Special Issue "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)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Very Rev. Dr. John A. Jillions

Associate Professor of Religion and Culture, Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, 575 Scarsdale Road, Yonkers, New York 10707, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +1-516-922-0550 ext. 130
Interests: religion and culture; New Testament; Orthodox Christian thought and spirituality; the Orthodox Church in North America; ecumenism; pastoral theology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

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
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Christian
  • Orthodox
  • spirituality
  • prayer
  • theology
  • state
  • identity
  • human rights
  • Russia
  • persecution
  • secularism
  • conversion

Published Papers (15 papers)

View options order results:
result details:
Displaying articles 1-15
Export citation of selected articles as:

Editorial

Jump to: Research, Other

Open AccessEditorial Introduction: “Inward Being and Outward Identity: The Orthodox Churches in the 21st Century”
Religions 2017, 8(10), 231; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8100231
Received: 19 October 2017 / Revised: 23 October 2017 / Accepted: 23 October 2017 / Published: 24 October 2017
PDF Full-text (133 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
As the title indicates, taken together the thirteen papers in this Special Issue of Religions give a broad view of what might be called the inner and outer life of the Orthodox Church, with each of the papers focusing on a particular area [...] Read more.
As the title indicates, taken together the thirteen papers in this Special Issue of Religions give a broad view of what might be called the inner and outer life of the Orthodox Church, with each of the papers focusing on a particular area of research and reflection [...]
Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Other

