An Orthodox Journal of Cross-Cultural Theology, Dialogue and Mission

Toward a Global Ethic in Orthodoxy: Interreligious Engagement Beyond Dialogue

Prof. Andrew M. Sharp
DOI: 10.57577/1-22A07
Salt: Crossroads of Religion and Culture: 1 (2022): 75-97
Keywords: global ethic, Orthodoxy, neopatristic, glocalization, interfaith dialogue

This article considers whether there is a basis for a Global Ethic in Orthodoxy analogous to the “Declaration Toward a Global Ethic” of the Parliament of World Religions (1993, revised 2018). It sketches out some of the compelling questions that animate an Orthodox approach to “ethical” issues having a global impact. It engages secular approaches to global ethics and the sociological concept of “glocalization,” which has been used to show the interconnectedness of both the global and local levels of influence on human action. It interrogates neopatristic theology, as well as the recent challenges to it among Orthodox theologians, and suggests there is a need for a new paradigm in Orthodox thought and practice in order to address today’s global ethical challenges. It argues that Orthodox leaders at all levels of influence (be it international, regional, national, or local) can most effectively respond to global issues by engaging in dialogue with those of other religious traditions and working together with them toward practical solutions. In an age when people across the globe question the effectiveness of governments and the United Nations, this article considers the role that religion can play in helping to meet today’s most vexing global challenges.



We live in an age of consequential and perplexing global challenges. The climate crisis, poverty and economic inequality, exploitation from emerging information and communication technologies, forced emigration and displacement of populations, harmful dual-use bioengineering, human trafficking, the buying and selling of body parts, population growth, the rise of authoritarian governments and anti-liberal fundamentalist movements, the spread of high-consequence pathogens and lethal infectious disease, terrorism, and increased access to weapons of mass destruction are just some of the global challenges we face in the early part of the twenty-first century.[1] Many of these, if left unchecked, could lead to doomsday scenarios for large swathes of the planet and it is uncertain how recovery would be possible given the present fragility of geopolitical and international relations…

[1]        In this article I will use the word “globalization” in a neutral way, as a descriptive term for the broad changes that have taken place in society over the past few hundred years. The term itself is problematic because it can signify different things to different people and may, in fact, be viewed in positive and/or negative ways depending on one’s experiences, culture, values, etc.