In the process of redefining his power as tsar, Peter curtailed the minimal secular influence of the Russian Orthodox Church, which was functioning principally as a pillar of the tsarist regime.In 1721 Peter the Great went so far as to abolish the patriarchate and establish a governmental organ called the Holy Synod, staffed by secular officials, to administer and control the church.Russian Orthodox services, noted for their pageantry, involve the congregation directly by using only the vernacular form of the liturgy.The liturgy itself includes multiple elaborate systems of symbols meant to convey the content of the faith to believers.Orthodox belief holds that the Orthodox Church is Christianity's true, holy, and apostolic church, tracing its origin directly to the institution established by Jesus Christ. Orthodox teachings include the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and the inseparable but distinguishable union of the two natures of Jesus Christ--one divine, the other human.
The next quarter-century saw surges and declines in arrests, enforcement of laws against religious assembly and activities, and harassment of clergy.
In 1589 the metropolitan of Moscow received the title of patriarch.
Nevertheless, the Russian church retained the Byzantine tradition of authorizing the head of state and the government bureaucracy to participate actively in the church's administrative affairs.
As a result, the church's moral authority declined in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, the monastic tradition produced a number of church elders who gained the respect of all classes in Russia as wise counselors on both secular and spiritual matters.