2015 St Andrew's Theology Symposium

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St Andrew's Inaugural Theology Symposium
'The Earth is the Lord's: Environmental Theology And Ethics'

(Iconography: From the Chapel of St John the Theologian, St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College)

From 9-10 October, 2015 St Andrew’s was pleased to host its inaugural Theology Symposium on the theme ‘The Earth is the Lord's: Environmental Theology and Ethics,’ convened by Professor Jim Harrison (Director of Research, SCD) and Dr Philip Kariatlis (Academic Director and Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology, St Andrew’s). The Symposium primarily explored the sacred depths of creation not only from within different disciplines of theology but also different Christian traditions.The three keynote speakers included the founding sub-dean of St Andrew's, Revd Dr John Chryssavgis, (Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Throne and Theological Advisor to the Ecumenical Patriarch on Environmental Issues); Revd Professor Denis Edwards (Australian Catholic University), who is a leading Roman Catholic theologian in Australia on Environmental Issues, and; Revd Dr Michael Trainor, (Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies and Research Supervisor at the Australian Catholic University, Adelaide). Fifteen papers were offered from various disciplines and also different Christian traditions, thus shedding light on the ecological crisis from various angles and highlighting our shared responsibility for the planet’s future.

Within the context of the Symposium, Alexandrian Legacy: A Critical Appraisal, edited by Dr Costache, Dr Kariatlis, and Dr Baghos, was officially launched by Professor Carole Cusack (Studies in Religion, The University of Sydney). The Symposium also included a brief concert on the hymns of creation by Melisma Ensemble, conducted by Dr Dimitri Koubaroulis.

Convened by:

Dr Philip Kariatlis & Professor James R. Harrison


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Symposium Program

We welcome presentations from the different disciplines of Christian theology interested in further reflecting on this central doctrine of the Church, irrespective of their field of expertise, academic affiliations or denominational background. Indeed, it is hoped that this cross-disciplinary approach (whether this be systematic theology, patristics, ethics, biblical studies, church history, liturgics, etc) will contribute by casting further light - indeed a more enriching and holistic perspective - to this most significant Christian teaching.

Keynote Speakers

Revd Dr John Chryssavgis

Keynote Address:
"On Earth as in Heaven: The Theological Roots of our Ecological Crisis"

Abstract: In the past few decades, the world has witnessed an alarming environmental degradation – with the threat of anthropogenic climate change, the loss of biodiversity and the pollution of natural resources – and a widening gap between rich and poor, as well as the increasing failure to implement environmental policies. We have, however, been constantly reminded – indeed, in a painful way – of this ecological crisis with the cruel flora and fauna extinction, with the irresponsible soil and forest clearance, and with the unacceptable noise, air, and water pollution. Nonetheless, for Orthodox Christian thinkers and theologians, concern for the environment is not a form of superficial or sentimental devotion. It is a way of honoring and dignifying the reality of creation by the hand and Word of God. It is, as well, a way of respecting “the mourning of the land” (Hosea 41.3) and heeding “the groaning of creation” (Rom. 8.22). This paper will survey fundamental principles in Orthodox Christian theology and spirituality as these relate to the way we conceive and conduct our lives in the world. With the use of images and visuals, it will explore the way in which icons, liturgy and ascesis can reflect the mystery of creation.


Revd Professor Denis Edwards

Keynote Address:
"Earth as God’s Creation:  A Theological Exploration of Pope Francis’s Recent Teaching"

Abstract: In 2002, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew issued a common declaration with Pope John Paul II on environmental ethics, in which they said that the ecological issues we face are not simply economic and technological, but moral and spiritual. They called for an inner change of heart that leads to a transformation of life-styles and patterns of production and consumption. In Jerusalem on 25th May 2014, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew signed a common declaration with Pope Francis that covered a range of important issues, including the safeguarding of the gift of creation. They declared that the mistreatment of our planet is tantamount to sin. Together they pledged their commitment to raising awareness about the stewardship of creation and appealed to all people of goodwill to consider living less wastefully and more frugally, and with more generosity, for the protection of God’s creation and the good of God’s people. In 2015 Pope Francis will issue an encyclical concerned with environmental issues, which promises to be an important development in church teaching on creation. This paper will offer an analysis of Pope Francis’s new encyclical, exploring its theological foundations and its consequences for the way we live.


Revd Dr Michael Trainor

Keynote Address:
"Heaven on Earth: Ecological Nuances from Luke’s Gospel"

Abstract: Conventionally, Luke’s gospel has been interpreted anthropocentrically with the focus of Jesus’ ministry exclusively concerned about the salvation of human beings. However such a focus has distracted us from recognizing another important focus of his mission—Earth. It is possible, indeed now even necessary, to see subtle ecological resonances throughout the gospel. In its opening chapters Luke’s Jesus is Earth’s child encircled by Earth’s gifts (a ‘manger’ and ‘bands of cloth’), as angels appear before shepherds (Lk 2.8-14) to celebrate Heaven’s communion with Earth, the fruit of this child’s birth. His public ministry is taken up with deeds and words that reveal a concern for all creation, for the human and non-human world. Even birds and pigs become important in his ecologically inclusive ministry. The angelic chorus of Lk 2 finds its echo towards the end of the gospel. It is reflected in the acclamation which the disciples give Jesus as they welcome him into Jerusalem surrounded by Earth’s gifts (Lk 19.28-40). The gospel’s celebration and healing of Earth culminates in the final chapter, as the Risen Jesus comes forth from Earth blessing all that lives and revealing God’s presence within creation. Attuning ourselves to hear Luke’s gospel from the perspective of Earth allows a freshness to emerge that resonates more readily with our ecological and environmental concerns.



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