Welcoming the Thorn in the Flesh: Orthodox Theology, (Post)Modernity and (Post-)Secularization

In: Politics, Society and Culture in Orthodox Theology in a Global Age
Georgios Vlantis
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The relation between Orthodox theology, (post)modernity and (post-)secularization is being intensively studied nowadays from the point of view of sociology of religion and religious studies in general. Many modern Orthodox theologians writing on the matter seem to be overcoming schematic hermeneutic patterns that characterized eastern contributions in the past. This volume contains contributions that cover partial but nevertheless decisive aspects of the topic; no discussion on Orthodoxy and its encounter with the modern world should overlook themes like Church and politics, Orthodoxy and nationalism or human rights. My own contribution, with its hopelessly ambitious and abstract subtitle, opts for a more general approach, although I wish neither to provide one more survey of the literature nor to summarize the main points of the discussion.1 I will merely express, in a schematic manner, some fragmentary observations and raise a few questions that may be useful for further consideration. I write from the point of view of Orthodox systematic theology. Even if I sometimes comment on the history of the relation mentioned above, I am mostly interested in its future.

De nominibus

A demanding discussion on the definition of terms like Orthodoxy, (post)modernity and (post-)secularization exceeds both the framework and the intention of this paper.2 Nevertheless, a theological examination of their relation inevitably faces the following question: Is Orthodoxy primarily a theological quality or is the term simply being ascribed to a family of Eastern Churches for the purpose of their identification and classification in the whole spectrum of Christian traditions? If we discuss modernity and secularism in terms of preservation of a specific paradigm of Christianity with concrete doctrinal, historical and cultural characteristics, mainly defined in its Byzantine past, the concerns and priorities would be different than the ones arising when speaking of Orthodoxy to signify the postulate of an authentic relation of the Body of Christ to the revealed truth of God in every here and now of history. In the first case, the conservative nature of the intention becomes evident; in the second, the challenge is how to be Christian and how to be church in the present time. Perhaps no Orthodox theologian would interpret the distinction as a radical dichotomy, but it is crucial to be clear about the focus of the challenge in order to set the equivalent priorities. In this contribution, I will look at the discussion taking place in the Eastern Church(es), but my focus will nevertheless be on Orthodoxy as a theological quality.

The more inclusive of the many definitions of modernity emphasize the criterion of contextuality: when studying the current answers by religions and churches on questions related to gnoseology, metaphysics, ethics, political theory, etc. and the practices arising from their approaches, many speak of Catholic, Protestant, Islamic, Buddhist modernity, etc., even if these answers more or less contradict central principles of the currents of thought that shaped modernity in the last centuries – often in implicit or explicit conflict with religious traditions. The narrative of “multiple modernities” is supported by plenty of interesting arguments that remind one of the constitutive ambivalences of modernity.3 Nevertheless, this approach, even when it serves no explicit apologetic purposes, leads to a blurred understanding of modernity: if, in the final analysis, everything is regarded as modern, then nothing is really modern nor needs any kind of legitimacy.4 The loss of the challenging sharpness of modernity and postmodernity may be of interest for the phenomenology or sociology of religion, but theology needs provoking interlocutors, otherwise its discourse becomes merely self-referential. For the sake of the argument, I prefer a more normative and somehow traditional meaning of modernity, focusing on the Kantian “Copernican turn” and its consequences, indicating an anthropocentric epistemology, reservation toward theology and metaphysics, rationalization, demythologization, democratization and liberalization processes.5

I relate postmodernity to pointing to the dead ends, the limits and the relativity of the modern worldview(s) and of every worldview in general. Critics see a rather anti-modern attitude in postmodern relativism, whereas others recognize in its priorities a consistent continuation of modern thinking. Some Orthodox thinkers seem to welcome postmodernity as a supposed justification of their own anti-Western and anti-modern attitude. Nevertheless, it would be apologetically naive and simply false to overestimate the affinities of the pre- and the postmodern. Postmodernity presupposes the discourse of modernity. Its critique of modern ideals is also explicitly or implicitly directed against premodern perspectives: The insistence on the relativity of ratio implies a strong critique of revelatio and its absolute gnoseological demands.6