Open AccessArticle The Problem of Church’s Defensiveness and Reductionism in Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s Ecclesiology (Based on His Journals)
Religions 2018, 9(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9010002
Received: 1 November 2017 / Revised: 15 December 2017 / Accepted: 17 December 2017 / Published: 21 December 2017
PDF Full-text (630 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article analyzes Schmemann’s ecclesiology in the context of his attempt to give an assessment of the Church’s attitude to life; as well as the problem of defensiveness in Orthodoxy; reductionism of ecclesial culture; “rejection” of the world and traditionalistic isolation. The author [...] Read more.
This article analyzes Schmemann’s ecclesiology in the context of his attempt to give an assessment of the Church’s attitude to life; as well as the problem of defensiveness in Orthodoxy; reductionism of ecclesial culture; “rejection” of the world and traditionalistic isolation. The author focuses upon the socio-cultural interpretation given by Schmemann to such important categories of the ecclesial language as “piety,” “humility,” “churchliness,” “spirituality,” etc.; showing that in real life these categories express the isolation and stereotypification of Orthodoxy. In the context of “lived” religion, these categories deliver a protective and reductionist message, justifying a kind of anthropological pessimism, “religion of guilt” and psychological self-closure of a person. The theologian juxtaposes two religious traditions: one based on the defensiveness and the other based on a sense of joy; the feeling of God’s presence and affinity to the Kingdom of Heaven. According to the author, the accents put by Schmemann in his ecclesiology can promote the formation of ethics of laity and a more adequate attitude towards the world in the 21st century Orthodoxy. Full article
Open AccessArticle ‘Neither Victim nor Executioner’: Essential Insights from Secularization Theory for the Revitalization of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Contemporary World
Religions 2017, 8(9), 170; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8090170
Received: 22 June 2017 / Revised: 11 August 2017 / Accepted: 16 August 2017 / Published: 28 August 2017
PDF Full-text (216 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This essay explores two recent expressions of hostility towards secularization by Russian Orthodox officials (one from the Holy Synod of ROCOR and the other from Metropolitan Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev), and evaluates the likely consequences of this hostility. Drawing from secularization theorists including Peter [...] Read more.
This essay explores two recent expressions of hostility towards secularization by Russian Orthodox officials (one from the Holy Synod of ROCOR and the other from Metropolitan Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev), and evaluates the likely consequences of this hostility. Drawing from secularization theorists including Peter Berger, Jose Casanova, and Charles Taylor, as well as the thought of Albert Camus, this essay argues that the long-term health of the Russian Orthodox Church will benefit from embracing insights from secularization theorists rather than attempting to “desecularize” Russian society with state support. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Orthodoxy in Engagement with the ‘Outer’ World. The Dynamic of the ‘Inward-Outward’ Cycle
Religions 2017, 8(8), 131; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8080131
Received: 24 May 2017 / Revised: 18 July 2017 / Accepted: 20 July 2017 / Published: 26 July 2017
PDF Full-text (218 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study explores the tension between the centripetal and centrifugal forces informing the activity of the Orthodox Church—both with regard to its interaction with the secular world and the wider ecumenical scene. The Church is called to look inwardly as an essential connection [...] Read more.
This study explores the tension between the centripetal and centrifugal forces informing the activity of the Orthodox Church—both with regard to its interaction with the secular world and the wider ecumenical scene. The Church is called to look inwardly as an essential connection with its intimate sacramental life. This contraction must be followed organically by a movement of expansion—a continuing sacramental interaction with the secular local context and the wider Christian world. This cyclical movement (inward-outward) informs all Christian life in a mutually perpetuating rotation. Although the reaction to any engagement with the ‘outer’ dimensions is often one of rejection, it is nevertheless crucial as it brings fullness and fulfils the vocation and identity of the Orthodox Church. Full article
Open AccessArticle Green Patriarch, Green Patristics: Reclaiming the Deep Ecology of Christian Tradition
Religions 2017, 8(7), 116; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8070116
Received: 23 May 2017 / Revised: 15 June 2017 / Accepted: 16 June 2017 / Published: 30 June 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (252 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In environmental circles, there is an increasing awareness of the Orthodox tradition, largely thanks to the speeches and initiatives of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Less widely known is the considerable body of other Orthodox writing, which is less concerned with specific ecological problems, [...] Read more.
