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Pro Ecclesia Vol 21-N4: 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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A Hope Diminished: Limitations of a Moltmannian Theology of Hope

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A Hope Diminished: Limitations of a Moltmannian Theology of Hope

Margaret B. Adam

The legacy of Moltmann’s theological hope abides as a contemporary doctrine, loosely articulated and broadly accepted. The broad outlines of his eschatological hope shape the presuppositions and imaginations of many theologians, clergy, and lay Christians, including some who have never engaged with his work directly. I identify the legacy of Moltmann’s theology of hope as Moltmannian theological hope, because it reflects his work, at least indirectly, even though it does not attend to all of the particulars of his theological scholarship. When this Moltmannian hope constitutes the exclusive resource for eschatological hope, the costs are great.

Moltmann offers Christians fresh access to theological hope, timely reconsiderations of hope in the midst of suffering, and an eschatology that embraces the future new creation of this world. His theology meets contemporary Christians where they stand with a way to reconnect with God, eschatology, and hope. Moltmannian hope demonstrates that connection through support for ecclesial commitments to inclusivity, ministry to those in need, care for the environment, resistance to injustice, and active reconstructions of social structures. Moltmannian hope reflects Moltmann’s theology as it affirms efforts to rescue and sustain this world in preparation for God’s transforming arrival. Moltmannian hope encourages freedom from the constraints of closed hierarchical institutions and political systems; it redirects people from the distractions of apocalyptic and other-worldly end-time speculation; and it authorizes detachment from doctrine that seems inappropriate for today. It prioritizes action over theory, cooperates with secular social activism, and provides an appealing and relevant way to make sense of eschatological hope in contemporary circumstances. Moltmann draws together resurrection life and the Trinitarian God with the new creation of the known world, to produce an eschatological hope that has been appreciatively adopted, adapted, and embraced. The decisive mark of Moltmannian hope’s widespread popularity is its ideological normativity; Christians teach, preach, and presume a Moltmannian theological hope, even when they have no conscious awareness of Moltmann’s scholarly influence.

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Fortune, Fate, and Providential Pedagogy in William Tyndale’s Obedience of a Christian Man

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Fortune, Fate, and Providential Pedagogy in William Tyndale’s Obedience of a Christian Man

Robert C. Saler

Therefore let us accustom ourselves to patience and calmly bear even lashes and blows—children from their parents, subjects from the magistrate, and pupils from the teacher. For if we allow ourselves to be disciplined, obedience is pleasing to God.

—Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis 16

1. Introduction

Amid the myriad theological issues that became sites of impassioned contention during the English Reformation, a recurring theme involves the complex relationship between fortune and the providential guidance of the God of Christian faith.1 Even a superficial survey of the history of Christian thought will quickly disclose the fact that theologians and church leaders have continually felt the need to rearticulate theologies of history during those junctures where institutions, communal formations, and social structures that were previously conceived as immune to the vicissitudes of temporality are suddenly revealed to be historically conditioned (and thus, by implication, fallible).2 The Reformation is a particularly fruitful time to examine this trend because, in the long view, the content of any one of the period’s various theological/political disputes is perhaps less decisive than the fact that the cumulative effect of these debates was to inject a substantial dose of mutability into virtually every symbolic register formative for English culture, particularly those of the church and the government. It is not surprising that such a crisis of visible human achievements provided the occasion for a thoroughgoing reassessment of the relationship between temporal experience and the workings of a God whose providential guidance was increasingly suspected of being inscrutable.

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The Crucified Bridegroom: Christ’s Atoning Death in St. John of the Cross and Spiritual Formation Today

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The Crucified Bridegroom: Christ’s Atoning Death in St. John of the Cross and Spiritual Formation Today

Adam Johnson

What is the relationship between the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and spiritual formation? Or, put somewhat more broadly in the language of a past age, what is the relationship between “scholastic” and “mystical” theology? The purpose of this article is to address this question by considering the role of the cross within the work of St. John of the Cross:1 his doctrine of the atonement.2 Given the significance of John’s thought for the field of spiritual formation, demonstrating that his understanding of Christ’s death and Resurrection plays a decisive role in his mystical theology would provide considerable resources for the church’s integration of the Christian faith and spiritual formation.