In talking about the secular, one often means a way of thinking and living, not necessarily polemical in its style, that provides no real place for God and metaphysics, excludes theistic and religious understandings of transcendence or remains indifferent to them and insists on the immanent character of reality. The affinities between the secular and the modern cannot be overlooked, even if the modern appears to be more inclusive and less rigorous than the secular and its postulates. The post-secular signifies not only the phenomenon of the intellectual overcoming of strictly secular understandings of reality but also the coexistence of people adopting secular views with the faithful of various religions and denominations in the same social contexts.

The Orthodox world and Modernity: Traces in History and the Narrative of a Babylonian Captivity

Due to well-known historical reasons, the intellectual encounter of Orthodoxy with modernity did not produce many fruitful results, at least compared to other Christian traditions. Should one attribute this fact to theological reasons as well? A discussion on this matter would exceed the framework of this contribution. In any case, something similar to the five volumes of Emanuel Hirsch’s Geschichte der neuern evangelischen Theologie im Zusammenhang mit den allgemeinen Bewegungen des europäischen Denkens could hardly be written for the theology of the East in the second millennium.7

On the other hand, one should be wary of essentialist approaches and claims that Orthodoxy and modernity are ex definitio incompatible. One can trace various encounters between Orthodoxy and modernity, even if they appear fragile. Appropriate hermeneutical keys enable us to see and evaluate these traces fairly so we can get a more nuanced picture of the history of Orthodox theology and also of its potential. Orthodox theologians in the 20th century like Georges Florovsky adopted the idea of a pseudomorphosis of Orthodox theology and its Babylonian captivity in Western patterns of thought; the critique of the Russian philosophy of religion became fierce sometimes; academic theology in Greece before the 1960s was schematically seen as “scholastic.”8

Russian theologians of the 19th century do not always focus on the church fathers, but they try to engage Kant and Hegel; Greek theologians, church historians and philosophers on the threshold of the 20th century studied under the crème de la crème of the German liberal theological and philosophical intelligentsia. Is Vasilios Stefanidis’ (1878–1958) historicism not a fruit of a consequent intellectual encounter with modern thought and its methods? Is a reading of history like the one John Romanides (1927–2001) attempts methodically more solid, less ideological and rather Orthodox than Stefanidis’?9 Is Nikolaos Louvaris’ (1887–1961) sovereign approach to the Western philosophy of his times less solid than Christos Yannaras’ reading (b. 1935)?10 In spite of reservations regarding some of its contents, is Christos Androutsos’ (1869–1935) rigorous system not important, also because of its academic methodology, in comparison to later Orthodox aversions to any notion of a system and the Orthodox recourse to essay form with its pros and contras?11 How many contributions of Father Bulgakov to a discussion with modernity have been overlooked because of his attitude in the sophiological controversy?12

I do not propose a radically revisionist reading of the history of Orthodox theology; rather, I am arguing for a more nuanced approach to its past. Some quite strongly polemic, “ideological” readings of it are available, but a rigorous scholarly history of Orthodox theology in the second millennium has yet to be written.13 And it is an interesting question as to why it has not yet appeared – and also why some encounters like the ones I mentioned above could not prove fruitful on a larger scale. Should the notion of Western influence be always evaluated negatively?14 And should an Orthodox encounter with modernity always retain a strong confessional character? Should it have to be demonstrably Orthodox? Does one serve one’s confession by strengthening confessionalism? In the discussion with modernity, confessionalism can indeed become a neurosis, with problematic theological and aesthetic consequences.

