Tuesday, July 14, 2015

"Orthodox Fundamentalism" discussed on AFR

In February Dr. Demacopolous put out an article that I commented on here. It was responded to by Fr. John Whiteford here. Kevin Allen has returned to AFR and, as he has in the past, inserted himself into an important discussion and brought to sides together to expound upon their perspectives. I think much of American Orthodoxy is glad to have him back.

(AFR) - Earlier in the year one of Kevin's guests, Dr George E Demacopolous, wrote on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese blog that through the increasing expansion of 'Orthodox fundamentalism' in ordinary parishes, "the entire Orthodox Church is at risk of being hijacked by extremists". Father John Whiteford, ROCOR priest and blogger wrote a robust rebuttal to this article. On this episode of Ancient Faith Today Kevin discusses with his guests their views of 'Orthodox fundamentalism': what it is, whether it truly exists and what impact it is having on the Orthodox Church today.


  1. I listened to this entire program and Dr. George Demacopolous comes off as a modernist and an ecumenist. He seems to twist the writings of the fathers to agree with his own agenda (especially St Gregory the Theologian). He sounded nervous at times and condescending at other times. I feel that he is painting the traditionally-minded Orthodox Christians as "fundamentalists." He continually preached the false narrative about the "fundamentalist" not wanting to engage modernity. This is nonsense! Dr. George continues to set up straw men and knock them down. He also insulted a canonical bishop from Greece. Shame on you Dr. George.

    On the other hand, Fr. John refuted his statements with calm reason and solid scholarship....as usual. Thank you Fr. John.

  2. The problem of fundamentalism as exhibited by convert priests who bring in their evangelical baggage and who have never even studied in an Orthodox seminary is a predominant concern within the Orthodox Church.

    1. Can you give me some examples of his fundamentalism?

  3. Kevin Allen and both participants I believe did an admirable job of addressing what has seemingly become a contentious topic. While certainly not presenting a full resolution to the divergent viewpoints, it did clarify some issues for me and seem to provide a basis for what could perhaps become a more fruitful discussion going forward.

    My background is mainline Protestant in my childhood and more Evangelical denominations (i.e., those with more fundamentalist influence) in my young adulthood and until I became Orthodox in mid-life. My conviction (rooted in writings of the Saints, the Liturgy of the Church and also rooted in Jesus' responses to various groups in the Gospels and in my own experience) is that the Church has much more to lose from embracing a legalistic spirit that insists of strictness for all and that has a propensity to prematurely close down discussion around the meaning and implications of the historic teachings and practices of the Church with appeals to some kind of external authority (i.e., Scripture or the Fathers), than it does from modernism.

    I'm not the least bit tempted by a modernist agenda to normalize same-sex "unions" and eliminate the liturgical symbolism of man and woman within the Church's Liturgy, and the like (i.e., it doesn't appeal to me at all, and I'm sure the Church would survive and prevail over any such attempts to falsify her teaching or practice). On the other hand, I am sorely tempted by any rhetoric or practice that threatens to eclipse the fullness of the revelation in the gospel we have been given of the mercy of God and the freedom of the Spirit to which we have been called in Christ. It was the partial eclipse of those life-creating Realities from teachings and practices in the Evangelical denominations of my adulthood that drove me to the fullness of Orthodoxy, which also represented for me a return to the simple childhood trust in the goodness and love of Christ as Savior I'd gained from the spiritual formation of my childhood. I take great comfort in the fact that Jesus' harshest censure was reserved not for the crowds of sinful and needy people that flocked to see and hear Him, not for his sometimes ignorant and wayward disciples, not even for the liberal and worldly powers of His day, but for the Pharisees (to whose party He most likely belonged), those who demanded that others adhere to standards even they themselves could not faithfully uphold and who obscured the Spirit of the Law by an inordinate focus on the letter of it.