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Pro Ecclesia Vol 19-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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5 Articles

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Christ the Word Who Makes Us: Eucharist and Creation

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Christ the Word Who Makes Us: Eucharist and Creation

Mark A. McIntosh

This work is notable for three characteristics that, together, are very likely to make it both timely and useful on the one hand, but also classic and enduring on the other. For it is a work marked by a deeply considered insightfulness, by genuine ingenuity, and, throughout, by a gracious aspiration to understand the very best in each position being examined. Professor Hunsinger offers the work as an authentic meeting point for all who seek a godly concord among Christians, and he does so precisely by engaging in some exemplary theology that draws very practical matters right into their illuminating theological wellsprings.

After a thoughtful discussion of how theology can rise to its best efforts by working within an ecumenical context, the work neatly examines four dimensions of Eucharistic theology—real presence, sacrifice, ministry, and social ethics—by considering in each case first the range of differing (and sometimes strongly opposing) teachings, and then providing for each case new clarity and possible ways forward toward a newly conceivable unity. Inevitably, so interesting and ambitious a project will have to elide certain aspects in order to compass a reasonably succinct and navigable argument. For instance, Lutherans might wonder if the fairly strong polarity within the book between Roman Catholic positions and Reformed positions leaves as much room as might be desired for fresh theological work. Similarly, Anglicans might ask whether there might not be more resources in their tradition even beyond Archbishop Cranmer and Dr. Pusey that could enrich the chief Hunsinger proposal. Here one might think of Hooker and Andrewes, and in our own day Michael Ramsey and Donald Allchin, all teachers who sought to hold the theological task up into the mystery of prayer, to let God make of human things whatever might accord best with the divine purposes. It is perhaps no firm fact that the future queen Elizabeth I did declare, under severe scrutiny during her sister Mary’s reign:

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Widening the Circle of Acceptable Diversity: A Reply to My Ecumenical Friends

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Widening the Circle of Acceptable Diversity: A Reply to My Ecumenical Friends

George Hunsinger

It is indeed humbling and for me a moving experience to encounter such thoughtful responses to my book. Each respondent has engaged carefully with my ideas, from very different points of view, and I am happy to have benefited from them all. They raise important questions about which I deeply care, though clear and sometimes obvious limits exist to my knowledge of how to deal with them. Ecumenical theology is an area where I must confess I am pretty much self-taught. I felt that perhaps I might make a contribution through which ecumenical discussions could move beyond points where they are stuck, even if I could not resolve them or even discuss them as fully as might be wished. I welcome this critical symposium in the hope that my proposals might be refined and corrected, especially insofar as the goal is served of helping the divided churches attain a greater measure of Eucharistic unity.

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The Bible in Captivity: Hobbes, Spinoza, and the Politics of Defining Religion

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The Bible in Captivity: Hobbes, Spinoza, and the Politics of Defining Religion

Jeffrey L. Morrow

The term “religion” is so commonplace these days that one rarely questions that a simple definition exists. Each day our periodicals demonstrate the ease of using this word. The seemingly facile usage of “religion,” however, obscures its original political-historical context. In this article, I will complement the work of various scholars who argue that the emergence of religion as a modern category denoting private beliefs was primarily a political construct that facilitated the removal of the newly redefined religious from the public sphere. In addition to other historical accounts that describe this process, I will add the consideration of biblical interpretation, arguing that the raison d’être of the historical-critical method for studying the Bible in the seventeenth century was precisely to assist in the political task of transforming the public sphere.

The work of William Cavanaugh is particularly helpful in considering the argument at hand. In his recent 2009 book The Myth of Religious Violence, his 2002 book Theopolitical Imagination, and his 1995 article, “‘A Fire Strong Enough to Consume the House’: The Wars of Religion and the Rise of the Modern State,” Cavanaugh convincingly argues that the word “religion” has a complex past and that the traditional story of the “Wars of Religion” is problematic.1 Following Talal Asad’s description in his now-famous 1993 book Genealogies of Religion, Cavanaugh notes that in the medieval period, religion had to do with the practice of the virtues within the church’s liturgical life and also with religious orders; it primarily referred to monastic life and discipline.2 In the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries political theorists such as Jean Bodin, Thomas Hobbes, Baruch Spinoza, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau redefined religion as pertaining to private beliefs, matters that did not belong in the public sphere: in other words, the newly defined secular realm.3

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Theological Exegesis: Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Figure of Moses

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Theological Exegesis: Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Figure of Moses

Todd Walatka

At the beginning of his recent book, Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI offers the following reflection:

As historical-critical scholarship advanced . . . the figure of Jesus became increasingly obscured and blurred. At the same time, though, the reconstructions of this Jesus (who could only be discovered by going behind the traditions and sources used by the Evangelists) became more and more incompatible with one another: at one end of the spectrum, Jesus was the anti-Roman revolutionary working—though finally failing—to overthrow the ruling powers; at the other end, he was the meek moral teacher who approves everything and unaccountably comes to grief. If you read a number of these reconstructions one after the other, you see at once that far from uncovering an icon that has been obscured over time, they are much more like photographs of their authors and the ideals they hold. Since then there has been growing skepticism about these portrayals of Jesus, but the figure of Jesus himself has for that very reason receded even further into the distance.1

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Christ, the Spirit, and Vocation: Initial Reflections on a Pentecostal Ecclesiology

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Christ, the Spirit, and Vocation: Initial Reflections on a Pentecostal Ecclesiology

Dale M. Coulter

In recent years Pentecostal theologians have begun to address what some had considered a lacuna in Pentecostalism: its doctrine of the church. The issue over whether or not early Pentecostals neglected this doctrine has not deterred a flurry of creative proposals. A diversity of models are emerging from variations of a free-church, communio ecclesiology (Volf, Kärkkäinen, Yong, and Macchia) to an endorsement of a hierarchically structured model (Chan).1 Thus far, much of the theological reflection on the doctrine of the church has come from the free-church wing of Pentecostalism with little from those within the episcopal wing.2 This free-church dominance explains, at least in part, why Pentecostal theologians usually begin their reflections with a comment on the dearth of ecclesiological writings in the early days of the movement, which ignores the extensive debate about the nature of the church that occurred within the episcopal wing.3

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