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Pro Ecclesia Vol 25-N3: A Journal of Catholic and Evangelical Theology

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Pro Ecclesia is a quarterly journal of theology published by the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. It seeks to give contemporary expression to the one apostolic faith and its classic traditions, working for and manifesting the church's unity by research, theological construction, and free exchange of opinion. Members of its advisory council represent communities committed to the authority of Holy Scripture, ecumenical dogmatic teaching and the structural continuity of the church, and are themselves dedicated to maintaining and invigorating these commitments. The journal publishes biblical, liturgical, historical and doctrinal articles that promote or illumine its purposes.

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“YOU HAVE NOT YET CONSIDERED THE GRAVITY OF SIN”: A KEY RETRIEVAL FOR OUR TIME

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“YOU HAVE NOT YET CONSIDERED THE GRAVITY OF SIN”: A KEY RETRIEVAL FOR OUR TIME

George R. Sumner

Two generations after Karl Menninger’s Whatever Became of Sin?,1 it is hard to deny the eclipse of this concept on the theological scene. Just as the confession of sin is sometimes omitted from worship, so is the subject of sin in theological circles. The reasons for this in our culture are doubtlessly many, but they include the following: the scorn for sexual repression, the pressure for successful, and hence optimistic, religion, and the whiff of judgmentalism in the word.2 Equally telling is the amnesia about what the theological term used to mean to say. Sin has not been so much rejected as forgotten. People do think, of course, that there are things profoundly wrong with the world, but, lacking the concept of sin as the tradition understood it, their explanations are wanting. We are like speakers of a new language who lack certain parts of speech, and put together sentences as best as we can. My purpose in this article is a modest one, namely to encourage others to make this locus a topic of more earnest discussion in our time.

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SCRIPTURE AS SCIENTIA CHRISTI: THREE THESES ON JESUS’ SELF-KNOWLEDGE AND THE FUTURE OF NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTOLOGY

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SCRIPTURE AS SCIENTIA CHRISTI: THREE THESES ON JESUS’ SELF-KNOWLEDGE AND THE FUTURE COURSE OF NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTOLOGY 1

Anthony Giambrone, O.P.

Greeks, once upon a time, looked for wisdom. They sought it in the gymnasium, in the Stoa, and in a special way in Homer, whom Plato calls protos didaskalos and hegemon paideias, “the first teacher and leader of all learning.”2 What Homer (however dubiously) was for history, for law, medicine, mathematics, and philosophy—indeed for every branch of knowledge cultivated in ancient Greece—the holy Scriptures were, and much more, for the Jews. Ben Sira’s overt identification of Hellenistic Wisdom with the Torah only gave poetic expression to this established fact. For the sage, Israel’s Scripture pours forth with instruction, runs over like the world’s great rivers, flooding its banks with knowledge like the Nile (Sir. 24:25–27). Everything—all knowledge, natural science (uncomfortable as that makes us), ethics, and logic, and not least what was once styled the study of divinity—was for the Jews of Jesus’ age focused in a single source: the holy Scriptures.3 “We do not have countless books,” Josephus said, “discordant and disarrayed, but only twenty-two, containing the history of every age.”4 If we wish to ask about the human knowledge of the Incarnate Word, the Son of Mary, it is exactly in this tiny little library, large enough to hold the world, where we must begin.

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APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION: LIMIT OR CHALLENGE TO COMMUNION?

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APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION: LIMIT OR CHALLENGE TO COMMUNION? *

Paolo Cocco

The Catholic doctrine of apostolic succession appears as an insurmountable obstacle on the path toward full visible communion between the churches.1 This is mainly due to its postbiblical nature on the one side, and to the sacramental value attached to it by Catholics and Orthodox on the other side. Hence, it is important to deepen and to renew it, so that the grace of communion among the churches might shine brighter, nourished by the Word of God and by the action of the Holy Spirit.

