Hans Boersma: Dionysius & Hierarchy – Why Modernity is Oppressive

Date(s) - July 31, 2023
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Regent College Chapel

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You’re invited to Regent’s 2023 Evening Public Lecture series! Join us in the chapel or tune in online to explore theology, culture, and much more with this year’s summer faculty.

To watch this and other Evening Public Lectures online, visit rgnt.net/live.


Modernity associates hierarchy with imposition of power and aims to eradicate this evil by replacing hierarchy with equality, vertical stratification with horizontal relationality. In this talk, theologian Hans Boersma investigates the principles that undergird a hierarchical metaphysic. Drawing on the thinking of sixth-century Syrian monk Dionysius, Boersma argues that when power is embedded within a hierarchical, participatory metaphysic, it serves to uplift others—to hierarchize them—into the being of God. By contrast, the modern atomizing and mapping of creaturely beings onto a strictly horizontal map requires centralized power structures to manage and control individual beings. In other words, within an egalitarian view of reality, power naturally oppresses people rather than lifts them up; in a hierarchical view of reality, however, power serves to lift up rather than to oppress.


Hans Boersma holds the St. Benedict Servants of Christ Chair in Ascetical Theology at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Wisconsin. His most recent book deals with the traditional practice of lectio divina and is entitled Pierced by Love: Divine Reading with the Christian Tradition (Lexham Press, 2023). He has also written Five Things Theologians Wish Biblical Scholars Knew (IVP Academic, 2021); Seeing God (Eerdmans, 2018); and Heavenly Participation (Eerdmans, 2011). His main theological interest is the retrieval of the sacramental ontology of the Great Tradition of the church. Fr. Boersma is an ordained priest within the Anglican Church in North America.

Hans Boersma is teaching Participation in God: From Maximus to Aquinas from July 31 to August 4 as part of Regent’s 2023 Summer Programs.


Join us in Regent’s chapel, or tune in via livestream. A video recording will be available online for a limited time after the event.

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