|Ecclesiology in TCTCV in Light of Understandings of Unity
In my paper I am studying the ecclesiology of the Faith and Order paper 214 The Church ̶ Towards a Common Vision (TCTCV) in ligth of understandings of unity and models of union. Ecclesiology and understanding of unity parallel each other closely. Studying the understanding of unity and models of union in TCTCV reveals what kind of ecclesiology the document represents. My point of reference is Harding Meyers publication That All May Be One ̶ Perceptions and Models of Ecumenicity. To that volume Meyers has compiled different understandings of unity and models of union. He covers different churches as well as ecumenical dialogues. Comparing these to TCTCV reveals perspectices that are not mentioned in the document itself. Is TCTCV coherent in its understanding of unity? What kind of theology is behind TCTCV’s understanding of unity? What can be said of TCTCV’s ecclesiology in ligth of tese perspectives? It can be noted that TCTCV is in line with ecumenical dialogues’ understanding of unity and elements that visible unity requires. Document tries to answer these challenges proposed by former dialogues’ understanding of unity. Yet, TCTCV icludes elements of atleast two slightly differing understandings of unity: unity in reconciled diversity and organic unity. Though TCTCV recognizes diversity as intrinsic to the Church it inclines towards organic unity as it sees mutually recognized structures for discernment necessary for unity. It still seems, that TCTCV can be read either accepting reconciled diversity or organic unity. TCTCV sees the church as communion with and in the Trinity in accordance with communion ecclesiology that developed during 20th century. Communion ecclesiology, as Meyer notes, is not a understanding of unity but rather a understanding of church as such. Yet, understanding church as participation to life of Trinity does affect to understanding of unity as well. Following ecumenical trends TCTCV also emphasizes missional nature of the church. In TCTCV church participates in Gods work in the world. This participation is expressed in such a strong words, that it seems like it would give the church its nature. This conflicts what is otherwise said about the nature of the church.
|Just Do It: Recognition and Reception in Ecumenical Relations: An African Pespective.
Christianity in Africa is growing in leaps and bounds and, despite the negative assessment that it sometimes receives as being “thousands of kilometers wide and yet skin deep”, it exercises tremendous influence in the lives of the African people and it is a religious force to reckon with. Africa is a home to thousands of Christian denominations and African Christians are aware that church divisions are here to stay. At yet, at the same time, the cohesive nature of African communities has proved too strong to the divisive nature of the different Christian denominations. The argument of this paper is that despite serious doctrinal differences among the churches in Africa, which have kept them apart from one another, Christian communities in Africa have always found a way of defying divisive doctrines and striven to achieve church unity and cooperation in one form or another at the grassroots level. In many Christian communities in Africa ecumenical activities are not based on agreed abstract exegetical theological texts but on the basis of practical needs of ordinary Christians as they struggle with the exigencies of human life. The argument of this paper is that if ecumenism is to survive in Sub-Saharan Africa in time and space Christian communities will need to cling jealously to their philosophy of “just do it” in their ecumenical endeavours as they strive to achieve social justice, human dignity and peace in a broken world.
|Dialectics of Inside and Outside: Overcoming Spatial Dualism with Gaston Bachelard and Louis–Marie Chauvet
In the process of the recognition of the other we also think within the adverbs of space inside and outside. These adverbs are part of a dualistic thinking and as such bring ontological determination, where inside is connected with fullness of being and outside with the lack of being. Behind these metaphorical expressions of space lies alienation and division and as a consequence it also brings asymmetry into anthropology and human relationships, where the insider (of the church) stands in opposition to the outsider, who is characterized as a stranger or even worse as an enemy. What other metaphors can be used to overcome the separation caused by this inside-outside dualism? With the help of the French phenomenologist Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962), especially with his philosophical investigation of inhabited space The Poetics of Space, and the contemporary French sacramental theologian Louis-Marie Chauvet (*1942), I will explore the possibilities of how to surmount the spatial dualism which goes hand-in-hand with the instrumental notion of language. Bachelard criticises Western metaphysics using the phenomenology of poetic imagination and Chauvet using among other tools Heidegger´s philosophy of language. In so doing, they bring new ideas about space based on a notion of language that is more poetic than instrumental. Heidegger´s concept of language as poesis (Chauvet) and the phenomenological observation of poetic images of space (Bachelard) show that language provides more spatial nuances than the sharp division between inside and outside. Sometimes indeed they are even ready to be reversed and thus can reconcile human relationships and bring not only recognition but also acceptance of the other.
|Europe and Ecumenism: Realizing God’s dream that all are one
How is ecumenism conditioned or inspired by the progressing history of Europe? How should we understand the correlation between the two? Can historical thresholds be crossed and surpassed once and for all? This paper claims that ‘recognizing’ and ‘receiving’ others in faith is a one sided approach to a complex theological issue. Among others, ecumenism has its spiritual and its social implications. To speak of a ‘reconciled diversity’ means to acknowledge the existence and possible healing of deep ecumenical divisions, often the result of age-old tensions and religious struggles. To what extent, then, are we to understand the concept of ‘recognition’ in ecumenical terminology? This paper suggests that to realize God’s dream, all stakeholders are to commit themselves in a process of tearing down walls and building bridges anew. Reception, in this light, concerns the acknowledgement of Churches that still need to come to terms with their credibility as well as their mission to overcome divisions that have tainted the history of Europe. This paper shall emphasize the need for building anew the one ecclesial community in view of its roots with hope and without vain nostalgia.
