Chicago, IL - The second monthly gathering of the Young Adult Fellowship of Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral examined last night, on the Eve of the Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, questions related to the interaction of the Orthodox Church and modern democratic state systems based on comparative theological perspectives of church scholars, in a fascinating presentation given by Fr. Darko Spasojevic, the Cathedral Dean.
Fr. Darko established the framework for discussion at the onset of his presentation by introducing the Scriptural foundations for the various modalities of church-state relations seen throughout history—ranging from the persecution of Orthodox Christians by tyrannical regimes, to the symphonia of ecclesiastical and state institutions in the Byzantine period. The relationship between Orthodoxy and contemporary democracies, however, has only recently begun to warrant more thorough theological scrutiny both as various Orthodox Diasporas have taken root in Western countries and as their homelands have undergone the process of post-Communist democratization. Effectively, these historical developments have compelled the Church to reexamine its own role in states and societies that are increasingly pluralistic and multicultural. Fr. Darko concluded that modern, democratic state systems, where Church and state are constitutionally separate, are not inherently adverse to the spiritual life of the Church and its faithful. Rather, by virtue of the freedoms democratic states espouse, a favorable environment is created for the Church to fulfill its most essential mission as commanded by Christ to “go and teach all of the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
In a lively discussion that ensued, participants exchanged views and asked questions on a broad range of topics covered by Fr. Darko, from church history and the Byzantine period to the present two-party political system in the United States. The next Young Adult Fellowship event, a wine-tasting and discussion night, will be held on Thursday, September 24th, at 7:00 PM.