Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Religion, Mission and Ministry PhD

First Advisor

Rudolf Maier

Second Advisor

Bruce L. Bauer

Third Advisor

Jane Sabes


Stalinism and the punitive system of the Gulag left an indelible stamp on the entire social matrix of Russia. Because of the multidimensional and multigenerational nature of the trauma of Stalinism, Russian society retains the label of a traumatized culture. This dissertation explores the significance of this phenomenon for contemporary Christian mission in Russia.

The narratives of Varlam T. Shalamov's Kolymskie rasskazy provided an empirical (based on sensory evidence) inquiry into the reality of enormous sufferings experienced by the inmates of the Kolyma Gulag. Holy Scripture, on the other hand, provided the theological (faith-based) inquiry into the causes and implications of those sufferings. This study demonstrates that the traumatic microcosm of Shalamov's characters belongs to the larger cultural world—namely, the macrocosm of everyday Stalinism.

A biblical-theological assessment of Stalinism reveals that once a totalitarian system of pseudo-religious theocracy was established, the result was a culture demoniacally infected by the worldview of Marxism-Leninism. Being not just a sociopolitical system, but a state of mind, Stalinism resulted in legitimization and institutionalization of a culture of lawlessness and death.

The method of socio-textual interaction, utilized throughout this study, set forth a certain conception of Christian mission based on the commitment to liberation, healing, and transformation as envisioned in the Nazareth Manifesto of Jesus (Luke 4:16-21). At the heart of this approach to mission lies the Lukan imagery of a God who has compassion on "the poor" (the traumatized), who enters their dysfunctional oikos, casts out its demons, and calls humans to join Familia Dei.

The following three missiological strategies should be considered essential to the reality of post-Soviet society. First, the profoundly countercultural power of the worship service needs to be channeled toward healing the worshippers. Second, just as Jesus chose the family/household as both the social structure and spatial location for His ministry, so too the contemporary church-in-culture must consider this approach as her modus operandi. Finally, political participation suitable to the healing ministry of the Russian Christian community should be understood in terms of both creating an externally focused self-awareness and practical involvement in the life of the polis.

Subject Area

Shalamov, Varlam Tikhonovich, Kolymskie rasskazy, Missions--Russia, Stalin, Joseph, 1879-1953, Convict labor--Russia--Religious aspects, Concentration camps--Russia--Religious aspects, Suffering--Russia--Relgious aspects, Andrews University--Dissertations--Concentration camps--Russia--Religious aspects


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