The Four Kantian Questions

After the short comment on history above, I would like to structure the main part of my contribution according to four fundamental questions formulated by one of the great figures of modernity, Immanuel Kant.15 In a certain way, these include the core of the challenge of (post)modernity and (post-)secularism.

1) By asking “What can I know?”, Kant accentuates what is perhaps the most decisive point for the Copernican turn associated with modernity. “What can I know?” is directly connected to “How I know” and has serious implications for the understanding of authority and power in modernity. The quest for solid criteria for knowledge characterizes the whole history of modern thought from Descartes’ Discours de la méthode right up until Jürgen Habermas and modern philosophy of mind or neurophilosophy.16 Modern individuals are also reluctant to become members of religious communities because of doubts about the validity of the faith preached by them. While Roman Catholic and Protestant theologies tried to respond extensively to this challenge from neo-Thomism and natural theology to Karl Barth’s prophetic pathos, Orthodox theology does not seem to focus sufficiently on this issue. The few serious critiques to modern approaches to the theory of knowledge17 are often versed in anti-Western contexts, emphasizing the supposed individualistic basis of modern gnoseologies (as if gnoseological challenges can be refuted merely on the basis of ethical categories) and interpreting it, in the final analysis, as a result of the erroneous development of Western theology.18 This critique oversimplifies and proposes monocausal explanations for a very complicated history. Sometimes, it allows the impression that the critique of theology modernity exercised has nothing to do with Orthodoxy and its presuppositions: on the contrary, it sounds like a confirmation of its truth because it proves the error of its Latin opponents. The genealogy of a critique is one thing, and its gnoseological relevance another. Modernity’s critique of metaphysics is much more radical; it is not directed only at Western metaphysics but at every religious ontology, including the Orthodox worldview.19

By representing a polemical attitude toward profane knowledge, fervent contemporary supporters of Palamism show no will to discuss epistemological challenges to their worldview. Theologians who focus more on Maximus the Confessor’s ontology also seem to overlook radical critiques of medieval ontologies, however delicate and promising in their speculative vitality such critiques may sound.20

Modernity criticizes Christianity not only on metaphysical but also historical grounds. The use of the historical-critical exegesis of the Bible and of approaches to the Christian past that do not presuppose dogmatic-confessional dependence and pointing to the parallels to Christian doctrines and practices in other religions inevitably call into question absolute claims made in the name of Christianity. Many classics of this literature have not been translated in traditionally Orthodox countries.

It is unrealistic to expect that the relation between faith and reason will ever find a definite solution. Nevertheless, Orthodox theology could contribute to this crucial matter on a more solid basis. The challenge is not to articulate correct, definitive answers but rather to understand the decisive questions. Orthodox theology could i) liberate itself from anti-Western interpretations of modern gnoseology; ii) engage in a discussion with truly modern approaches to knowledge; iii) work more intensively for a stronger connection between biblical studies and systematic theology; iv) reflect further on hermeneutics, which is also a crucial condition for a sufficient understanding of tradition; and v) find the prophetic courage to criticize situations when mythology, superstition and bigotry is being propagated in the name of faith.

2) The second Kantian question is: “How should I act?” Important contributions on human rights or democracy, politics and Orthodoxy, etc. appear in this volume. Therefore, I would just like to focus on one question: What is the theological and soteriological value of non-religious aspects of life? In spite of Orthodox critics of the term religion, Orthodoxy insists upon a deeply religious model of life (participating in liturgy, ascetics, prayer, etc.) It is perhaps easy to find a theological dimension in ecological or social engagement, but, what about secular art, for example? Does it have a value per se or only insofar the modern artist is a faithful member of his community? Is the Orthodox message relevant only to the homo religiosus or does it go beyond the borders of religiosity? Orthodox theologians would claim that it does, but affirmative, systematic theological reflections on non-religious dimensions of life are still missing in the Eastern Christian thought. Finding common space with the non religious modernity becomes therefore more difficult.21

