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Author Topic: Fr. Georges Florovsky dismissed from SVOTS: Why?  (Read 3109 times) Average Rating: 0
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epektasis
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« on: February 28, 2005, 01:36:04 PM »

Under what circumstances was Fr. Georges Florovsky dismissed from his post as Dean of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in 1954?
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2005, 01:48:43 PM »

Because he didn't get along with Fr Schmemann so he told Met Leonty to pick between them.

Anastasios
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« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2005, 02:40:42 PM »

Never say "you'll have to choose between me and _____________". 90% of the people who use this ultimatum ending up packing thier bags.
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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2005, 05:16:09 PM »

Because he didn't get along with Fr Schmemann so he told Met Leonty to pick between them.

Anastasios

Anastasios et al,

Please bear with me as I am learning an uncomfortable lesson in my present situation as a member of an OCA parish.

The following is by Fr. Alexander Schmemann from  Russian Theology: 1920-1972- An Introductory Survey
:

For one group, the critique of the theological past includes, although on a level different from that of western theology, the patristic period itself. Orthodox theology must keep its patristic foundation, but it must also go "beyond" the Fathers if it is to respond to a new situation created by centuries of philosophical development. And in this new synthesis or reconstruction, the western philosophical tradition (source and mother of the Russian "religious philosophy" of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries) rather than the Hellenic, must supply theology with its conceptual framework. An attempt is thus made to "transpose" theology into a new "key," and this transposition is considered as the specific task and vocation of Russian theology.

This attitude is opposed by another in which the main emphasis is laid on the "return to the Fathers." The tragedy of Orthodox theological development is viewed here precisely as a drifting away of the theological mind from the very spirit and method of the Fathers, and no reconstruction or new synthesis are thought possible outside a creative recovery of that spirit. "The style of the Patristic age cannot be abandoned. This is the only solution for contemporary theology. There is no one modern idiom which can unite the Church." Hence the emphasis on the permanent and eternal value of the Hellenic categories for Orthodox theological thought. "Russian theological thought," writes G. Florovsky, one of the major spokesmen of this attitude, "must go through a strict school of Christian Hellenism . . . Hellenism in the Church was made eternal, was integrated into its very texture as an eternal category of Christian existence."


Was the ouster of Fr. Georges Florovsky, or rather, the choice by Metropolitan Leonty,  the triumph of "Theology in a New Key" over Florovsky's Neo-Patristic Synthesis?

This would explain my discomfiture with the teaching within my OCA parish.  Three priests and yet hardly a mention of the Fathers in the teaching life of the parish.  Lots of teaching using current events, pop-psych, evangelical-style "sermon illustrations", a church newsletter devoid of any patristic content or teachings from the Lives of the Saints.

The teachings of the Church characterized by the writings  Florovsky and Lossky, the neo-Patristic synthesis are what I thought Orthodoxy was about, but it is growing readily apparent to me that somehow I have gotten on  some sort of the losing side, OCA-wise.

I thought I going towards a "return to the Fathers" but it seems that I am being taught to play in a different key.

Anyway, do any of you think that the continuing legacy of the OCA is this Theology in a "new key" ("Russian School?") to the dimunition of the Neo-Patristic Synthesis as championed by Fr. Georges Florovsky?
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« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2005, 05:32:38 PM »

This would explain my discomfiture with the teaching within my OCA parish. Three priests and yet hardly a mention of the Fathers in the teaching life of the parish. Lots of teaching using current events, pop-psych, evangelical-style "sermon illustrations", a church newsletter devoid of any patristic content or teachings from the Lives of the Saints.


Interesting...my OCA parish is definitely NOT this way.  My priest is rather conservative, but his (I guess former) spiritual father left the OCA to join HOCNA, so that would explain his conservative leanings.  He's a great priest.
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« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2005, 09:11:32 PM »

I believe Schmemann was a student of the Paris Theologians, i.e. Bulgakov (Sophia heresy) and Berdayeff (Spirit of the New Age) and may be this is where this OCA "Russian" philosophy is coming from. Give me Fr Georges (who tells it as it is - oooh, not pc these days! or in his day) every time. I luv that bit where he write thats we must regain the Patristic mind, bringing people back to the mystery and levael of the Church as opposed to bringing the Church to the people and to the level of the marketplace.
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« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2005, 01:24:01 AM »

Give me a break. Schmemann was not a fan of Bulgakov.

