11 April 2022

Statement of Solidarity

On 13 March, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, Orthodox clergy and laity published A Declaration on the “Russian World” (Russkii mir) Teaching, modelled on the 1934 Barmen Declaration. With my paternal Orthodox roots, I was greatly heartened to see such a statement emerge out of a tradition better known for the cosy relations between church hierarchs and political rulers. If I were an Orthodox Christian, I definitely would have signed the statement. Now Religion in Praxis has published A statement of solidarity with the Orthodox declaration on the “Russian World” (russkii mir) teaching, and against Christian Nationalism and New Totalitarianism. From the introduction:

Following the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation in February 2022, Orthodox voices have thoroughly rebutted the use of the “Russian World” (russkii mir) teaching, which claims that there is an organically unified transnational orthodox Christian Russian civilization that includes the territories and people of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and sometimes other nations, to justify the current war. This statement seeks a) to facilitate support from among non-Orthodox Christian scholars for the rejection of the “russkii mir” teaching; b) to reject unholy alliances between Christian identity and political power which have also emerged in the context of Christian Nationalism; and c) to call for the development of an ecumenical “Theology after Christendom”. We invite support from Christian scholars and clergy, and are open to those who do not share the Christian language of this statement, but who share its purpose.

An excerpt from the statement:

We call on other Christian scholars in Europe and beyond to speak out against unholy alliances between Christian identity and political power

Christian scholars must be ready and willing to speak out against unholy alliances of Christianity and political power, and especially in the context of nationalism, populism, and new forms of totalitarianism. The integrity of the Christian witness is distorted when the appropriation of Christian identity remains uncontested from within Christian traditions.

We laud the <Declaration on the “Russian World” (russkii mir) Teaching> from within parts of the international Orthodox community

The abuse of the Russian World teaching has been thoroughly rebutted as non-Orthodox by international Orthodox voices. Orthodox theologians have not hesitated to condemn the fratricidal war against Ukraine as “the repetition of the sin of Cain”. The integrity of the Christian witness is honoured by Christian solidarity with those who speak truth to power.

We call for the development of an ecumenical “Theology after Christendom”

Drawing upon Scripture, reason, and the rich traditions of the Christian churches around the world, 21st-century Christianity needs to nourish its reflection on theology and political thought, specifically investing in an ecumenical “Theology after Christendom”. Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant scholars must support one another in resisting the sacralisation of political communities, and in offering resources to articulate a theology committed to the common good, to truthfulness, and to justice.
Because this statement is an expression of solidarity with antinationalist Orthodox Christians, I have appended my signature to it. May God see fit to use it to advance his kingdom in a troubled part of the world.


Bill said...


David Koyzis said...

You're welcome!


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