3) The third question Kant asks is “What can I hope for?” Modernity has indeed great difficulties with hope and even greater ones with expectation, at least when we mean an eschatological hope and expectation like the one proclaimed by Christianity: the second coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, life after death. Even secularized eschatologies that played an important role in the past seem to have frustrated modernity and have become rather indifferent for postmodernity.22

Christianity seemed to touch a sensitive point with the renaissance of eschatology that took place in the theology of the 20th century, although there is a justified assumption that this revival is no longer strongly present in the West. Modern Orthodox theology still emphasizes eschatology and provides original contributions.23 Considering its relation to modernity, I would like to mention the following challenges:

i) The question of the legitimacy of eschatology, as one of the legitimacy of faith in general, makes a certain tension unavoidable. Modernity asks the “How do you know” question. The expectation of life after death is surely an important reason why many people declare themselves Orthodox. Theologians of the Eastern Church have also written marvelous pages on this hope and vision. But what is their convincing power beyond the context of those who already believe? How can modern people be persuaded by the eschatological message of Christianity?

ii) The content of eschatology. What do we mean exactly when we speak about eschatology? In the 20th century, many Orthodox insisted that eschatology is not just the last chapter of dogmatics. This is true, but what about this last chapter and its very specific content? The Western Churches have made serious explicit or implicit developments in their eschatological teachings. In his book Die Zivilisierung Gottes, the German sociologist and theologian Michael Ebertz summarizes such developments and discusses the dynamics they provoke for the understanding of faith, such as the disappearance of hell from theological discourse. What is the response of the Orthodox to such issues?24

iii) The character of eschatology. Orthodox theologians criticize nationalistic alienations of Orthodox eschatology that appeared due to the close relation between Church and state in the Orthodox world. They apply eschatological teachings to political theology and encourage a realization of the implications of eschatology for social engagement. What are the criteria of this extension of eschatological thinking? What does it mean for the Christian thought when secularized eschatologies are being re-Christianized? Does this broadening of eschatological thinking make eschatology more convincing in its dogmatic core or does the latter (and theologically more decisive) still remain problematic?25

4) “What is the human being?” Kant thought that all his three previous questions are summarized in this one. Anthropology is indeed crucial in modernity, which is sometimes schematically understood as the passage from theocentrism to anthropocentrism. Metropolitan Kallistos Ware claims that anthropology will define the agenda of theology in the 21st century.26 This is not yet the case in Orthodoxy, which has nevertheless started to work in a courageous way toward modern understandings of gender and human sexuality.27 Of course, many traditional or extremist opinions on anthropological matters can still be found among the faithful and bishops.

What are the anthropological implications of Orthodox personalism? Orthodox notions of the human person and of communion are too harmonious, too affirmative.28 It could be important to provide a greater place for the category of negation. As far as history is concerned, negation is a decisive experience for human relations, and not only for them but also for the self-understanding of the human person and discrepancies of that self-understanding. Negation is decisive for an encounter with modernity, because it enables and justifies critique. No pragmatic understanding of the human person and human society can work without offering this space, not just for the other but also for the conflict with the other. Orthodoxy can do much more for the elaboration of this idea.

Structures of the Church

This short remark on critique serves as bridge from the Kantian questions to the connection of Orthodox theology and the structures of the Church in modern contexts. For the Orthodox, the Church is the natural place for theology, even if Orthodox theology mostly flourishes in contexts where the connection with Church hierarchy does not suffocate it.29 The encounter of Orthodox theology with modernity is expected to have an impact on Church life, but this presupposes adequate structures in the Church. The faithful live in the modern world and have concerns that come directly from their contexts; their voice should be heard in the structures of the Church and be further elaborated. Synodality is indeed a central point in the Orthodox approaches and concerns on ecclesiology. Even if one could claim that the Church is not a democracy in the modern sense of the world, synodality remains a central expression of the Church on all levels of its life, not only in that of the bishops. Not only is its existence crucial but its modus operandi is as well. What is crucial for modernization processes in any case is to learn how to live with minorities and majorities, and also with critique.

