Exploring the fool in Christ and the fool in Antichrist
Ivan the Terrible
Czar Ivan IV was a psychologically unbalanced and cruel man: ambitious, unpredictable, frightening to be around.
In the sixteenth century, Ivan strove furiously to expand Russia’s borders, bring her into modern commerce, and unify her under the authority of the Czar.
He waged ceaseless and unjust wars against neighbors. He endorsed the aggressive merchant/Cossack conquest of sleeping Serbia. He instituted a ten-year reign of terror throughout his realm in an intense effort to crush opposition to his domestic policies. He mercilessly executed opponents, including their wives and children. He confiscated lands, forcing families to relocate to different countries.
His ferocity climaxed against the city of Novgorod in 1570. When he heard that a document was discovered in Novgorod which pledged the city’s cooperation with Poland to overthrow him, he immediately pounced on the entire city (without even waiting to determine whether the questionable document was authentic).
He racked vengeance on all, attacking even the innocent. The monasteries were sacked. Clerics were arrested and held for fifty rubles’ ransom — those who couldn’t pay were flogged to death. Thousands were massacred. All the shops were burned; merchants’ homes in the suburbs were torn down; farmhouses in the countryside were destroyed.
No Russian dared oppose Ivan. No one rebuked him.
You’d be a fool.
And a fool did.
Nicholas of Pskov walked up to Ivan and rebuked him by slapping a piece of bloody raw meat in Ivan’s hands, vividly symbolizing Ivan’s bloody sins.
Nicholas of Pskov was one of those men known by the Russians as the yourodivyje, the fools in Christ (the word is derived from the word yourod, meaning “something strange”).
The fool in Christ was a frequent phenomenon in Ivan’s sixteenth-century Russia — … Read the rest