How the Bible Works

Russian Baptist Faith as Text

in Religion and Society
Author: Igor Mikeshin1
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Abstract

This article is about Russian Baptists’ perception of their faith as a text. I argue that they practice their lived faith by interiorizing the language of the Russian Synodal Translation of the Bible as their ‘language of reasoning’. I support this claim by analyzing two aspects of faith: as an act of conversion and as a process of living a Christian life. To illustrate the mechanism of sustaining faith, I use the case of a rehabilitation ministry for addicted people to unpack narratives of conversion, gender order, and family life. Biblical literalism is the basis of the Russian Baptist faith narrative, and in this article I scrutinize the mechanism of its construction.

It was a lovely summer day in 2019. I was sitting for an interview in the beautiful verdant yard of the biggest Baptist church in St. Petersburg, Russia, in a peaceful suburb with three big lakes. My interviewee, a middle-aged man named Aleksei,1 who was one of the leaders of the rehabilitation ministry and an ‘ex-addict’ (byvshii narkoman) himself, was telling me about his views on the differences between men and women, their roles in the church and family, and the ‘proper’ Christian marriage. To illustrate what he meant by proper courtship, my interlocutor mentioned that although he and his fellow Baptists believe that sex and intimacy are permissible only within marriage, dating of engaged couples is seen as a good thing. “They often ask someone, their friend, to go on a date with them,” Aleksei explained, “so that lukavyi [the Evil one] doesn't tempt them. My friend actually invited me the other day, so I went. There was him, his fiancée, and me there. It's absolutely normal for us.”

My interviewee realized how odd this might sound to my secular ear. However, what interested me most was not the fact that conservative Christians engage in ‘puritan’ dating practices. It was the fact that his friend, a man in his thirties, an ex-addict with a rich life experience, voluntarily asked Aleksei to be a third party on his date, although there is no strict rule about this practice in the church. Most of the former substance abusers in the Russian Baptist community that I study put a great deal of emphasis not only on the fact that they stopped taking drugs or drinking alcohol, but also on the radical change in their sexual behavior. Moreover, this is also the case for practically everyone who has converted as an adult.2

In this article, I go through narratives of conversion in the rehabilitation ministry and of sustaining faith in gender order and family practices to suggest that Russian Baptists regard their faith as a text. Russian Baptists are biblical literalists, meaning that they consider the Bible inerrant and sufficient for faith and practice. I focus on the ways and mechanisms of their interpretation of the biblical text as they apply it in everyday life. In this way, they interiorize the language of the Bible as the language of their everyday life and reasoning—justifying every important decision in life with Scripture.

I conducted an ethnographic study of the Russian Baptist rehabilitation ministry for addicted people called Good Samaritan in 2014–2015 (Mikeshin 2016), and my ongoing research project focuses on gender norms and family values in the same community. This community of approximately 4,000 members is in northwest Russia, with its central church in St. Petersburg (about 2,000 congregants). It is spread across several regions: its churches and rehabilitation facilities reach Murmansk to the north, Moskovskaya oblast’ to the southeast, and Kaliningrad, Joutseno (Finland), and Riga (Latvia) to the west.

My study of lay hermeneutics and rehabilitation through conversion in the Baptist rehabilitation ministry (Mikeshin 2016) led me to the question, how could the ideas of Christian scholars of the sixteenth (e.g., Martin Luther) and seventeenth centuries (e.g., Jacobus Arminius) change the lives of ‘street junkies’ in twenty-first-century Russia? In the logic I applied then, and attempt to apply here, theology is the way to link the text of Scripture and everyday life through hermeneutics (interpretation of the text) and application (adaptation of the narrative, which is at least two millennia old, to the modern day). In the rehabilitation process, Luther's five solae (principles of Protestant Reformation) and Arminian free will soteriology served as the explanatory tools to adapt the biblical imperatives to rehabilitation as based on God's work through the sacrifice of Christ alone and a sinner's responsible decision to accept this sacrifice (ibid.: 147).

This argument refers to the emerging discussion about theologically engaged anthropology. In this discussion, scholars seek to extend theological knowledge beyond simply ‘data’ or the corpus of emic dogma. Joel Robbins (2006) argues that the anthropology of Christianity is a relatively young discipline that has recently come to the point of understanding the role of theology in the construction of the everyday reality of the people we study as Christians. In a collection edited by Derrick Lemons (2018), scholars discuss the perspectives of a ‘theologically engaged anthropology’ based on the undeniable impact of theology on human culture. My study engages with Russian Baptist lay hermeneutics and the application of ‘lay theology’ in everyday situations.

Russian Baptists are a post-secular community, that is, they are in a middle-ground position between socially oriented ministry-based churches and ascetic isolationists who reject worldly matters (cf. Asad 2003: 1–17). Post-secular Christians do not see either position as obeying the word of God, but rather build upon the idea of living and acting in the world, while being not of the world (Gallagher 2003: 5). In Sally Gallagher's words: “Contemporary evangelicals are neither merely reacting against a ‘secular’ culture nor simply accommodating themselves to it. Rather, evangelicals, like other religious subcultures, draw on and retell the themes of their own multifaceted tradition in coming to understand and give meaning to their contemporary circumstances” (ibid.: xi).

This position reveals a difference in the perception of Christianity. What is faith for a Christian believer? Conventionally, for evangelicals, Christian faith means acceptance of the atoning work of Christ on the cross, and all other attributes of the faith are directly derived from this conviction (personal conversion, evangelizing activism) or legitimize it (biblical literalism) (see Bebbington 1989: 2–4). But what does this acceptance mean in practice? How do Christians perform it? There are two major aspects to these questions. The first refers to the act of accepting Christ's sacrifice, and the second to the process. The reformulated questions, hence, are: How can one come to accept Christ's sacrifice? How can one live life based on this acceptance? I go even further and take the liberty of claiming that these two questions refer to the grand narrative of faith, at least in the evangelical Christian discourse. Therefore, I address a single big question here: what is a lived faith for an (evangelical) Christian?

