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The round table “Is there a Natural Theology in Orthodoxy?” took place on Monday, June 10, 2024. The speakers were Prof. Dr. David Bradshaw (Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, University of Kentucky, USA) and Rev. Dr. Christopher Knight (Senior Research Associate and Associate Lecturer of the Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies, Cambridge, UK), while the discussion was moderated by Dr. Elizabeth Theokritoff (Senior Research Associate and Lecturer, Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, Cambridge, UK). The event was part of the “Time for Action” series of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies and it was organized in cooperation with the Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies, Cambridge, UK.

Speaking first, David Bradshaw started with a reference to the life and sayings of Socrates, and his kind of dual faith, a faith both in the god who has directed him to live his life in a certain way, and in reason as something that possesses supreme value and should be the governing principle of human life. A third aspect of Socrates’ faith was faith in the goodness of reality. Then, he proceeded to the Church fathers and their teachings, that God himself is high above all, but also within us and we can find His beginning; this notion is found in the words of Moses but also the Gospels. The knowledge of the existence of God is implanted in us by nature. Faith arises from the disposition of the soul, as opposed to dialectic reasoning that comes from the skill of human beings. While the Church fathers recognized the distinction between faith and reason, they tended to think of them as mutually supporting and interpenetrating.

Taking the floor, Fr. Christopher Knight started by explaining what natural theology is, highlighting the lack of consensus on the definition of natural theology and stressing, in the realm of Orthodox theology, the role of the intuitive mental faculty that ancient Greek philosophers called “nous”. While rejecting the effort to rely upon “premises that neither are nor presuppose any religious beliefs”, he noted that faith begins as an innate orientation towards the good, and reason, which depends on faith, is the attempt to bring this innate orientation to its full realization. He stressed that, especially in the hesychast tradition, there is a “noetic” perception that arises from the full use of the “nous”, a faculty that is quite distinct from the rational discursive faculty.

The video recording of the event is available on the YouTube channel of the Volos Academy, in English (https://youtu.be/Q7H56XZmo-Q)

and Greek (https://youtu.be/edGn8R5XUZ0).

The next event of the series, which will be the last one for this academic year, will take place on Thursday, June 20, 2024, at 8 p.m. (Athens time) on the topic: “The Unity of Humanity and the Unity of Christians”. The speaker will be Georgios Vlantis, MTh, Director of the Council of Christian Churches in Bavaria, Germany, and Research Associate of the Volos Academy. This will also be the last event for this season of the “Liturgy after the liturgy” series of lectures, organized by the Holy Metropolis of France and the Vicariate of French-speaking parishes (Vicariate Sainte Marie de Paris et Saint Alexis d’Ugine, Ecumenical Patriarchate) in collaboration with the Volos Academy for Theological Studies.

Event Callendar

Announcements

TIME FOR ACTION - 4th Season

TIME FOR ACTION - 4th Season

Taking advantage of the possibilities offered by modern communication technology, Volos Academy for Theological Studies organizes for the fourth consecutive Read More
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