Research Programs

The Institute strives for quality mentoring and new research projects relevant to the Eastern European context.
The relationship between theological and philosophical discourses in the early 21st century

Anatoliy Denysenko, Ph.D., author of Theology of Liberation: Ideas, Criticism, Perspectives (Kiev, 2019).

The purpose of the project is to write a series of thematic articles and monographs for students of theological departments of universities and theological seminaries on the features of theological discourses in the end of XX – beginning of XXI century. Critical, radical, political, post-metaphysical theology is a new subject for most students in the Ukrainian context. At the time, when theology has been deeply engaged in dialogue with secular philosophy and critical theory, the presentation of historical theology often stops at liberal theology and neo-orthodoxy. Today we are in a situation, in which there is a large lacuna in the coverage of the main trends that have been occurring in theology of the last decades, therefore, it is necessary to begin research and educational work on this issue.

The following activities are planned for the project. First of all, in a series of publications, we look at the theological landscapes of contemporary continental thought and reflect on the future of Christian theology. We also raise the topics of the death of God and the radical theology of the late XX - early XXI centuries. We will try to understand how faith in God has changed, and what path it took from Nietzsche's nihilism to the postmodern narratives of our days. We will reflect on those aspects of modern capitalism that pose a threat to the individual and society as a whole. It will also be interesting for us to turn to the post-metaphysical searches that are taking place today within contemporary theology. An integral part of the project will be the study of political theology. If Jürgen Moltman's name is not well known to young theologians, then Giorgio Agamben's one tells them almost nothing. We will correct this failure in theological education. An important part of the project will be the attempt to convey to Ukrainian students and young church ministers the ideas of reconciling theology and philosophy that Western thought breathes today. In this context, the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek is a good example of the combination of Marx's materialistic thought with Chesterton's orthodoxy and Hegel's dialectic with the faith of Job.

We plane to publish a number of books on topics to be explored. It is necessary to write a textbook on the relationship between theological and philosophical discourses of the early XXI century. We are also interested in creating a textbook on Introduction into Political Theology, which will explore the development of political theological thought from Augustine to the present day. Students also need a Ukrainian version of the textbook, such as "25 Theological Texts of the 21st Century." While working on these books, we plan to make presentations at scientific conferences and give separate lectures at the theological departments in Ukraine.

We expect concrete results from the project and hope for the prospect of our further research. Most importantly, in our project we want to raise interest among students and thinking churched people in the theme of the interconnection of theological and philosophical discourses (transcendental and materialistic), which is a common theme of our project. We want to see how our project will push a serious theological debate in the Ukrainian context. This discussion must take into account not only theological arguments, but also the philosophers' assertions about the end of theology and the death of God.

Development of the Evangelical Liturgical Theology in the post-secular Eastern Europe

The project is carried out under the general supervisionof Revd. Sergii Sannikov, PhD in Philosophy; Doctor of Science in Theology

The religious situation in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union underwent rapid and significant changes. In the last decade of the twentieth century atheist society was filled with a variety of religious forms. There was a surge in religious activity in all confessions, and especially among evangelicals. The intense influx of neophytes has led to the revitalization of all forms of church life and to the emergence to seeking new, unconventional ways of worship. However, experiments in the field of practical liturgical forms were often carried out on the enthusiasm brought from the experience of the secular life from the Soviet period or on copying foreign, most influential and spectacular samples without theoretical analysis. It means, that development of liturgical practice did not have a deep theological foundation due to the lack of a meaningful and clearly articulated evangelical theology, which for obvious reasons did not develop in previous decades.

The first decade of the twenty-first century has stifled religious enthusiasm. In this time in Eastern Europe one can be watch trend to search more deep spirituality and the same time most people have become content with ritualism. Many researchers note that society in this part of the world began to change and it acquired features of post-secularity similar to West European society. The second decade of the third millennium clearly demonstrates the stratification of public consciousness: the main part of society is satisfied by external religious forms, and the other (smaller) part is looking for a serious spiritual life. It is quite obvious that Eastern Europe entered the post-Christian world and the evangelical churches has matured for in-depth understanding of the various forms of its worship and the very phenomenon of "serving God".