In twentieth-century Russia, state religion and state secularism interchanged with the shift of regimes. A state-supported secularism (and ‘militant’ atheism) has been once again replaced with freedom of religion, which, in turn, has resulted in state support for a few ‘traditional’ forms of religion, particularly Russian Orthodoxy because of the “special role of the Orthodox Church in the history of Russia” (Russian Federal Law 1997). However, researchers on Russian religiosity point out that the idea of Soviet secularism is as problematic and superficial as that of post-Soviet post-secularism (Kormina 2019; Kormina and Shtyrkov 2015; Luehrmann 2011). Sonja Luehrmann (2005) rightly notes that this paradigm shift from the state church to nominal secularism to post-secularism is best described in terms of ‘recycling’ rather than ‘substituting’. Each change of religious ideology has always built on the cultural elements and semiotics of the old system. As Luehrmann puts it: “In order for something to be recycled, it must first be declared to be trash, and then reworked into something else that is regarded as useful” (ibid.: 37).

The discourse of post-secularity reveals a distinction in the construction of faith narratives among evangelicals. The faith of more liberal churches that focus on social support is manifested in the Golden Rule: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).3 These communities are represented in Russia by only a few social ministries of foreign origin, like the Salvation Army. The more radical version of evangelical faith emphasizes strict isolation from worldly matters building upon the ‘in versus of the world’ distinction. Unlike certain monastic traditions of the historical churches, evangelical asceticism is not totally isolated from the world, but is instead incorporated in it under the premise of explicit contempt: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them” (1 John 2:15). The lived aspect of this contempt is manifested in a diverse array of lifestyles and political campaigns aimed, almost in Marxist terms, at changing the world, rather than escaping from it. In Russia, this standpoint is represented by the unregistered Baptist and Pentecostal communities that were harshly persecuted in Soviet times (see, e.g., Nikolskaia 2009: 227–242, 273–291).

A post-secular evangelical discourse is represented in Russia by a multitude of faith narratives. For instance, Pentecostal and charismatic communities emphasize the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially speaking in tongues. For them, faith as an acceptance of Christ's sacrifice is lived in the immediate experience of the works of the Holy Spirit within a believer. Conversely, Calvinist theology, not so widespread in Russia, stresses God's sovereign grace in salvation, which manifests itself in a change of heart and living a Christian life. I focus my attention on the registered part of the Russian Baptist community, which neither seeks isolation from the world nor reduces its message to social ministry, but focuses predominantly on the Bible as the authority for faith and everyday life.

All the above-mentioned evangelical narratives in Russia lie within the context of biblical literalism. Evangelicals are literalists by conventional definition (see, e.g., Bebbington 1989: 2–4): their perceptions are directly based on the literal, although different, interpretation of popular translations of the Bible.4 Although I do not claim that the case I examine is exceptionally authentic or pure in terms of hermeneutics, it is nonetheless an instance of biblical literalism in a literal sense. It is difficult, if at all possible, to indicate whether a certain practice is based on scripture or an evangelical tradition of any kind, because for evangelicals all their traditions are rooted in Scripture, unless the tradition in question is adopted by theological opponents and is being criticized. Unlike other denominations, for Russian Baptists, the Bible is not merely the ultimate point of reference—it is the only one.

Every Russian Baptist community, whether a church congregation, missionary group, rehabilitation center, or ministry of any kind, dedicates a great portion of its time to Bible study in various forms. For instance, the program of the rehabilitation ministry, as I will demonstrate further, is built upon the study of Scripture in the forms of free reading, discussions, topical seminars, learning verses by heart, and applying the text to one's own life. Likewise, any type of meeting, seminar, conference, or class is centered on relevant biblical passages. There is no ultimate authority on the correct interpretation of the Bible (apart from God Himself), but there is a certain tradition of the interpretation of key tenets, which formed over the 150 years of Russian Baptists. However, this tradition is not formally established, and there is a rising critique that Russian Baptism has no developed theology (see Bintsarovskyi 2014).

For Russian Baptists, faith is a text, and it is lived as a text. This attitude is expressed in two regimes of temporality: as an act of conversion and as a process of believing a lived faith (Orsi [1985] 2010: xxxvii–xlii). I henceforth argue that Russian Baptist faith means striving to learn, adopt, and interiorize the Russian Bible as the ‘language of reasoning’ (cf. Coleman 2000: 117–142).

The Russian Bible

Unlike in the English-speaking Christian world, the vast majority of Russian speakers worldwide use the same biblical translation, known as the Synodal Translation or Russian Synodal Bible. Other translations do exist, including recent ones produced in a thorough scholarly quest for authenticity, accuracy, and the use of modern Russian. Some Bible-believing Protestant communities attempt to adopt these versions, mostly for deeper study, yet the Synodal Bible prevails. There is also an Old Church Slavonic translation that is used by Old Believers exclusively and in the Russian Orthodox Church for liturgy. However, in most denominations the Synodal Bible is predominantly used.

This textual unity of Russian-speaking Christianity is unique in the context of global evangelicalism. The translation widely perceived as ‘the Orthodox Bible’, constant dialogue with Orthodox theology and ideology, and the 150-year history of oppression and isolation of evangelicals in Russia put the communities in a position of glocalization. In other words, most Russian evangelical communities have global and local defining features at the same time. Evangelicalism in Russia follows the core principles of evangelical faith, yet they are shaped in response to both Orthodox doctrines and practices and the (post-)Soviet socio-cultural context.