Pastoral Aspects

Up until now, I have presented the challenges of Orthodoxy’s encounter with modernity, implicitly recommending that change is needed. But does the Orthodox Church wish for such a change? Encounter leading to change may also cause pain; there is a price. Phases of instability and conflict are inevitable in this process.

Another question is whether such a fruitful encounter with modernity could lead to an acceleration of the secularization of the Church itself and the loss of a great part of its flock, as many conservative Christians believe. Many think that the Church should not abandon elements that add to its aura. Peter Berger reflected on the substitution of Latin by vernacular languages in the liturgical life of the Roman Catholic Church, which thereby lost part of its fascination for the populace. This idea was thoroughly explored in Germany by Martin Mosebach.30 Cynical critics of the Church could provocatively say: The Church lives in myth, provides myth and gains popularity because of this myth. If this works, why should it be abandoned?

Many are of course not willing to declare liturgical and doctrinal matters mythical and are not willing to get rid of them. And they believe that the insecurity and unclarity are caused by the lack of will to accept the Christian truth as it has been revealed and to experience the implications of this faith in a consequent and uncompromising way. “Do not be afraid, little flock” (Luke 12:32) – this biblical verse is quoted very often in traditionalist contexts. This discussion considers the so-called “Benedict option,” namely, the thesis that Christians who wish to preserve their faith should segregate themselves to a certain extent from modern society, which is drifting from traditional Christian values (particularly those regarding sex, marriage and gender) and live their faith consistently, uninfluenced by the Zeitgeist.31

Consistency is a virtue, also for Christians, insofar theology is something that develops with the assistance of the Holy Spirit and does not change in the name of Zeitgeist. On the other hand, such an approach should not lead to a theology refusing to accomplish its incarnational duty, the function of sanctifying the world, a theology preferring to encase itself in a sterile sphere, with no communion with the world. Such a practice leads in the long run to more tension than the one it avoids; it is not easy to ignore the encounter with modern questions. These are waiting at every corner.

Τhe Experience of the Ecumenical Partners

Other Christian Churches, at least in Western contexts, have a great deal of experience in this dialogue with modernity. The encounter of every Christian tradition with modernity should take place in an ecumenical context and atmosphere: everyone needs the others and learns from them.

The encounter is not over because the project of modernity and Enlightenment is not finished32 and because the Church continues on its way in history. The tension between Churches and modernity is still present and should not encourage maximalist ambitions. On the other hand, the challenges of the modern world can also vitalize Church life and activate reform appeals and discussions in the Church. Perhaps a last example is the “synodal way” of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany,33 a process that began in the shadow of the child abuse cases and has expanded into more general reform questions. One can discuss the solidity of the criteria of this process and the influence of the Zeitgeist and the highly emotional argumentation patterns in the demands of a great amount of German Catholics. It is very important, however, that a large part of the flock participates and also protests, that it becomes active and is unhappy with the understanding of faith based on traditionalistic views of authority. Many Christians live in modernity, live modernity and articulate their modern concerns in their appeals.


In his voluminous, 1700-page book Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie, which appeared in the year when he celebrated his 90th birthday,34 Jürgen Habermas aims at a reconstruction of the intellectual history of the Western world from the perspective of the relation between faith and reason. On the last page of this book, he calls religious experience “a thorn in the flesh of modernity,” leaving open the question as to whether there is still semantic content that should be translated into the language of the profane. Religion as thorn in the flesh of modernity – perhaps modernity is also and should be a thorn in the flesh of the Church, or something like Socrates’ gadfly.35 It is important that the terms retain their sharpness, their challenging character; this is a condition for every sincere encounter. And it is this for every non-boring encounter, and the one between Orthodoxy and the (post)modern / (post-)secular world should be anything but boring.


