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Pro Ecclesia Vol 24-N3

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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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The Second Canary: Thoughts on Theological Education

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The Second Canary: Thoughts on Theological Education

George Sumner

The story seems a familiar one. The dean of a theological school tries to recruit students to come for a residential, three-year master of divinity (MDiv) degree, as has been normative for future clergy in mainline denominations in North America. However, he is rebuffed by the potential students, who don’t want to leave homes and jobs and who would prefer to opt for online courses. Nor do their dioceses, presbyteries, etc. insist they attend. For his part, the dean muses about the viability of the school’s mandate. But the story (a true one) is actually not so familiar, since the dean in question oversees not an impoverished school but one that is rich as Croesus, offering impressive scholarship packages. Students should be flocking to such a place. When his fellow theological administrators at less fortunate institutions read the story, they understand its import. That dean’s lament is the canary in the proverbial coal mine, proof that, regardless of resources, all schools are in a new era in which the erstwhile residential seminaries must “change or die.”

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Education’s Discarded Image: C. S. Lewis and the Theological Tradition of the Liberal Arts

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Education’s Discarded Image: C. S. Lewis and the Theological Tradition of the Liberal Arts

Melinda Nielsen and Philip Nielsen

“Do remember you are there to fuddle him. From the way some of you young fiends talk, anyone would suppose it was our job to teach!”

—Screwtape, Senior Devil1

Introduction: Lewis and Education

Owen Barfield observed, “Somehow what Lewis thought about everything was secretly present in what he said about anything.”2 An innate Platonist, Lewis wed his perception of the unity of truth with his scholastic common sense that a truth discovered by observation, by reason, by tradition, or by intuition must have a general ground and application. Thus, as Barfield recognized, Lewis’s books do not form discrete chunks of knowledge as much as particular applications of wider themes that run through his work, lighting and uniting different ideas. We ought not be surprised then that Lewis’s corpus communicates a robust philosophy of education; although it may indeed be surprising that it has been so little noticed by critics. Scholars and readers, however, have overlooked the centrality of the liberal arts to Lewis’s thought since he does not set out to treat a liberal education explicitly and comprehensively, as does his contemporary Dorothy Leigh Sayers, for instance.3 On the contrary, Lewis embeds his views in theological or literary arguments. That is, Lewis delineates principles for how the human person learns that are equally relevant to secular normative education and spiritual growth, although never interchangeable with love or holiness.

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Saying and Praying: Christian Holiness and the Practice of Theology

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Saying and Praying: Christian Holiness and the Practice of Theology

Brendan Case

St. Evagrius Ponticus declared, “If you are a theologian, you will pray truly. And if you pray truly, you will be a theologian.”1 This maxim seems to equate the theologian’s knowledge with the knowledge embodied in the saint, which is to say, in a life transfigured by divine charity in works of mercy, fasting, and contemplation. But such a statement surely raises more questions than it answers. For instance, is saintliness a reliable marker of articulate theological knowledge? Or should we doubt or dismiss non-Christian engagements in theology? Christian thinkers in every generation have been drawn to two specifications of Evagrius’s maxim that answer both such questions in the affirmative. The stronger, which I will call the conflation thesis, treats the life of prayer as a necessary and sufficient condition for theology—sanctity and sanctity alone fits us for theologizing. Its weaker cousin, which I will call the vestibule thesis, treats the life of prayer merely as a necessary condition for theological practice; even if not all saints can be theologians, all theologians must, at least aspirationally, be saints. The first commends checking one’s doctrinal claims by finding some really holy person and asking her what she thinks of them; the second suggests that a Buddhist or an unrepentant adulterer cannot engage in Christian theology.

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Knowledge and the Scientist-Entrepreneur

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Knowledge and the Scientist-Entrepreneur

Paul Scherz

“There are scarce resources, you need grants, you need money, there is competition. . . . Normal people go to the edge to get that money. Science is of course about discovery. . . . But it is also communication, persuasion, marketing. I am a salesman.”1 In this way, psychologist Diederik Stapel defends his prolific fabrication of data that has led to fifty-four retractions. Rather than an aberration, he views himself merely as an accentuated version of the contemporary researcher, who is expected to be an entrepreneur. Today’s ideal scientist is not primarily a seeker of truth, but a person who can transform her skills and education into profit. 2 This ideal is reinforced by the current structure of biomedical science, which forces researchers to turn their research into patents, grants, and biotech start-ups. As researchers compete to secure intellectual property or produce papers that help them obtain grants, the scientific community becomes not a community of joint inquiry but a competitive marketplace.

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Recovering our Humanity: Interdisciplinary Inquiry and the Unity of Life

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Recovering our Humanity: Interdisciplinary Inquiry and the Unity of Life1

C. Kavin Rowe

Christian thinkers should always be on the lookout for convergences between what we know to be theologically true and what the current intellectual scene has to offer. Such convergences will doubtless be ad hoc, incomplete, and temporary. But they are not for that reason any less important. Indeed, ad hoc convergences on the truth are not only occasions for rejoicing but may also allow Christians to provide a coherent grammar for what is often said only in bits and pieces and with great stuttering. In what follows I will explore one particularly significant current convergence.