The emergence of the Russian evangelical movement in the late nineteenth century was largely instigated by the modern Russian translation of the Bible that then became widely available (Sinichkin 2017: 20–30). The translation itself took sixty years; it was formally a non-denominational enterprise, yet the majority of translators were Orthodox scholars and clergymen (Tikhomirov 2006). This translation became the language of Russian Christianity, especially of its evangelical branch, because in Russian Orthodoxy, texts from the Holy Tradition (the writings of the Church Fathers) are read along with the Bible. Of the three main movements in Russian evangelicalism—Baptists and the Church of Evangelical Christians,5 Pentecostals, and Seventh-day Adventists—the first has most emphasized the word of God as a sufficient foundation and justification for Christian life. Unlike Pentecostals and Adventists, its members did not recognize the legitimacy of immediate spiritual experience or a set of pious practices and eschatological beliefs. Baptists and evangelicals emphasized the Bible as a text. For them, repentance was evidence of being born again, and its consequence—a changed heart—meant living by the Bible in all aspects of life.

I use this dual perception of the Bible as both the word of God and an instruction for life—an act and a process—to examine lived Russian Baptist hermeneutics. The next two sections deal with these aspects as narratives of conversion and of sustaining faith, covering the whole life story of believers in the context of their Christian faith. As an example of conversion, I take the case of substance abuse treatment, and as an example of sustaining faith I take gender order and family values.

Christian Rehabilitation: The Narrative of Biblical Conversion

It is 6:50 in the morning. Max, an elder in the Good Samaritan rehabilitation program, wakes up with the alarm clock and gets up from his bunk. After brushing his teeth in the bathroom, he returns to the dormitory, turns on the lights, and wakes everybody up with a loud “Good morning!” The rehabilitation day begins. Some 10 men, including myself, have 15 minutes to wake up, make their beds, and brush their teeth. Many try to have a couple more minutes of sleep, but Max reprimands them. At 7:15 the reading starts.

The ‘brothers’ sit on chairs and armchairs around a small table in a dormitory with two-tiered beds. Their task is to read the New Testament in a quest for their morning revelation. Their main challenge is not to fall asleep. At 8:00 in the morning fellowship starts with a choir singing from the hymnal—the Glorification (proslavleniie). At 8:30, the brothers share what has been revealed (chto otkrylos’) to them. They read a particular verse or two from the Scripture, then try to explain what it means and how it applies to them. Some are better at this than others, for some are slow readers because of their hard life experiences and lack of proper education. At 8:50, everybody kneels for a morning prayer.

After breakfast in the kitchen, the whole group cleans the premises for 45 minutes, then they return to reading. Everybody reads the New Testament until 11:30, when the ‘class’ begins. Depending on the day of the week, it is a razbor (a typical evangelical Bible study),6 a ‘seminar’ (15 thematic classes on the basics of theology and Christian life), or a video screening.

After lunch at 1:00, the group has a 10-minute break and two blocks of 90 minutes of reading with a half-hour break. Lying on the beds, going to the toilet without permission, or talking during the reading times is not allowed. The biggest challenge for the brothers is sitting still for long periods amid the never-changing routine of every day.

After dinner at 7:00, the morning block of reading, singing, and discussing is repeated. The evening discussions often become heated, with mutual accusations and arguments. After the evening prayer, everyone goes to bed, and at 11:00 the lights are off.7

How does this routine work as a treatment for substance abuse? Unlike many other rehabilitation programs (Garcia 2010; Raikhel 2010; Skoll 1992; Zigon 2011), Good Samaritan is not focused on addiction treatment per se, but on the conversion of individuals (cf. Sremac 2013). Addiction is seen as one of the possible consequences of sin and thus enables a sphere of evangelism that targets a specific group of people. A rehabilitant is expected to morally transform himself through internalizing (reading, learning, and applying) the Scripture up to the point of repentance.

Repentance in Good Samaritan is a radical change of perspective, a redefinition of one's life from one's own interests and aspirations toward God's will and plan. In anthropology, Christian conversion is not always represented by such a drastic change, yet in most cases it implies a break with a sinful past (or, rather, its reinterpretation in biblical terms) and a substantial change of behavior (Erzen 2006; Meyer 1999; Priest 2003; Stromberg 1993). The post-Soviet narratives of conversion add a specific socio-cultural dimension to the picture, namely, a change of social status (Harris 2006; Hefner 1993; Vagramenko 2014; Vallikivi 2009), including conflicts with dominant religious and secular narratives (Wanner 2007: 141–146).

How does the moral transformation of religious conversion lead to a bodily transformation of a substance abuser? Roughly speaking, substance dependence has two main aspects, biochemical and psychological. The former is caused by the reaction to a psychoactive substance in the brain. Regular exposure substantially reduces certain processes, like the production of natural opioids. The lack of these when the substances leave the body causes cravings, known as withdrawal symptoms—hangover or ‘dope sickness’. This leads to a sense of meaninglessness or loss of interest in life, and the easy fix is to take drugs again. At a certain stage, substance dependence remains chronic for the rest of one's life, and the only working solution is total abstinence (see Volkow and Li 2005).

The ‘ex-addicts’ of Good Samaritan claim total defeat of their addiction, through Christ. Even relapses are seen as accompanying a spiritual collapse (padeniie) and are assumed to be a consequence of it (Mikeshin 2017). The mechanism used in Christian rehabilitation can be (and often is) metaphorically described as ‘letting Christ into one's heart’. This stance directly addresses the feeling of emptiness, giving life a new meaning.

The story of Max, the elder introduced above, can serve as an example of this process. Max had been a successful entrepreneur, but had been divorced twice and almost lost contact with his children because of his heavy drinking. He ended up in rehab at the age of 33, after a long period of homelessness and after contemplating suicide. Being an undecided believer even before rehab, Max started eagerly reading the Scripture, but did not see it as a solution to his problems.