See the extensive bibliography in: Pantelis Kalaitzidis, Ὀρθοδοξία καὶ Νεωτερικότητα. Προλεγόµενα [Orthodoxy and Modernity: Prolegomena] (Athens: Indiktos, 2007; to be published in English translation by Brill/Schöningh in the fall of 2022 under the title: Orthodoxy and Modernity: Introducing a Constructive Encounter); Vasilios N. Makrides, “Orthodox Christianity, Modernity and Postmodernity: Overview, Analysis and Assessment,” Religion, State & Society 40, nos. 3–4 (2012): 248–85; Paul Ladouceur, Modern Orthodox Theology (London: T&T Clark, 2019); Nikolaos Asproulis, “Östliche Orthodoxie und (Post-)Moderne: Eine unbehagliche Beziehung,” Una Sancta 74 (2019): 13–37.


Vasilios N. Makrides summarizes the discussion on fundamental terms in his paper “Orthodox Christianity, Modernity and Postmodernity.” Among the most recent publications, see Christopher David Shaw, On Mysticism, Ontology, and Modernity: A Theological Engagement with Secularity (Oxford: Peter Lang: 2018); Justin Beaumont, ed., The Routledge Handbook of Postsecularity (London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2019); Daniel Weinstock, Jacob T. Levy and Jocelyn MacLure, eds., Interpreting Modernity: Essays on the Work of Charles Taylor (London: McGill-Queen’s University Press: 2020); Przemysław Tacik, A New Philosophy of Modernity and Sovereignty: Towards Radical Historicization (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2021). See also Konstantinos Papapetrou, Ἡ οὐσία τῆς θεολογίας: Συστηµατικὴ µελέτη ἐπὶ ἑνὸς πατερικοῦ ἑρµηνευτικοῦ ἔργου [The Essence of Theology: A Systematic Study on a Patristic Hermeneutic Work] (Athens 1970). This study remains unsurpassed in providing an Orthodox systematic theological examination of the notion of “Orthodoxy.”


Makrides, “Orthodox Christianity, Modernity and Postmodernity,” especially 247–55, in Multiple Modernities and Postsecular Societies, ed. Massimo Rosati and Kristina Stoeckl (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012). Cf. Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and Ambivalence (Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press, 1991).


Hans Blumenberg, Die Legitimität der Neuzeit, 6th ed. (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2012).


On the importance of Kant’s “Copernican turn” for the self-understanding of modernity, see Blumenberg, Die Legitimität der Neuzeit; idem, Die kopernikanische Wende (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1965); Alfredo Ferrarin, The Powers of Pure Reason: Kant and the Idea of Cosmic Philosophy (Chicago IL: University of Chicago Press, 2015), the emphasis on Kant in this contribution has a rather symbolic character because of the centrality of his thought in Western modernity and is not meant to underestimate the complexity, variety and importance of other currents that shaped and continue to shape the modern world philosophically.


Cf. the remarks in Makrides, “Orthodox Christianity, Modernity and Postmodernity,” 273–4.


E. Hirsch, Geschichte der neuern evangelischen Theologie im Zusammenhang mit den allgemeinen Bewegungen des europäischen Denkens (Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1949–1954.)


See Paul Gavrilyuk, Georges Florovsky and the Russian Religious Renaissance (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013); Paul Ladouceur, Modern Orthodox Theology, especially 59–156.


Vasilios Stefanidis, Ἐκκλησιαστικὴ ἱστορία ἀπἀρχῆς µέχρι σήµερον [Church History: From the Beginnings until Today], 2nd ed. (Athens 1959); Daniel P. Payne, The Revival of Political Hesychasm in Contemporary Orthodox Thought: The Political Hesychasm of John S. Romanides and Christos Yannaras (Lanham MD: Rowmann and Littlefield, 2011).


