Ecclesial Dialogues: East and West II
Analogical creation means [for God] to create an Ecclesia out of nothingness ...
(Nikolaos Loudovikos, Church in the Making: An Apophatic Ecclesiology of Consubstantiality)
Analogical creation means [for God] to create an Ecclesia out of nothingness ...
(Nikolaos Loudovikos, Church in the Making: An Apophatic Ecclesiology of Consubstantiality)
Beginning from a footnote in Kant, this essay argues that the Orthodox and Catholic ecumenical dialogue must confront three preeminent difficulties to achieve practical unity: the recognition of plurality, the problem of synthesis or integration, and the problem of orientation implicit in any synthesis. An Ignatian ‘star’ will be posited by which future ecumenical dialogue—especially concerning primacy—might be steered, as well as a MacIntyrean proposal for the achievement of unity through the pragmatics of tradition in the face of epistemological crises caused by the historical conflict of traditions.
In a concluding footnote to his essay ‘Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose’, Immanuel Kant makes a claim that, although dubious in its theological verity, is nevertheless perspicuous in its practical import, especially as it bears upon
‘From the stars to the camps’. Kant uses the motto in a genealogy of naming military and academic offices, recognizing their theological (or in his terms, ‘astrological’) source. Immanuel Kant, ‘ The Conflict of the Faculties,’ in Kant: Religion and Rational Theology, transl. and ed. by Allen W. Wood and George Di Giovanni (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), note on p. 247. Its designation here is meant to recognize the political-theological problem inherent in ecumenical dialogue, and thus, the unavoidability of recognizing potential metaphysical disagreements lying behind remaining disputes ‘between camps’, so to speak: Whose stars do we steer by? By which constellation should we orient ourselves? Here, too, Ignatius provides an answer: ‘A star shone forth in heaven brighter than all the stars; its light was indescribable, and its strangeness caused amazement. All the rest of the constellations, together with the sun and moon, formed a chorus around the star, yet the star itself far outshone them all, and there was perplexity about the origin of this strange phenomenon, which was so unlike the others’. e One star lights the way. Ignatius of Antioch, ‘Letter to the Ephesians,’ in The Apostolic Fathers, ed. by Michael William Holmes (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2007), 199.
The author would like to thank student research assistant Regina Zabinski for her invaluable aid accumulating resources for the project.
In the interconfessional theological dialogue between the Orthodox and the Roman-Catholic Church, there has been much discussion about the famous passage 16:16–19 of Matthew’s Gospel. However, not much attention has been paid to the testimonies of other New Testament books about the Apostle Peter’s person, work, and historical impact. This paper examines the narrative character of Simon Peter in John’s Gospel to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the great apostle’s historical significance in early Christianity. In our analysis, we make use of the narrative-critical method focusing on the comparison between Simon Peter and the Beloved Disciple. This approach opens a window to how the Johannine community evaluated Peter’s person and significance at the time of the composition of the Fourth Gospel, and, thus, helps us better understand the biblical foundations of the theological debate on the papal office.
1. Introductory Remarks
Although the New Testament does not play an essential role in Orthodox-Catholic theological dialogue, it has been often used in Roman-Catholic discourse to support the papal office as it is understood in the modern-day Roman-Catholic Church. The locus classicus is, of course, Christ’s praise of Peter for his christological confession, as well as his giving him the keys to the Kingdom of God in Matthew 16:16–19.1 This reference is usually combined with Christ’s triple command to Peter to shepherd his sheep in John 21,2 as well as with the legend of Peter having been the first bishop of the Church of Rome.3
See the relevant discussion and bibliography in A. Edward Siecienski, The Papacy and the Orthodox: Sources and History of a Debate, Oxford Studies in Historical Theology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 24–28.
Ibid., 86–89; cf. also the analysis of Jean Zumstein, Das Johannesevangelium, Kritisch–exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testament 2 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016), 788.
Siecienski, Papacy, 3–44.
