St Archbishop Luke Wojno-Jasieniecki Against the Positivist Ideology of Separating Science and Religion

Original article

Reverend Father Evgeny I. Legach,                            

Dr habil (Medicine), PhD (Medicine), Professor, Chief Scientific Researcher of the Department of Cryoendocrinology, Institute for Problems of Cryobiology and Cryomedicine of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Ukraine

Address: Pereyaslavskaya 23, Kharkov 61016, Ukraine


Article ID: 020110012

Published online: 14 October 2018




Quoting (Chicago style): Legach, Evgeny I., Reverend. 2018. “St Archbishop Luke Wojno-Jasieniecki against the positivist ideology of separating science and religion.” Beacon J Stud Ideol Ment Dimens 1, 020110012.

Language: English

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We consider the life feat and professional activities of St Luke Wojno-Jasieniecki, Archbishop, the Saint of the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox Churches, and show that they were aimed at restoring the integrity of knowledge, the ideal of knowledge that was lost under the influence of the positivist ideology widely spread in the Russian and Soviet science and society of the twentieth century.

Key words: Saint Luke Wojno-Jasieniecki, surgery, purulent surgery, medicine, healing, science, positivism, Enlightenment, persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church, cognitive unity of knowledge, the ideal of knowledge

Extended summary in English


Positivist ideology partially based upon the Enlightenment programme, ideologically separated science and religion, rationality and faith. But we may observe that this separation has purely artificial and ideological nature. Many scientists of the past, from Galilei via Newton to Einstein, were religious people, though their belief was not always orthodox, as prescribed by the Church. However, they would not have approved the discrimination between cognitive and epistemic fields of science and religion. The validity of the ideology of “enmity between reason and faith” was “officially fixed” in 1874 by John Draper, the first President of the American Chemical Society.


In the twentieth century, several attempts were made both on the Church side and in scientific world, to restore the long-lost wholeness and integrity of human knowledge, remove the ideological split described above. But almost all the persons involved seemed to belong only to one camp, either scientific or religious. Some figures, as e.g. Teilhard de Chardin, were likely to be members of the two sides simultaneously. This notwithstanding, Teilhard de Chardin and some others obviously failed in their attempt to reconcile scientific knowledge and religious devotion. They took the positivist side and eventually broke up with the Christian Church. There are just a few thinkers – their amount is negligibly small – who really succeeded in combining their scientific and clerical occupations successfully. Their example is valuable for the programme of removing ideological separation from science and the Christian doctrine. One of the most prominent figures is St Archbishop Luke Wojno-Jasieniecki. He was an outstanding surgeon, talented medical scientist, whose scientific heritage is extensive and still relevant in our time, and a clergyman. His life, hagiography and activities are studied in the paper, in order to comprehend his programme of returning integrity to the human knowledge.


The today’s appeal to the theological and scientific works of St Luke is an extremely relevant research task, in Russia, Ukraine (whose Orthodox Churches recognise Archbishop Luke as a Saint), and abroad these two countries. The man who united the Christian ascetic life, scientific occupations and medical practice, hitherto remained virtually unknown in Europe, Asia, America and Australia, outside the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox Churches.


St Luke Wojno-Jasieniecki achieved his target to help those who are in need, simultaneously as a doctor and priest. He was cruelly persecuted by Stalin regime for his religious belief and spent more than eleven years of his life in exile in Siberia and Polar Russia. But in 1946 he was also awarded the Stalin Prize, the highest public award of the Soviet Union of the time. This ambiguity of treating St Luke by the public authorities, is still beyond our understanding. It was simultaneous condemnation and recognition, abuse and veneration. Hardly could we find a person that was treated in such a way by the totalitarian governments of the Bolsheviks.


Bishop Luke, Professor Wojno-Jasieniecki, did his best to return the lost wholeness to the knowledge. That he placed an icon of Virgin Mary in his surgery, was very signifying. By the prayers to God he was saying before his operations, he not just demonstrated his piety and religious devotion. He gave an example of healing the wounded knowledge that was once separated to science and faith by the founders of positivism of the nineteenth century. “Our cognition should be integral, he was consistently repeating, not scientific apart from theological, but they should be combined together.” St Luke’s scientific and spiritual works have an invaluable meaning and beneficial influence on the development of modern science and theology. They continue to remain a source of the greatest inspiration for modern surgeons, biologists as well as Church preachers.

© 2018 Rev Fr Eugene I. Legach.
Licensee The Beacon: Journal for Studying Ideologies and Mental Dimensions.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( that permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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