This fascination with Greek thought brings us to the writings of Sergius Bulgakov. As Lossky was deeply influenced by the negative theology of Orthodoxy, he was critical of social activism and worldly involvement, which he feared would hinder our spiritual growth. However, there is an Orthodox theologian who thought otherwise and who in many ways foreshadowed the liberation theology of Latin America.
In view of this, Chapter 7 will study the contextual theology of Nicolas Berdyaev.
Finally, in Chapter 8 we will accompany Jaroslav Pelikan on his return to Orthodoxy after being a Lutheran scholar for most of his life. This chapter includes his writings on Christian doctrinal development, which present a critical yet sympathetic view of Roman Catholicism. However, it was his love of Hellenism that eventually led him to the bosom of the Orthodox Church.
In these eight chapters, we will explore interpretations of key theological issues that have kept the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches apart as well as together. More often than not, it has been misunderstanding, suspicion, and mistrust due to ignorance and unfamiliarity that has kept the churches apart.
Besides, as we shall see, divergent theological views can co-exist within the same church. At the same time, we find striking similarities between Ratzinger and Florovsky in their approach to Hellenization in the church. Thus, such differences and divergent theological views need not be obstacles to reunification. Churches are like gardens, in which different kinds of flowers must be allowed to bloom. Most of the recently published books on Orthodox theology are meant as general introductions.
Only a few examine to a deeper extent topics such as trinitarian theology, deification, and Christology, and these are meant for specialists. I hope that this book on Orthodox theologians, seen from both Roman Catholic and ecumenical perspectives, will satisfy the needs of those seeking more than just a cursory introduction to Orthodox theology.
Tag: Purification of Memory
This work explores the ideologies of Orthodox theologians from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, so the theological issues they deal with are relevant to our present-day search for unity. He completed his theological studies at St Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris in and earned a doctorate from the Sorbonne in with his doctoral dissertation on the major works of St Gregory Palamas — At the same time he was the most American of that generation.
Suffering from pancreatic cancer, he passed away on 22 July Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, p. His writings on Roman Catholicism are balanced, objective, and thoughtful. It afforded his work a serene, irenic character not hesitant to tackle the great vexing ecumenical questions of our age, arising from some of the saddest pages of Christian ecclesiastical history. This action might not be possible to undo.
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Save For Later. Create a List. Summary Among the major Christian denominations, the Orthodox Church is the least known and widely misunderstood. Read on the Scribd mobile app Download the free Scribd mobile app to read anytime, anywhere. Ioannes Paulus PP. Peter C. Outline and Sequence of the Work Chapter 1 will study the writings of John Meyendorff as he deals with issues that are fundamental to the understanding of the separation between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches.
Start your free 30 days. Page 1 of 1. Close Dialog Are you sure? What are the conditions for a correct interpretation of the past from the point of view of historical knowledge? To determine these, we must take account of the complexity of the relationship between the subject who interprets and the object from the past which is interpreted.
It is necessary, therefore, to approach them by means of an historical-critical investigation that aims at using all of the information available, with a view to a reconstruction of the environment, of the ways of thinking, of the conditions and the living dynamic in which those events and those words are placed, in order, in such a way, to ascertain the contents and the challenges that - precisely in their diversity - they propose to our present time. Second, a certain common belonging of interpreter and interpreted must be recognized without which no bond and no communication could exist between past and present.
This communicative bond is based on the fact that every human being, whether of yesterday or of today, is situated in a complex of historical relationships, and in order to live these relationships, the mediation of language is necessary, a mediation which itself is always historically determined. Everybody belongs to history! This requires taking into account the questions which motivate the research and their effect on the answers which are found, the living context in which the work is undertaken, and the interpreting community whose language is spoken and to whom one intends to speak.
This is the expression of what is judged to be the correct understanding of the events or words of the past; it is equivalent to grasping the meaning which the events can have for the interpreter and his world. Thanks to this encounter of living worlds, understanding of the past is translated into its application to the present. The past is grasped in the potentialities which it discloses, in the stimulus it offers to modify the present. Memory becomes capable of giving rise to a new future.
This fruitful osmosis with the past is reached through the interwovenness of certain basic hermeneutic operations, which correspond to the stages of extraneousness, communality, and understanding true and proper. Stating the interpretation reached means bringing others into the dialogue created with the past, in order both to verify its importance and to discover other possible interpretations. If these operations are present in every hermeneutic act, they must also be part of the interpretative process within which historical judgement and theological judgement come to be integrated.
