Tag Archives: George Demacopoulos

The Byzantine Origins of Gun Control

by George Demacopoulos

It would be difficult to overstate the significance of the Byzantine emperor Justinian for both Christian and political history because, more than any previous Christian ruler, he integrated Christian precepts into imperial legislation. Whether one looks favorably upon the Byzantine model of Church/State “symphonia” or prefers a Jeffersonian separation of Church and State, every modern formulation of Christianity in politics is, in one way or another, a response to Justinian’s legacy. Even the current debate on gun control was anticipated by a Justinianic law preventing citizens from owning weapons.

Justinian’s Novella 85 strictly forbade the sale of weapons to citizens. Only small knives and domestic axes were exempted from the regulation. The ancient Romans had previously forbidden the possession of weapons by citizens within urban areas, but the preface to Novella 85 highlights an explicitly Christian orientation in the formulation of the new and more comprehensive law. Continue Reading…

It’s Time to Merge St. Vladimir’s and Holy Cross

by George Demacopoulos

It has always been the case that forces beyond the control of the Church have prompted changes in the practice of theological education. For example, Ottoman repression led many Greek Christians to seek education abroad. Tsar Peter I imposed Western-styled seminaries upon the Russian Church. And the Bolshevik Revolution crippled religious education throughout Russia and much of Eastern Europe.

While not as dire as those examples, Orthodox seminaries in the United States face significant structural challenges. At one and the same time, the real cost of operating a seminary is steeply rising while active participation in the Church is diminishing.  What is more, the very nature of seminary education is undergoing a profound change that requires genuine transformation.

When they were founded, St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology functioned as cultural and theological oases, preparing priests for Russian and Greek immigrant communities. Over the past ten years, however, because fewer and fewer young men raised in Church pursue the priesthood, the majority of divinity graduates have been adult converts to Orthodoxy. Continue Reading…

The Benedict of History versus The Benedict Option

by George Demacopoulos

Rod Dreher’s book The Benedict Option has much to commend it. Among other things, it aptly recognizes that the landscape of American religious practice is rapidly changing and in some depressing ways. It affirms that a faith divorced from real-life practice is useless. And it recognizes that Christians benefit when they mine their ancient traditions. Given this last point, it is particularly unfortunate that the presentation of the actual, historical St. Benedict in The Benedict Option is misleading. Continue Reading…

Is it Time to Relinquish Liturgical Greek?

by George Demacopoulos

Every religious tradition in the United States is seeing its membership decline.  But according to the most recent Pew Study, few Christian traditions are seeing their members head for the doors as quickly as the Orthodox—only 53% of adults who were raised in the Orthodox Church still identify as Orthodox.

Professional statisticians will note that the sample size of Orthodox in the Pew study is small, but the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese’s own published statistics on marriages and baptisms over the past forty years suggests that the retention of its younger members is falling dramatically.

Is our parochial use of Liturgical Greek part of the problem? Continue Reading…