Fr. John McGuckin Delivers Fr. Alexander Schmemann Lecture

30 January 2014 • On-Campus • Annual Father Alexander Schmemann Memorial Lecture

 Speaking to a capacity crowd, The Very Rev. Dr. John Anthony McGuckin presented the 31st Annual Father Alexander Schmemann Memorial Lecture titled, “On The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church,” in reference to the seminal work of the same name by Vladimir Lossky. Renowned author of 23 books, several of which are published by SVS Press, Fr. John is The Ane Marie and Bent Emil Nielsen Professor of Late Antiquity and Byzantine Christian History at Union Theological Seminary and Professor of Byzantine Christian Studies at Columbia University.

Father John noted that Lossky’s book is “enduringly fascinating,” and that its publication signaled a significant moment in Orthodox Christian theology. He also emphasized the organic and conciliar process of theology, observing that "Our historians, philosophers, liturgists, exegetes, canonists, educationists, pastors and theologians, all have their part to play in making the future of Orthodox thought: but so too do our children even in their lisping faith, as do the aged and uneducated, the liberal and the illiberal, the ethnic and post-ethnic, and the Old Calendarists as well as the New."

The lecture was preceded by an academic convocation at which Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Dr. John Barnet, representing the Seminary's Board of Trustees and faculty, awarded Fr. John a Doctor of Divinity degree honoris causa. In conferring the honor, The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr called Fr. John “one of the most prolific Orthodox theologians alive today.” Professor Barnett, reading the citation stated that his “works on the great Fathers have given us verbal icons, portraying each figure in all the complexity of their humanity and history, allowing us to see God at work in them, and their theology as a living witness of this grace.”

In addition to the standing room only crowd, the lecture was attended by special guests: His Grace David, bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of New York and New England; His Grace Seraphim, former bishop of Sendai, Japan, Orthodox Church in America (OCA);  and Helmar Nielson, former member of the Board of Trustees for Union Theological Seminary, New York City. A public reception followed.