Deliverance of Online Lecture
NEGOTIATING THEOLOGIES OF HIERARCHY AND DEMOCRACY
The online lecture on the topic “Orthodox Power: Negotiating Theologies of Hierarchy and Democracy” was successfully delivered by Dr. Ashley Purpura, Associate Professor of Religious Studies in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Purdue University (Indiana, USA), on Wednesday, May 17, 2023. The discussion was moderated by Rev. Dr. Cyril Hovorun, Professor in the Stockholm School of Theology (Sweden).
The lecture attempted a reconsideration of the relation between Orthodox theology and the structures of authority that theology supports, observing that while Orthodox faith affirms freedom, equality, and divine power expressed in kenotic love, in many lived experiences of the Church appears much more focused on preserving control, exclusion of diversity, coercive power, and reinforcing hierarchies; thus reminding the words of John Chrysostom that “Christians damage Christ’s cause more than his enemies and foes.” While an Orthodox understanding of hierarchy should produce democracy, since it approaches others with “fear of God, faith, and love”, there are cases where the kenotic theology has been used against the already socially othered, including women. Power within the Church has always struggled to align itself with the image of its divine source, but too often it is understood as mirroring rather than disrupting worldly power. Human authority within the ecclesiastical hierarchy is built upon a divinely imitative kenotic relationship with others; therefore, the purpose of the hierarchy is to facilitate the communion of humanity with divinity. This way, the faithful should not be pushed into forms of apathy, expecting everything to be done by the clergy, but on the contrary should be able even to rebuke the authority of the church representatives when they use their positions for un-Christian ends.
The video recording of the lecture is available at the YouTube channel of Volos Academy,
and in Greek.
The next event of the series of online lectures “Time for Action” will take place on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, at 7:00 p.m., Athens time (the event of May 24 th has been postponed). It will be the round table on “Ecclesiastical Authority and Academic Freedom in Orthodoxy”, with the participation of Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis, Director of the Volos Academy of Theological Studies, Dr. Ionut Biliuta, Research Associate of Gh. Sincai Institute of Social Sciences, Romanian Academy of Sciences, Bucharest and Mrs. Inga Leonova, MA, Director of “The Wheel” journal, Boston, USA. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Assaad Elias Kattan, Professor of Orthodox Theology, University of Münster, Germany.