Doctoral Seminar in Prague

An international academic seminar of doctoral students and post-doctoral scholars on the central theme “The Presence or the Absence of Orthodox Theological Reflection in Contemporary Ideologies and Its Ecumenical Significance” was held in Prague, Czech Republic, from February 3-5. The seminar was organized by the Protestant Theological Faculty of Charles University in Prague (PTF), in conjunction with the International Baptist Theological Seminary (IBTS) and Jabok College. This conference constituted part of a broader academic program devoted to the issue “The Symbolic Mediation of Wholeness in Western Orthodoxy,” which was sponsored by the Czech government.

 

 

 

 

Doctoral Seminar in Prague
On Orthodox theology’s presence and absence
from the ideological developments of the 20th century,
with contributions from representatives of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies

 

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An international academic seminar of doctoral students and post-doctoral scholars on the central theme “The Presence or the Absence of Orthodox Theological Reflection in Contemporary Ideologies and Its Ecumenical Significance” was held in Prague, Czech Republic, from February 3-5. The seminar was organized by the Protestant Theological Faculty of Charles University in Prague (PTF), in conjunction with the International Baptist Theological Seminary (IBTS) and Jabok College. This conference constituted part of a broader academic program devoted to the issue “The Symbolic Mediation of Wholeness in Western Orthodoxy,” which was sponsored by the Czech government.


The primary goal of the conference was to study the effects of Orthodox theology’s direct or indirect encounter in the 20th century with the movement from modernity to post-modernity, and the dominant ideological trends of that century, specifically nationalism and communism. The speakers sought to demonstrate in particular the effect of the experience of the Russian Orthodox of the Diaspora on theological reflection about the search for a deeper identity as well as awareness of the fact that “identity” is not, ultimately, something that can be owned or that can exist independent of the subject, i.e. apart from any sort of meeting or dialogue with the given cultural and ideological milieu.


Representing the Volos Academy for Theological Studies were its director, Dr. Pantelis Kalaïtzidis, and a member of its academic team, Nikolaos Asproulis, MA. Dr. Kalaïtzidis delivered a paper entitled “The Orthodox Church and (Post)modernity: The Conditions, the Context, and the Problems of an Encounter,” which surveyed, among other things, the reasons behind the Orthodox Church’s (and its theology’s) reluctance and inability to accept or dialogue with the achievements of modernity. N. Asproulis gave a talk entitled “Is Dialogue between Orthodox Theology and Post-modernity Possible? The Case of the Russian and Neo-patristic Schools,” in which he attempted to highlight the two movements’ specific similarities and differences with regard to their views and beliefs about modernity and post-modernity.


The conference also featured papers by Dr. Ivana Noble (Charles University in Prague, “The Presence and Absence of Orthodox Theological Reflection on Modern Ideologies and its Ecumenical Impact”), Dr. Davor Dzalto (Belgrade Orthodox Theological Faculty, “The Culture of Nationalism and the Culture of Love: A Social-political Aspect of Orthodox Christianity”), and Dr. Parush Parushev (International Baptist Theological Seminary, “Religious Aspects of the Journey from the Slavophil Movement to the Panslavic Ethnophiletism”).

It is worth noting that, on the first day, the participants screened Charlie Chaplin’s famous film “Modern Times,” which was followed by a discussion about the film’s perspectives on modernity. In the afternoon of the second day, one group of participants visited the city’s Museum of Modern Art, while another group visited the Orthodox cathedral of the city, the Orthodox chapel and the Russian section of Prague’s cemetery, as well as the areas in which the Russian émigré philosophers and theologians (e.g., N. Berdyaev, G. Florovsky, N. Losski, et al.) lived during their time in Prague at the beginning of the 20th century, after their exile by the communist regime in Russia.

In addition to the conference’s main speakers, doctoral and post-graduate students of the University of Prague, as well as from other countries (Canada, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, etc.) also took part, briefly presenting their research interests during group workshops. Their interests included the interconnection between art, spirituality, and Orthodox theology, Orthodoxy and human rights, a comparative study of the work of individual thinkers from the field of philosophy with theologians (H. Arendt – D. Bonhoeffer – D. Staniloae), the study of theological anthropology through the work of Saint Irenaeus and modern theologians (O. Clément, J. Moltmann), the pastoral and ecclesiological implications of Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s liturgical theology, the Christology of J. Sobrino, the critique of the onto-theological tradition by P. Ricoeur and R. Kearny, as well as issues of hermeneutics in H. Gadamer, the Fathers of the Church, and contemporary Orthodox theologians.


The seminar was organized under the joint direction of Dr Ivana Noble and Katerina Bauer from Charles University in Prague, and Dr Parush Parushev and Dr Tim Noble from the International Baptist Theological Seminary.
To view more photos, click here.