At one time he was reading the Book of Acts and came across the following passage: “God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, although he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being’” (Acts 17:27–28). “I froze at this passage,” he would later recall in his testimony. “I realized that these words were truly mine.” He broke this passage into three parts and explained how each of them revealed to him his life as a journey to Christ: he had sought God through spiritual experiments with Christianity, Islam (part of Max's extended family is Muslim), various Eastern philosophies and religions, and then psychoactive substances and alcohol. Reading this, he suddenly understood that God was always close to him and “knocking at [the door of] my heart.”8 Ultimately, Max realized that he belonged to God wholly and unconditionally: “For in him we live and move and have our being.” At this point, Max asked his elder for a talk in private, and with his support and prayer, he repented: “Everything fell into place [Vse vstalo na svoi mesta].” He overcame his hangover and enthusiastically engaged in the rehabilitation program. Max has been sober for over seven years and now serves as a pastor in a small church community outside St. Petersburg.

The specificity of rehabilitants’ backgrounds impacts on the language of their communication and hermeneutics. Discussing biblical verses, and especially applying them to their own lives, they employ the morals, logic, and wisdom of the street. Their narratives of conversion provide remarkable representations of lay theology (cf. Bielo 2009) based on the Russian Bible and the socio-cultural context of Russian evangelicalism. Translation into English is thus very difficult, yet the most vivid example given by Max was when he explained Matthew 16:249 to one of the brothers on the program. “Deny yourself totally (Otvergni sebya polnostju)! There's no need to show your rich life experience and habits,” Max exclaimed, “because all those actually brought you here. You and me—we're shit! You should break yourself until the Bible becomes a part of your life.”

When the Bible becomes part of one's life, it brings about a moral transformation that evangelicals often call a change of heart. This transformation manifests itself in internalization of the biblical text as the language of reasoning. It also brings about a bodily transformation. The ‘successful’ rehabilitants—those who make it to the end of the program and remain in remission—demonstrate two characteristics of an ex-addict: conversion to the Russian Baptist version of Christianity and total abstinence. These changes naturally go hand in hand, and are two aspects of the same transformation (cf. Stromberg 1993).

The rehabilitation ministry is not merely the most illustrative example of the narrative of conversion. It is also one of the most important social contexts that has an impact on the whole Russian evangelical community. Throughout the twentieth century, evangelical communities were persecuted and marginalized. With the liberalization of religion in the mid-1980s, evangelicals unfolded an unprecedented evangelizing campaign in two main directions: missions to marginal regions (Far North, Central Asia), and social ministries (rehabilitation, prison, the homeless). Hence, in such urban regions as the one I study, a substantial part of a congregation, especially people who converted as adults, are either ‘hardcore’ converts or their family members. Some of the smaller churches were founded in the last decade by the leaders of the rehabilitation ministry. Moreover, the implementation of everyday theology is most emphasized by converts with harsh backgrounds, as I have shown with the example of Alexei at the beginning of this article, and will show further in citing Ivan. The ‘ex-addicts’ or ‘ex-cons’ (many are both) are especially strict about the rules of conduct because this attitude helps them to distinguish their Christian life from their old ways of living.

Christian Life: Gender Order and Family Values

The case of Good Samaritan demonstrates how people come to faith through the construction of the biblical narrative of conversion or, in Max's words, breaking oneself until the Bible becomes part of one's life. The second aspect of Russian Baptist textual faith deals with maintaining—or, rather, sustaining—conversion. This is conceptualized as Christian life, and the paramount manifestation of Christian life is a conservative narrative or, more precisely, an evangelical gender order and family values. Gender and family matters are not simply the most illuminating example of Christian life. As I argue elsewhere, they mark the distinction between Christian life and worldly living and are perceived as a consequence and evidence of repentance and genuine conversion (Mikeshin 2020).

Based primarily on the Book of Genesis, Russian Baptists share the logic of ‘complementarian theology’ and believe that God created man and woman equal in value, but different in role (see, e.g., Grudem 2002). According to Baptists, the equality in value does not imply any inferiority in the ‘helper’ role of women, for neither men nor women choose their roles. God made both genders (naturally, Russian Baptists recognize only two) with their specific characteristics. Men are assigned to manage families and churches, and women to assist them. Viktor, a family counselor in a big Baptist church in St. Petersburg, explained:

Man and woman are absolutely different, starting with their chromosomes. They complement each other; what you don't have, your wife does; what your wife doesn't have, you do. There should be one captain on board. God created man and woman with different qualities. For a man, it's easier to command. Men are logical and categorical. A woman is always under someone['s headship] [pod kem-to]. Under a husband, under a father. The veil that she wears in many cultures testifies that she's under someone. The main need of a woman is security. This paramount need is destroyed in the contemporary world. Primarily, culture enforces this artificial image of a woman, the one who defeats everyone. This doesn't happen in life.

The key concepts in Russian Baptist complementarianism are responsibility for men and assistance for women. From these two concepts, every other role is derived. Men are assigned by God to lead their families and the church and to teach the fundamentals of faith. Hence, they are much more oriented toward strategic thinking, big ideas, and the general direction of life. Women deal with more detailed everyday issues. Andrey, a pastor of the same church, offered a practical metaphor: “In your car, there are headlights. Well, men are like high beam, and women are low beam.”

