The international conference "Academic theology in a post-secular age"

On November 10-11, 2011, the international conference "Academic theology in a post-secular age" took place in Lviv.

The event was organized by the Institute of Ecumenical Studies of the Ukrainian Catholic University in cooperation with St. Andrew`s Biblical Theological Institute (Moscow) with the support of the Missionary Relief Organization Kerk in Actie (Netherlands).

The first day of the conference began with ecumenical prayer. Words of welcome were addressed to all the participants by Alexei Bodrov, rector of St. Andrew’s Biblical Theological Institute (Russia); Taras Dobko, Senior Vice-Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University; Fr. Roman Fihas, researcher at the Institute of Ecumenical Studies; and Hans Spinder, a representative of the Dutch organization "Kerk in Actie".

Participants discussed issues of theology as an academic discipline, the importance of ecumenical Christian education in academic institutions, the main trends and prospects of its development in high schools of Ukraine, inter-curricular cooperation in the sphere of theology, and the parallels between religion and philosophy.

"Dialogue between Western and Eastern theology can create systematic theology and yet maintain loyalty to the Gospel, to use or restrict reason and faith at the proper moment. This could be one of the projects for academic theology in the 21st century," proposed the speaker from the Netherlands, Frank Bestebreurtje.

And the speaker from the Volos Academy for Theological Studies (Greece), Pantelis Kalaitzidis, stressed that the Church should speak to people in a more understandable language; and theology must be academic and a kind of "conscience of the Church."

Conference participants were guests from Ukraine and abroad: a representative of the Faculty of Philosophy of the Krakow University of John Paul II, Jakub Homulka; the coordinator of the Ukrainian Distance Master's Program of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies, Taras Kurylets; representatives of the Pedagogical University of Drahomanov (Kyiv), Vitaly and Iryna Khromet; an expert in the social theology of the Protestant Churches, Mykhaylo Cherenkov, PhD; and staff of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies, Pavlo Smytsniuk and Nadiya Ilyushenko.

Guests of the conference were representatives of ecumenical centers of Eastern Europe in Poland, Belarus, Russia, Romania and Georgia.

A round table was the final stage of the conference "Academic theology in a post-secular age." Participants discussed key issues and problems in achieving consensus and understanding. Speakers expressed their conviction that theology must be understandable and in accordance with the academic standards offered by modern scholarship. Theology should not be closed in on itself, but open to dialogue with other disciplines.