In environmental circles, there is an increasing awareness of the Orthodox tradition, largely thanks to the speeches and initiatives of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Less widely known is the considerable body of other Orthodox writing, which is less concerned with specific ecological problems, but addresses in greater depth the theological themes found in his pronouncements. This paper looks at the continuing development of Orthodox thinking in this area, and the increasing tendency to go deep into the sources of Orthodox tradition—theological, ascetic, liturgical, and hagiographic—to address underlying questions of the spiritual significance of the material world and the rôle of man within God’s purposes for it. It takes as examples four themes: the unity of creation and divine presence; cosmic liturgy/eucharist and ‘priest of creation’; ‘ecological sin’; and asceticism. It concludes that the Orthodox tradition goes beyond the dichotomy of man and nature to offer a ‘deeper ecology’ in which the physical interrelations between creatures are set within the divine economy for all creation. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Healing Spirituality of Eastern Orthodoxy: A Personal Journey of Discovery
Religions 2017, 8(6), 109; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8060109
Received: 4 April 2017 / Revised: 26 May 2017 / Accepted: 2 June 2017 / Published: 8 June 2017
PDF Full-text (206 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
It is generally assumed by western scholars and spiritual seekers that mystical, experiential religion and spirituality are primarily a hallmark of the far East, as exemplified by Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and tribal religions like native American shamanism. In this overview, based on thirty [...] Read more.
It is generally assumed by western scholars and spiritual seekers that mystical, experiential religion and spirituality are primarily a hallmark of the far East, as exemplified by Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and tribal religions like native American shamanism. In this overview, based on thirty years of field research as a sociologist, I have tried to show that such mystical practices and spiritual approaches exist in Eastern Christianity among groups of lay people, as well as in ancient monasteries like those found on Mt. Athos in northern Greece. It is argued that these thousand-year-old practices in the Christian East may contribute to what some thinkers have called the “eye of contemplation”, namely the cultivation of the intuitive, spiritual side of human beings that has been repressed over the centuries because of the dominance of rationalism and scientific materialism. Full article
Open AccessArticle Knocking on a Saint’s Door, or a Quest for Holiness in a Post-Secular Society
Religions 2017, 8(5), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8050087
Received: 23 March 2017 / Revised: 1 May 2017 / Accepted: 3 May 2017 / Published: 17 May 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (210 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The article examines Successors (Nasledniki, 2015) directed by Vladimir Khotinenko, illustrating a recent trend in the Russian film-making industry, namely, a rising interest in religious topics. While the Orthodox faith is widely seen by Russian political leaders as a basic aspect [...] Read more.
The article examines Successors (Nasledniki, 2015) directed by Vladimir Khotinenko, illustrating a recent trend in the Russian film-making industry, namely, a rising interest in religious topics. While the Orthodox faith is widely seen by Russian political leaders as a basic aspect of national identity, the Church is also becoming more and more visible in the life of society, with religious holidays and events now receiving a higher profile in the public domain. The article analyzes how these trends shape the public consciousness and are reflected in the cinema production of recent years. Successors, a one location movie focusing on the debate over the role of Saint Sergius of Radonezh in the history of Russia, demonstrates that this 14th-century monk is very much present in the lives and minds of people 700 years later. In turn, this suggests that, under a layer of cynicism and consumerism, there is a growing hunger for holiness in a post-secular society. Full article
Open AccessArticle Service and Pro-Existence in the Thought of the Romanian Theologian Dumitru Staniloae: A Path for the Orthodox Church Facing the Challenges of Globalization
Religions 2017, 8(5), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8050095
Received: 3 April 2017 / Revised: 6 May 2017 / Accepted: 9 May 2017 / Published: 16 May 2017
PDF Full-text (242 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
“Pro-existence” is a concept developed by 20th century western Christian theologians to describe the service of the Church facing contemporary challenges. The leading Romanian theologian Dumitru Staniloae (1903–1993) took this further by expressing his Orthodox understanding of the relationship between service and pro-existence. [...] Read more.
“Pro-existence” is a concept developed by 20th century western Christian theologians to describe the service of the Church facing contemporary challenges. The leading Romanian theologian Dumitru Staniloae (1903–1993) took this further by expressing his Orthodox understanding of the relationship between service and pro-existence. The article explores Staniloae’s call for Orthodox Christians to serve not only people from other denominations, but those from other religions, as well as atheists. He depicted human pro-existence as an “existential impetus” towards serving the one in need, an impetus that the Orthodox Church should more visibly exercise. In a gentle, non-critical approach, Staniloae argues that the Orthodox Churches concentrated on liturgical service to God, while leaving service to people underdeveloped. The path ahead for the Orthodox Church will be the development of a harmonious multi-level understanding of pro-existence to hear and respond, as a “Serving” Church, to the needs of any human being. Full article
Open AccessArticle Mimesis or Metamorphosis? Eastern Orthodox Liturgical Practice and Its Philosophical Background
Religions 2017, 8(5), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8050092
Received: 12 April 2017 / Revised: 27 April 2017 / Accepted: 27 April 2017 / Published: 12 May 2017
PDF Full-text (267 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
What does Eastern Orthodox liturgy do? Is it a mimetic remembrance of Christ’s acts or about a transformation of the believers who come to worship? This paper explores the larger philosophical worldview within which patristic liturgy emerged in order to negotiate this tension [...] Read more.