There are multiple references in the Bible that are used for the justification of the gender order. The most common biblical verses are found in the book of Genesis and in Paul's epistles. For the equal value of men and women, it is Genesis 5:2 (“When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them”); for the assistant role of women, Genesis 5:18 (“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him”); for lifelong marriages, Genesis 2:23 (“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’, for she was taken out of man”); and the prohibition of divorce, Matthew 5:32 (“But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery”). The most common excerpt justifying male leadership in church, ministry, and biblical interpretation is 1 Corinthians 14:34–35 (“Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church”). These verses are used most commonly, although in every case there could be many more biblical references.

The most striking example of Russian Baptist complementarianism is the mechanism of the construction of the complementarian narrative. The spatial organization of one of the biggest and strictest rehabilitation facilities serves two interwoven principles: disciplining the rehabilitants and teaching them the principles of gender order and the Christian family. The rehab center next to the small town of Luga (150 kilometers south of St. Petersburg) is the biggest one in the ministry, and until recently the only one hosting men, women, and women with children. The two stages of the program (rehabilitation and adaptation) are segregated, meeting only once a week for a common worship service. At the rehab, the two stages of the same sex commonly meet on Saturdays, and the whole facility has a common gathering in the main hall, although irregularly. During these meetings, the sexes and stages of the program are seated separately and are not allowed to communicate or even look at each other (although this latter rule is hard to implement).

Normally, however, the segregated groups are locked up in different areas, each with its own dormitory, bathroom, and dining room. Much more significantly, the working areas and labor assignments are also segregated by sex. The areas of womanly labor include the children's premises,10 kitchen, and sewing facilities. Men are assigned to workshops, the roof, and a basement with a big furnace fueled with firewood. The only reason for a man to enter the women's labor zones is to carry something heavy or fix something; women do not enter the men's zones at all. There is a strict hierarchy of access: the head minister of the rehab center is male and has keys to every door, although he never enters women's quarters without a female minister. Every stage is headed by elders, who have keys to their premises; the adaptation (second-stage) elders also have the keys to the rehabilitation (first stage) and the outside door (see Mikeshin 2015).

These regulations serve as a model of relations between the sexes and within a Christian family. Family roles are predominantly based on gender roles seen as given by God in the Bible. Manly labor reflects men's leadership position and physical strength, and womanly labor deals with household matters and children. The repentant sinners, married or not, are meant to learn to maintain a proper social distance between people of the opposite sex before engaging in relationships and family life outside the rehabilitation facility. The strict social distance between unmarried people of the opposite sex is taught according to 2 Corinthians 7:1–2 (“It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman. But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband”).

Gender order and family practices are considered the proper model of relationships in a wider society. As Denis, an acting preacher, told me: “I have been married for three years now. I've revisited many things [in my life]. Building my relationships with my wife, I learned how to build relationships with people. [My] marriage has become the best university of relationships for me.” Baptists live in the wider society, work regular jobs, study in universities, and engage in other aspects of social life; hence, their conservative gender roles cannot be strictly implemented everywhere in the outside world. However, in their family lives they strive for complementarian harmony. In the remainder of this section, I will address family life as it is lived in biblical terms.

According to the same complementarian principles, Russian Baptists believe that in every marriage, Christian or not, divine providence is at work. Every human is designated by God to marry a particular person, just as Eve was given to Adam, or to remain unmarried (again, according to 2 Corinthians 7:1–2). The period of courtship and engagement is therefore treated with utmost seriousness, and every step refers to the biblical verses that teach proper gender relations. This period is long and complicated, and it is focused on seeking God's will. Russian Baptist courtship serves two functions: practical and social. Practically, the aim is to secure a lifelong relationship based not on sexual desire or temporary attraction, but on a serious commitment and, above all, love. Socially, this process involves multiple parties—pastors, parents, friends, and family members—and they all work together in prayer, seeking to learn the will of God. Ivan, a pastor and rehab minister, illustrated this point with his own example:

The main thing in marriage is [God's] blessing. How does one get to know it? You should pray for a girl. Come to a spiritual leader [dukhovnik]. Pray together, as we did with [Sveta] over the phone every evening. If [it] doesn't go away, come to a pastor. Ask your parents for a blessing. My mother still drinks, so when we called her and turned on the loudspeaker, she was drunk and could hardly utter this word: “[I] bl'ss [you]” [b'gslavliaiu].

I only bought shoes for the wedding. The rest was provided to me by God. There was a sharp suit in a second-hand [storage],11 a new white shirt with cufflinks, still in its original packaging. My size. The sisters took our finger measurements and bought us rings as a present. To [Sveta], the sisters gave a dress: they make dresses and sell them abroad. In church, the [other] sisters set the table as a present for us: they work in restaurants. The [third group of] sisters decorated our seats.

There was too much coincidence. I saw, and most of all, I felt it inside—the invisible hand that took care of everything.

Hence, marriage is not merely a partnership; it is a union established by God. “I used to think a husband is the one who sleeps with his wife,” Ivan confessed. In the Russian Baptist model, there are three active participants in every marriage: husband, wife, and God (referring to 1 Corinthians 11:3: “But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God”). In every seminar on family life, believers draw a triangle with God on top and husband and wife as the other two corners. Ivan explained: “There are these circles of priority. First, you establish your personal relationship with God, and second, you build relationships with people. Among all people, the closest ones, the most important one for you is your spouse. Why? Because you're one flesh as it is said in Genesis.”12

Russian Baptists emphasize marriage as the cornerstone of family. Children are considered an important part of life, and Russian Baptists tend to have significantly more children than the contemporary Russian average. However, paradoxically, children are not the most important element of their family life. One of the biggest opinion research centers in Russia found that 54 percent of Russians believe that “children are the purpose of marriage,” and 21 percent even think that caring for children “is the meaning of life” (VCIOM 2018). However, Russian Baptists tend not to share this view. For them, the core of a family is a married couple: children are a blessing, although not a necessity. As Viktor put it: “Childbearing is not the purpose of marriage. Children are a blessing. The purpose [of marriage] is unity … Children are a gift from God. They don't belong to us, we have to give them back to God when they grow up. Espousal [supruzhestvo] is more important than parenthood. Espousal is for life. What if [one's] children grow up, should [one] divorce then?”