The need for a serious and large-scale research project in the field of Liturgical Theology is evident not only in the Eastern European region, but also in almost all parts of the world. The liturgical revival, begun in the bowels of the Catholic Church back in the 19th century, has long captured all confessional groups, however, evangelicals participate in it quite carefully. The only exception is perhaps the British Baptists, who develop the Baptist Sacramentalism movement. Thus, the relevance of studying Sacramental Theology is obvious from both a theoretical and a practical point of view.

The project Evangelical Liturgical Theology involves a comprehensive study of the theoretical concepts and practical application this important phenomenon of church life. Liturgical Theology is understood not only as liturgy inside the church, but also as a joint service to God and to people in the broad sense. Therefore, the biblical, historical and theological principle is focused and revealed in Liturgical Theology. The theoretical part of the project dedicated to the historical roots, biblical foundations, theological interpretations and philosophical generalizations of the church services in their components - in the worship, prayers, benediction, proclamation of the Word, etc. The practical component includes the study, analysis and generalization of the existing diverse experience of the church life, using a variety of methods of social research and system technologies. The methodological basis of the project is a holistic approach, involving a holistic generalization of diverse phenomena in order to produce the recommendations and suggestions for practical life. This helps to find the place of Evangelical Liturgical Theology in the general paradigm of theological thought and include it in the ecumenical and modern context of the rapidly changing post-secular world.

The main research questions are following: What is worship and its components in an ecclesiological perspective? What exactly happens during the gathering of congregation? How to find a harmony of serving God and serving people in church meetings? How do the didactic, sensual-emotional and directly spiritual aspects of worship relate to each other? What theological significance are the collective forms of church gathering and how do they relate to the individual? What role does the aesthetics of the word and the aesthetics of space play in the process of worship? What are Church rituals, customs and traditions? What factors influence the actualization of the sacred presence and provide an encounter with God in the Church space?

The answers to these questions allow us to talk about finding adequate forms of worship services for the evangelical congregations. It's obviously that these forms are infinitely varied and depend on cultural and historical parameters and cannot be frozen, but should be sensitive to the guidance of the Spirit in each a concrete historical moment and be deeply rooted in biblical theology.

The whole project is designed for 10 years and includes several parallel directions, each of which is associated with the study of the individual structural components of the evangelical service and/or to study different confessional horizons. The program is carried out in an interdisciplinary manner and involves the regular publication of research results in academic journals, in monographs and paper collections; participation at scientific and theological conferences; providing the seminars and consultations, active PR activities to attract enthusiasts to the development of liturgical theology. In future – to start a scientific periodical publication "Liturgical theology in Eastern Europe" and the formation of a specialized library in this field.

From the beginning of 2018, a part of the project that focused on Baptist sacramentalism - was launched. The title of this direction – "Baptist sacramentalism: theological and historical reflections in the East European context". In 2018 water baptism in the Baptist tradition was studied and as result – 25 academic publications, and monograph "Signs of the Presence: Water Baptism" were issued and published.

In 2019-20. the Lord's Supper is being studied in the context of Baptist Sacramentology. We suppose to make academic publications in scientific periodicals, including the preparation of the second monograph "Signs of the Presence: Lord's Supper" and the publication of the chapter in the British collection Wipf and Stock publisher - Baptist Sacramentalism 3. It is also expected to be held with Odessa National University open theological seminar "Liturgical traditions and renovations in Eastern Europe."

In the years 2021-22. it is planned to study the laying on of hands (ordination) in the Baptist tradition with relevant publications and the issue of the third monograph, "Signs of the Presence: Ordination," the academic publications in scientific periodicals and the holding of a theological conference on liturgical theology.

In the years 2023-27. is planned a study of the historical, biblical and theological foundations of the Baptist worship within the framework of Baptist ecclesiology with the publication of the final monograph in this series: "The Sign of the Presence: The Church" (sketch of Baptist ecclesiology and sacramentology), a series of publications in scientific periodicals and two theological workshops.

Also is planned the translation and publication of Brian Haymes, Ruth Gouldbourne, and Anthony R Cross book: "On Being the Church."

Coordinator – Sergii Sannikov.

From the middle of 2020, another direction of the project will begin, connected to the theological understanding of the liturgical ministry out-of-church structures, i.e. public ministry of the church. The focus of this direction is "The liturgical ministry of the Church outside the church". The publication of a series of scientific articles and the monograph are supposed.