THE CATHOLIC DOCTRINE

Protestants affirm the nonbiblical character of the Catholic doctrine on apostolic succession. They consider it a worldly element introduced at an early date, which has profoundly corrupted Christianity. Antonio M. Javierre2 argues that the doctrine is not clearly stated in the writings of the New Testament because they refer only to the life of the church in apostolic time; concerning the following period, we find only sketchy descriptions of the ministries which will support the life of the church across the centuries (cf. Titus 1:5). Javierre, moreover, argues that the doctrine of apostolic succession is substantially implied in 2 Timothy 2:2. In Mt. 28:19-20, we find the apostolic mission as conferred by the risen Christ to the Eleven. At an early stage, this mission will also involve Matthias, Paul, and Barnabas. This mission is still going on up to this day. It concerns in a personal way especially those who are in an authoritative position in the church. Their authority, as noted by Yves M. J. Congar,3 is proportional both to the apostolic quality of the teaching they transmit, and to the pastoral ministry they actually offer.

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BAPTISM: COMMUNICATING GRACE AND FAITH

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BAPTISM: COMMUNICATING GRACE AND FAITH 1

John D. Rempel

INTRODUCTION

The Radical Reformation of the sixteenth century advanced an ecclesiology in which the church was made up only of those who had come to an existential faith and a transformed life. For some of the radicals, later called Spiritualists, this transformation was an interior matter in which outward signs played no role. For another stream of radicalism, later called Anabaptism, a visible church and outward signs remained essential, although they were reinterpreted. They retained water Baptism but only for candidates who could confess Christ and believe in the church’s teaching.

Anabaptism was a charismatic movement—or even a cluster of interrelated movements—that never achieved uniformity. It championed a practical Christianity whose theological foundations were as often implicit as explicit.2 Its diversity is not surprising since it arose in various geographic and religious settings. Early South German and Dutch Anabaptism was shaped by late medieval mystical and communal movements.3 Swiss Anabaptism arose out of a Zwinglian rational Biblicism indebted to Erasmus and Karlstadt.4 Moravian Anabaptism was shaped by both the mystical and biblicistic streams. Hutterianism emerged from it.5 All these currents of thought and practice intersected with major figures of the Magisterial Reformation (most importantly Zwingli, Bucer, and Luther) as well as a few Catholic reformers (most importantly Fabri and Eck).

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THE END: A SYMPOSIUM ON ESCHATOLOGY

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THE FORK IN THE (FINAL) ROAD: UNIVERSALIST AND ANNIHILATIONIST ESCHATOLOGIES—AND WHAT ULTIMATELY DIVIDES THEM

Roberto De La Noval

Alternative eschatologies are on the rise these days. Not that they ever truly disappeared, but recent proponents of nontraditional eschatologies are producing works of great sophistication and theological depth, worthy of renewed consideration. Take, for instance, Paul J. Griffiths’s celebrated recent (2014) work on eschatology, Decreation: The Last Things of All Creatures.1 Here we meet a robust, unshy, fully fleshed out Catholic vision of the traditional four eschata: death, judgment, heaven, and hell. The book manages to be in many respects uncontroversial even while proving itself provocative (an impressive feat in its own right), yet beyond his imaginative reconfiguration of traditional Catholic teaching, Griffiths also accomplishes with his book a sustained and compelling theological argument for annihilationism or conditional immortality. This conclusion of his study rides on the back of a convincing development of Augustinian anthropology and hamartiology. Griffiths argues that Augustine, for all his genius and rigor, simply could not take the final step required by the logic of his own theology to affirm that the final condition for unrepentant sinners is not eternal torment, but rather their final and irrevocable descent into nonbeing—the ultimate endpoint of a miserable history of sin and rejection of God.