Nikolaos Louvaris, Ἱστορία τῆς φιλοσοφίας [History of Philosophy], I-II (Athens 1933); Christos Yannaras, Σχεδίασµα εἰσαγωγῆς στὴ φιλοσοφία: Ἡ ἑλληνικὴ ὀπτικὴ καὶ ἡ δυτική ἀντιστροφή της (Athens: Ikaros, 2013); English translation: The Schism in Philosophy: The Hellenic Perspective and its Western Reversal, trans. Norman Russel (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2015).


Chistos Androutsos, Δογµατικὴ τῆς Ἀνατολικῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας [Dogmatics of the Eastern Orthodox Church] (Athens 1907); cf. Ladouceur, Modern Orthodox Theology, 125–6, who is rather one-sided in his evaluation of Androutsos’ work.


Sergij Bulgakov, Bibliographie. Werke, Briefwechsel und Übersetzungen: Mit ausgewählter Sekundärliteratur und einem tabellarischen Lebenslauf, compiled by Regula M. Zwahlen and Ksenija Babkova, ed. by Barbara Hallensleben and Regula M. Zwahlen (Aschendorf: Muenster, 2017).


Some of the most important contributions of recent years, which are mostly focused on the 20th century: Yannis Spiteris, La teologia ortodossa neo-greca (Bologna: Dehoniane, 1992); Karl Christian Felmy, Die orthodoxe Theologie der Gegenwart: Eine Einführung, 3rd ed. (Μuenster: LIT Verlag, 2014); Andrew Louth, Modern Orthodox Thinkers: From the Philokalia to the Present (London: IVP Academic, 2015); Ivana Noble, Katerina Bauerova, Tim Noble and Parush Parushev, The Ways of Orthodox Theology in the West, (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2015); idem, Wrestling with the Mind of the Fathers (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press: 2015); Ladouceur, Modern Orthodox Theology.


George Demacopoulos and Aristotle Papanicolaou, eds., Orthodox Constructions of the West (New York: Fordham University Press, 2013).


Patrick Frierson, Kant’s Questions: What is the Human Being? (New York: Routledge, 2013).


Gottfried Gabriel, Erkenntnis (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2015).


On the contrary, numerous studies have been published concerning the gnoseology of the church fathers. Nevertheless, these are contributions to the history of gnoseology, not systematic approaches.


Cf., e.g., Christos Yannaras, Χάϊντεγγερ καὶ Ἀρεοπαγίτης: Ἢ περὶ ἀγνωσίας καὶ ἀπουσίας τοῦ Θεοῦ, 2nd rev. ed. (Athens: Domos, 19882); see also the English edition, On the Absence and Unknowability of God: Heidegger and the Areopagite, trans. Haralambos Ventis (London: T&T Clark, 2005).


Panajotis Kondylis, Die Neuzeitliche Metaphysikkritik (Stuttgard: Klett-Cotta, 1990.)


Cf. Payne, The Revival of Political Hesychasm; Maxim Vasiljević, ed., Knowing the Purpose of Creation Through the Resurrection: Proceedings of the Symposium on St. Maximus the Confessor (Alhambra CA: Sebastian Press and The Faculty of Orthodox Theology, University of Belgrade, 2013).


In the West there are theologies of culture, for example Tillich’s, that tried to emphasize the theological importance of the profane. See Euler Renato Westphal, Secularization, Cultural Heritage and the Spirituality of the Secular State between Sacredness and Secularization (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 2019).


Cf. William Gibson, Dan O’Brien and Marius Turda, eds., Teleology and Modernity (London: Routledge, 2020).