In trying to find a proper way to proceed in respect of a dialogue between churches that have already been living for centuries under the shadow of schism, we struggle to see that there is already a paradigm for such a dialogue to hand. This was furnished already in the first half of the sixth century, in the midst of what was probably one of the most important theological quarrels afflicting both East and West: one which concerned two issues, the union of natures in Christ and the doctrine of grace. Those who stood behind this paradigm were the Scythian monks, who united, in both their faith and their overall way of thinking, Western and Eastern traditions. The Scythians saw both traditions as one, and therefore did not hesitate to address problems simultaneously of concern to both Rome and Constantinople, putting forward a solution based on a synthesis of Augustine’s and Cyril’s theologies. Their proposal was not well received in Rome, but was surprisingly welcome in Constantinople and exercised a significant influence on the defense of the Chalcedonian faith. The present paper will be devoted to analyzing it from a methodological point of view, as well as to the question of whether and how it could be adopted as a model for modern theologians.
1. Historical and Theological Background
Today, hardly any scholars would doubt that the theology of Chalcedon (451) was very much in accord with Cyril’s own thought.1 The evidence shows that the Council relied on his theology to such a great extent that Cyril can justifiably be said to have been considered the ultimate embodiment of orthodoxy, and an unquestioned doctrinal authority. Even the Tome of Pope Leo received its endorsement in the form of a recognition that it was in accord with the Second Letter of Cyril to Nestorius.2
This article presents some results of the author’s research carried out within the framework of the project ‘Neochalcedonian Philosophical Paradigm’, financed by Poland’s National Science Centre (grant UMO-2016/22/M/HS1/00170).
Richard Price,‘ The Council of Chalcedon (451): A Narrative’, in Chalcedon in Context: Church Councils, 400–700, ed. Richard Price and Mary Whitby (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2011), 78; and Richard Price and Michael Gaddis, The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon, Translated Texts for Historians 45 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2005), 2:117–18.
The subject of church unity can be approached through the nature/grace question. The Catholic and Orthodox communions are joined by their shared recognition of supernatural finality. It underscores their shared ontology (despite a recent assertion that they have become ontologically different). This paper takes up Rowan Williams’s implicit claim that their shared stance on the nature/grace question gives the two communions a common understanding of beauty as well. The approach to beauty of Catholic and Orthodox artists reveals ecumenically meaningful shared theological commitments. To reflect on beauty in the context of fraught ecumenical discussions is to resist modernity’s fact-value split, in which questions of beauty might well seem secondary to more practical and pressingly specific issues of difference confronting the two communions. Building on Williams’s conjunction of ecumenism and beauty, the paper highlights two instantiations of a Christian aesthetic: the emerging consensus that the Church needs a pope who sees himself as the servus servorum Dei; and the historic determination of the positive implications for the arts of the Incarnation. To reflect on beauty in the search for greater visible unity, as Pope Benedict and others have recently stressed, is to turn to a resource of encouragement and hope.
The doctrine of supernatural finality (the nature/grace question) is relevant to ecumenism, and understanding Christian aesthetics is relevant to understanding the relationship between nature and grace. The nature/grace question always alerts us to ontological issues. When Patriarch Bartholomew says, heartbreakingly, that the churches in the East and West have become ‘ontologically different’, he signals the relevance of reflection on the relationship between nature and grace.1 In that context, we can talk meaningfully about aesthetics, and need to do so, even though questions of beauty can seem esoteric, while the challenges facing Orthodox-Catholic dialogue are, by contrast, practical and specific. Beauty is central to the Church’s self-under- standing.
Bartholomew I, ‘Phos Hilaron: Address at Georgetown University (21st October, 1997)’, http://www. oocities.org/trvalentine/orthodox/bartholomew_phos.html, qtd in A. Edward Siecienski, The Papacy and the Orthodox: Sources and History of a Debate, (New York: Oxford UP, 2017), 411.
