Atheist-Orthodox Dialogue Post 2

In these essays, we post some thoughts from our conversation regarding “origins.”  From whence did we come?  Jon claims not to know but suggests science may yet determine a purely natural answer, with no need for a transcendent Creator: Where did we come from-1.  I claim that a belief in God’s creative act is not testable by science and that an inductive argument for a Creator is legitimate: Origins.


A Review of the 2012 OTSA Conference

This past weekend, theologians from across the country gathered at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary ( for the annual Orthodox Theological Society of America (OTSA) conference.  This was only the second I had attended.  My first had been in Chicago in 2008.  Although attendance was much lower this time around, something I noted in the business meeting, those who were there were actively engaged in presenting and discussing Orthodox Christian history and theology and each of the papers were worth listening to.  For a list of papers given, go to the site, scroll down the page a bit, and see the pdf schedule:

As I said, each paper was intriguing but a few stood out to me because of their content and my own interests.  Dn. Nicholas Denysenko (Loyola Marymount in LA)’s paper on Ukraine was quite illuminating.  I hadn’t kept up with everything going on over there, so I found his paper quite fascinating.  I enjoyed the topic of Dn. Pavel Gavrilyuk (St. Thomas Univeristy in St. Paul, MN)’s paper as well–trends in the American academy amongst Orthodox.  My friend Fr. John Strickland (newly founded St. Katherine’s College)’s paper on “Holy Rus” as an important concept for clergy attempting to “convert” Russian nationalists in late imperial Russia was of interest as well.  Yet, there were papers that also will develop into works useful for educated parishioners.  In particular, we should keep an eye out for Dr. Edith Humphrey (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary)’s book on Scripture and Tradition.  It is forthcoming from Baker Academic Press and once it’s out, I’ll try to get it mentioned on here.  From what I can tell, I expect it to be useful for anyone who discusses the relationship between tradition and the Bible (whether with family or friends).  Also, regarding books, please check out the latest post by Adam DeVille over at Eastern Christian Books:

Adam was also at OTSA and I had several wonderful chats with the man.  He is doing great work not only reviewing Eastern Christian books, but also with his journal, LOGOS: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies.  LOGOS will soon have full text articles available on a religion database known as ATLA, which will be very helpful for graduate students and researchers but is also a sign of Eastern Christianity’s ongoing vitality, which should be good news for any of us.

Finally, I should note that the annual Florovsky lecture was given on Friday night and it was an intriguing talk by Fr. John Behr (St. Vladimir’s Seminary) concerning “theology” and reading the fathers today.  In his talk, he engaged the philosophy of Jean-Luc Marion.  I am no expert in Marion, so I’m still mulling over the paper.  Perhaps that is precisely what conferences should do, inspire ongoing thinking and reflecting!  I would say several papers did that for me this time around.

Books on Eastern Christianity

Sometimes people ask me about books on Orthodoxy, Eastern Christianity, or some aspect thereof.  For those of you interested in such things, I’d recommend the following:

St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press

SVSP was once the premier press when it came to producing academic works on Eastern Orthodoxy and although times have changed, with Orthodox scholars now utilizing university and non-Orthodox presses in order to engage the academy more widely, SVSP is still a good press producing good works.

Conciliar Press

Conciliar press publishes apologetics, Biblical reflections, historical reflections, and children’s books.  These are geared to a much more popular (but still informed) audience.

Baker Academic’s Eastern Orthodoxy Series

The authors in this series are good and I know two of them personally.  Dr. Peter Bouteneff’s book (Beginnings) on Creation and Genesis in the early Eastern Fathers of the Church is quite good.

University of Notre Dame Press

These books relate to Orthodox history and here, too, I happen to know a few of the authors and I can tell you that they do good work.  Although these are published through a university press, these books are accessible to anyone who is theologically informed.

There are other presses that I would recommend for those who wish to study Orthodoxy, I think the presses I’ve listed here provide good starting points for people, depending on their level of interest and theological education.