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Pro Ecclesia Vol 15-N1: 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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COMMENTARY

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Michael Root

Pro Ecclesia and the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology, which sponsors the journal, have reached a transition point. Carl Braaten and Robert Jenson, who founded the Center and the journal over twelve years ago, have decided to hand on the task to others. I am honored to join with Reinhard Hütter, the new editor of Pro Ecclesia, and James Buckley, the new associate director of the Center, to carry on the work that Carl and Jens did so much to further. But what precisely is the work we are called to carry on?

Pro Ecclesia is “a journal of Catholic and Evangelical Theology,” sponsored by the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. Every once in a while, and especially at times of transition, the question then should be asked: what is this “Catholic and Evangelical Theology” that defines the journal and the Center?

The phrase “evangelical catholic” has roots reaching back into nineteenth-century Lutheranism. The confessional revival of that time took various forms; many of them sought to reconnect the evangelical core of the Reformation to the catholic context needed to make Christian and ecclesial sense of that core. The claim was made that the twin forces of pietism and the Enlightenment had severed the Reformation from its catholic roots in both theology and ecclesial life. That tradition of catholic confessionalism was represented in the mid-twentieth century by such men as Peter Brunner and Edmund Schlink and was carried into our time by George Lindbeck, Wolfhart Pannenberg, and, of course, Carl Braaten and Robert Jenson.

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“ONE THING AND ANOTHER” The Persons in God and the Person of Christ in Patristic Theology

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Brian E. Daley, S.J.

GOD AND JESUS THE SAVIOR

It has become commonplace, in recent years, for theologians to argue that all serious Christian reflection must be, in some way or other, rooted in our understanding that God is a Trinity. Our sense of the church, for instance, as a communion of persons gathered into one by the Holy Spirit around the eucharistic table, worshiping the God of Mystery as our Father, at the invitation of Jesus our Savior and brother, reveals and deepens our long-held conviction that God is, at the very core of the divine identity, a communion of what we also call—for lack of a better term—“persons.” John Zizioulas has argued that even our modern notion of the person itself, which he identifies with “being” at its most intense and authentic level, is revealed in the triune reality of God to be essentially communitarian, relational, ecclesial, eucharistic, since God’s own being is eternally constituted as “personal” by the dynamic mutual relations of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.2

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THE VICE OF CURIOSITY

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Paul J. Griffiths

Consider the claim that curiosity is a vice, an intellectual habit always and everywhere to be discouraged, abjured, and shunned. To say this of curiosity would be to make it something like envy, arrogance, or despair, all habits that most of us from time to time indulge in or fall victim to but that we would prefer to avoid and certainly do not seek. To speak of curiosity in this way sounds odd. Indeed, it sounds a little crazy. For us, curiosity is for the most part a positive word, a word we use to indicate an attitude or a practice we are happy to encourage and praise. But this was not so for almost all premodern Christian thinkers. They, almost without exception, did classify curiosity as a vice and did say that it should be shunned. In this brief essay I’ll say something about why they held this view and offer a sketch of an argument that supports it.1

To do this I will set before you two things. The first is a brief restatement of what I take to be Augustine’s understanding and critique of curiositas, which is the Latin word that entered English as curiosity. For Augustine, as we shall see, curiosity was a vice rather than a virtue. The second is a sketch of an argument whose principal purpose is to support the distinction between virtuous and vicious intellectual appetites and to locate curiosity firmly within the camp of the vicious.

