Category Archives: Church and Modern Society

Dialogue, Church Teaching, and the German Orthodox Bishops’ Letter on Love, Sexuality, and Marriage

by Will Cohen

In a 2015 address at the University of Munich, Metropolitan John Zizioulas observed that “[t]he agenda of Theology is set by history.”  By “history” he meant the concerns and questions particular to a given age, as he underscores in adding, “This was known to the Fathers of the Church who were in constant dialogue with their time.”

If the Church’s theology must accept the questions of history in order to be vital and serve humanity, the same is not true of the conclusions history may hurriedly reach. Christians have sometimes not readily enough accepted history’s questions and sometimes too readily accepted its answers. Of relevance to this dynamic is how Church teaching is understood—specifically, in relation to the place of dialogue in the Church.

When in the flow of history an issue erupts, becoming a real question for human beings, the fact that there is already Church teaching on it—if that is the case—can be taken to mean it is unnecessary and even impermissible for Christians to take it seriously as a question. Instead of rediscovering and deepening the teaching through the question, those who appeal to the teaching in order to beat the question back cannot really speak to the question the present age has posed, because they have not entered into it in a sufficiently real and searching way.  Continue Reading…

Post-Truth

by Fr. Cyril Hovorun  ελληνικά   |  ру́сский

The Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” the word of the year for 2016. That was the year when the phenomenon marked by this word affected the Western world most. It was the year of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. However, the eastern part of Europe experienced this phenomenon earlier, at least from the year 2014. For Ukraine, where I am from, the aftermath of the Revolution of Dignity, which took place in Kyiv during the winter of 2013-14, became the period when the wave of post-truth rose. This wave tried to wash away the results of the Ukrainian Maidan. Now we can say that the post-truth propagated by Russia mostly failed in Ukraine. Probably, we should thank for that the antibodies to propaganda, which our society developed in the Soviet period. The other reason is our long history of co-existence with Russia, which does not leave much room for naivety. Anyways, after stumbling upon Ukraine, the hurricane of post-truth moved further to the West. It overwhelmed some countries in Europe and reached the shores of America… Continue Reading…

Issues for a Theology of Marriage

by David J. Dunn  |  ελληνικά  ру́сский

Bradley Nassif wrote a recent post for Public Orthodoxy that named gay marriage as one of the most pressing issues the church must deal with today. If we are to retain our younger members in particular, he said, then we must “articulate the reasons that the Christian theological vision requires marriage to constitute a union of man and woman.” Nassif is right about the urgency but wrong about the argument. If Orthodoxy is to survive the next generations, then it must articulate a Christian theological vision of marriage. Period. No matter where that vision takes us.

If it sounds as if I am leaving the door open for the church to bless same-sex unions, I am. If it sounds like I am advocating for it, I am not. My point is that, in my experience, people (especially younger people) are rarely persuaded when the questions one asks are pre-loaded with the answers one wants. Continue Reading…

The Holy Trinity and Same-Sex Marriage

by Bradley Nassif  |  ελληνικά  |  ру́сский

Anyone watching the news today is aware that we are living in an age where secular forms of diversity and pluralism are valued over and above biblical truth. This applies especially to issues of gender and sexuality. Activists in the so-called LGBTQ movement have successfully challenged traditional Christian understandings of marriage and family in nearly every forum of American public life, including school curricula, the media, and the courts. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Supreme Court recognition of gay marriage.

At times, Orthodox responses have been knee-jerk in their opposition to same-sex marriage and the LGBTQ agenda. But a blunt rejection is woefully inadequate. A rebuke is no reply. If Christians have any hope of defending the sacred institution of marriage then they need to articulate the reasons that the Christian theological vision requires marriage to constitute a union of man and woman. Perhaps one of the most profound, yet often unrecognized, explanations for this lies in Christian teaching of the Trinity itself. Continue Reading…