Lots of people on this board seem to like to group "Paris Russians" together as if they are one homogeneous school, but I think this is unfair and erroneous. Evdokimov and Lossky both lived in Paris, but they seem very different to me in their appraoch to things, and in fact even had a rivalry of some kind going on.

I seem to recall that Schmemann was Florovsky's student in Paris. I could be wrong.

I don't really want to weigh in on the thing about the OCA being against a neo-patristic synthesis. Maybe others have had this experience, and I suppose it could be a valid criticism. But I think relying solely on the Florovsky model could also be criticized as short-sighted and limited.

Bob

BTW, I really appreciate Florovsky as well as Schmemann.
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« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2005, 01:36:17 AM »

Give me a break.  Schmemann was not a fan of Bulgakov. 

Lots of people on this board seem to like to group "Paris Russians" together as if they are one homogeneous school, but I think this is unfair and erroneous.  Evdokimov and Lossky both lived in Paris, but they seem very different to me in their appraoch to things, and in fact even had a rivalry of some kind going on. 

I seem to recall that Schmemann was Florovsky's student in Paris.  I could be wrong.

I don't really want to weigh in on the thing about the OCA being against a neo-patristic synthesis.  Maybe others have had this experience, and I suppose it could be a valid criticism.  But I think relying solely on the Florovsky model could also be criticized as short-sighted and limited. 

Bob

BTW, I really appreciate Florovsky as well as Schmemann.

Bob's right, let's not lump everyone together.
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« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2005, 09:04:47 PM »

I'm all for unlumping where lumps do not belong.

Let's use Fr. Alexander Schmemann's division then:


Group A:

For one group, the critique of the theological past includes, although on a level different from that of western theology, the patristic period itself. Orthodox theology must keep its patristic foundation, but it must also go "beyond" the Fathers if it is to respond to a new situation created by centuries of philosophical development. And in this new synthesis or reconstruction, the western philosophical tradition (source and mother of the Russian "religious philosophy" of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries) rather than the Hellenic, must supply theology with its conceptual framework. An attempt is thus made to "transpose" theology into a new "key," and this transposition is considered as the specific task and vocation of Russian theology.


Group B:

This attitude is opposed by another in which the main emphasis is laid on the "return to the Fathers." The tragedy of Orthodox theological development is viewed here precisely as a drifting away of the theological mind from the very spirit and method of the Fathers, and no reconstruction or new synthesis are thought possible outside a creative recovery of that spirit. "The style of the Patristic age cannot be abandoned. This is the only solution for contemporary theology. There is no one modern idiom which can unite the Church." Hence the emphasis on the permanent and eternal value of the Hellenic categories for Orthodox theological thought. "Russian theological thought," writes G. Florovsky, one of the major spokesmen of this attitude, "must go through a strict school of Christian Hellenism . . . Hellenism in the Church was made eternal, was integrated into its very texture as an eternal category of Christian existence."

At present, are the priesthood of the OCA made up of primarily Group A or Group B since the ouster of Fr. Georges Florovsky in 1954 or has there ever been a current of revival (to borrow an evangelicalism)  of the Neo-Patristic orthodox phronema  in the life of this jurisdiction?
« Last Edit: March 01, 2005, 09:06:53 PM by epektasis » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2005, 04:18:37 PM »

PravoslavBob is correct on both points; Fr. Schmemann, while respecting Fr. Bulgakov as a person, repeatedly criticized the Sophia thing and his general approach to theology, and Fr. Schmemann was a student of Fr. Florovsky at St. Sergius in Paris.

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« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2005, 09:37:14 PM »

From SVOTS:

Pascha 2001

Lecturer Honors Memory of Dean Schmemann

Professor Paul Valliere, author of Modern Russian Theology: Bukharev, Soloviev, Bulgakov, Orthodox Theology in a New Key presented the 18th Annual Fr Alexander Schmemann Memorial Lecture at the seminary on the Feast of the Three Hierarchs. Dr Valliere is the McGregor Professor of Humanities in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana.

In his presentation, titled Russian Religious Thought and the Future of Orthodox Theology, Dr Valliere analyzed the prominent figures and aims within the 'Russian School of Theology,' a movement which began about the second half of the 19th century and continued to about 1944. Key figures in the movement included Vladimir Soloviev, Nikolai Berdiaev, Pavel Florensky and Sergei Bulgakov. Appropriation of Western philosophical thought, an urgency regarding theological engagement with the secular world, and a revival of apocalyptic and theocratic material marked their theology. According to Valliere, the term, 'Russian School' was coined by Fr Alexander Schmemann twenty-five years ago, who identified this movement as able to "transpose theology into a new key," a theology capable of confronting a modern world.