Coordinator – Alexander Geychenko.

From 2021, one more direction of the project will began, dedicated to the study of the liturgical features of the service of the Pentecostal movement. On this topic we also supposed to have a series of scientific publications and monographs. A separate direction will be the study of the discourse of prophecy in a historical perspective, which is conducted by Michael Chernyavsky, as well as liturgical studies of the early Christian congregations by Valery Alikin.

Coordinator – Michael Mokienko.

Inculturation in the First Epistle of the Apostle Paul to Thessalonians

Stanislav Stepanchenko, PhD candidate

The purpose of the study is to distinguish and describe the ways of inculturation in a specific example in the text of 1 Thess. 4: 3-8 and the attempt to implement Paul's inculturation experience in the contemporary Ukrainian mission context.

As part of the study next elements are planned:

  1. Thorough analysis of the existing ideas on the topic.
  2. An attempt to address the problem in the field of social sciences, in particular sociology, anthropology, using the work of Erich Dodds and the research experience of The Context Group.
  3. Literary analysis, which will involve a broader volume of ancient literature to reconstruct a possible Greco-Roman context, and to reconstruct a possible influence of the Semitic context, the Jewish extra-Biblical texts.
  4. Based on the works of Martin Fahrenhorst, it is planned to compare ancient cult terminology and the corresponding terms in Paul's writings.
  5. Investigation of new epigraphic data for reconstruction of the socio-religious context of the city of Thessaloniki in period from 1st cent. B.C. to 1 st. A.D.
  6. An attempt to analyze the contemporary Ukrainian socio-cultural space in order to find a point of contact between the probable Sitz im Leben of the First Thessalonians.

The following activities are planned for the study:

  1. Interdisciplinary seminar. The main objectives of the seminar, based on the material of the early Christian text, Paul's first letter to Thessalonians is to identify and describe the means of inculturation using methodological developments of literary criticism and social sciences in biblical studies.
  2. Methodological seminar. The main objective of the seminar are theoretical and practical components of modern methodological achievements in social and Bible studies.

Seminars can attend the Institute's staff, undergraduates, graduate students and students of secular and theological educational institutions. For some of the regular participants in the seminar, the analysis of Paul's texts is an important part of their research and qualification work.

  1. Conference. The theme of the conference is: "Inculturation and the contemporary Ukrainian context". The main goal of the conference is to involve a wider circle of researchers in the problem of the relevance of the Christian worldview in contemporary Ukrainian context. The focus will be on exploring the principles and means of inculturation in Pauline corpus and their possible implementation in the Ukrainian context.

According to the results of the study next elements are planned:

  1. writing a monograph "Inculturation in the First Epistle of the Apostle Paul to Thessalonians",
  2. writing an Exegetical Commentary on the First Epistle of the Apostle Paul to Thessalonians,
  3. translation of the First Epistle to Thessalonians from the original text into modern Ukrainian,
  4. publication of research articles.
The Renaissance of the doctrine of the Trinity in 20th Century Theology

Fedir Stryzhachuk, PhD

The purpose of the project is to analyze and interpret the historical background, theological context, motives and content of the revival and development of Trinitarian theology in the 20th century.

The doctrine of the Trinity is the foundational doctrine of Christian theology. The Christian understanding of God as a triune is distinguished among monotheistic religions and is unique. However, after the assertion in patristic theology, the doctrine of the Trinity did not receive due attention in the further development of Christian theology. And in the 19th century there was a profound decline in Trinitarian doctrine. The doctrine was considered irrelevant, incomprehensible and impractical. Unitarian trends in theology and practice began to be seen in the Christian church. Oblivion of the doctrine of the Trinity has spread to the beliefs and lives of ordinary believers.

The twentieth century is characterized by a new discovery and revival of Trinitarian theology. Protestant theologian Karl Barth and Catholic theologian Karl Ranner pointed to the importance of the doctrine of the Trinity and made it the center and the prerequisite for Christian theology. Jürgen Moltmann, Wolfgang Pannenberg, Robert Jenson, etc. developed the doctrine of the Trinity and substantiated its roots in the writings of the Old and New Testaments and the history of salvation. The next stage in the development of the doctrine of the Trinity was its penetration into the theology, focused on political theology (Leonardo Boff), ecclesiology (John Zizioulos), Christian life (Katherine LaCugna). In the last decades of the twentieth century, theologians from different confessional traditions Catholics (Balthasar), Orthodox and Protestants (Thomas Torrens) again returned to the doctrine of the Immanent Trinity and formulated the Trinitarian doctrine on the basis of new methodological principles.