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THE PAULINE LUTHER AND THE LAW Lutheran Theology Reengages the Study of Paul

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Risto Saarinen

INTRODUCTION: THE LUTHERAN PAUL VS. A NEW PERSPECTIVE

In his recent study, Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The “Lutheran” Paul and His Critics, Stephen Westerholm surveys the recent debate on the apostle Paul’s teaching of law, grace, and justification.1 Building on earlier work,2 Westerholm demonstrates that the extensive research of recent decades has oscillated between two basic views. One view is that of the “Lutheran” Paul who teaches that human beings are sinners justified by faith in Jesus Christ, not by the works they do. According to this classical view of justification, the law does not contribute to salvation but crushes human self-righteousness and drives the individual to seek mercy from God. Although justified, the Christian remains a sinner, failing to use the will to do good. Consequently, we all continue to grapple with the existential problems expressed by Paul in Romans 7:14–25.3

A second, opposing view, developed by a number of twentieth-century biblical scholars, understands Paul to teach that Christians can, in fact, live according to the Spirit. This “new interpretation” of Paul further holds that the struggle with law and sin is essentially limited to an individual’s pre-Christian condition. According to the new perspective, Paul’s own sins did not burden his conscience. The Christian Paul was only critical of the shortcomings and wrong judgments of non-Christians, in particular the Jews.4

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THE TRIUNE GOD AND THE PASSION OF CHRIST

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Gabriel Fackre

It has long been held that Jesus Christ in his human nature underwent the humiliation that happened on the road to Calvary and on the cross. Did the divine nature—Jesus as God—in some profound sense also participate in the back that was bloodied, the hands that were pierced, the cry of dereliction, and the death that Jesus died?

Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ is a study in this subject. Of course, it focuses on the suffering of the humanity of Christ. What else can a visualization of the passion do than show the human visibilities? And the portrayal of that follows the producer’s own spirituality: the “five sorrowful mysteries” of the rosary—“the agony of the Lord in the garden, his scourging, his crowning with thorns, the carrying of the cross to Calvary, the crucifixion”1 (Matt. 26:36–46, 27:26, 27:29, 27:31–32, 27:33–50), with their backdrop in the stations of the cross. Also formative of the film are the visions of the Venerables Mary of Agreda (1620–65) and Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774–82), the latter manifesting the stigmata.2 But there is more here than meets the eye. I want to explore a small hint in the film that pushes the passion to its deepest point—into the very heart of God.

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CONCEPTUS . . . DE SPIRITU SANCTO

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Robert W. Jenson

For some years there have been demands for “Spirit-Christology.” It is not always clear what is wanted. But perhaps a minimal consensus may be that we must acknowledge a role of the Spirit in the ontology of the Incarnation. Insofar, I concur with the demand, and discerning something of the Spirit’s role in the Incarnation is the goal of this article. But two possible kinds of Spirit-Christology must first be rejected.

One possible and in my view misguided “Spirit-Christology” would make the Spirit a direct replacement for standard Chalcedonian Christology’s “hypostatic union” of Christ’s “two natures”: “deity and humanity.” A “nature” in the traditional usage is at once a list of characteristics something must possess to belong to a certain class of entities and as a concrete complex of those characteristics the interior dynamic of any one such entity. According to this traditional Christology, Jesus Christ is both “one of the Trinity” and one of us, in that he fully possesses divine nature and fully possesses human nature. These two are then said to be united in one “hypostasis” or “person.”1 In a later and necessary precision, one person is the person of two natures in that the person of God the Son personalizes human nature to be the person Jesus.

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DOCTORES ECCLESIAE

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R. R. Reno

Among the great figures of Christian antiquity, Origen of Alexandria combines the most intense focus on the details of scripture with the most comprehensive breadth of interpretive ambition. To read Origen’s exegesis is like standing beneath a waterfall. Philological judgments, geographical clarifications, symbolic patterns, text-critical asides, doctrinal formulations, and allegorical schemes cascade upon the reader. At the same time, his approach consistently pushes toward a unified reading of scripture. In the opening sentence of Origen’s ambitious metaphysical treatise, On First Principles, he tells us that his great speculative project has “no other source but the very words and teaching of Christ,” words and teaching that are already present “in Moses and the prophets.”1 Scriptural detail is married to an interpretive synthesis that reaches all the way to reflections on spirit and matter, time and eternity, the purpose of evil, the salvation of the devil, and the consummation of all things.

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