Modernity confronts us with many dilemmas. Man must answer challenges, and not only those for which his teachers in his educational-upbringing process prepared him, but also totally new and different problems that life places before us. And it has always been so. Still, sociologists, pedagogues and culturologists generally agree that today’s world is changing at a significantly faster pace than before. The technological progress and social innovations of the 20th century have transformed the world much faster than, for instance, the entire process of technological development during medieval times. This tempo of development has continued to this day.
‘Guard your heart with all care, for it is the spring of your life.’ [LXX. Prov. 4.23.]
1. Biblical Archetypes.
The concept of a doctrine of prayer tells much about the theology of the person articulating it. It is the purest Christian expression of theology and, historically speaking, one of the rare examples of a non-controversial theology. Almost all of the patristic dogmatic formulations from antiquity were, after all, beaten out in the heat of strong confrontations and show the signs of innumerable scorch marks.
The Notion of The Beautiful in Ancient Greek Thought and its Christian Patristic Transfiguration - J.A. McGuckin
In a significant essay on Platonic philosophy, R. J. O'Connell highlights one of the most interesting and problematic aspects of the identification of the good and the beautiful in the Greek philosophical tradition :
‘It is a truism to say that, for the Greek mind, the good and the beautiful
(Kalokagathon) are at one , just as the evil and the ugly are. Use these terms
in their moral sense, however, and the gigantic act of ‘belief' implied in that
equivalence becomes more evident.'
The Legacy of the 13th Apostle: Origins of the East Christian Conceptions of Church and State Relation - J.A. McGuckin
It is remarkable to consider how much has been written on the notion of the early Christian and Byzantine attitudes to political theory relying on the singularly useless concept of caesaro-papism. It illuminates nothing, apart from the standing-point of the user. It was, in origin, a term of disparagement, comparable in its intent to the scornful use of Byzantinism to signify all that was corrupt and devious. This bigoted Gibbonesque apologetic, so beloved of Protestant and Catholic theorists alike in their mutually conflicting critiques of Eastern Christian political theology, should by now have fallen into desuetude though a surprising amount of authors have still continued to use it well into the modern era; apparently unaware of the theological ‘animus' that gave birth to the word, and even more so of the fact that it is hopelessly anachronistic.
The great Russian bishop of the last century, Theophanes "The Recluse" (d. 1894), in one of his pastoral letters makes a startling statement. What the Russian Church most needed, he said, was "a band of firebrands," which would set the world on fire. The incendiaries must be themselves burning and go around to inflame human minds and hearts. Theophanes did not trust a "residual Christianity." Customs could be perpetuated by inertia, he said, but convictions and beliefs could be kept only by spiritual vigilance and continuous effort by the spirit. Theophanes felt that there was too much routine and convention in the life of Russian Christians. He anticipated a crisis and even a collapse. He resigned his diocese and retired to a monastery, because he felt that he could do much more service to the Church by writing books than by administering a bishopric.
The Self-understanding of the Orthodox and their Participation in the Ecumenical Movement - Metropolitan John (Zizioulas)
IntroductionThe subject on which I have been asked to speak is a complex and vast one. I have no ambition to deal with it exhaustively, or even properly. I shall limit myself to certain reflections of a theological nature, hoping that these might help the present meeting to reach a clearer view of the role of the Orthodox Church in the Ecumenical Movement, and the WCC in particular, as well as of what this role entails both for the WCC and the Orthodox themselves.