For Russian Baptists, gender order and family life are the most important elements of the Christian life. Certainly, there is a multitude of other behavioral patterns and expectations of proper conduct, but gender and family serve as the mundane everyday lived implementation of Christian convictions. This implementation is the example of the construction of the discourse I call the language of reasoning. At every step of their daily lives, Baptists refer to the text of Scripture in a quest for justification and practical guidance. In attempting to make sense of the biblical narratives on man and woman and family life, Russian Baptists have shaped strict rules and conservative traditions.

Conclusion

Russian Baptists perceive their faith as a text. Unlike other denominations close in theology and ideology, they do not justify their faith with direct revelations, immediate experience, or pious practices (although they do not reject any of those either). They regard the text of Scripture as a sufficient message from God that contains everything a believer needs to know about theology and everyday life. The Bible in its original form is considered inerrant, and its Russian Synodal Translation is highly valued.

Russian Baptists do not rely much on miraculous works of God or long-standing church tradition. They consider the Bible sufficient for faith and practice as the word of God to the people. In the two narratives of faith that I have addressed in this article—the act of gaining faith in conversion and the process of sustaining faith in everyday Christian life—I have attempted to demonstrate how every step of their construction is based on the constant interpretation of the biblical text and its internalization as the language of faith.

Russian Baptist conversion could be best described as a radical shift toward internalization of Scripture as the language of reasoning—a justification of every practical life decision with the Bible. The act of repentance proclaims this direction as a lifelong commitment and meaning of life. The process of sustaining faith in the Russian Baptist discourse is revealed in the concept of a Christian life, in which conservative gender norms and family values play a major role.

Russian Baptists represent a moderate camp within the evangelical field. They do not engage in fundamentalist moral isolationism and activism. At the same time, being very active in social ministries, they emphasize their evangelizing aspect, prioritizing preaching the Gospel and repentance above social support. Following a literalist reading of the Bible, they reject liberal tendencies in theology, such as ordaining women or tolerating same-sex relationships. This view puts Russian Baptists on the map as a post-secular evangelical community with an active literalist stance. In other words, in their lives “the word of God is alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12), and this article is an attempt to demonstrate exactly how the Bible works for them.

Acknowledgments

This study was funded by the Kone Foundation and the Academy of Finland as part of the research group “Religion, Self and the Ethical Life” at the University of Helsinki (http://blogs.helsinki.fi/religion-ethics-self/). I thank Simon Coleman for his valuable comments and Vladislav Yurtov for his help.

Notes

1

All of my informants’ identities are protected with pseudonyms.

2

One rare exception is a pastor in a small town in the Russian northwest, who nevertheless uses the same argument in his testimonies: “Since I'd never smoked, drunk, or chased women, I considered myself a good man. But when I came to believe, I realized that I was as evil as anybody else and I needed Christ just as much.”

3

For all citations from the Bible, I use the New International Version (NIV) published in 2011 by Biblica. See https://www.thenivbible.com/about-the-niv/about-the-2011-edition/.

4

On the multitude of literalisms, see, for example, Bielo (2009) and Crapanzano (2000).

5

These two communities, very similar in theology and ideology, were forced to unite in 1944–1945 to form the only allowed official evangelical union in the USSR. However, due to minor differences, the community of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (ECB) is still largely perceived as a homogeneous Baptist unity (Mitrokhin 1997: 396–409). After the collapse of the Soviet Union a small number of groups left the union and re-established the community of evangelical Christians, but they still remain on good terms with the ECB.

6

The group reads one or two chapters from Scripture (at this stage of the rehabilitation, from the Gospels only), one verse each. After that they start over, this time explaining the meaning and trying to apply it to their lives (cf. Bielo 2009).

7

An extended version of this typical day has been presented in Mikeshin (2016).

8

Max here refers to Revelation 3:20: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

9

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

10

Children are only admitted on the program with their mothers, not their fathers. If there are married couples, they are sent to different rehab centers separately.

11

Second-hand clothing is part of various social ministries in church.

12

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

References

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    • Search Google Scholar
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    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Luehrmann, Sonja. 2011. Secularism Soviet Style: Teaching Atheism and Religion in a Volga Republic. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Meyer, Birgit. 1999. Translating the Devil: Religion and Modernity among the Ewe in Ghana. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.

  • Mikeshin, Igor. 2015. “Decency, Humility, and Obedience: Spatial Discipline in the Baptist Rehab Centre.” Journal of Ethnology and Folkloristics 9 (2): 4158. https://www.jef.ee/index.php/journal/article/view/210

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mikeshin, Igor. 2016. How Jesus Changes Lives: Christian Rehabilitation in the Russian Baptist Ministry. Helsinki: Unigrafia.