Quite simply put, there is a growing awareness of something that Christians have long known from the doctrine of creation, namely, that things really are interconnected after all. All creaturely realities—which, of course, includes everything that is not God—are interrelated if for no other reason than that they are God’s creation. Insofar as human creatures discover true things about the creation of which they are a part, therefore, they will continually discover the mutual embeddedness of creaturely life.

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Clarifying the Doctrine of Sister Churches: Subsistence and Interdependence in Catholic-Orthodox Relations

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Clarifying the Doctrine of Sister Churches: Subsistence and Interdependence in Catholic-Orthodox Relations

Will Cohen

Introduction

The phrase “sister churches,” much-used in Catholic-Orthodox relations after Vatican II, has scarcely been heard since the turn of the century. At the height of its usage it was often dissociated from a positive appraisal of the Roman primacy as something essential for the life of the church. The phrase therefore came to be viewed with suspicion in more conservative Catholic circles. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in its 2000 “Note on the Expression ‘Sister Churches’”1 prohibited what had been the most prevalent usages—(1) to refer to the whole Catholic Church and the whole Orthodox Church, and (2) to refer to the church of Rome and one or another Eastern Orthodox patriarchate. The CDF meanwhile permitted its use to speak of Catholic and Orthodox particular—that is, diocesan—churches, and although this usage had been rare even prior to the 2000 directive, its importance should not be dismissed altogether, since it does provide a solid, if bare, minimum in terms of the Catholic recognition of true churches, and hence sister churches, outside the Catholic Church.

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Sovereignty, Politics, and the Church: Joseph de Maistre’s Legacy for Catholic and Orthodox Ecclesiology

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Sovereignty, Politics, and the Church: Joseph de Maistre’s Legacy for Catholic and Orthodox Ecclesiology1

Adam DeVille

Introduction

It has become a commonplace that postrevolutionary French political thought looms large in shaping, if not corrupting, both Catholic and Orthodox ecclesiology in the nineteenth century. The Jesuit historian Hermann Pottmeyer, 2 the Russian Orthodox theologian Nicholas Lossky, 3 and the Greek political scientist Paschalis Kitromilides 4 have all suggested that French thinkers, particularly such figures as Louis de Bonald, 5 Hugues Felicité Robert de Lamenais, 6 and, most especially but most controversially, Joseph de Maistre, all play a profound part in shaping ecclesiological discussions about “sovereignty” from the nineteenth century onward. 7 Most immediately, of course, these ideas will have an impact on Vatican I in its declaration on the jurisdiction and infallibility of the Supreme Pontiff, 8 and on the resolution, in 1929, of the status of the Vatican City-State in the Lateran Treaty. 9 But as I will suggest, these ideas also play a considerable part in shaping Orthodox ecclesiology from the nineteenth century to the present in its emphasis on the sovereignty of each “autocephalous” national church, particularly those churches that were part of newly independent nation-states in Romania, Serbia, and Greece. Once again some of this influence may be traced in part to Maistre, who spent fourteen years in St. Petersburg at the court of Tsar Alexander I as ambassador of the king of Sardinia and whose influence on the court, the Russian government, and the Russian intellectual elites, is well documented. 10 Maistre’s influence, however, is far from straightforward or entirely singular. Thus the claims of Pottmeyer and others will have to be significantly qualified, and we will see in fact that there is a mutual influence of Orthodox experience in Russia, and Catholic experience in France, that both shape each other and their respective ecclesiologies as well as shape Vatican I.

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After Barth: A Christian Appreciation of Jews and Judaism

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After Barth: A Christian Appreciation of Jews and Judaism

George Hunsinger

Is a non-anti-Judaic Christianity possible? That is the question I hope to address in this paper. A lot will depend, in the end, on what counts as being “anti-Judaic.” I am going to argue that Christianity enters into profound self-contradiction whenever it is anti-Judaic, as it regrettably has been throughout most of its history. I am going to go further, however. I am going to argue that Christianity cannot love Jesus Christ without also loving the Jews, who are his people, and that when Christianity does not love the Jews, it corrupts its love of Jesus Christ at the very core. Loving Christ, I will argue, is inseparable from loving the Jews, and where the Jews are not loved, Christ himself is dishonored. I am therefore going to argue for a form of philo-Semitism, or Judaeophilia, as governed by a center in Christ.1

The Case for a Soft Supersessionism

Because of that same christocentrism, however, I am also going to argue for a form of supersessionism. Despite the almost universal conviction in contemporary theology that supersessionism is the inevitable cause of anti-Judaism, to say nothing of its more repellant cousin anti-Semitism, and that therefore any form of supersessionism is unacceptable, I am going to argue that the inner logic of the Christian faith cannot dispense with supersessionism in some form. The form that I will advocate is the one that David Novak has called “soft supersessionism.”2 According to this view the new covenant does not replace the old covenant, but it does fulfill, extend, and supplement it, while also fundamentally confirming it.

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