The usual way to address interdenominational differences and even the question of the (re)union between the Eastern and the Western Church is usually modelled after legal or political negotiations, (i.e., with meetings at higher levels of clergy), with extensive references to the canonical tradition, which aim to achieve some sort of theological illumination, clarity, and eventually agreement or compromise. Nevertheless, the distance between the Eastern and the Western Church today (as well as between other similar historical rifts, as well as rifts that are being formed today) is more a question of psychology and (the lack of) trust, rather than politics and philosophical theology. This pursuit of trust would necessarily include the monastic tradition (Athonite monasticism in particular), which is quite influential in the way the ecumenical movement is received in the Orthodox world. To this end, along with the ongoing theological interdenominational dialogue, it is necessary to establish ways to address the lack of trust between the Eastern and the Western Church, and to recognize the pastoral need to include the contribution and voice of monasticism in the process of rapprochement between them.
Interdenominational dialogue has passed through several phases since the (somewhat elusively defined) separation of the Greek East and the Latin West, where 1054 is usually referred to in a somewhat arbitrary way as the year of the formal separation, or perhaps since the less formal alienation of the two ecclesial cultures, which took place gradually, over several centuries. In the historical context of the last few centuries, we can recognize that in addition to the various doctrinal differences between the two sides, there are a few other factors that have contributed significantly to their separation. We can certainly identify a cultural rift, dating approximately from the time the Greeks stopped reading Latin theologians (if they ever did) and the time the Latins stopped reading Greek theologians systematically. Perhaps we can see the beginning of this rift with Augustine, who articulated a serious Trinitarian theology, which became quite influential in the West in subsequent centuries, but which nevertheless ignored to a certain extent the trinitarian conversations of the Ecumenical Councils until then because of his lack of eagerness in keeping up with Greek theology. This kind of cultural rift has multiple aspects and repercussions. All of the seven Councils that are recognized as Ecumenical by Eastern Christians
This essay grows from a sense of bewilderment: A Catholic who encounters Orthodoxy starts wondering why there seems to be almost no room in contemporary Catholic spirituality for silence and isolation. Reliving two experiences, those of Mount Athos and Mount Jamna—the latter apparently a failed attempt by a Dominican monk to create a Catholic mount of solitude—I try to understand them from the perspective of an ordinary believer who happens to be familiar with philosophical language. Comparing the experience of silence at Athos, described in terms of an absence of Heideggerian dwelling, and Pascal’s divertissement, with the much more ordinary life going on at Jamna, I seek to present them both using a theoretical scheme drawn from Plato that opposes participation, icons, and idols. Viewed through the incomplete metaphor that this scheme provides, Athos and Jamna emerge as two different realizations of an icon given to us by Christ himself, as human instruments, which we create to point to true participation in the Divine presence of the New Jerusalem. Though imperfect, they are still true icons because they lead to true sacramental participation while anticipating the transformative , the view from the Mount which alters the one who has attained it. While similar in this respect, the two icons also differ deeply: whereas the Catholic experience tries to bring everyone into participation in the life of the New Jerusalem, the Orthodox Athos, in its silent uniqueness, testifies to a unique and ineffable transcendence.
The image of the mountain is deeply embedded within our Christian way of speaking about human destiny. We would not be able to remove it from our language or our imagination, given its prominence in the New Testament. Christ chose to lead Peter, James, and John ‘by themselves’ to go to a ‘high mountain’, ‘ὄρος ὑψηλὸν κατ ἰδίαν’ (Mt 17:1, cf. NJB), in order to show them who He is. Then He died on a prominent rock—as tradition says, very close to the walls of the Jerusalem of his era. Pilgrims will forever see this place rising as a hill within the Mount of the Holy City, lower possibly only than the Temple Mount. Jerusalem herself, the Holy City topped with the Temple, raises her gaze above, in anticipation of the New Jerusalem, one which is to descend from Heaven, ‘καταβαίνουσα ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ’ (cf. Rev 21:2). In the religious imagery that we allow and use in our churches, we will always represent
In the Republic Plato views the city as the human soul writ large, and by exploring the visible nature of the city he seeks to unravel the invisible mystery of the soul. Likewise, but in the inverse, this paper begins from a theological notion of personhood in order to provide a broad framework or an imaginative construct to conceive of Church unity. This framework will be formed in light of a relational notion of personhood inspired by Joseph Ratzinger. It will be argued that an ecclesial dimension is necessary for the fulfilment of what it means to be a human person, a being in relation; the Church manifests persons. As human persons exist in the midst of history it means that an important aspect of personhood also concerns how one interacts within the present. To interact, to participate, rightly requires right perception. Following Romano Guardini’s conception of personhood formed in tension, it will be contended that right perception, a proper harmony in this life, requires tension, a tension that only the Church can provide. Analogously, this paper suggests that the Church, East and West, will most flourish in a united tension, a coming together of difference rather than a complete dissolving of our respective distinctions.