  • Mikeshin, Igor. 2017. “The Return of the Unclean Spirit: Collapse and Relapse in the Baptist Rehab Ministry.” Christianity and the Limits of Materiality, ed. Minna Opas and Anna Haapalainen, 210229. London: Bloomsbury.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mikeshin, Igor. 2020. “‘Sex Is Like a Brick Wall’: Sex as an Ethical Affordance within the Moderate Conservatism of Russian Baptists.” Etnofoor 32 (2): 3147. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26964286

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mitrokhin, Lev. 1997. Baptizm: Istoriia i sovremennost’ (filosofsko-sotsiologicheskiie ocherki [Baptism: History and contemporaneity (philosophical and sociological essays)]. St. Petersburg: Izdatelstvo Russkogo khristianskogo gumanitarnogo instituta.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nikolskaia, Tatiana. 2009. Russkii protestantizm i gosudarstvennaia vlast v 1905—1991 godakh [Russian Protestantism and state power in 1905–1991]. St. Petersburg: Izdatelstvo Evropeiskogo universiteta v Sankt-Peterburge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Orsi, Robert A. (1985) 2010. The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1880–1950. 3rd ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Priest, Robert J. 2003. “‘I Discovered My Sin!’: Aguaruna Evangelical Conversion Narratives.” In The Anthropology of Religious Conversion, ed. Andrew Buckser and Stephen D. Glazier, 95108. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Raikhel, Eugene. 2010. “Post-Soviet Placebos: Epistemology and Authority in Russian Treatments for Alcoholism.” Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 34 (1): 132168. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11013-009-9163-1

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Robbins, Joel. 2006. “Anthropology and Theology: An Awkward Relationship?Anthropological Quarterly 79 (2): 285294. https://doi.org/10.1353/anq.2006.0025

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Russian Federal Law. 1997. “Federal Law No. 125-FZ of September 26, 1997: On the Freedom of Conscience and Religious Unions.” https://www.legislationline.org/download/id/4379/file/RF_Freedom_of_Conscience_Law_1997_am2008_en.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sinichkin, Aleksei. 2017. Ocherki po po istorii evangelskikh khristian-baptistov Rossii [Notes on the history of Evangelical Christians-Baptists of Russia]. West Sacramento, CA: Grace Publishing International.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Skoll, Geoffrey R. 1992. Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk: An Ethnography of a Drug Abuse Treatment Facility. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sremac, Srdjan. 2013. “Addiction and Spiritual Transformation: An Empirical Study on Narratives of Recovering Addict's Conversion Testimonies in Dutch and Serbian Contexts.” PhD diss., University of Amsterdam.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Stromberg, Peter G. 1993. Language and Self-Transformation: A Study of the Christian Conversion Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tikhomirov, Boris. 2006. K istorii otechestvennoi Biblii: K 140-letiiu sinodalnogo perevoda [On the history of the Russian Bible: On the 140th anniversary of the Synodal Translation]. Moscow: Rossiiskoie bibleiskoie obshchestvo.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vagramenko, Tatiana. 2014. “Religious Conversion and Nenets Bricolage: Making Modernity in the Polar Ural Tundra.” PhD diss., National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

  • Vallikivi, Laur. 2009. “Christianization of Words and Selves: Nenets Reindeer Herders Joining the State through Conversion.” In Conversion after Socialism: Disruptions, Modernisms and Technologies of Faith in the Former Soviet Union, ed. Mathijs Pelkmans, 5983. New York: Berghahn Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • VCIOM. 2018. “Tsvety zhizni ili skolko detei nuzhno dlia schastia?” [Flowers of life, or how many children do you need to be happy?]. Russian Public Opinion Research Center, 17 July. https://wciom.ru/index.php?id=236&uid=9212.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Volkow, Nora, and Ting-Kai Li. 2005. “The Neuroscience of Addiction.” Nature Neuroscience 8 (11): 14291430. https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1105-1429

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wanner, Catherine. 2007. Communities of the Converted: Ukrainians and Global Evangelism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

  • Zigon, Jarrett. 2011. HIV Is God's Blessing: Rehabilitating Morality in Neoliberal Russia. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Contributor Notes

IGOR MIKESHIN received his PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Helsinki in 2016, an MA in Sociology and Social Anthropology from the Central European University in 2011, and an MSc and BA in Sociology from St. Petersburg State University in 2010. In 2018–2019, he worked as an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Sociology, St. Petersburg State University. Since 2019, he has been a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki. His main research interests include evangelical Christianity in a post-Socialist context, conversion, lived religion, as well as street life, prison culture, homelessness, and substance abuse. The geographical area of his research is northwest Russia and the bordering EU states (Finland, Estonia, and Latvia). E-mail: igor.mikeshin@helsinki.fi

Religion and Society

Advances in Research

  • Asad, Talal. 2003. Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

  • Bebbington, D. W. 1989. Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s. Winchester, MA: Unwin Hyman.

  • Bielo, James S. 2009. Words Upon the Word: An Ethnography of Evangelical Group Bible Study. New York: New York University Press.

  • Bintsarovskyi, Dmitry. 2014. Protestantizm bez reformatsii [Protestantism without reformation]. Minsk: Evangeliie i Reformatsiia.

  • Coleman, Simon. 2000. The Globalisation of Charismatic Christianity: Spreading the Gospel of Prosperity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Crapanzano, Vincent. 2000. Serving the Word: Literalism in America from the Pulpit to the Bench. New York: New Press.

  • Erzen, Tanya. 2006. Straight to Jesus: Sexual and Christian Conversions in the Ex-Gay Movement. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • Gallagher, Sally K. 2003. Evangelical Identity and Gendered Family Life. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