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THE FORK IN THE (FINAL) ROAD: UNIVERSALIST AND ANNIHILATIONIST ESCHATOLOGIES—AND WHAT DIVIDES THEM

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THE FORK IN THE (FINAL) ROAD: UNIVERSALIST AND ANNIHILATIONIST ESCHATOLOGIES—AND WHAT ULTIMATELY DIVIDES THEM

Roberto De La Noval

Alternative eschatologies are on the rise these days. Not that they ever truly disappeared, but recent proponents of nontraditional eschatologies are producing works of great sophistication and theological depth, worthy of renewed consideration. Take, for instance, Paul J. Griffiths’s celebrated recent (2014) work on eschatology, Decreation: The Last Things of All Creatures.1 Here we meet a robust, unshy, fully fleshed out Catholic vision of the traditional four eschata: death, judgment, heaven, and hell. The book manages to be in many respects uncontroversial even while proving itself provocative (an impressive feat in its own right), yet beyond his imaginative reconfiguration of traditional Catholic teaching, Griffiths also accomplishes with his book a sustained and compelling theological argument for annihilationism or conditional immortality. This conclusion of his study rides on the back of a convincing development of Augustinian anthropology and hamartiology. Griffiths argues that Augustine, for all his genius and rigor, simply could not take the final step required by the logic of his own theology to affirm that the final condition for unrepentant sinners is not eternal torment, but rather their final and irrevocable descent into nonbeing—the ultimate endpoint of a miserable history of sin and rejection of God.

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HEAVEN ATTRACTS AND HELL REPELS: A DYNAMIC INTERPRETATION OF BALTHASAR’S DARE WE HOPE “THAT ALL MEN BE SAVED”?

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HEAVEN ATTRACTS AND HELL REPELS: A DYNAMIC INTERPRETATION OF BALTHASAR’S DARE WE HOPE “THAT ALL MEN BE SAVED”?

Cameron Surrey

INTRODUCTION

Since its publication in 1986, Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Dare We Hope “That All Men Be Saved”? has been the object of considerable debate and controversy.1 This has been re-ignited with the appearance of Ralph Martin’s “Will Many Be Saved?” in 2012. Martin joins the chorus of a number of orthodox theologians who criticize Balthasar for espousing a position, which, while claiming to differ essentially from the universalist doctrine of apocatastasis, is practically indistinguishable from it. This article seeks to clarify Balthasar’s overall position2 by drawing attention to its dynamic character. This dynamism is, perhaps, not made explicit by Balthasar himself. It has, accordingly, been overlooked in the debate about the orthodoxy of his doctrine, and yet as I will argue, it is essential for a proper understanding of the way he formulates Christian hope. Furthermore, this dynamic interpretation of Balthasar is in full accord with his overall theological project, particularly the central methodological commitment that grounds his Theo-Drama, that “man is a spectator only insofar as he is a player” in the drama of salvation.3

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“WITH MY BODY I THEE WORSHIP”: NEW CREATION, BEATIFIC VISION, AND THE LITURGICAL CONSUMMATION OF ALL THINGS

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“WITH MY BODY I THEE WORSHIP”: NEW CREATION, BEATIFIC VISION, AND THE LITURGICAL CONSUMMATION OF ALL THINGS

Isaac Augustine Morales, O. P.

“When our flesh, made glorious at the Judgment Seat, dresses us once again, then shall our persons become more pleasing in being more complete.”

“Thereby shall we have increase of the light Supreme Love grants, unearned, to make us fit to hold His glory ever in our sight.”1

The Western Christian tradition has commonly characterized eschatological hope in two ways: the Resurrection of the dead, prominent in all the creeds, and the beatific vision of the divine essence.2 Both aspects of the Christian hope have biblical support, but it is not always easy to see how the two fit together. According to the traditional account of the beatific vision, particularly as expounded by St. Thomas Aquinas, this vision is an activity of the intellect that satisfies all human desires. As such, the activity itself does not require a body—the separated souls of the righteous can enjoy this vision even before the general Resurrection.3 Thus, it would seem that the Resurrection, so central to the Christian hope described in the New Testament, is in at least some sense superfluous. On the other hand, certain readings of the hope of the Resurrection and the new creation marginalize the biblical hope for the vision of God. If the redeemed are to be given resurrected bodies, then those bodies must engage in some activity other than catatonically staring at the divine essence.4

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