"Theology must involve the secular world," said Valliere, "something the 'Russian School' referred to as 'cosmodicy', that is, the idea that the Church and the world stand in relation to one another." This engagement, he argued, cannot be supplied by the current 'Neo-patristic School' of theology, which has dominated Orthodox theological thought for the last half of the twentieth century and which has as its goal the revival of the teachings of the church fathers. Prominent twentieth century figures such as Fr Georges Florovsky and Fr Vladimir Lossky, as proponents of the 'Neo-patristic School,' severely criticized the authors of the 'Russian School,' stated Valliere, but it is precisely this latter framework that might resuscitate the effectiveness of the Church in contemporary society.

Valliere observed that the 'Russian School' theologians resembled the church fathers in their methodology of appropriation, analysis, and application of philosophical thought. These Russian thinkers went beyond patristic writings to engage their contemporary world. "They focused on the 'problem of the cosmos' as they termed it," he said. "This is why the 'Russian School' holds treasures for both the Orthodox and non-Orthodox Western Christians."

When thanking Professor Valliere for his lecture, Fr Thomas Hopko noted that Fr Schmemann cannot be placed in any particular category. "He learned from everyone, and identified fully with no one," Fr Hopko said. "He also agonized over the acrimony that so often existed which he saw to be sad and unnecessary."

=====

So let me rephrase my queries: Is Neo-Patristic School (Florovsky, Lossky) of theology insufficent for effective " engagement" with the world?  Have the current theological leadership at SVOTS (led by Dean Erickson) gone "beyond patristic writings to engage their contemporary world" and have Florovsky and Lossky been relegated to  "old school" status within the OCA?
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« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2005, 10:47:19 PM »

Why don't you ask Dean Erickson? He's accessible via email on the seminary's webpage. Note however that when that lecture was given, Fr Hopko was still dean.
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« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2005, 10:07:05 PM »

Why don't you ask Dean Erickson? He's accessible via email on the seminary's webpage. Note however that when that lecture was given, Fr Hopko was still dean.

I don't ask because I'm pretty sure what his answer would be or else I'm just afraid to hear it.

Professor Erickson gave a talk at my parish a couple of years ago.  I can't remember the topic, but he surprised me with his condescending tone when he talked about a certain "type" of convert to Orthodox Christianity.   This impressed me so much that after the lecture I googled the words that he spoke so scornfully: "prayer ropes, headcoverings" with the name "John Erickson,"  et voila!

This came up: 

A Retreat from Ecumenism in Post-Communist Russia and Eastern in Europe?
www.harriman.columbia.edu/j_erickson.pdf

Here are my search words in context:

What is important to note is that those most committed to the “traditionalism” they preach are not pious old ethnics and emigres but more often zealous converts to Orthodoxy. Like Western converts to Buddhism and other more or less exotic religions (New Age, Native American...), these converts are attracted by their new faith’s spirituality, which seems so unlike what the West today has to offer. They also are especially quick to adopt those elements which they deem most distinctive, most antiwestern, about their new faith - not just prayer ropes and headcoverings but also an exclusive, sectarian view of the church that in fact is quite at odds with historic Orthodoxy.

I was just as  insulted reading these words again as I was upon hearing them the first time. 

"Like Western converts to Buddhism and other more or less exotic religions?" 

Like, you are sooooo wrong Professor!

So here I am on OCNET, hoping, praying to be shown that I am wrong in my thinking, presumptuous in my prejudices.
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« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2005, 01:37:29 AM »

Well, there are temptations on both sides-- both in forsaking the rules for the exceptions and denying the Spirit's work in the Tradition of the Church and also in appreciating the externals in and of themselves. There are *some* people who do approach Orthodoxy purely intrigued by the aesthetics, and end up worshiping the aesthetics (the headcoverings, the prayer ropes, a sense of "the Fathers," and so on), just as there are people who approach Orthodoxy with a feeling that they can do it "better" than the Fathers, that they are going to "fix" Orthodoxy of all its flaws. Both are un-Orthodox; what is Orthodox is both in between and outside the dichotomy in the first place-- it is a life by the Holy Spirit in the Church, guided by love and not by laws, in the faith once delivered to the saints and carried incorrupt from then till now.

Marjorie
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« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2005, 01:05:57 PM »

Well said Marjorie!   Smiley
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