264 Articles
Medium 9781538102718

Saint Paul At Sea: A Mystical-Political Reading of Moby Dick via Stanislaus Breton

Pro Ecclesia Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Saint Paul At Sea: A Mystical-Political Reading of Moby Dick via Stanislaus Breton

Travis Kroeker

I recently taught a graduate seminar on Leviathan, with the two primary texts being Hobbes’s political philosophical classic and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. The Ignatius Critical Edition of Melville’s classic includes three essays in “Contemporary Criticism,” which begins with Robert Alexander’s “Apocalyptic Readings of Moby Dick: What Ishmael Returns to Tell Us” and ends with Stephen Zelnick’s “Moby Dick: The Republic at Sea.”1 Alexander’s apocalyptic reading opposes the dominant view (at least since Lawrence Thompson’s 1952 Melville’s Quarrel with God) that Moby Dick is an ultimately despairing nihilistic novel. He argues that Ishmael in the end bears witness, Jonah- and Job-like, to an apocalypse of divine mystery in nature, in a spirit of humility that saves him from the “degraded view of both the human person and nature that entered Christianity in the Reformation” (669). What is unveiled is a prophetic return to the “medieval sacramental world view” of Dante’s Commedia that may save modernity from its impersonal, disembodied, and disenchanted Calvinist iron cage. So far, so Weberian—except for, you know, the salvation part. Salvation will come from medieval Catholicism. How apocalyptic is that??

See All Chapters
Medium 9781538102718

Ivan Illich, Catholic Theologian (Part I)

Pro Ecclesia Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Ivan Illich, Catholic Theologian (Part I)

Colin Miller

Ivan Illich is best known for his work as an iconoclastic social critic in the 1970s with his critiques of modern schools, medicine, and transportation. Yet when Monsignor Illich died in Bremen in 2002, he was, and had always been, a Catholic priest in good standing with the Vatican, as Cardinal Ratzinger had verified a few years earlier.1 Throughout Illich’s life, people remarked on the piety and solemnity with which he participated in Mass. Though he had, with permission, withdrawn from the public exercise of the priesthood in 1969, he did not thereby count himself free of priestly office. To the end of his life he said his Offices, attended Mass, and went to Confession regularly.2 Though he has been read episodically as a modernity basher, what he in fact did was to devote the last three decades of his priestly life to a sustained theological account of modernity as the corruption of Christianity, by which he means the corruption of Catholicism. This account deserves a place beside the better-known work of scholars such as MacIntyre, Taylor, Pfau, and others.3 In the following I only begin to forge a few of these connections and, in an introductory way, claim Illich as an unusual yet distinctly and consciously Catholic theologian particularly relevant at this point in time for Catholics and non-Catholic Christians alike.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781538102718

Doctrine, Ecumenical Progress, and Problems with Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry, and Eucharist

Pro Ecclesia Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Doctrine, Ecumenical Progress, and Problems with Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry, and Eucharist

Christian D. Washburn

In a time in which some have begun to speak of the beginning of an ecumenical winter, it is always a pleasure to see new attempts to promote and advance Christian unity. As we approach the five hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting his Ninety-Five Theses, a new document, Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry and Eucharist, surveys the ecumenical dialogues between Lutherans and Catholics of the last fifty years. Based on this survey, the document presents thirty-two “Statements of Agreement” that demonstrate the many points of convergence between Lutherans and Catholics on Church, ministry, and Eucharist. The intention of the authors is that those “at the highest level” of our two communions will receive it formally. The document also contains a section titled “Remaining Differences and Reconciling Considerations,” which examines fifteen historically divisive doctrines still unresolved by the various dialogues. The authors argue that some of the doctrines prove, “after consideration,” either not to be Church-dividing or to be less Church-dividing than previously thought. This article will argue that the Declaration’s treatment of some of these historically divisive doctrines, such as the sacramentality of ordination, the ordination of women, and the sacrifice of the Mass, is at best misleading and in some cases is seriously flawed doctrinally. To this end, this article will begin with a brief examination of the history of the text of the Declaration on the Way. The article will then examine the sacramentality of ordination, the ordination of women, and the sacrifice of the Mass from a doctrinal and ecumenical perspective.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781538102718

Reformation and Recusants: Christian Unity and the Communion of Saints

Pro Ecclesia Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Reformation and Recusants: Christian Unity and the Communion of Saints

Gill Goulding

I have to thank Dr. Radner for a very stimulating paper. He roamed widely and provocatively across the last five hundred years and I think in his own inimitable style effectively raised some clearly essential issues. I found it a very challenging paper ecumenically. Some of his comments reminded me of an incident I read about before Vatican II, when, as I understand, Patriarch Athenagoras and now–saint Pope John XXIII are reported to have said jokingly that only the hairsplitting and obstinacy of theologians maintains the division between the Churches: the learned will not agree among themselves and project their dispute over the whole of Christianity, though they cannot make any sense of it anymore. In the meantime, of course, some theologians have addressed the same reproach in all seriousness to holders of office. Only the Church authorities, they say, have an interest in division, which is kept in existence by them for the sake of their own survival. Regarding the three questions cited as important for this gathering—Do we celebrate the Reformers’ renewal of the Church in light of the Gospel? Do we mourn the division of the one, Catholic Church? Or have events like the globalization of Christianity and the rise of Pentecostalism made the sixteenth-century debates irrelevant?—I am tempted to say both Yes and no to the first two and Somewhat to the third.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781538102718

Continuing Conversion: The Reform of the Church as Ecumenical Task

Pro Ecclesia Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Continuing Conversion: The Reform of the Church as Ecumenical Task

John Vissers

My assignment today is to respond briefly from my perspective as a Reformed Christian to Ephraim Radner’s very thoughtful and provocative paper. I stand in the Reformed tradition, among the Churches and the theological tradition that emerged from the sixteenth-century Swiss Reformation, from the work of John Calvin and other Reformers such as Huldrych Zwingli and Heinrich Bullinger. The Reformed tradition stands in contrast not only to Roman Catholicism but also to the Lutheran Reformation and to Anabaptism. The Reformed tradition, so named, also goes by the name of Calvinism and in a more restricted ecclesial sense is embodied in those Churches named Presbyterian.

This is the ecclesial and theological neighborhood in which I live and work. I was baptized in a Dutch Reformed congregation of immigrants meeting in a Canadian Presbyterian Church. Years later, at my ordination as a Presbyterian minister, my grandfather teased me about the fact that the baptism took, just not in the way the family expected. It turns out, he said, that buildings matter (although the line between Dutch Calvinism and Scottish Presbyterianism is a thin one indeed!). I came to personal faith in Jesus Christ as a teenager in a lively evangelical Presbyterian congregation. I received a call to ministry there and was educated in two Reformed theological institutions: Knox College in Toronto and Princeton Seminary. I have exercised my vocation as pastor and theologian and denominational leader within the Reformed and Presbyterian theological neighborhood. It is difficult, therefore, if not impossible, for me to understand my identity as a Christian apart from this specific ecclesial and theological context. I am a child of the Reformation five hundred years on. The theological themes of the Reformed faith—God’s sovereign grace, the authority of Scripture, the centrality of Christ, the Reformed confessions—these things matter to me.

See All Chapters

See All Articles