What does Eastern Orthodox liturgy do? Is it a mimetic remembrance of Christ’s acts or about a transformation of the believers who come to worship? This paper explores the larger philosophical worldview within which patristic liturgy emerged in order to negotiate this tension between mimetic and transformative aspects of liturgical practice. It suggests that ancient philosophical conceptions of the cosmos and of soul and body underlie and can hence elucidate what Byzantine liturgy does. Liturgy tries to unify soul and body, heaven and earth, in a particular way. Liturgy seeks to transform the human person and the cosmos in such a manner that they come to image and match each other. The introduction to the paper briefly examines some contemporary accounts to show the stakes of the question about what liturgy “does” and the role mimesis and metamorphosis play in this debate. The main part of the paper explores the shared philosophical heritage regarding imitation and transformation, inner and outer, heavenly and earthly in order to understand more fully the background for how liturgy negotiates these dimensions. The conclusion to the paper draws out the implications of this patristic heritage for making sense of what contemporary liturgy does in a broader sense. Full article
Open AccessArticle Religious Diversity in Modern Orthodox Thought
Religions 2017, 8(5), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8050077
Received: 4 January 2017 / Revised: 6 March 2017 / Accepted: 2 April 2017 / Published: 27 April 2017
PDF Full-text (223 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This essay explores different approaches to non-Christian religions in Orthodox thought, from the early Fathers to the present day. Among modern Orthodox theologians, Georges Khodr and Anastasios Yannoulatos inherit an inclusivist or tolerant attitude to religious diversity from Justin Martyr and other early [...] Read more.
This essay explores different approaches to non-Christian religions in Orthodox thought, from the early Fathers to the present day. Among modern Orthodox theologians, Georges Khodr and Anastasios Yannoulatos inherit an inclusivist or tolerant attitude to religious diversity from Justin Martyr and other early Fathers, while Seraphim Rose represents an exclusivist or intolerant position, characteristic of Tertullian. Philip Sherrard’s thinking on non-Christian religions can be described as religious pluralism, while that of Lev Gillet is close to comparative theology. Despite the absence of formal Orthodox declarations concerning religious diversity, Orthodox thought on the subject since World War II converges around the notions of inclusivism and comparative theology, considering that non-Christian religions are mysteriously “included” in the missions of Christ and the Holy Spirit in the world and that their adherents can achieve salvation as understood in Christianity. Full article
Open AccessArticle Sex, Abortion, Domestic Violence and Other Unmentionables: Orthodox Christian Youth in Kenya and Windows into Their Attitudes about Sex
Religions 2017, 8(5), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8050073
Received: 28 February 2017 / Revised: 2 April 2017 / Accepted: 2 April 2017 / Published: 27 April 2017
PDF Full-text (227 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This article is based on the results of a survey of Orthodox Youth in Kenya and their attitudes about sex, abortion and domestic violence. This survey was taken of the participants of an all-Kenya Orthodox youth conference held in western Kenya in August [...] Read more.
This article is based on the results of a survey of Orthodox Youth in Kenya and their attitudes about sex, abortion and domestic violence. This survey was taken of the participants of an all-Kenya Orthodox youth conference held in western Kenya in August of 2016. The results give insight into the participants’ sources for first learning about sexual matters, as well as the sources that are preferred today. The youths’ perception of the Orthodox Church’s handling of sexual matters and sexual education is also revealed. Difficult moral issues facing Orthodox Kenyan youth are raised, such as premarital sex, domestic violence, the impact of HIV-AIDS on behavior, and responses to unintended pregnancy, with results providing insight as to how Orthodox youth are navigating the challenges facing them as they grow up into modern life both as Kenyans and as Orthodox Christians. After relating the story told by each set of survey results, conclusions are drawn from each of the issues addressed, with suggestions made as to a way forward, or further questions to pursue. Full article
Open AccessArticle Ecumenism: Rapprochement Through Co-working to Reconciliation
Religions 2017, 8(5), 70; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8050070
Received: 6 February 2017 / Revised: 9 March 2017 / Accepted: 7 April 2017 / Published: 27 April 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (312 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper explores some forms of interaction between the Catholic and Orthodox churches in different contexts. Some of these forms are helpful, but not always efficient, and some are not helpful. Theological dialogues belong to the former category of interactions: they are helpful, [...] Read more.
This paper explores some forms of interaction between the Catholic and Orthodox churches in different contexts. Some of these forms are helpful, but not always efficient, and some are not helpful. Theological dialogues belong to the former category of interactions: they are helpful, but not efficient. Alliances on an ideological basis, for instance on the basis of “traditional values,” are unhelpful, because they polarise the churches internally. This article instead proposes a collaboration in the public domain as an alternative way of rapprochement between the two churches. The Ukrainian Maidan (the revolution of 2014) exemplifies a co-working space, which proved to be efficient for restoring trust between Orthodox and Greek Catholics. Full article
Figures

