One of the most influential 19th-century Russian theologians and church historians; b. Kursk, Russia, 1816; d. Moscow, 1882. In the world he was called Michael Petrovich, but he took the name of Macarius when he received the monastic tonsure. As the son of a country priest from the region of Kursk, he studied at the Ecclesiastical Academy of Kiev. Upon completion of his studies, he was appointed to the chair of history then recently created at the academy. In 1842 he was called to the Ecclesiastical Academy of St. Petersburg to teach theology, and he became its rector in 1850. Four years later he was elected a member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, and until his death he remained one of its most active members. He was consecrated bishop of Tambov in 1854 and was transferred to Kharkov in 1859. In 1868 he became bishop of Lithuania, and in 1879, metropolitan of Moscow. He traveled widely and expended his resources in helping students and scholars.
Besides numerous articles for religious periodicals, Macarius wrote (1843) a dissertation on The History of the Ecclesiastical Academy of Kiev. In 1847 the publication of his Introduction to Orthodox Theology earned him the title of doctor in divinity, which was rarely conferred in Russia. This was the first of six volumes of a complete course of Orthodox theology that appeared during the following years. At the same time, he was writing his history of the Russian Church. Twelve volumes were completed during his lifetime; the thirteenth was published by his brother after his death. In 1868 he published a condensed course of theology in one volume for seminarians. Besides these works, he left a History of the Russian Schism of the Old Believers and three volumes of sermons.
In keeping with the Eastern tradition, Macarius's theology is predominantly positive; he indulges little in speculation. He takes some inspiration from Catholic writers, particularly P. Perrone, but on controversial questions such as the procession of the Holy Spirit, purgatory, divorce, and satisfaction in the Sacrament of Penance, his views are decidedly not Catholic. Although his historical works do not always meet the standards of modern criticism, they are nevertheless a treasury of often unpublished historical documents. His compendium of theology has been translated into French and several Eastern European languages. As a consequence, his influence in the Orthodox world has been considerable.
Bibliography: m. jugie, Catholicisme 2:306–307; Dictionnaire de théologie catholique (Paris 1903–50) 9.2: 1443–44. Theologia dogmatica christianorum orientalium ab acclesia catholica dissidentium 1:612–613; v. 2–4, passim. j. b. franzelin, Examen doctrinae Macarii Balgakov … de processione Spiritus Sancti (Rome 1876).