|“Open Sobornicity” and “Receptive Ecumenism”: Models for a Fruitful Ecumenical Interaction
The concept of ‘open sobornicity’ introduced in 1971 by the Orthodox theologian Dumitru Stăniloae refers to a methodology of ecumenical conversation that advocated Orthodoxy’s need to let itself be enriched and inspired by the spiritual and theological acquisitions of other Christian traditions. The notion of ‘receptive ecumenism’ developed more recently by the Roman Catholic professor Paul Murray also invites Christian traditions to place at the center of the ecumenical agenda the self-critical question ‘What, in any given situation, can one’s own tradition appropriately learn with integrity from other traditions?’ By focusing upon Stăniloae’s concept of ‘open sobornicity’ and Murray’s notion of ‘receptive ecumenism’, my paper has a threefold aim: 1) to offer a comparison between these two methodologies of ecumenical conversation; 2) to bring a few examples of how a learning mode of ecumenical interaction has been already implemented and resulted beneficial in the past for the relationships between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism 3) to stress the Orthodox Church’s task to give strategic priority to a learning mode of ecumenical interaction, especially in its today’s context confronted the anti-ecumenical attitudes coming from the very conservative groups.
Bonhoeffer’s Last Words, “Our Victory is Certain”: Recognizing the (Ecumenical) Church as a Present Reality
The general theme of this conference echoes the advertising campaign, Just Do It™ which revitalized the American shoe company Nike;© a company which derived it’s name from the word for “victory.” Does a renewed understanding of victory and a call to Just Do It™have the potential to also revitalize recognition and reception in ecumenical relations for today? In line with the conference theme, this article will specifically interact with Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s unwavering faith in Christ’s victory. Bonhoeffer’s last words before his death by hanging spoke of certain victory, “This is the end, but for me, it is the beginning of life. [Tell
|Receiving “visible unity” in Lutheran – Roman Catholic Relations
In its most recent dialogue From Conflict to Communion (2013) the Lutheran – Roman Catholic Commission on Unity identifies five ecumenical imperatives. The third imperative asks both Catholics and Lutherans to commit themselves again to seek “visible unity”. The document calls on Catholics and Lutherans to elaborate together what it means to seek “visible unity” in concrete steps, and to strive repeatedly toward this goal. If reception is taken seriously, this ecumenical imperative needs to be followed up by both Catholics and Lutherans. In order to prevent re-inventing the wheel when elaborating what it means to seek “visible unity”, this paper examines appeals to “visible unity” in selected Roman Catholic – Lutheran dialogues and in some earlier discussions within the Lutheran World Federation. It then asks which insights from these dialogues and discussions might be made fruitful for future elaborations on “visible unity
|Living with a Disagreement in Lutheran Context
The question of same-sex relationships has indeed divided also the Lutheran churches worldwide. Especially North American and European Lutheran churches have debated on the issues of ordination of gay clergy and blessing of same-sex relations. It has affected also the relations within the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). Also the ecumenical relations of the Lutheran churches and other Christian churches, especially with the Orthodox churches, have been affected by the discussion on human sexuality. Some Lutheran churches have concluded that there are different opinions concerning human sexuality within the church, but this is not a church dividing issue. The LWF on its part has concluded, that there are different opinions within the communion, but the LWF itself does not hold a stance on the issues of human sexuality. These churches have thus decided to live with a disagreement. But is consensus on human sexuality something that the churches should seek in the first place? This proposed paper claims that the disagreement can be seen in positive light: what if the disagreement – or variety of opinions¬ – would rather be seen as a richness than a threat? The paper explores the discussions within different Lutheran churches and the LWF in order to see what kind of theological reasoning has been used to support the legitimization of variety of stances. The paper does not seek to argue in favor of any particular view of human sexuality, but promotes the diversity of opinion –with certain limits. Lutheran churches have also themselves started to approach the issue of human sexuality not from the point of view of trying to solve all the disagreements, but rather to discuss how the church members holding differing views could better listen, recognize and respect the view of the other. For example, the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, who has intensively debated on the question of same-sex relationships and later on same-sex marriage, has just recently passed a resolution that the church should embark a discussion process that facilitates an open and respectful dialogue within the wider church membership. The paper needs to also discuss how much disagreement is too much. The blessing of same-sex relationship might be an issue where there can be variety, but what happens if the understanding of marriage is challenged. This is the situation that, for example, the ELCF is right now facing, due to change in secular legislation taking place in March 2017. The sources of the proposed paper are the official documents of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the LWF. The paper focuses on the time period of 2007-2016, and seeks to include also the most recent developments. The method of the study is systematic textual analysis of the source material.