  • Garcia, Angela. 2010. The Pastoral Clinic: Addiction and Dispossession along the Rio Grande. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • Grudem, Wayne. 2002. “The Key Issues in the Manhood-Womanhood Controversy, and the Way Forward.” In Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood, ed. Wayne Grudem, 1970. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Harris, Olivia. 2006. “The Eternal Return of Conversion: Christianity as Contested Domain in Highland Bolivia.” In The Anthropology of Christianity, ed. Fenella Cannell, 5176. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hefner, Robert W. 1993. Conversion to Christianity: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives on a Great Transformation. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kormina, Jeanne. 2019. Palomniki: Etnograficheskiie ocherki pravoslavnogo nomadizma [Pilgrims: Ethnographic notes on Orthodox nomadism]. Moscow: Izdatelskii Dom NIU VShE.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kormina, Jeanne, and Sergei Shtyrkov. 2015. “‘Eto nashe iskonno russkoie, i nikuda nam ot etogo ne det'sia’: Predystoriia postsovetskoi desekuliarizatsii” [‘This is ours, it is traditionally Russian, and there is nothing we can do about it’: Prehistory of post-Soviet desecularization]. In Izobreteniie Religii: Desekuliarizatsia v Postsovetskom Kontekste [The invention of religion: Desecularization in the post-Soviet context], ed. Jeanne Kormina, Aleksander Panchenko, and Sergei Shtyrkov, 745. St. Petersburg: Izdatelstvo Evropeiskogo Universiteta v Sankt-Peterburge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lemons, J. Derrick, ed. 2018. Theologically Engaged Anthropology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Luehrmann, Sonja. 2005. “Recycling Cultural Construction: Desecularisation in Postsoviet Mari El.” Religion, State and Society 33 (1): 3556.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Luehrmann, Sonja. 2011. Secularism Soviet Style: Teaching Atheism and Religion in a Volga Republic. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Meyer, Birgit. 1999. Translating the Devil: Religion and Modernity among the Ewe in Ghana. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.

  • Mikeshin, Igor. 2015. “Decency, Humility, and Obedience: Spatial Discipline in the Baptist Rehab Centre.” Journal of Ethnology and Folkloristics 9 (2): 4158. https://www.jef.ee/index.php/journal/article/view/210

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mikeshin, Igor. 2016. How Jesus Changes Lives: Christian Rehabilitation in the Russian Baptist Ministry. Helsinki: Unigrafia.

  • Mikeshin, Igor. 2017. “The Return of the Unclean Spirit: Collapse and Relapse in the Baptist Rehab Ministry.” Christianity and the Limits of Materiality, ed. Minna Opas and Anna Haapalainen, 210229. London: Bloomsbury.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mikeshin, Igor. 2020. “‘Sex Is Like a Brick Wall’: Sex as an Ethical Affordance within the Moderate Conservatism of Russian Baptists.” Etnofoor 32 (2): 3147. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26964286

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mitrokhin, Lev. 1997. Baptizm: Istoriia i sovremennost’ (filosofsko-sotsiologicheskiie ocherki [Baptism: History and contemporaneity (philosophical and sociological essays)]. St. Petersburg: Izdatelstvo Russkogo khristianskogo gumanitarnogo instituta.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nikolskaia, Tatiana. 2009. Russkii protestantizm i gosudarstvennaia vlast v 1905—1991 godakh [Russian Protestantism and state power in 1905–1991]. St. Petersburg: Izdatelstvo Evropeiskogo universiteta v Sankt-Peterburge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Orsi, Robert A. (1985) 2010. The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1880–1950. 3rd ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Priest, Robert J. 2003. “‘I Discovered My Sin!’: Aguaruna Evangelical Conversion Narratives.” In The Anthropology of Religious Conversion, ed. Andrew Buckser and Stephen D. Glazier, 95108. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Raikhel, Eugene. 2010. “Post-Soviet Placebos: Epistemology and Authority in Russian Treatments for Alcoholism.” Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 34 (1): 132168. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11013-009-9163-1

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Robbins, Joel. 2006. “Anthropology and Theology: An Awkward Relationship?Anthropological Quarterly 79 (2): 285294. https://doi.org/10.1353/anq.2006.0025

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Russian Federal Law. 1997. “Federal Law No. 125-FZ of September 26, 1997: On the Freedom of Conscience and Religious Unions.” https://www.legislationline.org/download/id/4379/file/RF_Freedom_of_Conscience_Law_1997_am2008_en.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sinichkin, Aleksei. 2017. Ocherki po po istorii evangelskikh khristian-baptistov Rossii [Notes on the history of Evangelical Christians-Baptists of Russia]. West Sacramento, CA: Grace Publishing International.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Skoll, Geoffrey R. 1992. Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk: An Ethnography of a Drug Abuse Treatment Facility. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sremac, Srdjan. 2013. “Addiction and Spiritual Transformation: An Empirical Study on Narratives of Recovering Addict's Conversion Testimonies in Dutch and Serbian Contexts.” PhD diss., University of Amsterdam.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Stromberg, Peter G. 1993. Language and Self-Transformation: A Study of the Christian Conversion Narrative. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tikhomirov, Boris. 2006. K istorii otechestvennoi Biblii: K 140-letiiu sinodalnogo perevoda [On the history of the Russian Bible: On the 140th anniversary of the Synodal Translation]. Moscow: Rossiiskoie bibleiskoie obshchestvo.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vagramenko, Tatiana. 2014. “Religious Conversion and Nenets Bricolage: Making Modernity in the Polar Ural Tundra.” PhD diss., National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

  • Vallikivi, Laur. 2009. “Christianization of Words and Selves: Nenets Reindeer Herders Joining the State through Conversion.” In Conversion after Socialism: Disruptions, Modernisms and Technologies of Faith in the Former Soviet Union, ed. Mathijs Pelkmans, 5983. New York: Berghahn Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • VCIOM. 2018. “Tsvety zhizni ili skolko detei nuzhno dlia schastia?” [Flowers of life, or how many children do you need to be happy?]. Russian Public Opinion Research Center, 17 July. https://wciom.ru/index.php?id=236&uid=9212.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Volkow, Nora, and Ting-Kai Li. 2005. “The Neuroscience of Addiction.” Nature Neuroscience 8 (11): 14291430. https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1105-1429

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wanner, Catherine. 2007. Communities of the Converted: Ukrainians and Global Evangelism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

  • Zigon, Jarrett. 2011. HIV Is God's Blessing: Rehabilitating Morality in Neoliberal Russia. Berkeley: University of California Press.

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