Rev. Sergius Halvorsen

Father Sergius Halvorsen received his M.Div. from St. Vladimir’s Seminary in 1996, and completed his doctoral dissertation at Drew University in 2002.  From 2000 to 2011 he taught at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell Connecticut, where he also served as Director of Distance Learning.  He was ordained to the diaconate in 1999 and to the priesthood in February 2004.  Fr. Sergius is an accomplished liturgical musician, he was director of the 1995 SVS Octet, and over the last ten years has contributed to a number of Archangel Voices recordings.  He currently lives in New Haven CT with his wife and three children. Fr. Sergius’ teaching interests include homiletics, rhetoric, Christian education, and faith and science. He is currently working on introductory volumes in homiletics, and is developing a course in Orthodox Apologetics that addresses the challenges of bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the "nones and dones, people who have abandoned the Christian faith; the unchurched; the "spiritual but not religious, and even those who are hostile towards Christianity. Educational Background
– B.A. Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1992
– M.Div., St. Vladimir’s Seminary, 1996
– Ph.D., Drew University, 2002

Selected Publications
– Regular contributor to The Preacher, The College of Preachers, Nottingham UK
– Preaching Justice to the Unjust in Social Justice Review; Vol. 103 No. 1-2 (January-February, 2012): 18-21.

– “You are the Man: 2 Samuel 11–12 as a rhetorical paradigm for contemporary preaching” in Festschrift in Honor of Paul Nadim Tarazi Vol 3, ed. Tom Dykstra, (New York: Peter Lang, 2015) Recent Conference Presentations and Activities
– The Tradition of Liturgical Homilies and the Implications for Contemporary Homiletic Practice Pappas Patristic Institute, Holy Cross-Hellenic College, Brookline MA, 2014.
– The Inverted Classroom: How good teaching goes beyond content delivery, St. Tikhon’s University, Moscow, January 2014.
– Sacramental Preaching, National Festival of Young Preachers, Academy of Preachers, Atlanta GA, January 2013
– The Vulnerability of the Incarnation: God made man, Archbishop DMITRI Memorial Lecture, St. Barbara’s Church, Fort Worth TX, April 20
– Bits, Bytes and the Body of Christ: Establishing and maintaining community in theological distance education; St. Tikhon’s University, Moscow, January 2013.
– Preaching Transformation: Eucharistic Homiletics and the Presence of Christ; North American Academy of Homiletics, Austin TX, December 2011

Sergius Halvorsen, who had received training in biology before switching to theology, is a seminary professor and an Orthodox priest. He emphasises that he has never lost interest in science and has kept reading scientific literature. Currently he teaches a course “Faith and Science” where he addresses questions related to the relationship between modern science and Orthodoxy. He states that the topics that appear challenging to students include evolution, bioethics, abortion, euthanasia, sexual ethics and transgender issues. Halvorsen points out that in his course he tries to make students understand that science (such as Newtonian physics or current quantum physics) has always challenged theological perspectives on life, but at the same time helped to enrich them. Scientific research, he argues, has had an influence on the Church’s attitude throughout history. Advances in psychology and psychiatry for example triggered an important shift in Christian attitude toward suicide and a major change in pastoral practice. 

Halvorsen believes that, unlike Western Christianity, Eastern Orthodoxy has not had a robust interaction with science, which is why it has not engaged in conflicts with it. Halvorsen sees this lack of interaction in a positive light as this way Orthodoxy can relate to science with more openness and less bias. He draws attention to three connection points of Orthodoxy and science. First, Orthodoxy posits that God has intimate connection to all matter, which attributes spiritual meaning to scientific research (that seeks to learn more about the material world). Second, doing science can be seen as a way of thanking God – an idea that has been emphasised in Orthodox thought. Third, Halvorsen believes that modern science and Orthodoxy share a particular reverence to mystery. 

Speaking about scientists’ responsibility, Halvorsten argues that no matter what kind of science a Christian believer is involved in, he/she should be very careful about formulating research questions and remain obedient to the major Christian commandment “Love your neighbour as yourself.” In other words, any research that denigrates the dignity of the human person goes against Orthodox ethics. This includes such areas as stem cell research. Halvorsen warns Orthodox believers to be careful about research involving animals. Similarly, certain caution is required for those working in the field of artificial intelligence or robotic technology. Without suggesting putting barriers to such research, Halvorsen urges to look with greater attention into the question of why humans want to create synthetic life, what their genuine motivations are and what consequences such studies can imply. This attitude, he stresses, corresponds to Orthodox teaching, which avoids univocal rigidity with respect to science and promotes sensitivity to nuance. In line with this statement, Halvorsen adds in the end that the Orthodox Church should not be seen as a monolith. On the contrary, Orthodoxy is characteristic of a variety of approaches toward science and many of its core issues, such as evolution. He underscores the personal, and thus individual, quality of Orthodox Christianity. 



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