This requires, in the first place, that in this type of interpretation, maximum attention be given to the elements of differentiation and extraneousness between past and present. In particular, when one intends to judge the possible wrongs of the past, it must be kept in mind that the historical periods are different, that the sociological and cultural times within which the Church acts are different, and so, the paradigms and judgements proper to one society and to one era might be applied erroneously in the evaluation of other periods of history, producing many misunderstandings.
Persons, institutions, and their respective competencies are different; ways of thinking and conditioning are different. Generalization must be avoided. Any possible statement today must be situated in the contemporary context and undertaken by the appropriate subject universal Church, Bishops of a country, particular Churches, etc. Second, the correlation of historical judgement and theological judgement must take into account the fact that, for the interpretation of the faith, the bond between past and present is not motivated only by the current interest and by the common belonging of every human being to history and its expressive mediations, but is based also on the unifying action of the Spirit of God and on the permanent identity of the constitutive principle of the communion of the faithful, which is revelation.
Of course, the powerful unity between the hermeneutic horizon and the Church as interpreting agent exposes the theological vision to the risk of yielding to apologetic or tendentious readings. It is here that the hermeneutic exercise aimed at understanding past events and statements and at evaluating the correctness of their interpretation for today is more necessary than ever. For this reason, the reading undertaken by believers will avail itself of all possible contributions by the historical sciences and interpretative methods. The exercise of historical hermeneutics should not, however, prevent the evaluation of faith from questioning the texts according to its own distinctive vision, thus making past and present interact in the conscience of the one fundamental subject involved in these texts, the Church.
This guards against all historicism that would relativize the weight of past wrongs and make history justify everything. Yet the consideration of mitigating factors does not exonerate the Church from the obligation to express profound regret for the weaknesses of so many of her sons and daughters She is inclined to mistrust generalizations that excuse or condemn various historical periods.
She entrusts the investigation of the past to patient, honest, scholarly reconstruction, free from confessional or ideological prejudices, regarding both the accusations brought against her and the wrongs she has suffered. It is not possible to undertake such a task without being aware of its moral and spiritual significance. This entails defining some key terms, as well as making some necessary ethical clarifications.
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On the level of morality, the request for forgiveness always presupposes an admission of responsibility , precisely the responsibility for a wrong committed against others. Usually, moral responsibility refers to the relationship between the action and the person who does it. It establishes who is responsible for an act, its attribution to a certain person or persons.
The responsibility may be objective or subjective. Objective responsibility refers to the moral value of the act in itself, insofar as it is good or evil, and thus refers to the imputability of the action. Subjective responsibility concerns the effective perception by individual conscience of the goodness or evil of the act performed. Subjective responsibility ceases with the death of the one who performed the act; it is not transmitted through generation; the descendants do not inherit subjective responsibility for the acts of their ancestors.
In this sense, asking for forgiveness presupposes a contemporaneity between those who are hurt by an action and those who committed it. The only responsibility capable of continuing in history can be the objective kind, to which one may freely adhere subjectively or not. Thus, the evil done often outlives the one who did it through the consequences of behaviors that can become a heavy burden on the consciences and memories of the descendants. In such a context, one can speak of a solidarity that unites the past and the present in a relationship of reciprocity.
In certain situations, the burden that weighs on conscience can be so heavy as to constitute a kind of moral and religious memory of the evil done, which is by its nature a common memory. This common memory gives eloquent testimony to the solidarity objectively existing between those who committed the evil in the past and their heirs in the present. It is then that it becomes possible to speak of an objective common responsibility. Purifying the memory means eliminating from personal and collective conscience all forms of resentment or violence left by the inheritance of the past, on the basis of a new and rigorous historical-theological judgement, which becomes the foundation for a renewed moral way of acting.
This occurs whenever it becomes possible to attribute to past historical deeds a different quality, having a new and different effect on the present, in view of progress in reconciliation in truth, justice, and charity among human beings and, in particular, between the Church and the different religious, cultural, and civil communities with whom she is related.
Emblematic models of such an effect, which a later authoritative interpretative judgement may have for the entire life of the Church, are the reception of the Councils or acts like the abolition of mutual anathemas. These express a new assessment of past history, which is capable of producing a different characterization of the relationships lived in the present. The memory of division and opposition is purified and substituted by a reconciled memory, to which everyone in the Church is invited to be open and to become educated.
