Author: Public Orthodoxy

Between Rigorism and Relativism: The Givenness of Tradition

by Marcus Plested

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Tradition is the central problematic of modern Orthodox theology. We are a Church that takes tradition seriously. Where disagreements arise these tend to revolve around questions of fidelity to tradition. What does it mean to be faithful to the tradition of the Church? Just how free may we be with relation to the tradition of the Church?  I suggest that there are two main errors to avoid when tackling this controverted question – rigorism and relativism. Tradition, I argue, should be embraced in its totality and not selectively discarded or selectively defended.

Tradition is as much a verb as a noun, denoting the process of transmission (or handing over) as much as that which is handed over. Tradition is the mode in which the whole experience of the Church is handed over in lived history. It is the living continuum of faith comprising scripture, the achievements of the Fathers and the councils, sacraments and liturgy, iconography and canons, feasts and fasts, theology and prayer, and much more. Ultimately, it is a way of life – the life in Christ. But how do we discern what constitutes properly traditional theology? The road to such discernment, I suggest, lies between rigorism and relativism. Continue Reading…

The Complexity and Duplicity of Deciphering the New Ukrainian Law on Religion

by Anatoliy Babynskyi

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The problem of conversions between religious communities has existed in Ukraine  since the late 1980s and early 1990s,  when the country was struggling for independence and its religious map was being formed. The rise from the underground of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church (UGCC) raised questions about the restitution of property lost as a result of the forced liquidation of the Church in 1946, when almost all Church property had been transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). The resurgence of the underground Greco-Catholics coincided with the revival of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC). This meant that conflicts over property arose not only among Greco-Catholics and Orthodox, but also within the Orthodox Church between the Ukrainian Exarchate of the ROC, which was renamed the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) in 1990, and the UAOC. In 1992, part of the UOC—including Metropolitan Filaret Denisenko—merged with part of the UAOC, which resulted in a third Ukrainian Orthodox denomination: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP), which, like the UAOC, is not recognized by the rest of the Orthodox world. The emergence of another Orthodox jurisdiction led to a new wave of parish conversions.

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The Power of Sexual Purity: An Orthodox Response to the Sexual Revolution of Our Time

by David C. Ford and Mary Ford

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In this modern day and age, when sexual promiscuity – i.e., any sexual relations outside marriage – abounds all around us, why would anyone choose to live in sexual purity? How could refraining from all sexual relations outside of marriage ever be more fulfilling, more satisfying, than having sexual adventures before getting married, and perhaps even after marriage through having affairs?

The Orthodox Church’s answer would begin, we think, with affirming what our Saints through all the centuries have always known from their own life-experience, as shaped by the life of the Church – that virtue, including sexual purity, has power, contributing greatly to the deep inner peace, profound joy, true love, and ineffable satisfaction that come from finding our “true selves” through living in the way our Creator intends for us to live. Continue Reading…