|Limits of Recognition
The purpose of this presentation is to investigate how ecumenical dialogues conceptualise recognition and how they deal with limits of recognition. Should churches just do it and why? The paper deals with the following questions: (1) What is the significance of recognition to ecclesial identity? Some of the basic theories of recognition seem to suggest that recognition is a prerequisite of healthy development of an identity. How is this reflected in the ecumenical context (2) Traditionally ecumenical dialogues speak of success as “agreement”. Agreement implies acceptance. What is the role of acceptance in ecumenical recognition? Recognition is a multifaceted concept and only some aspects of it imply normative assessment leading to acceptance or rejection. Is total acceptance or agreement a prerequisite for recognition. The main argument supported in this presentation is that recognition is both a limiting and a limited concept, at least when it focuses on agreement and acceptance. Even with these limitations recognition is proposed as a useful framework to balance various aspects of ecumenical work and a tool to observe the wider social contexts within which ecumenical dialogues take place
|Ethical Views concerning Recognition of Values and Reception of Presence/Love of the Other in Ecumenical Relations
One of the great achievements of Ecumenism is the promotion of theological and ethical values of different Christian Churches. The initial aim of Ecumenism was the fulfilment of the Unity of the Christian Church, so “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17, 21). But the achievements seemed to be a profound knowledge of the other Churches, a living theological dialogue, within the limits of foreign languages competence and the acquaintance with other cultures, the possibility of praying together with the others and the capacity to experience and accept their presence and love. The sacrifices and hopes of some devotional theologians were great, but the steps forward were rather small. This thing should not disappoint anybody. Achievements in theology, culture and history are to be obtained like that: with small but important steps, “stone by stone”. Anyhow, according to our conception, the point where we have arrived represents quite a big benefit. The next generations will start from a different height of the walls of the oikoumene stronghold. Every Christian Church has fundamental values which the others do not know anymore because of the historical context, the estrangement from the others, isolation, and some pointless envies and vanities. The ecumenical meetings and dialogues, initiated at the beginning of the last century, offer the great chance to get acquainted to the theology, the Christian life and the values of the others – a chance that history did not ever offer the people before our time. The Byzantines cried out in the streets of Constantinople: “better the sultan’s turban than the Pope’s mitre”. The moral point abides in the fact that the transmission of the values of one Church does not depend only on the theologians of the respective Church, but especially on the other Christians who have the knowledge of these values. The recognition of the others’ values does not represent a theological virtue, but an ethical principle or moral duty (Kant). To apply these ideas nevertheless and to integrate the other Christians’ conceptions within one’s own convictions does already represent a theological desideratum and a matter of belief. The recognition and acceptance of the other Christians and of their spiritual life (either from the present or the past) constitutes an ethical question of politeness and of common sense, which – we have to admit – the West possesses at a higher degree. But the reception and the assumption of the other’s presence, as well as the receiving of and the living in his/her love, without rough judgements and criticisms concerning his/her person and being, represent theological and spiritual preoccupations. We have also to say that the life of the Church is everywhere: both in the case of the first and that of the second category. The issue is rather the level at which every person stands. “My Father’s house has many rooms” (John 14, 2). The Patristic thinking proposes, through St Gregory of Nyssa, that we should pass from an inferior to a superior level, to ascend “from epektasis to epektasis”, in our continuous progress towards God. Another principal moral duty is the distinction between the person and the theology of an ecumenical partner. The person is “in the image of God”, while the theology represents an outcome of his/her thought and effort, and the culture he/she belongs to, being thus constituted more as “the likeness of God”.
|Traditions as collective memories and the formation of ecumenical identities
The paper will present an understanding of “living tradition” as a collective or social memory. I will enquire into the problematic of how such understanding illuminates a formation of diversity of ecumenical identities, both individual and communal. A limited number of studies has been published in theology that make use of the concept of collective memory (e.g. Braithwaite-O’Collins 2015, Duling 2011, Lam Cong Quy 2011, Evans 1996, Zvěřina 1990, Congar 1964). The concept of collective memory, developed by thinkers ranging from Maurice Halbwachs to Paul Ricoeur to Jan Assmann and Paul Connerton, seems promising as it enables us to relate to the past not as to a set of objectively knowable facts. Collective memory determines memories of its participants. Epistemologically, the role of bodies and bodily practices/performances in the transfer of memory is in the forefront. To study the social formation of memory is to study the acts of transfer , such as rites, that make remembering in common possible. Also it includes to study conflicting interpretations of past events upon which legitimacy of current processes is based. Treating traditions as memories is neither oriented to their unification, nor to the exclusion of some at the expense of others. Theologically it means to measure traditions within the Tradition (Congar). In other words, to examine to what degree can respective traditions carry the liberating message of faith. In this process it may also be helpful to expose one’s own tradition to the judgement of other traditions, notably those marginalized. Rowan Williams speaks of “a return of memory, in which what is potentionally threatening, destructive, despair-inducing, in the past is transfigured into the ground of hope”. It has been argued that so far theologians have generally failed to draw on the studies of collective memory and take advantage of insights that could illuminate and enrich work on tradition. The paper will be founded on my earlier work on the purification and healing of wounded memory of Master Jan Hus in the Roman Catholic Church in the Czech Republic. I will summarize some theory and theology behind the approach that uses collective memory. Further, I will present selected outcomes of my previous study in a generalized form, especially the importance of counter-discourses and of the ‘the other’, mostly the victims, who may be given voice to interpret our common past and present. Finally, these outcomes will be related to the reflection on ecumenical identities, including issues such as relations of power.
