does not imply parties in the sense of coherent ideological groupings, as Don Ostrowski, David Goldfrank and Charles Halperin correctly argue. Iosif Volotskii and Nil Sorskii had complementary, not rival views. The issue of monastic lands was about regulation, not confiscation, and the parties were actually “old boy networks”. The Russian story needs a Byzantine context for the treatment of heresies, monastic lands, and other issues. Byzantium had different practices than the West, and so did the Russians. Western practice and terminology is not relevant.
Russian historians have traditionally seen the church as merely the handmaiden of the state. Yet in the realm of foreign policy the heads of the Orthodox Church in Russia played a distinct role from the end of the fifteenth century to peter’s time. They were participants in the most important decisions (though not in routine affairs), especially about war and peace. In wartime the metropolitans and bishops produced exhortations to the army. In the sixteenth century these were not only calls to fight the infidel but frequently sermons to the Russians to be better Christians. After the mid-seventeenth century the sermons at the time of war, now in Western rhetorical style, came from a wider group of clergy and were more uniformly calls to fight for Orthodoxy. In Peter’s time such sermons became secular justifications for the wars.