Graphical abstract

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Death and Dying in Orthodox Liturgy
Religions 2017, 8(2), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8020025
Received: 16 November 2016 / Revised: 30 January 2017 / Accepted: 8 February 2017 / Published: 15 February 2017
PDF Full-text (196 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Orthodox Church is known for its liturgical aesthetics. The rich liturgical cycle consists of several liturgical offices celebrated throughout the year, complete with icons, chant, polyphony, and powerful ritual gestures. The Divine Liturgy is the external symbol of the typical Orthodox liturgy. [...] Read more.
The Orthodox Church is known for its liturgical aesthetics. The rich liturgical cycle consists of several liturgical offices celebrated throughout the year, complete with icons, chant, polyphony, and powerful ritual gestures. The Divine Liturgy is the external symbol of the typical Orthodox liturgy. The liturgical celebration profoundly shapes the inner and outer lives of the liturgical participants, as liturgy is a constant and repetitive rehearsal of dying and rising to new life. This article examines the most salient patterns and instances of dying and rising to new life in Orthodox liturgy and concludes with a reflection on how engaging this process might have a greater impact on the daily lives of Orthodox Christians today. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle The Liturgy of Life: Alexander Schmemann
Religions 2016, 7(11), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7110127
Received: 26 August 2016 / Revised: 11 October 2016 / Accepted: 20 October 2016 / Published: 31 October 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (199 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The émigré Russian priest and theologian Alexander Schmemann (1921–1983) spent most of his career as a faculty member and dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in Crestwood, New York, not far from New York City. For over 30 years, in lectures, teaching and [...] Read more.
The émigré Russian priest and theologian Alexander Schmemann (1921–1983) spent most of his career as a faculty member and dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in Crestwood, New York, not far from New York City. For over 30 years, in lectures, teaching and numerous publications, he presented the distinctive vision of the Eastern Church, mostly unknown to Western Christians, in which the church’s liturgy was the primary source not only of its theology but of all other aspects of its life. I offer an overview of his work, with analysis and criticism and an assessment of his continuing significance. Full article

Other

Jump to: Editorial, Research

Open AccessEssay Reflections on Reading the Scriptures as an Orthodox Christian
Religions 2017, 8(7), 122; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel8070122
Received: 13 April 2017 / Revised: 12 June 2017 / Accepted: 15 June 2017 / Published: 5 July 2017
PDF Full-text (187 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The heart of the differences between an Orthodox understanding and use of Scripture, and what has prevailed in most non-Orthodox scholarly circles since the time of Spinoza, is not primarily anything to do with methodologies, or techniques as such, but fundamentally it is [...] Read more.
The heart of the differences between an Orthodox understanding and use of Scripture, and what has prevailed in most non-Orthodox scholarly circles since the time of Spinoza, is not primarily anything to do with methodologies, or techniques as such, but fundamentally it is about the theological context within which the methods are used. Hence this paper begins by outlining the fundamentals of theology that undergird all traditional Orthodox exegesis. These fundamentals of Orthodox theology and life provide a radically different interpretive context for the use of any methods or tools of interpretation from that of the essentially agnostic approach promoted by Spinoza and those following him, who have exclusively used the historical critical method, whose foundational principle was to “interpret as if there is no God.” Hence, from an Orthodox perspective, all the basic technical aspects of historical criticism—linguistic studies, looking at the historical context, etc.—when used within a traditional Christian interpretive context can be valuable tools leading to a deeper understanding. However, the ultimate purpose of properly interpreting Scripture–salvation, becoming holy—is achieved primarily through living the gospel. Full article
Religions EISSN 2077-1444 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert Logo copyright Steve Bridenbaugh/UUA
Back to Top