|Anerkennung “als” – Ein Begriff im Spannungsfeld vong Gerechtigkeit und Agape
Das Wort ‚Anerkennen‘ ist vielschichtig. Es umfasst Bedeutungen wie etwas für wahr halten, zustimmen, akzeptieren, eingestehen, bestätigen, respektieren und vieles andere mehr. In der deutschen Sprache, aber auch im Französischen und Englischen ist Anerkennung fast immer mit dem Objektsprädikativ „als“ verbunden. Es wird immer etwas oder jemand als etwas oder jemand anerkannt.1 Diese grammatikalische Verknüpfung mit „als“ ist einerseits naheliegend, andererseits aber auch problematisch, da sie einen Spalt aufreißt, der nach Thomas Bedorf nicht bruchlos zu schließen ist.2 Bedorf zufolge liegt die Problematik des „als“ der Anerkennung in der „Ambivalenz zwischen Identifizierung und Identität“, die eine Spannung in die Anerkennung trägt, die vor allem daraus resultiert, dass jemand als etwas anerkannt wird. Dabei folgt die Anerkennung einer dreistelligen Relation in der x y als z anerkannt. Dieses „als z“ macht deutlich, dass „das Anerkannte nie als es selbst anerkannt wird, sondern nur im Horizont eines Mediums“3. Auch der Philosoph Alexander García Düttmann geht in seinem Buch „Zwischen den Kulturen. Spannungen im Kampf um Anerkennung“4 auf das Problem des als in der Anerkennung ein. Er spricht von der Ohnmacht, dem der Anerkannte erliegt. Das Anerkennen sei gerade in dem Maße ein Anerkennen, „in dem es sich nicht zu einer Anerkennung verdichtet oder als Anerkennung vergegenständlicht, die Möglichkeit das Als, genauer: der Anerkennung als… durchkreuzt.“5 Er folgert: „So erweist sich der Kampf um Anerkennung als ein Kampf um das Als, um die Strukturen des Als-Solchen, er erweist sich als Kampf um das Sich-Als-Etwas-Erweisen.“6 Nach Düttmann hat die Anerkennung als in letzter Konsequenz die Alterität des Anerkennungsprozesses verdeckt oder ausgeschlossen. Diese „Verdeckung oder dieser Ausschluß haben zur Folge, dass man gar nicht mehr anerkennt und nicht mehr anerkannt wird, weil man sich im Grunde stets nur selber anerkennt: Der Kampf um Anerkennung wird zum Kampf des Subjekts, das sich bemüht, Andersheit entweder in sich ein- oder aus sich auszuschließen“7 Hinsichtlich der Ökumene hat Theodor Dieter in seinem Vortrag “Ecclesis apostolica“ zum 75. Geburtstag von Herrmann Josef Pottmeyer8 den Anerkennungsbegriff analysiert, über den „man sich nicht immer genügend Rechenschaft“ gebe. Dem „als“ der Anerkennung misst Dieter eine große Bedeutung bei, da durch Verfehlung des „als“ der „ganze Vorgang der Anerkennung ins Leere“ gehe 9. Für Dieter sind die Merkmale, die die Anerkennung erlauben, und die Regel der Anerkennung, „die das Vorliegen bestimmter Merkmale mit der Anerkennung als…vermittelt“, entscheidend. Das „als“ steht in der Spannung zwischen einer formalen Regel und der Forderung, die Alterität des Anderen anzuerkennen. Wie kann mit dieser Paradoxie in der Ökumene umgegangen werden? Der Philosoph Paul Ricoeur hat meines Erachtens mit seinem Anerkennungsbegriff hinsichtlich der Spannung des „als“ eine Brücke geschlagen: eine Brücke zwischen der formalen Regel, die mit der Gerechtigkeit verbunden ist, und der Liebe, die sich in der Agape manifestiert. Ziel seines Nachgehens auf den „Wegen der Anerkennung“ ist es, der von Hegel her kommenden Bedeutungsvariante der Anerkennung als Kampf „befriedete Erfahrungen wechselseitiger Anerkennung“10 gegenüberzustellen. In der Bedeutungsvariante identifizieren, sich selbst erkennen, wechselseitige Anerkennung wird das „als“ nicht vergessen. Dem prädikativen „Anerkennen als“ wird aber eine Anerkennung entgegenzustellen sein, die „den Anderen in seiner unendlichen Andersheit und nicht in den vertrauten Perspektiven, in denen er mir immer schon erscheint“11 wahrnimmt und ihm einen Platz gibt. Die Anerkennung als hat die Anerkennung „ganz anders als“ einzuschließen. Indem Ricoeur den Blick von der Bemächtigung hin zur Dankbarkeit lenkt, weist er einen Weg, der bisher in dieser Weise beziehungsweise in dieser Deutlichkeit in der Ökumene noch nicht bedacht wurde.