Georgios Vlantis, “In Erwartung des künftigen Äons: Aspekte orthodoxer Eschatologie,” Ökumenische Rundschau 56 (2007): 170–82; idem, “Pneumatologie und Eschatologie in der zeitgenössischen orthodoxen Theologie: Richtlinien und Perspektiven,” in Wir glauben an den Heiligen Geist: XII. Begegnung im bilateralen theologischen Dialog zwischen der EKD und dem Ökumenischen Patriarchat, ed. Petra Bosse-Huber, Konstantinos Vliagkoftis, and Wolfram Langpape, Beihefte zur Ökumenischen Rundschau 130 (Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2021), 119–37. Cf. Georg Essen, Geschichtstheologie und Eschatologie in der Moderne: Eine Grundlegung, Lehr- und Studienbücher zur Theologie 6 (Μünster: LIT Verlag, 2016).


Michael N. Ebertz, Die Zivilisierung Gottes: Der Wandel von Jenseitsvorstellungen in Theologie und Verkündigung, Glaubenskommunikation Reihe Zeitzeichen 14 (Ostfildern: Schwabenverlag, 2004).


Aristotle Papanikolaou, The Mystical as Political: Democracy and Non-Radical Orthodoxy (Notre Dame IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2012); Pantelis Kalaitzidis, Orthodoxy and Political Theology (Geneva: WCC Publications, 2012); Kristina Stoeckl, Ingeborg Gabriel, and Aristotle Papanikolaou, eds., Political Theologies in Orthodox Christianity: Common Challenges – Divergent Positions (London: T&T Clark, 2017); Haralambos Ventis, Ἐσχατολογία καὶ ἐτερότητα [Eschatology and Otherness] (Athens: Polis, 2019).


Kallistos Ware, Orthodox Theology in the Twenty-First Century (Geneva: WCC Publications, 2012).


A promising example is the document For the Life of the World: Toward a Social Ethos of the Orthodox Church, ed. David Bentley Hart and John Chryssavgis (Brookline MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2020) https://www.goarch.org/social-ethos (accessed 13 February 2022).


Aristotle Papanicolaou, “Personhood and Its Exponents in Twentieth-Century Orthodox Theology,” in The Cambridge Companion to Orthodox Christian Theology, ed. Mary Cunningham and Elisabeth Theokritoff (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 232–45; idem, “The Hermeneutical and Existential Contextuality of Orthodox Theologies of Personhood,” The Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 69 (2017): 51–67.


One of the last unpleasant examples: Rodoljub Kubat, “Redeverbot für Dozenten an der Theologischen Fakultät in Belgrad,” 30 April 2020, Nachrichtendienst Östliche Kirchen, https://noek.info/hintergrund/1520-redeverbot-fuer-dozenten-an-der-theologischen- fakultaet-in-belgrad?fbclid=IwAR2SWhGTmqrKc3Y46_P8XLJNnw9wmZZMm5y Mcvd24wcMRlY5GdkTLhcHCrY (accessed 13 February 2022).


Peter Berger, “First Things First: ‘The Vernacularist Illusion’,” April 1995 https://www.firstthings.com/article/1995/04/the-vernacularist-illusion (accessed 13 February 2022); Martin Mosebach, Häresie der Formlosigkeit: Die römische Liturgie und ihr Feind (Munich: Hanser, 2007).


Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation (New York: Sentinel, 2018).


Jürgen Habermas, Die Moderne: Ein unvollendetes Projekt. Philosophisch-politische Aufsätze, 1977–1992, 2nd ed. (Leipzig: Reclam, 1992).


Michaela Labudda and Marcus Leitschuh (eds.), Synodaler Weg – letzte Chance? Standpunkte zur Zukunft der katholischen Kirche (Paderborn: Bonifatius, 2020); Anne Kathrin Preckel, Der Synodale Weg: Fragen und Antworten (Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk 2020); Bernhard Sven Anuth, Georg Bier and Karsten Kreutzer (eds.), Der Synodale Weg: Eine Zwischenbilanz (Munich: Herder, 2021).


Jürgen Habermas, Auch einer Geschichte der Philosophie, I-II (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2019).


Plato, Apology, 30e.

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