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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Orthodox Christian Renewal Movements

I well remember in the late 1990s there was a big gathering in Rome of what were then being called "new ecclesial movements" in the Latin Church that had grown up in the latter half of the twentieth century and were, in some cases, doing some unique things in new or different ways outside of the traditional episcopal-monastic models and lines of control. Some of these went on to flame out in spectacular ways, some still court controversy (e.g., Opus Dei, with which I have some limited experience in Canada in the 90s), and some seem to be continuing in their good work.

Renewal movements within Orthodoxy crop up periodically throughout its history, too, often in response to some revolutionary change. One thinks, e.g., of the brotherhood movements in what is today Ukraine after the Counter-Reformation and Union of Brest, or those that grew up around the Russian Revolution. More recently a series of movements and initiatives have arisen in post-Soviet Russia, Ukraine, Greece and elsewhere--again not all of them successful, and some, from what I have heard informally, downright pathological.

Along comes a new scholarly collection to give us an overview of some of these groups: Orthodox Christian Renewal Movements in Eastern Europe, eds., A.D. Milovanović and Radmila Radić, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 339pp.

About this collection (whose table of contents you can view here) the publisher tells us the following:
This book explores the changes underwent by the Orthodox Churches of Eastern and Southeastern Europe as they came into contact with modernity. The movements of religious renewal among Orthodox believers appeared almost simultaneously in different areas of Eastern Europe at the end of the nineteenth and during the first decades of the twentieth century. This volume examines what could be defined as renewal movement in Eastern Orthodox traditions. Some case studies include the God Worshippers in Serbia, religious fraternities in Bulgaria, the Zoe movement in Greece, the evangelical movement among Romanian Orthodox believers known as Oastea Domnului (The Lord’s Army), the Doukhobors in Russia, and the Maliovantsy in Ukraine. This volume provides a new understanding of processes of change in the spiritual landscape of Orthodox Christianity and various influences such as other non-Orthodox traditions, charismatic leaders, new religious practices and rituals.

T of C: https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783319633534

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