|Parallel Thinking among Churches. How Catholics and Protestants are on Friendly Terms with Tradition
This paper will examine the connection of the Churches to the notion of Tradition. In reality we could discover a lot of similarity among ecclesiastical communities dispite of the decided differencies in matter of Tradition. For this the Paper would give a presentation how the tradition could be recognised as the principle and source of unity between Churches. The Christian faith, in fact, sees the process of the transmission a gift of God and not an obstacle. In a most ambigous context there exits a necessary link between church and tradition.
Finnish Luther Studies – ecumenical perspectives
Finnish scholarship has been known for introducing a discussion on the possibility of relating the Lutheran doctrine on salvation to the traditional doctrine of theosis. Since Tuomo Mannermaa’s studies in 1970s, this approach provided new insights in ecumenical dialogues and during the following decades other Finnish scholars have deepened Mannermaa’s initial findings and broadened the scope of themes. This paper focuses on some recent discussion, which the Finnish scholarship has raised and describes some contributions of recent Finnish Luther research, which is continually focusing on ecumenically relevant topics.
|Why Ecumenical Dialogue Matters for the Eastern Orthodox Church
An extensive part of the Eastern Orthodox public is becoming more and more anxious about the ecumenical engagement of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The main reason behind this unease is the growth in influence of fundamentalist voices inside many Eastern Orthodox countries. The fundamentalists oppose Eastern Orthodox involvement in the ecumenical movement on the grounds that there is nothing Eastern Orthodoxy can learn from other confessions – labelled as heretics. Most Eastern Orthodox ecumenists often appear to inadvertently endorse this position themselves, when insisting the main reason for Eastern Orthodox participation in the ecumenical movement is to proclaim the truth of the Gospel and Patristic tradition, as it is preserved and lived within the Eastern Orthodox boundaries. What both of these approaches fail to see is that Eastern Orthodox theology could benefit from embracing diversity and inter-confessional dialogue. In this confrontation of the extremes, the public’s reluctant reaction comes as no surprise. It is the intention of this paper to argue – to an Eastern Orthodox audience and from an Eastern Orthodox standpoint – that the ecumenical dialogue represents an inner necessity for Eastern Orthodox theology. Only by engaging in conversation with other churches can Eastern Orthodoxy gain a better understanding of its own heritage and lead its members closer in the knowledge of God. To strengthen this position, this paper will draw on the ecumenical vision of the Romanian theologian Dumitru Stăniloae. For Stăniloae, the church, in its historical existence, is an imperfect reality progressing through time towards eschatological fulfilment. Although the present church has been given the sight of its ultimate perfection through Scripture, the teachings of the Fathers, and the sacraments, its knowledge of God remains partial. To advance in the knowledge of God, the church has to deepen its thesaurus of faith – and this can only be achieved through dialogue. The knowledge of God is not the product of self-reflexion, but of an active and loving engagement with other humans. Furthermore, due to the universal presence of God, these dialogues cannot be exclusively Pan-Orthodox; they need to embrace the entirety of human society, from science and arts to other religions and Christian confessions. As long as all parties are inspired by genuine love and the Eastern Orthodox tenets are not affected, the dialogue can forge a more profound understanding of the Eastern Orthodox faith and God’s will in the world. By highlighting the importance of ecumenical dialogue for spiritual advancement into God, the fear of otherness that generates anti-ecumenical feelings is dissipated, and the basis for a positive reinterpretation of the differences among churches – as reflections of God’s manifold manifestation in human existence – is set.
|Who Do You Say I Am?”: The Problems of Recognising and Receiving Conflicting Others
In this paper I will examine some of the more challenging aspects of recognition and reception as part of the requirement of hospitality towards the other whom we have not chosen as our neighbour. I will consider first the call to hospitality which takes us outside of our comfort zones, to move beyond loving those who love us to loving all. This universality of the call to love makes clear that there are different others at stake, and these others can be in deep conflict not only with us but with each other. The paper will thus reflect also on how our attitude to the one who Emmanuel Levinas called the Third (in this case the migrant, be he or she Muslim, Christian or of no faith) can influence our attitude to the other that comes across as nationalist, racist or xenophobic, and vice versa. My question will be how in this triangular relationship we can legitimately speak about recognition and reception without exclusion, how to live in love and service of the different ones who come to us as Christ, hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned, physically or in the worlds of their ideological constructs. Through these considerations on a slightly different problem that faces us today, suggestions will be made on what this has to say to the task of recognition and reception between churches, both on the grassroots and the organisational level.
