Today’s article by Maria Antoniadou, (http://www.tovima.gr/default.asp?pid=2&ct=1&artId=281708&dt=04/08/2009) reveals the main concerns of the Orthodox community with regard to the aspirations of the Greek Bible Institute to become an accredited college in its own country. The thrust of the article is centered on the paragraph which “comforts” the Orthodox community that the current monopoly of Religious Education taught by Orthodox is secure. Various reactions to the article reveal that this IS the main concern of the Orthodox community and the general reaction is, “who will believe them?”
The admission of the Greek Bible Institute into the academic community is the Dourian Horse, and these graduates will eventually come out and take over our land!
I do not take these insecurities lightly and I do not think that the job of the Greek Bible Institute is to get into the game of trying to “convince”. The disbelief reveals the roots of deeper problems which we should all peacefully engage. Of course it is natural for the question to arise: What will happen if an Orthodox theologian and a Protestant theologian are equally qualified for the same job? This is eventually a political matter. The only way to control who is hired is by maintaining a legislation on who teaches and what is taught, a legislation which (I hate to break some bubbles here) is becoming obsolete. No one denies that it is very hard work to reorganize the educational system to accommodate differing confessions. However, many countries have done that already and are leading the way for others (see Finnish model [http://www.ortoweb.fi/tartokallioniemi.htm]).
But the problem is even deeper than that. This is a matter of national identity. A new day is dawning on Greek lands, where Greeks are disturbed from their slumber and realize that national identity will need to be redefined around something else! We can no longer fool ourselves that Greek equals Orthodox. We are keeping guard at the wrong national borders. Of course, the Greek Bible Institute has no such claims on Religious Education in secondary schools, but the reactions to such a remote possibility alert us to the need for reconsidering many issues concerning education and religion.
The old dictum is especially relevant these days: “I do not agree with what you say but I will fight for your right to say it!”