I. The Church is a house of living stones
‘I am their great union, I am their eternal oneness.
I am the way of all their ways, on me the millennia are drawn to God’.1
Relational ontology is arguably a trinitarian truth that resides at the heart of all Christian theology.2 Joseph Ratzinger writes, ‘the idea of the Catholic, the all-embracing, the inner unity of I and Thou and We does not constitute one chapter of theology among others. It is the key that opens the door to the proper understanding of the whole’.3 In this trinitarian mystery we are given a glimpse of personhood in its perfection.4 The Father is person, the Son is person, the Holy Spirit is person. And
Gertrudevon Le Fort, Hymns to the Church, trans. Margaret Chanler (London: Sheed & Ward, 1937), 21.
The title for this section is from Origen found in Henri de Lubac, Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988), 91.
Ratzinger, ‘Foreword’ to Henri de Lubac, Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988), 11–12; at 11.
‘I believe a profound illumination of God as well as man occurs here, the decisive illumination of what person must mean in terms of Scripture: not a substance that closes itself in itself, but the phenomenon of complete relativity, which is, of course, realized in its entirety only in the one who is God, but which indicates the direction of all personal being’. Joseph Ratzinger, ‘Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology’, in Joseph Ratzinger in Communio, vol. 2 Anthropology and Culture, eds David L. Schindler and Nicholas J. Healy, trans. W. J. O’Hara (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2013), 103–118; at 109.
The Lutheran tradition shares with the Catholic Church a reformatio ideal, which is a striking feature of the Western ecclesiological tradition of the last millennium more generally. This paper first examines some aspects of Lutheran ecclesiology as it relates to the Una Sancta, the canonical and synodical tradition, and ecumenical pursuits. It then goes on to use the ‘reformatio’ lens to reflect on the councils of Constantinople of 869–70 and 879–80 and the current estrangement between Rome and the Eastern churches in regard to the diverging standings of these councils. A solution is provided, it is suggested, in the call of Unitatis redintegratio (1964) to ‘continual reformation’ in the context of ecumenism as well as to an honouring of the conditions that held between East and West before the schism.
The Lutheran Churches that date back to the sixteenth century were both born in and would henceforth be formed in schism. Pre-Tridentine Western Catholic provinces and communities, mostly in Northern Europe, were ruptured from communion with Rome and embarked on a journey through history that for almost five hundred years has kept them, as well as the churches they helped found elsewhere, separated from their brothers and sisters of the larger Roman Catholic community. This rupture has also separated them from the Western patriarch, as well as from every other chair with an apostolic predecessor. Through this long history, Europe has gone through violent wars based on the reformation lines, a transformative enlightenment project which aimed to create a new common ground for public life on the continent, a remarkable process of globalisation, and a recent century of both unprecedented decline of Christian practice in the West and increase of ecumenical dialogue worldwide. The relationships within Western Christianity look very different on this side of history compared to in the sixteenth century.
