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Academic Periodical

The Quarterly Journal of St. Philaret’s Institute

Christian Calling and the Polis

Aristotle Papanikolaou, Professor of Theology, Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture, Co-Founding Director, Orthodox Christian Studies Center (New York)
pp. 167–185
DOI: 10.25803/SFI.2020.35.3.008
The article deals with the relationship between the Christian calling and the polis in the age described by means of the concept of “secularism”. The paper looks at how this concept evolved in the Christian era and what its content is in our time. It is argued that modern Western secularism has no atheistic orientation and does not seek to eradicate or marginalize religion. The modern understanding of secularism is based on the “thesis of differentiation”, which implies that different parts of society no longer draw meaning from religion. The article raises the question of what role religion should play in a society where it is no longer an all-encompassing reality. From the author’s point of view, the Christian calling in the epoch of secularism implies a rejection of the dominant role of Christianity, including Orthodoxy, in the state affairs and recognition of legal equality of all religions in society. The adoption of Christian secularism, the public most pluralistic political space, is the only alternative to the authoritarianism of the church, which is conjoined with the state. The article attempts to prove that if the Christian calling is to practice theosis, understood as a communion between God and man, acquired through the ability to love, then a Christian should treat people who do not share his/her faith with ascetic theosis. Theosis policy means that Orthodoxy cannot be imposed on anyone. It is necessary to develop legal structures and cultural practices that give space to the unique individuality of each member of society.
Keywords: religion, policy, Orthodoxy, society, secularism, pluralism, theosis.

Last IssueIssue 44 (autumn 2022)

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