The combination of historical judgement and theological judgement in the process of interpreting the past is connected to the ethical repercussions that it may have in the present and entails some principles corresponding, on the moral plane, to the hermeneutic foundation of the relationship between historical judgement and theological judgement. These are:. The principle of conscience.
In effect, only God knows the moral value of each human act, even if the Church, like Jesus, can and must classify, judge, and sometimes condemn some kinds of action cf.
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The principle of historicity. Precisely inasmuch as every human act belongs to the subject who acts, every individual conscience and every society chooses and acts within a determined horizon of time and space. To truly understand human acts or their related dynamics, we need therefore to enter into the world of those who did them.
Only in such a way can we come to know their motivations and their moral principles. This must be said without prejudice to the solidarity that binds the members of a specific community through the passage of time. The result was a transition from a sacral society to a pluralist society, or, as occurred in a few cases, to a secular society. Such a transition has a direct impact on moral judgements, although this influence does not justify in any way a relativistic idea of moral principles or of the nature of morality itself. The quality of exemplarity which the honest admission of past faults can exert on attitudes within the Church and civil society should also be noted, for it gives rise to a renewed obedience to the Truth and to respect for the dignity and the rights of others, most especially, of the very weak.
In this sense, the numerous requests for forgiveness formulated by John Paul II constitute an example that draws attention to something good and stimulates the imitation of it, recalling individuals and groups of people to an honest and fruitful examination of conscience with a view to reconciliation. Unity is the law of the life of the Trinitarian God revealed to the world by the Son cf. Jn , who, in the power of the Holy Spirit, loving until the end cf. Jn , communicates this life to his own.
Unfortunately, it has not happened this way, particularly in the millennium which has just ended and in which great divisions appeared among Christians, in open contradiction to the explicit will of Christ, as if he himself were divided cf. In the case of the Reformation, however, other areas of revelation and doctrine were objects of controversy. The way that has opened to overcome these differences is that of doctrinal development animated by mutual love.
The lack of supernatural love, of agape , seems to have been common to both the breaches. In , in the climate produced by the Second Vatican Council, Patriarch Athenagoras, in his dialogue with Paul VI, emphasized the theme of the restoration apokatastasis of mutual love, so essential after a history laden with opposition, mutual mistrust, and antagonism. The events of culminating on December 7, , with the abolition of the anathemas of between East and West represent a confession of the fault contained in the earlier mutual exclusion, so as to purify the memory of the past and generate a new one.
The basis of this new memory cannot be other than mutual love or, better, the renewed commitment to live it. This is the commandment ante omnia 1 Pt for the Church in the East and in the West. In such a way, memory frees us from the prison of the past and calls Catholics and Orthodox, as well as Catholics and Protestants, to be the architects of a future more in conformity with the new commandment.
Eph , from self-denial and generous love, that desires for unity take their rise and grow toward maturity. To the extent that some Catholics are pleased to remain bound to the separations of the past, doing nothing to remove the obstacles that impede unity, one could justly speak of solidarity in the sin of division cf. The Use of Force in the Service of Truth. To the counter-witness of the division between Christians should be added that of the various occasions in the past millennium when doubtful means were employed in the pursuit of good ends, such as the proclamation of the Gospel or the defense of the unity of the faith.
The request for forgiveness applies to whatever should have been done or was passed over in silence because of weakness or bad judgement, to what was done or said hesitantly or inappropriately.
From Memory to Reconciliation – Second Exodus
As always, establishing the historical truth by means of historical-critical research is decisive. Once the facts have been established, it will be necessary to evaluate their spiritual and moral value, as well as their objective significance. Only thus will it be possible to avoid every form of mythical memory and reach a fair critical memory capable - in the light of faith - of producing fruits of conversion and renewal.
The relationship between Christians and Jews is one of the areas requiring a special examination of conscience. In effect, the balance of these relations over two thousand years has been quite negative. The Shoah was certainly the result of the pagan ideology that was Nazism, animated by a merciless anti-Semitism that not only despised the faith of the Jewish people, but also denied their very human dignity. Did Christians give every possible assistance to those being persecuted, and in particular to the persecuted Jews?
In this area, much has already been done, but this should be confirmed and deepened. What is particularly apparent is that this denial, especially in its more theoretical aspects, is a process that emerged in the western world. Connected to the eclipse of God, one encounters then a series of negative phenomena, like religious indifference, the widespread lack of a transcendent sense of human life, a climate of secularism and ethical relativism, the denial of the right to life of the unborn child sanctioned in pro-abortion legislation, and a great indifference to the cry of the poor in entire sectors of the human family.
