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Pro Ecclesia Vol 15-N2: 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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COMMENTARY

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Mihail Neamtu



A recent series of public lectures on Eastern Christianity, generously hosted by the Metropolitan University of Manchester, was presented to the public under the heading of “multicultural studies.”

Instinctively, many Orthodox Christians will bristle on hearing of this characterization. Perhaps unintentionally, it suggests a sort of patronizing relativism that views the Eastern Church as an interesting and noteworthy piece of exotica, but not as the bearer of universal value or truth. Indeed the word “multiculturalism” can sometimes refer to a relativist philosophy that rejects any possibility of universal truths or moral precepts. Partly for that reason, many Orthodox Christians might react by saying that any public presentation of their faith should focus on its theological message, rather than its cultural packaging. First and foremost, some would say, such presentations ought to deal with the spiritual contents of Orthodoxy, or its claim to be the “right faith,” or literally the right way to glorify God among the various Christian confessions.

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ECUMENICAL TASKS IN RELATIONSHIP TO THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

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Wolfhart Pannenberg



The current state of ecumenical dialogue between the churches of the Reformation and Rome, and between the Lutheran churches and Rome, is not encouraging. A few years ago things were different. With the signing of the Official Common Statement of the Lutheran-Catholic Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in 1999, there was some hope that an understanding on the other doctrinal differences that exist between Rome and the churches of the Reformation had become possible. Based on the German study of sixteenth-century condemnations—published under the title Lehrverurteilungen—kirchentrennend? in 1994 and subsequently accepted, although not without some reservation, by the responsible ecclesial committees on the Lutheran side—these doctrinal differences included two other important topics in addition to justification, namely, the doctrines of the sacraments and ministry. The results of the Condemnation Study regarding the topic of justification were received and affirmed beyond Germany—that is, internationally—by the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Yet, in many German Protestant circles this reception and affirmation was met with a lack of understanding, primarily because they had expected a direct, reciprocal reaction by Rome to the positive reception of the Condemnation Study results by German ecclesial committees. This expectation was not realistic in large part because the consensus reached in Germany was initially only a regionally adopted result. A statement by the whole Roman Catholic Church would have required an international consensus. With respect to the doctrine of justification, such a consensus had been reached through the Declaration on Justification worked out by the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. As for the other two topics—the doctrine of sacraments, in particular the Eucharist, as well as ordained ministry—no corresponding international reception has, as yet, been forthcoming, even though that would have been in keeping with the logic of the process begun by the Condemnation Study and the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.

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UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO IN A PROTESTANT PERSPECTIVE

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Geoffrey Wainwright



I am honored by the invitation to speak on behalf of the churches and ecclesial communities stemming from the Reformation, although as a historically late-coming Methodist I accept the honor with some trepidation. That Metropolitan John Zizioulas has agreed to address the topic of Unitatis Redintegratio (UR) from the Orthodox perspective inevitably brings to my mind the occasion when he and I, together with Fr. Jean Tillard (of blessed memory) were seated on the platform at Lima, Peru, in January 1982 and had to deliver our judgment on whether or not to accept last-minute proposals for amendments to the text of Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (BEM). Such proposed changes were to pass into the document if, and only if, all three of us, after a fifteen-second consultation among ourselves, approved them. Happily, the document was then voted upon and unanimously adopted by the Faith and Order Commission as ready for transmission to the churches for their evaluation. Cardinal Kasper also participated in that meeting as Professor Walter Kasper of Tübingen, occupying one of the places allotted to Catholics on the commission from 1968 onward. My personal interest in Unitatis Redintegratio reaches back further still. In 1966–1967 I spent a year in Rome during my doctoral studies at a time when foreign Protestants were still something of a rarity in the city, and I profited in many ways from the generous hospitality that the recent promulgation of the ecumenical decree by the Second Vatican Council seemed to unleash. Such memories help to constitute the human history of the movement in favor of Christian unity, and so they are not alien to our theme; but I will now pass, in the capacity of a professional theologian, to a more systematic consideration of the conciliar decree and its effects.

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A QUESTION OF BALANCE: UNITY AND DIVERSITY IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH

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Ola Tjørhom



Already Blaise Pascal observed that the relationship between unity and diversity—in the church’s life as well as generally—requires a proper balance: While diversity without unity promotes confusion, unity without diversity may lead to tyranny.2 Significant parts of church history can actually be understood as more or less explicit, if not always successful, attempts to identify and secure this crucial balance. In the early church this was particularly connected with the struggle against divisive heresy. Subsequent to the great divides of the eleventh and sixteenth centuries, unity with imposed uniformity was often endorsed and practiced at the cost of diversity. During the last decades, however, the opposite attitude has become increasingly common—often opting for a static plurality that jeopardizes communion.

The relationship between unity and diversity is of evident relevance both in the lives of individual churches and within a larger ecumenical framework. Several of the most heated internal and external ecclesial debates touch this issue. Today there is broad agreement that unity as well as diversity is essential with regard to the church and its mission. Yet, we are frequently confronted with indications that these dimensions have not been properly balanced. The aim of this article is to contribute to a clarification of this vital balance, in the form of some elementary theses. Here the key question is How can we maintain and benefit from the rich diversity of the church’s faith deposit without undermining our basic unity? My main emphasis will be on the ecumenical aspects of the problem.3 This topic has for a long time been intensively discussed in several connections. However, there is much evidence that new angles and approaches are required at this point.4

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LANGUAGE SERVING UNITY? LINGUISTIC-HERMENEUTICAL CONSIDERATIONS OF A BASIC ECUMENICAL PROBLEM

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Annemarie C. Mayer


“Unity has to do with communicational success.”1 However trivial this idea may sound, it is rooted in the very aim of ecumenical hermeneutics, that is, to promote the unity of the church(es) through communication as well as mutual interpretation. But despite persistent communication and an ever-increasing number of interdenominational convergence and consensus documents, it would seem that the so-called consensus ecumenism has become stagnate. What causes communication to fail? Why is there so much verbiage and so little success? Are we dealing here with an actual crisis, with a language crisis, or with both? If, however, the actual crisis and the language crisis are intertwined, one should “distinguish between the linguistic expression and the actual problem, without readily separating them in the process.”2 For in such cases, we must assume that ecumenism is also a matter of language and style. To what extent this may be true we can gather from the currently ordinary means we employ to reach inter-denominational understanding, namely, the differentiated consensus.

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REVIEW ESSAY

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Bruce D. Marshall





Kirche in der postmodernen Welt: Der Beitrag George Lindbecks zu einer neuen Verhältnisbestimmung, by Andreas Eckerstorfer. Innsbruck-Vienna: Tyrolia-Verlag, 2001 (Salzburger theologische Studien, 16), 403 pp.

Postlibéralisme? La théologie de George Lindbeck et sa réception, edited by Marc Boss, Gilles Emery, and Pierre Gisel. Geneva: Labor et Fides, 2004 (Lieux théologiques, 37), 216 pp.

More than twenty years have passed since George Lindbeck published The Nature of Doctrine. With the passage of time that slim volume has emerged as one of the most influential works of academic theology to appear in English over the last half century. It would be difficult to find a theologian in North America or Britain who lacks a firm opinion on it, often, as Andreas Eckerstorfer’s bibliography shows, a published one. In the fragmented, even chaotic, world of contemporary Anglophone theology, The Nature of Doctrine is one of the few books that practically everybody thinks they need to know something about.

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