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Georges Florovsky: Christianity and Civilization

Georges Florovsky: Christianity and Civilization, Pournaras, Thessaloniki, 2003.

The topical issue of the relationship of Christianity and civilisation, particularly after the accusation flung by Harnack about the hellenization of Christianity, the secularisation of the post-Christian society, the re-evaluation of history and humanities, as well as the search for human cultivation in the form of a modern ideal, made the discussion of this issue by Florovsky, one of the most able orthodox thinkers on the matter, a dire necessity.

This volume, a sum of studies published in various publications and languages, maintains its span with a malleable, lively language, giving an image of Christian thought and life, through the passage of time and history.

After the first certifications of the cataclysmic changes of our time and the creation of what we call post-Christian era, Florovsky stresses the timelessness of a tug-of-war that has marked the history of Christianity, and the way of thought of Christian thinkers. The tug-of-war of rejection of the world and escape from it, or taking it on and transforming it.

From this point of view, the problem of the relationship between Christianity and Hellenism, an unsolved problem until today, seeks, under the pen of the modern Christian historian, the sobriety and objectivity of presenting Christianity as a historical religion, with the ability to take on various elements from its immediate environment. Far from embellishments and idealisations, in a world that deconstructs the concept and the function of civilisation along with that of the sacred, which deconstructs even the methods and efficiency of historiography, Florovsky examines some of the antinomies of the Christian history. Antinomies that reveal the dialectics of either the intake or the rejection of the world and civilisation by the Christian Church.

Thus, the chapters: “Empire and Desert” and “The Iconoclastic Dispute” follow the course of creation of highly cultural formations, at the same time that Christianity transforms itself in an institutionalized factor and an established condition of the Byzantine society.

The examination of the social problem in the eastern Orthodox Church by Fr. Georges, reveals a continuous suspicion of the Church, faced with the structures and demands of this world. This is without changing its suspicion with indifference for the social injustice and social evil.

Finally, the very illuminating analyses of side issues that have historically preoccupied eastern and western theologians, during the period of the birth of Protestantism and the development of “orthodox” dogmas later, is, among others, revealing of the formation of the Christian culture, as we know it today. Also, they are revealing of the way of development and projection of the identity and self-consciousness of eastern Christianity against western Christianity, as well as against  modern reality.


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