In taking this approach, I seek to contribute to the line of interpretation arguing that John’s mystical theology3 is thoroughly Christian in nature—that it offers us, as Norbert Cummins writes, “the pure doctrine of the Gospel.”4 That is to say, it is “primarily a matter of being drawn into the Triune Life of Our Loving God” through the person and work of Jesus Christ—a process involving the “reordering of self . . . towards the eternal freedom and love that is life in peace with Christ.”5 Not only the goal but the process of John’s mystical theology is rooted in the doctrines of the Trinity, creation, Incarnation, and eschatology, focusing in particular on the person and work of Jesus Christ.6 Surprisingly, however, sustained engagement with John’s understanding of the atonement has been overlooked, both by Sanjuanists and theologians in general.7

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Christus Victor Motifs in the Soteriology of Thomas Aquinas

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Christus Victor Motifs in the Soteriology of Thomas Aquinas

Jonathan Morgan

It is difficult to grasp the profound influence Thomas Aquinas has had on the development of Christian theology. The force and clarity of his writings helped shape the intellectual landscape of the thirteenth-century church and continue to impact Christian thought in the present day. Consequently, the number of scholarly works devoted to Thomas’s theology (and philosophy) is legion. However, his soteriology, particularly his theology of Christ’s saving work, has received surprisingly little attention. Of the modern theologians who have investigated this important area of Thomas’s thought, most draw attention to his emphasis on satisfaction and merit, portraying him as a thinker who is, with some qualification, faithfully in step with Anselm’s doctrine of atonement as expressed in Cur Deus Homo?1 However much this can be justified, a significant element of Thomas’s understanding of Christ’s saving work has been overlooked, namely, the triumph of Christ over the devil and all evil powers. It is my contention that this ancient Christian theme plays an essential role in Thomas’s soteriological schema and should not be subordinated to the idea of satisfaction as so often occurs. The purpose of this study is to offer a corrective to interpretations of Thomas’s soteriology that downplay or neglect the emphasis he places on Christ as conqueror. To offer this corrective, I highlight the late Gustav Aulén as an example of a modern theologian who makes this error, and in my critique, I will reveal from Thomas’s own work that the idea of Christ’s victory over the devil is not tangential but is a foundational doctrine in his grand soteriological framework.

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Athanasius as Interpreter of the Psalms: His Letter to Marcellinus

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Athanasius as Interpreter of the Psalms: His Letter to Marcellinus

Hikaru Tanaka

1. Introduction1

When considering the history of Christian interpretation of Scripture, one cannot overlook the culture of commentary throughout the history of Christianity. In the fourth century, after the Arian controversy had been relatively settled, an increasing number of great theologians particularly inspired by the works of Origen began to engage in the interpretation of the Bible, and numerous commentaries came from their hands.2 Even today, the commentaries from this period, particularly those of the Antiochian and Alexandrian scholars, are still attractive and full of insight.

However, despite this flourishing culture of commentary in the post-Nicene era, a different direction was chosen by some: the monastic movement in the deserts of Egypt. Though St. Antony is widely recognized as the father of monasticism, perhaps the one who systematized the monastic life first was Pachomius in the fourth century.3 Paramount for these forerunners of the ascetic life was the recitation of and meditation on the book of Psalms, which had a profound effect, occupying the central place in their life of discipline.4 Eventually, with the great expansion of organized monasteries, the recitation and contemplation of the Psalms became an integral part of the daily monastic office and life of both monks and monastic clergy.5 Thus, the Psalms were not merely a topic in the culture of scholarly commentaries, but they were put in practice in the ascetic regimen and life of monasteries and their monks throughout the centuries. Though limited information is available concerning the fourth century Egyptian monks’ interpretation of the Psalms,6 scholars have noted that their reading of the Scripture was quite distinct from the sophisticated and technical interpretation of the Alexandrian school (for instance, Origen);7 rather than engaging in philosophical and exegetical speculations, the monks sought a way to let the words of the Psalms, the Words of salvation, incarnate in their bodies and souls through the repetitive reading of the Psalms.8

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Review Essay: Recent Theological Works on Luther

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Review Essay: Recent Theological Works on Luther

Jared Wicks, SJ

Berndt Hamm

Der frühe Luther: Etappen reformatorischer Neuorientierung (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010), ix + 318 pp.

Olli-Pekka Vainio, ed.

Engaging Luther: A (New) Theological Assessment (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2010), xvi + 256 pp.

Paul R. Hinlicky

Luther and the Beloved Community: A Path for Christian Theology after Christendom (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), xxv + 405 pp.

The current decade leads us toward what will be a wide discussion of Martin Luther and especially of his Ninety-Five Theses on indulgences. This will crest in 2017, the fifth centenary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Luther will again engage the theological community, when it seeks to articulate for our century Luther’s reforming intent and his doctrinal bases. Fortunately, good contributions are already on hand to help us in revisiting the Reformer and hearing again his insistence that Christians are to walk the way of lifelong repentance (Thesis 1, October 31, 1517).

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