Florovsky Plenary Paper Abstract - Orthodox Responses to the Reformation: A Historical Perspective

Synaxis of the Twelve Holy Apostles

THE LATE Fr. Alexander Schmemann once said, “The most valuable perspectives on the present are those which have digested the past.” To that end, this presentation offers an historical perspective on Orthodox and Protestant relations at the time of the Reformation in the 16th century, with special reference to George Florovsky’s interpretation of those events. I concentrate on German Lutheran theologians and their attempts to achieve unity with the Ecumenical Patriarchs of Constantinople in the 16th century. This intriguing period of history is followed by the ‘pseudomorphosis’ that developed in Orthodox theology as a result of Catholic and Protestant influence in the 17th and 18th centuries. I then conclude with a brief survey of modern dialogues in the 20th and 21st centuries, with special reference to Orthodox-Evangelical dialogue and the new Finnish interpretation of Luther that links justification by faith with ‘union in Christ’. I conclude by offering new methodologies and strategies for achieving Christian unity today.


Bradley Nassif is a professor of biblical and theological studies at North Park University (Chicago). He holds a PhD in patristics from Fordham University (directed by the late Father John Meyendorff), an MDiv from St. Vladimir’s Orthodoxy Seminary, MA’s in New Testament from Denver Seminary and History from Wichita State University, and a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Friends University. He has been a consultant for The New York Times, a longtime contributor to Christianity Today, and a pioneer of Orthodox-Evangelical dialogue in America, the World Council of Churces, and the Lausanne-Orthodox-Initiative. The New Republic described him as “the leading academic expert on Eastern Orthodox and Evangelical dialogue.” He is the general editor of New Perspectives on Historical Theology: Essays in Memory of John Meyendorff (Eerdmans), co-editor of The Philokalia: A Classic Text of Orthodox Spirituality (Oxford University Press), and author of Bringing Jesus to the Desert (Zondervan).


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