The beginning of the 21st century is characterized by the general recognition of the key role of the doctrine of the Trinity in academic Christian theology. Not only systematic theology, but also the biblical study, linguistics, morals, missiology, pastoral theology, etc. are under the influence of Trinitarian studies. The Christian perspective of society, politics, state, family, personality, ethics, and ecology also becomes Trinitarian in content and mode.

The above-described development of the doctrine of the Trinity and the Trinitarian motives of Christian theology is well known in the academic theological circles of the West. However, in the Ukrainian church environment, it is almost unknown. Church theology and practice are at the level of "oblivion of the Trinity", which in the West was characteristic of the 19th century. Academic theology of Ukraine "revival" of interest in Trinitarian theology is known and finds some response. However, the process of the new discovery of the doctrine of the Trinity in modern theology still requires careful study and explication. It is precisely this work that is dedicated to such a study of the history of the development of Trinitarian theology in the 20th at the beginning of the 21st century and its interpretation. Our research should stimulate deep interest in the authentic content, structure and motives of Christian theology, which is in its in-depth nature Trinitarian. Our work also has to provide a new original Trinitarian content to the Christian ministry in church and society.

Activities planned within the framework of the study

On December 16, the Odessa Seminary Theological Seminar hosted the Permanent Seminar on "Oblivion and Reviving the Trinity Doctrine". Speaker – Strizhachuk Fedir. Following the report, a roundtable is planned in the format of questions and answers.

In the course of the research, it is planned to publish 20 articles in scientific publications of Ukraine and abroad.

In the period of exploration of the topic is scheduled to participate in three conferences with publishing papers on the topic of the study.

According to the results of the study, the publication of the monograph "The Renaissance Doctrine of the Trinity in the 20th Century" is planned.

Expected results and prospects for further research.

Publication of articles, seminars, reports at conferences, publication of a monograph should create an impetus for the emergence and development of the reception of new achievements in Trinitarian theology.

The expected development of Trinitarian theology is to become a shaping and structuring factor for the new evangelical systematic theology in the Eastern European context.

The development of Trinitarian theology should extend and penetrate into practical theology and determine the Christian practice of various types of Christian ministry, creating the conditions for its movement to Christian authenticity.

Church and Public Sphere in Rowan Williams' Theology

Pavlo Shevcvhuk, PhD

In conditions of prevailing secularism in modern West European context, the question of role and position of church in public sphere remains uncertain. At present, political theologians define mission of church in public sphere in two paradigms: adapting to secularity and radical opposition to it. Rowan Williams as theoretical and practical theologian introduces a rather balanced concept of ecclesiastical positioning in the modern world, and it causes a particular interest to his theologian works. It is worth mentioning a complete lack of research of his works in Ukrainian scientific context. At present, urgent necessity arises for global rethinking of actual problems and challenges that stand before church, as well as activation of Ukrainian political-theological discourse.

The purpose of this research is to analyze and rethink Rowan Williams' theological views on relations between church, state, and society in modern conditions.

During the first year (2020), we will study history of political-theological ideas of the second part of the twentieth century, in order to understand prerequisites, genesis, and process of formation of modern intellectual climate in political-theological studies. The research will also focus on Anglican tradition features in political theology and analyze genealogy of Rowan Williams' theo-political ideas.

During the second year (2021), specific topics regarding major social issues will be studied, namely, war and peace, economics, and in particular, position of church in pluralistic secular society. The research will emphasize the necessity of restoring the role of religion in public discourse. Furthermore, we will address the issue of a metaphysical concept of "harmonious whole", which develops the idea of the common good.

During the third year (2022), we will study Rowan Williams' ecclesiastical views, which are the key to understanding of his political theology. An attempt will be made to rethink mission of church and its political nature.

The result of the research will be a number of scientific articles that can be combined into a monograph. In addition, a series of public lectures and seminars will be held; research materials will be presented for discussion on national scientific conferences.