The uncomfortable question to consider is in what measure believers are themselves responsible for these forms of atheism, whether theoretical or practical. For, taken as a whole, atheism is not something original, but rather stems from a variety of causes, including a critical reaction against religious belief and in some places against the Christian religion in particular. Hence believers can have more than a little to do with the genesis of atheism.
The true face of God has been revealed in Jesus Christ, and thus, Christians are offered the incommensurable grace to know this face. At the same time, however, Christians have the responsibility to live in such a way as to show others the true face of the living God. Since God is love, he is also a Trinity of Persons, whose life consists in their infinite mutual communication in love. It follows from this that the best way Christians can radiate the truth that God is love is by their own mutual love. Finally, it must be emphasized that the mentioning of these faults of Christians of the past is not only to confess them to Christ the Savior, but also to praise the Lord of history for his merciful love.
Christians, in fact, do not believe only in the existence of sin, but also, and above all, in the forgiveness of sins. In addition, recalling these faults means accepting our solidarity with those who, in good and bad, have gone before us on the way of truth. What are its implications for the life of the People of God? Above all, if the causes of possible resentment for evils suffered and the negative influences stemming from what was done in the past can be removed as a result of dialogue and the patient search for mutual understanding with those who feel injured by words and deeds of the past, such a removal may help the community of the Church grow in holiness through reconciliation and peace in obedience to the Truth.
One should not forget the price paid by many Christians for their fidelity to the Gospel and for their service to their neighbor in charity. A second pastoral aim, closely connected to the first, is the promotion of the continual reform of the People of God. A further aim can be seen to be the witness that the Church gives to the God of mercy and to his liberating and saving Truth, from the experience which she has had and continues to have of him in history.
There is also the service which the Church in this way gives to humanity to help overcome current evils. What are the implications for the life of the Church of an ecclesial request for forgiveness? A number of aspects can be mentioned. It is necessary above all to take into account the different processes of reception of acts of ecclesial repentance, because these will vary according to religious, cultural, political, social, and personal contexts.
In this light, one needs to consider that events or words linked to a contextualized history do not necessarily have a universal significance, and vice versa, that acts conditioned by a determined theological and pastoral perspective have had powerful consequences for the spread of the Gospel one thinks, for example, of the various historical models of the theology of mission. In particular, attention must be given to the history, the identity, and the current situation of the Eastern Churches and those Churches which exist in continents or countries where the Christian presence is a minority.
It is necessary to specify the appropriate subject called to speak about the faults of the past, whether it be local Bishops, considered personally or collegially, or the universal Pastor, the Bishop of Rome. In this perspective, it is opportune to take into account - in recognizing past wrongs and the present day subjects who could best assume responsibility for these - the distinction between Magisterium and authority in the Church.
This will be accomplished to the extent that there is dialogue and reciprocity between the parties, oriented toward a possible reconciliation connected with the recognition of faults and repentance for them. Possible gestures of reparation must be connected to the recognition of a responsibility which has endured through time, and may therefore assume a symbolic-prophetic character, as well as having value for effective reconciliation for example, among separated Christians. It is also desirable that in the definition of these acts there be joint research with those who will be addressed, by listening to the legitimate requests which they may present.
On the pedagogical level, it is important to avoid perpetuating negative images of the other, as well as causing unwarranted self-recrimination, by emphasising that, for believers, taking responsibility for past wrongs is a kind of sharing in the mystery of Christ, crucified and risen, who took upon himself the sins of all.
At the same time, it should be noted that such acts can increase the credibility of the Christian message, since they stem from obedience to the truth and tend to produce fruits of reconciliation. With respect to ecumenism, the purpose of ecclesial acts of repentance can be none other than the unity desired by the Lord. Therefore, it is hoped that they will be carried out reciprocally, though at times prophetic gestures may call for a unilateral and absolutely gratuitous initiative.
What must be avoided is that these acts be mistaken as confirmation of possible prejudices against Christianity. It would also be desirable if these acts of repentance would stimulate the members of other religions to acknowledge the faults of their own past. Just as the history of humanity is full of violence, genocide, violations of human rights and the rights of peoples, exploitation of the weak and glorification of the powerful, so too the history of the various religions is marked by intolerance, superstition, complicity with unjust powers, and the denial of the dignity and freedom of conscience.