|Initiation and Baptism as Reception: an Ecumenical Survey
What does the conversion of a person mean: does it bind him or her to a confessional tradition or, is it a commitment to the one Church of Christ? In my short paper at the Academic Consultation of the Societas Oecumenica in Helsinki, firstly I would like to offer a survey of the ecumenical reflection on conversion, initiation and baptism. This survey would follow the official (bilateral and multilateral) documents of ecumenical dialogue (with some outlook to the contribution of the Groupe des Dombes as an essential spiritual and theological forum). Two foci would direct our attention: what do these documents say about our topics, and do we find a contemporary convergence or mutual recognition on conversion, initiation and baptism? Secondly, in order to understand deeper our churches’ conception of the sacramental character of baptism, I would like examine the contemporary practices of catechumenate in our churches. Beside the confessional moments of these practices, another main question of this examination would be: are there ecumenical elements of initiation rites?
|Laudato Si’ in the context of Ecumenical Ecotheology
The environment-themed encyclical of Pope Francis I, Laudato Si’, raised unprecedented attention worldwide and contributed, for example, to the agreement reached in the Paris Climate conference of December 2015. The encyclical has even now became a focal point in discussions related to Christianity and the environment, and it has ecumenical and social significance already as such. However, the content of the encyclical is rich and deserves careful analysis. From the point of view of research in ecumenical ecotheology, the encyclical appears as a summary of various ecotheological positions and a milestone in especially Catholic environmental thought. It brings a new emphasis on the interconnectedness of humans and the rest of creation into official Catholic ecotheology, even while it remains firmly in the main current of Catholic argumentation which is based on the value of the human person. This paper analyzes Laudato Si’ (LS) in the context ecumenical ecotheology, drawing from an extensive research project on the history of Christian environmentalism. It is argued that while the connections in LS with Orthodox theology are evident, rare in their force and ecumenically significant, there is implicit congruence with various Protestant ecotheologies. LS is analyzed also as part of a longer historical development in Catholic ecotheology. Possible future directions are briefly probed, such as the role of “intrinsic”, theocentric value of non-human nature, which remains a slightly ambiguous theme in LS.
|Adalbert Hamman (1910-2000): A Part-time Ecumenist?
The renowned French patristic scholar Adalbert Hamman (1910-2000) is indisputably lauded for his wide-ranging contribution to a better understanding of Christian antiquity, the daily life of early Christians, the works of the Church Fathers and the centrality of diakonia and martyria for the baptised. Remembered for his lifelong passion of disseminating patristic texts and making them easily available to the man and the woman in the street, Hamman’s unsung commitment to ecumenism is unfortunately forgotten. This paper seeks to highlight an aspect which most scholarly circles fail to focus upon, namely, Hamman’s role in building ecumenical bridges among Christians. He strove to promote an ecumenical spirit in various ways. For Hamman, ecumenical dialogue is possible when Christians embrace “la pureté” and “la plénitude” which characterise the biblical and patristic founts of theology. The research project underlying this short paper illustrates how right Hamman was to stress the ecumenical importance of a return to the Church Fathers, not only for unity with the Orthodox Churches but also for fruitful dialogue with communities belonging to the Reformed Tradition. Well, after all, can we still say that Hamman was a part-time ecumenist?
|Theology (out) of migration as post-ecumenical endeavor in the 21st century
Theology (out) of migration as post-ecumenical endeavor in the 21st century In my paper I am going to present the ways in which the theological understanding of migration and associated topics like belonging, citizenship, being church are related to ecumenical theology. During a Visiting Research Fellowship at Union Theological Seminary in New York from September 2014 – January 2015 (sponsored by the German Research Association) I have worked on the overall question how the understanding of ecumenism and ecumenical cooperation in global cities, such as New York or Frankfurt, has changed due to the rising migration flows from the so-called “global south”. Religious scholars like Philip Jenkins have pointed to the shift of gravity within Christianity more than a decade ago (Jenkins 2002), and slowly academic theology, be it mission studies or systematic theology, as well as the churches themselves begin to reflect on the implications this shift may cause for them, how this affects theological discourses and what it thus means to be church in a global age. My argument is that the development of a theology (out) of migration (Phan 2013) would help churches and academic theology to think in new ways of ecumenism and ecumenical encounter in the 21st century. I call this a post-ecumenical endeavor for it clearly differs from the rather classical ecumenism of the 20th century. It is through this post-ecumenical perspective, I argue, that theology is recognizing the margins by bringing them into the center and thus is able to overcome the dichotomy between center and periphery of theological thought. What I am proposing is a postcolonial approach to ecumenical theology aiming at inclusion and intercultural dialogue without blurring the differences between different contexts and theological thoughts.
|Local Churches – Universal Recognition?
