When I first set up this blog, I was not expecting to write so much on religion. But since I have had such a hard time learning about Orthodoxy online, I think it is good to share some of what I found with the hope of combating some common caricatures, not just of the traditionalist sort, but also of the sort that claims the Orthodox Church is full of backwards nationalists.
A good place to start is the May 2014 article in the Scottish Journal of Theology by P. Kalaitzidis, called “New trends in Greek Orthodox theology: challenges in the movement towards a genuine renewal and Christian unity.” Kalaitzidis describes the formation of what is commonly taken to be today’s Greek Orthodox theology: the emphasis on patristics coupled with nationalist, anti-Western sentiment, which is commonly associated with names such as Fr. John Romanides. But he also goes on to describe reactions against this mindset that have taken place in Greece. Contrary to the emphasis on patristic theology, Professor Savas Agourides was a pioneer in modern Greek biblical studies, and was also opposed to the strong anti-Westernism of many of his compatriots. In addition, many of the theology faculty at the University of Thessaloniki have been supportive of ecumenical efforts and attempts to engage with modernity. Kalaitzidis frequently contrasts the 1960s theologians such as Romanides with the “new generation” – which includes such journals such as Synaxi and Theologia (the latter being the official scholarly journal of the Church of Greece), both of which actively engage Greek Orthodox theology with insights from many different countries. This is of course not to say that the new generation has the upper hand. Indeed, there are still a great number of “zealots.” As an example of this, he points to the Confession of Faith against ecumenism made popular by them.
So, as I’ve tried to explain before, the situation in Greece and Russia is actually quite complicated – there are a good number of fundamentalists, but also of moderates, and even the fundamentalists often have pretty balanced opinions. I’ve decided to compile some links below for people to explore firsthand what Orthodoxy is like today.
- Videos of lectures from scholars on Orthodoxy, from Cambridge’s Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies
- A theological library made available by one of the “new generation” groups of Greek Orthodoxy, the Volos Academy for Theological Studies
- The Orthodox Handbook on Ecumenism, a series of articles, pro-ecumenism
- From the other side of the coin, here are some videos by an anti-ecumenist Greek theologian, Fr. Theodore Zisis
- The Global Digital Library on Theology and Ecumenism contains many articles concerning Orthodoxy today
- Turning to history, St. Gregory Palamas’s dialogue with Muslims