Inward Being and Outward Identity: The Orthodox Churches in the 21st Century
A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 April 2017) | Viewed by 75074
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.
The papers in this Special Issue will focus broadly on what might be called the inner and outer life of the Orthodox Church. In recent decades, there has been an explosion of books and articles on the Orthodox Churches, both Eastern and Oriental Orthodox. There is widespread interest in the spiritual life of the Orthodox Church: Prayer, worship, theology, saints, art, music, ascetic practices and ways of living, monasticism, and how its self-understanding as the repository of ancient Christian tradition is interwoven and evolving in what Charles Taylor calls the cross-pressures of the secular age.
At the same time, the quarter-century following the collapse of the Soviet Union has seen the Orthodox Church emerge from persecution and martyrdom to rebuild the infrastructure of churches, monasteries and Christian social services decimated by the Communist years. In that process the Orthodox Churches have also become powerful public, political, nationalist and cultural forces in Russia and Eastern Europe. They are now frequently perceived as closely aligned with restrictive government policies, suspicious of democracy, freedom, human rights and minorities. In contrast, Orthodox Christians in the Middle East often live a tenuous existence as a religious minority—often shared with Muslims—in the face of war, sectarian violence and official and unofficial duress and persecution. Meanwhile, in areas of emigration and mission in Western Europe, the Americas, Australia and other regions outside its traditional homelands Orthodox Christianity is also taking hold as a self-consciously distinct minority religion that is attracting a steady stream of converts while struggling for its identity in a secular environment increasingly hostile to traditional Christianity. In the midst of these competing global forces, and an Orthodox world dominated by Old World Churches, the leaders of the disparate and often quarrelsome branches of Eastern Orthodoxy, led by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, have been attempting to bring a measure of unity as they seek to remain true to the "faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” and confront the challenges of the 21st century. How well are Orthodox Churches listening and responding to the changing cultures they are living in? And in these new conditions what does it mean to be faithful to the inner life of the Church, while being engaged “for the life of the world”?
Very Rev. Dr. John A. Jillions
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