Orthodox summer amidst a winter of war

Whilst TV screen continued to relay the tragic drama of the Russia-Ukraine war and the role that different Orthodox leaders have played in both blessing and condemning the needless bloodshed, a rather different group of Orthodox and evangelical leaders met in the glorious sunshine of a Salzburg summer, hosted there by the local Syrian Orthodox diaspora community.

As part of our collaboration with the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative (LOI), OCMS played a significant part in this conference on “Scripture Engagement” during which evangelical and Orthodox Christians explored what it means for Scripture to really engage with the lives, hopes and fears of twenty-first century humanity. Together we acknowledged that our respective traditions can muffle and even mute the Word of God under the guise of reverence. A younger evangelical leader from Greece (who attended with her Egyptian Coptic Christian husband) challenged us with the concept that ‘word’ only becomes ‘truth’ when it is enacted and lived and yet so often we want to preserve words, including perhaps the Word of God, safe in a book, or in liturgy, or in theological tradition. In another session Archbishop Juraj of Michalovce and Košice (Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands) reminded us that the Bible cannot be separated from the church because the church is the body on earth of the incarnate Word of God led by the Holy Spirit. He challenged academics by saying that Biblical theology can only be undertaken in the context of a worshipping community. Another session examined our shared traditions of scripture in poetry.

OCMS was represented by two faculty members, one of whom, Dr. Ralph Lee, serves as the Facilitator of the LOI and leader of the OCMS Orthodox programme, together with one of our doctoral students from Ethiopia.

The most recent LOI collection of articles on Discipleship, Living the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Orthodox and Evangelical Approaches to Discipleship and Christian Formation, was published by Regnum Press in 2021.

Revd. Canon Mark Oxbrow

Director, Guided Research Programme

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