Category Archives: Orthodoxy and Modernity

Fundamentalism as “Orthodoxism”

by Haralambos Ventis

Our long-standing captivity to a sad caricature of Orthodoxy that could be called “orthodoxism,” and whose main characteristics will be summarized in what follows, has been largely consolidated by a widespread attitude in the Church known as “the fear of theology.” It is this fear that has propelled the substitution of theology with a shallow, stale “spirituality” based on an excess of pious yet vacuous sentimentalism.

Let us examine more closely the particular features of this “orthodoxism.” What is it made of? It is a fundamentalist travesty of Orthodoxy that shows a heightened aversion to thought, particularly of the critical kind. It has an equal aversion to the materiality and historicity of human life, and a corresponding near-exclusive emphasis on “spirituality” revolving around the salvation of one’s soul in heaven, in a way bordering Plato’s anthropology and metaphysics. More substantially, we might say that Orthodoxism is structured around the following theoretical pillars:

1). The fetishization or idolization of the Church Fathers as infallible and direct purveyors of divine truths. Continue Reading…

Racism: An Orthodox Perspective

by Aristotle Papanikolaou  |  ελληνικά  |  ру́сский  |  српски

The primary goal of the Orthodox Christian is to struggle toward theosis—deification. The word theosis often conjures up images of a super hero like Thor or a Greek god like Zeus. When St. Athanasius proclaimed that “God became human so that humans can become gods,” he was not envisioning super-human strength, nor was he envisioning a life of moral perfection. To become like God is to love as God loves, which means, as Jesus proclaimed, even the enemy and the stranger. The struggle for theosis is one that entails a learning how to love. It is often so very difficult to love even our parents, siblings, friends—imagine now learning how to love the enemy and the stranger.

This learning how to love ultimately entails seeing all human beings as created in the image of God. This is not as easy as it seems. It’s one thing to declare that all humans are created in the image of God; it’s another thing to form oneself in such a way that such a belief is evident in our thoughts, feelings, actions—our very being toward the other person, especially the one who is different from us. Continue Reading…

Orthodox Christian Rigorism: A Multifaceted Phenomenon

by Vasilios N. Makrides

In the historically Orthodox Christian heartlands of Eastern and South Eastern Europe, as well as sometimes in Orthodox diasporic communities around the globe, one may come across certain protest movements bearing many similarities to what is commonly called fundamentalism. In actual fact, this term has already been used to describe such phenomena, yet its main association with conservative Protestantism in early 20th century USA and its later generic and at times uncritical use render it rather inappropriate for the Orthodox case. The latter has a much longer historical background and exhibits various specific features, such as a rigorous traditionalism, a virulent anti-Westernism, and a strong anti-Ecumenism. It is, for example, in many respects problematic to call the Russian Old Believers (from the late 17th century onwards) fundamentalist. On the other hand, referring to related phenomena within Roman Catholicism, most scholars prefer to use another term, namely “integrism”. It appears thus necessary to look for a more neutral term for the quite multifaceted Orthodox case, this is why I opted for “rigorism”. This differentiation should not however obfuscate the various commonalities existing among all these protest phenomena. Continue Reading…