Trinity College

The Orthodox Church, Christianity and Other Faith Traditions

Course Code: 
Last Offered: 
Summer 2020
Next Offered: 
Summer 2023

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware has written that ecclesiology was the most important field of Orthodox theology in the 20th century and should continue to be a major feature of Orthodox theology in the 21st century. Orthodoxy faced major challenges in last century, including intense persecution, the migration of large numbers of Orthodox faithful from traditional Orthodox homelands to countries of Western Christian traditions, the rise of the modern ecumenical movement and the development of interreligious dialogue, as well as internal questions bearing on the nature of the Church, particularly the organisation of the Church outside countries of Orthodox tradition and relations between Church and State.

As a result, Orthodox have been obliged to reflect deeply on such questions as – What is the Church? What identifies the Orthodox Church with respect to other Christian Churches and communities? How should Orthodox react to the ecumenical movement? What is the relationship of non-Christian religions to God’s revelation through Jesus Christ?

In this course, Orthodox thinking on the Church will be considered initially from its biblical and patristic foundations, while the major emphasis will be on the ecclesiological perspectives of major modern Orthodox theologians, from the Slavophiles in the mid-19th century to the philosopher-theologians of the Russian religious renaissance and neo-patristic theologians, including the principal Orthodox advocates of eucharistic or communion ecclesiology.

The course will also consider the theological foundations of Orthodox participation in the ecumenical movement, as well as the sources and nature of opposition within Orthodoxy to ecumenism. The course will include an overview of Orthodox involvement in major multilateral and bilateral ecumenical endeavours. Finally, the course will consider Orthodox thinking, still in its formative stage, on non-Christian religious traditions, especially in the light of the historical experience of Orthodox peoples living in non-Christian countries and in pluralistic societies.