Selected Theological Works of Jacob Arminius: an annotated translation from Latin to Russian

Rostislav Tkachenko, Cand. philos. sc. (Ph.D. equiv.)

The so-called Arminian theological tradition has been more or less familiar to the Russian-speaking audience for about two decades. However, until recently, the primary texts written by the champion and founder of this tradition have not been available in Russian. This is why an effort is now being taken to provide an academic translation of the selected theological works of a Dutch Protestant thinker Jacob (James) Arminius (1559–1609) to Russian-speaking Christians. This man's theological ideas about God, man, Jesus Christ, and the order of salvation used to stimulate hot debates, on one side, and inspired many people in the Netherlands and, later, other countries of Europe and North America, on the other. Even today many Protestants identify themselves as Arminians, that is, the followers of Arminius. Therefore, an opportunity to get acquainted with his ideas as they were initially presented and formulated is a great chance to examine the origin of Arminianism and come to a deeper knowledge of this branch of Protestantism.

This translation project takes place under the auspices of Eastern European Institute of Theology (EEIT) and Euro-Asia Accrediting Association (EAAA), and has a double purpose: (1) to offer a translation per se as a resource-oriented task and (2) supplement it with informative and partly analytical commentaries as a research-oriented task. Hence, the Russian presentation of Arminius' key treatises is expected to offer the raw material for further research and, additionally, provide crucial information and historical-theological notes on the translated material.

The rationale for such an undertaking is clear and well-grounded. The so-called Slavic Arminian tradition did not have the foundational primary texts of their theological for many years because they have long been neglected by potential translators. It is only since 2014 that the Russian-speaking audience has received a chance to read some of Arminius' works in the fragmentary and non-academic translation prepared by Andrey Zolotaryov, Gennadiy Gololob and the Smirna Publishing House (Якоб Арминий, Избранные сочинения Якоба Арминия. О предопределении, свободе воли и сущности Бога). But, unfortunately, this publication is based on an abridged and rearranged English translation of the theologian's oeuvres compiled and edited by John Wagner, not on original—Latin or Dutch—editions of Arminius' writings. Therefore, a more critical, accurate, and academic approach is still needed. It requires the translating from original Latin or, when needed, Dutch and the extensive use of the key findings of the Arminius research done during the last fifty years. It is the task that is hard to achieve but, still, necessary to undertake.

The EEIT translation project is intended to cover the following texts:

  1. Declaratio sententiae I. Arminii de Praedestinatione, Providentia Dei, Libero arbitrio, Gratia Dei, Divinitate Filii Dei, & de Iustificatione hominis coram Deo, that is, "A Declaration of the Sentiments of Arminius on Predestination, Divine Providence, the freedom of the will, the grace of God, the Divinity of the Son of God, and the justification of man before God,"
  2. Apologia adversus Articulos xxxi, that is, "The Apology or Defence of Jacob Arminius against Certain Theological Articles,"
  3. Orationes tres: I. De obiecto theologiae. II. De auctore & fine theologiae. III. De certitudine ss. theologiae, that is, "Three orations: 1. The Object of Theology; 2. The Author and the End of Theology, 3. The Certainty of Sacred Theology."

Their Russian translation is going to be based on the following editions of Arminius' theological writings:

  • Iacobus Arminius. Opera Theologica. Edidit Petrus Bertius. Lvgdvni Batavorvm: Apud Godefridvm Basson, 1629.
  • Iacobus Arminius. Opera theologica nunc denuò conjunctim recusa. Edidit Petrus Bertius. Francofurti: Apud VVolfgangum Hoffmannum, 1635.

Since these texts belong to the post-Reformation Protestant theological tradition that emerged and developed in Western Europe in the late 16th–18th centuries, mostly in forms of Reformed Scholasticism and Lutheran Orthodoxy, and whose textual artifacts have rarely been translated into Russian until now, it is critically important to translate some of them for the Russian-speaking audience. Thus, the translation project is intended to help post-Soviet Evangelical Christians engage directly with the Protestant heritage, and appropriate and creatively rework or readapt some ideas of a great Protestant thinker in the mostly non-Protestant context of contemporary Eastern Europe. In brief, the serious and good-quality translation of Jacob Arminius' works will help Slavic Arminians to know better their roots and Slavic Evangelicals of other theological leanings to examine the Arminian teachings as they were initially laid out.