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2017 Theology Symposium

2017 Theology Symposium

With the blessing of our College Dean, His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos of Australia, the College held its Second Theology Symposium from 1-2 September. The theme of this year’s Symposium was ‘The Mystery of the Holy Trinity: Implications for Everyday Living,’ and was organised by Professor James Harrison (Director of Research, Sydney College of Divinity) and Dr Philip Kariatlis (Academic Director and Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology, St Andrew’s). It was attended by more than sixty delegates.  

His Eminence opened the Symposium with prayer and greeted the attendees, briefly introducing the two keynote speakers and thanking in advance the remaining 22 presenters. Amongst other things, His Eminence noted: “it is the sincere hope of our Theological College that this Symposium will provide a sacred space for serious theological reflection by academics from different Christian traditions within Australia and abroad, on what constitutes a most foundational and central teaching of Christianity – indeed one which has important implications for Christian anthropology.”

Before the first keynote address, Melisma Ensemble, a Sydney-based all male acapella vocal group which performs sacred Byzantine Chant, founded and directed by Dr Dimitri Koubaroulis, performed a range of sacred hymns relating to the Holy Trinity, some dating back as far as the 3rd century. This set the tone for remaining part of the evening.

The first keynote speaker was Professor Aristotle Papanikolaou, who is the Archbishop Demetrios Professor in Orthodox Theology and Culture and Co-Director of the Orthodox Christian Studies Centre at Fordham University in New York City. The title of his keynote address was “From Sophia to Personhood: The Development of 20th Century Orthodox Trinitarian Theology.” He wonderfully presented the Trinitarian theology of some of the key Orthodox theologians of the 20th century and then went on to show how the mystery of the three divine Persons sheds light on the understanding of human personhood.

The Reverend Professor Gerard Kelly, President of the Catholic Institute of Sydney and Professor of Theology within the Sydney College of Divinity, was the second keynote speaker. The title of his paper was “The Action of God in the World and in the Life of the Believer: The Trinity and the Sacraments.” Prof. Kelly examined how Christian believers are brought into communion with God through participation in the sacraments.

The names of the remaining presenters were: Dr Kirsty Beilharz (SCD), Sr Dr Margaret Beirne (St Andrew’s), Revd Anastasios Bozikis (St Andrew’s), Revd Dr Ian Coutts (Charles Sturt University), Very Revd Dr Silouan Fotineas (St Andrew’s), Revd Deacon Prof. Perry Hamalis (North Central College, Chicago), Sr Dr Theodora Hutchinson (Antiochian Orthodox Church); Dr Michelle Jones (Broken Bay Institute), Samuel Kaldas (PhD student), Dr Philip Kariatlis (St Andrew’s), Br Dr Robert Krishna (University of Divinity), Revd Canon Prof. Dorothy Lee (Trinity College Theological School), Assoc. Prof. David McEwan (Nazarene Theological College), Dr Peter McGregor (Catholic Institute of Sydney), Daniel Madigan (Notre Dame University), Andrew Mellas (St Andrew’s), Assoc. Prof. Gerard Moore (Charles Sturt University), Revd Assoc. Prof. Glen O’Brien (Booth College), Prof. Neil Ormerod (Australian Catholic University), Dr Meredith Secomb (Independent Scholar, graduate student of St Andrew’s), Florensia Theograsia (PhD student) and Revd Constantine Varipatis (St Andrew’s).

All the papers provided an opportunity to reflect not only upon this central tenet of the Christian faith, but on its implications both for the world’s salvation and for everyday living. In this way, the Symposium was able to bring to the fore that the doctrine of the Trinitarian God, far from being a speculative and abstract teaching of Christianity, is deeply connected with the understanding of the human person and Christian living more broadly. Video recordings of the keynote presentations are available on the College’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

It is fitting to end with a saying from St Gregory the Theologian (4th cent.) who, reflecting on the mystery of the Trinitarian God, wrote: “Oh You who are beyond everything, what else can be sung about you?”

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