Arguing for mutual ecclesial recognition is only possible if attention is also paid to the way in which such recognition exists currently and how it is conceptualized in ecumenical dialogues. This papers considers three phases in the journey towards full mutual recognition between churches, using the example of the recent dialogue between the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht and the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar (2011-2014). In doing so, it elucidates that working out what communion and recognition actually means is also part of the dialogue process and might be understood differently from interchurch relationship to interchurch relationship. In particular, the paper will outline three phases of the developing relationship between the two churches, eventually leading to mutual recognition (which might be expected for 2016). First, the phase of initial contacts and the preparation of the dialogue itself can be discerned. Here, a shared “intuition” sufficient common ground might be available for recognition and communion is developed, which is verified by a formal pre-dialogue. Second, the dialogue itself is described, in which the development of a common language and, in that context, a common understanding of what communion and recognition means is developed. Third, the phase of reception is considered, in which the view of the dialogue commission, which established that the two churches can indeed recognize each other, including the commission’s insights as to what communion might mean, is to be received by the two churches involved. The latter, complex process has a formal side: the ratification, as it were, of the work of the dialogue commission, and it has a more social side, which entails, ideally, a growth in mutual trust and in lived relationship between the churches and their members. Only if this happens as well, it can be argued, there is also an experiential side to the theological recognition, which, depending on one’s view of what full recognition entails (e.g., walking together in the same pilgrimage, as members of the same body), is a necessity or not. By analyzing this particular ecumenical case in this manner, light will be shed on the underlying question: what is mutual recognition and reception precisely?
|The Ecclesiastical Recognition of the Other Christian Communities according to document Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World prepared for the Pan-Orthodox Council 2016
The purpose of this paper is to examine, from a theological point of view, the question of the ecclesiastical recognition of the other Christian communities. We will look closely at the relation between the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and the Churches present in history, as well as at the relation between the Church unity and the unity of faith, as understood by the Eastern Orthodox Churches. We will identify the importance and the limits of the theological agreements established as a result of the ecumenical dialogue and we will thus try to define what ecclesiastical recognition means in the view of the Orthodox theology. Finally, we will attempt to describe the ecumenical practice in which the Eastern Orthodox Churches can take part, according to the documents regarding the ecclesiastical recognition and the ecumenical theology that shall be discussed and adopted at the pan-Orthodox council in 2016
|Reception of Eastern Christian Spirituality and Theology: A Challenge to the Czech Ecumenism?
Origins of the Christian faith in the Czech lands are closely connected with the mission of Saint Cyril and Methodius at the time preceded the great schism. With the evangelization carried on by two Apostles, spirit of the Christian East started to blow into our space. Hence the West and East tradition encounter each other. Subsequently the mutual relations will be shaped in stages of tensions and reciprocal moving away and closer rather than in harmonic and continual process. The presence of the eastern feature in the spiritual face of Christendom in our lands will find echo by the Christians of each great confessional group while questioning their own identity: for Catholics Cyril and Methodius remain patron saints and “fathers” of the local church; during the Czech reformation Hussites looked up to Constantinople while searching for a confirmation of the rightness of their purposes; the Orthodox church considers herself to be the heir and successor in the work of Thesaloniki brothers; the national Czechoslovak church puts both of the brothers in the group of representatives of an independent “Czech Christendom”. May encounter with the Christian East become a way to discover and strengthen our common Christian roots reaching deeper than a subsequent confessional ramification? To formulate the question in such a way doesn´t mean to succumb to romantic nostalgia for an ideal past. It can be understood rather as an invitation to discover and embrace treasures of Eastern theology and spirituality for today. The paper will present three different ways of approaching the Orthodoxy in 20th century in the Czech lands: catholic unionistic movement reflecting the spirit of the then magisterial documents; view of Josef Lukl Hromádka approaching Orthodoxy from the principles of reformed theology; national Christendom clinging in its beginning to Orthodoxy as an alternative to the “Roman faith”. A critic examination of all the above mentioned approaches can stimulate the process of conversion as the indispensable condition of any authentic and enriching encounter with the Christian East. In such a process following demands to each confessional community are to be sketch: to find and admit complementarity (for Catholics), to broaden the right sense of “evangelic catholicity” (for Protestants), to focus on the universal and pulsing core of the Christian faith (in the case of the Czechoslovak Hussite church).
“Just do it.” Some Reflections on From Conflict to Communion.
Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017 The document of the Lutheran-Catholic Joint Commission is an excellent illustration of the theme of the Helsinki Consultation. It is good to see how much the themes of the last three Consultations pointed to this direction, too, that is, recognition and reception. In Belgrade, 2010: Mission and Unity. Common Witness of Separated Churches? The witness of separated churches cannot be as effective as those which mutually accept and recognize each other. In Belfast, 2012: Dialogue inside-out: Ecumenism Encounters the Religions. It was another approach of the same problem: how convincing can be our churches for outsiders if their division is obvious for them? And last but not least the Budapest Consultation in 2014: Catholicity under Pressure: The Ambiguous Relationship between Diversity and Unity. It is desirable that the relationship between diversity and unity among Christians should be less and less ambiguous. The Joint Declaration on Justification demonstrated that in reality consensus had always been greater even in the doctrine that formally resulted in the separation of the Lutheran Church. The differences could not annihilate the basic common conviction. There was a great enthusiasm on the occasion of signing the Joint Declaration, but the Dominus Iesus Declaration of the Congregation of the Faith worked for many as a cold shower. Still this document could not hold up progress in discussing differences and making efforts for consensus, and it was less and less mentioned during the years. It can be hoped that the coming joint commemoration will give a great impetus to the dialogue on problems enumerated in point 218 of the Commemoration Document: the connection between the visible and the invisible Church, the relationship between the universal and the local Church, the sacramental character of the Church, the necessity of sacramental ordination in the life of the Church and the sacramental character of episcopal ordination. In case of a considerable approach (consensus?) problems not mentioned in 218 – mariology, papal infallibility, indulgence etc. – should not be great hurdles any more either. Both [Roman] Catholics and Lutherans – and let us add, most Christians – have never ceased to confess “the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church”. It is day by day more and more important not “only” to confess but to demonstrate (“just do”) it
|Just Do It? A Practical Perspective on Eucharistic Hospitality
This year’s theme Just do it? provides space to explore the frontiers of ecumenism. “It” can be interpreted in many ways, as I am sure will be done throughout this week’s lectures and short papers. In my paper I will introduce the very practical perception of recognition I address in my PhD research project. The goal of my paper is to introduce to you the outlines of this project, which finds itself still at the very start. Hopefully, you will respond to it with questions, remarks, and other means of feedback. In my PhD project, I will investigate some exceptional cases of Eucharistic hospitality from the side of the Roman Catholic Church. In accordance with dominant ecclesiological presuppositions, in principle Eucharistic sharing with Christians not in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church is prohibited by canon law. Apart from some well-defined personal circumstances, however, Bishops enjoy the freedom to make exceptions to this general standard, as is done in the cases of the French Taizé community and the Italian Monastero di Bose. In these cases, the Roman Catholic Church has decided to “just do it” because of the ecumenical benefits in these particular contexts. In my research, I will investigate these communities. Methodologically, I want to introduce the perspective of practical theology to the debate on Eucharistic hospitality within Roman Catholic theology. Complementary to the dogmatic argumentations within the discussion, I believe the everyday practice of these communities may have a significant message. By qualitative interviewing, I will biographically reconstruct the theologies of members of the communities underpinning this specific practice, as well as the experiences it produces. This means that I choose to adapt the personal history of the interviewees as source for theology. With regard to the content, I will pay attention to the question whether sharing the one table of the Lord belongs only at the end of the ecumenical path, or that it might as well be a viaticum, a bread-for-underway. A question that was also entertained by Pope Francis as he visited the Lutheran Church in Rome in November 2014, when confronted with the issue of ecumenical marriages. In this way I will investigate what the theological convictions and the experiences of these communities concerning Eucharistic sharing can contribute to contemporary Catholic ecumenical theology. In the course of my presentation I will introduce the backgrounds of my project, as well as its contents, its methodology, and its prospects. I hope that you will reflect on my plans during the subsequent discussion, enabling me to adjust my visions and expectations still in this early stage of the research.
|The Episcopal Ministry in Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue. Aspects of a Bishop in Apostolicity of the Church and Lund Statement.
In this paper I claim that the Lutheran World Federation member churches and the Roman Catholic Church are in several distinct ways seemingly close to each other in their understanding of episcopal ministry. Nevertheless, behind some of these visible similarities still underlines differences, which should be taken into account as the Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue continues. This argument is based on the analyses of two documents: 1) a bilateral study document Apostolicity of the Church (AC) by Lutheran¬-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity, released in 2006; and 2) a Lutheran statement Episcopal Ministry within the Apostolicity of the Church (Lund statement), affirmed by the LWF council in 2007.
The understanding of the episcopal ministry has been a difficult ecumenical issue in many bilateral dialogues Lutherans have participated in. This has also been the case in dialogue between the LWF and the Roman Catholic Church. One reason behind these difficulties has been the unclearness of the understanding of episcopacy on the Lutheran side. Nevertheless the LWF has worked systematically from 1999 to 2007 in order to clarify the contemporary Lutheran understanding of the episcopal ministry and the historic episcopate. This systematic work has paid off as Lund statement was affirmed in 2007. In light of Lund statement the LWF member churches understand that the episcopal ministry 1) belongs to one ministerium, which bases on the ministry of the Christ, is always 2) personal, 3) communal, 4) collegial 5) regional ministry, 6) is called and 7) installed/consecrated with 8) gifts from the Holy spirit 9) serves and symbolizes the unity, 10) presides ordinations, 11) supervises life and teaching of the church and 12) should be obeyed de iure divino, as long as it is exercised loyally to the Gospel. It is clearly visible that most of these aspects are seemingly similar to Roman Catholic understanding of the episcopal ministry. Nevertheless, some of these seemingly similar concepts are understood differently on the Catholic side. One example would be the collegial aspect of the episcopal ministry, which is emphasized as an important aspect in both of the churches, although the understanding behind the concept differs radically. In this paper I analyze in Ac and Lund statement these seemingly similar aspects of the episcopal ministry and present where the understanding of these concepts is close and where the different understanding of these concepts still hinders the unity.