Florovsky Lecture a Centerpiece of Theological Society's Conference
20–22 September 2012 • On-Campus Event • Virginia Nieuwsma
The Orthodox Theological Society of America (OTSA) held its annual meeting at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary between September 20 and 22, 2012. The presenters addressed various aspects of the theme, "Orthodoxy and the Political." Among other topics, the participants discussed a holistic approach to morality, outlining an Orthodox perspective that goes beyond the existing tendency towards division in today's public discourse. While emphasizing the need for a prophetic attitude, the speakers also cautioned against a unilateral association with politics. The diversity of participants' opinions enriched their fellowship and collaboration.
On Friday evening, September 21, The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, dean and professor of Patristics of St. Vladimir's Seminary, delivered the annual Father Georges Florovsky Lecture in the Metropolitan Philip auditorium. The Florovsky Lecture, held in different locations each year, honors The Very Rev. Dr. Georges Florovsky, eminent Orthodox theologian, historian, and Slavic scholar, who served as the dean of St. Vladimir's Seminary from 1949–1955.
Speaking to a full house of distinguished Orthodox academics, Fr. John discussed the changing ways in which the Fathers have been read over the last half century, in his talk "Reading the Fathers Today."
"In my lecture, I looked at the breakdown in the discipline of theology into fragmented fields," explained Fr. John. "I wanted to lay the foundation for understanding today's context and challenge, which is this: we need to be able to read the Fathers again from a clean theological perspective, and to understand what makes theology, theology."
In another conference feature, St. Vladimir's faculty members The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, The Rev. Dr. J. Sergius Halvorsen, and Dr. Peter C. Bouteneff, participated in a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Tony Kireopoulos. The panelists discussed the Seminary's public "face," and how the Seminary presents itself within the Orthodox world and the wider society.
Dr. Bouteneff explained, "As a faculty, we're constantly reflecting on what our role ought to be—as a church institution and an academic institution—in the Church and in the world. When it comes to divisive issues, whether in the Church or in the political world, we do have a role to play: not in making public pronouncements, but by fostering a genuine and constructive dialogue, by insuring that the right voices are at the table, but also by informing that dialogue with voices from the Church's tradition."
"OTSA is deeply grateful to St. Vladimir's Seminary for their hospitality and participation in the works of the Society," said The Rev. Dr. Radu Bordeianu, OTSA's president and associate professor of Theology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. "We were received with great warmth. Our special thanks go to the faculty who addressed our theme in a panel, to Fr. John Behr, who gave the Georges Florovsky Lecture, and to the students and staff who hosted the public reception following the lecture."