What is primacy, then, in the Church, if not precisely the initiation and protection of this step-by-step consubstantial unification of all things in Christ, in which consubstantial unification the very ecclesial being consists? And since Christ is himself not only the ontological/hypostatic event of this consubstantial unification, but also the foremost teacher and initiator of it, through the mystery of the Cross, and in the Spirit, he is indeed the only head and leader of his Church, he is her primordial and ultimate primate. But this means that when we speak of primacy in the Church, we always mean a Christ-like primacy (i.e., an analogical primacy). That means, a primacy-in-participation in Christ’s unique primacy. And the way of this participation is, according to Greek Patristic theology, analogy, which is identified, in the Areopagitic texts, for example, with syn-ergy, which means precisely participation in the divine energy as manifest- ed in Christ-as-primate. How can this be discussed in the context of the contemporary ecclesiological dialogues?
The ecclesiological dialogues between East and West over the last fifty years, and especially those between the Roman-Catholic and the Orthodox theologians, have led some theologians from both sides to realize that the basic underlying problem is that, over the course of the centuries—even before the Great Schism, and, of course, in a more decisive way, after the Schism—two different ecclesiologies were gradually created, all the more so in gradual alienation between them. I think that Edward Siecienski’s book The Papacy and the Orthodox: Sources and History of a Debate1 is far the best book ever written by an Orthodox theologian on this issue, precisely because it succeeds, by using a highly objective scholarly method of approaching the texts and the problems (it is revealing that one of the book’s eminent Roman-Catholic critics wrote that it is impossible for anyone to discover the author’s denomination
Christians need to see Christian decline and current global crisis as equally linked to an older division of Christendom, itself connected to theological and ecclesial inadequacies. The way forwards needs to be an integral strategy: the promotion of mixed government with different emphases at once in Church, State and International Order. This must be linked to a recovery of a true sense of natural law as involving grace as well as nature and as mediated to civil and local law only via the international ius gentium. Thus, effective ecumenism is a key to global crisis, while recovery of the sacral ‘kingly’ role, at every level, including the international, is actually a crucial aspect of ecclesiology.
In this paper I want to argue for a connection of ecumenism to politics. On the one hand, I shall suggest that we need to be more fully aware that ecclesiology is in part a matter of politics in the real sense. On the other hand, I shall also argue that we need to be far more aware of the relevance of ecumenical matters to geopolitical ones.
In keeping with the English constitutional tradition, Richard Hooker, who lived from 1554 to 1600, and was in many ways the father of Anglican theology, always emphasised that Church government should be mixed: of archbishop in convocation and of king in parliament, backed up by popular assent.
At the international level, then, one would have thought that, in traditional terms, this mixture should apply to the authority of the Pope in ecclesial council, together with the authority of the Holy Roman Emperor in a conclave of nobles, with the former ideally enjoying eminent power, if circumstances permit, but the latter sustaining a Byzantine or Dantean reminder of the integrity of justice and the ultimate apocalyptic elevation of even corporeal concerns to the supernatural level. Could one not say that this would be the proper geopolitical translation of Hooker’s radically Christological and apocalyptic integralism once shorn of his rather excessive, and indeed somewhat Byzantine sacral monarchianism?
To some degree Hooker himself indicated such a translation:
For as one and the same law divine...is unto all Christian Churches a rule for the chiefest things, by means thereof they all in that respect make one
The Orthodox-Catholic schism is an evident breakdown in the map of the Una Sancta. Understanding its causes, so that reconcile the separated churches unifying them in just one body, is a matter for mostly historical, theological, ecclesiological inquiries. What might the philosopher of language contribute to this topic? Almost nothing if he remains within standard academic boundaries; something more perhaps if he is willing to step outside of such limits and engage in some experimentation. This is what happens in the present paper. For instance, Lacan’s optical scheme (the so-called ‘mirror-stage’) might be a good metaphor to start by. Schisms could be accordingly considered as a special class of events in a given form of life. My thesis is that both in the life of every man and in the life of a community of men, the birth of the rational Subject is achieved by means of schism-events. Through the Catholic-Orthodox schism, new forms of subjectivity emerged as the splitting point of the ecclesial Signifier. If this is the case, the emergence of a split might have something to do with some mirroring phenomena capable of perturbing the reciprocity of the gaze in the accounted ecclesial forms of life. In my analysis a special role—and a theoretical differentiation—is given to the mirrored content of this gaze, now taking the form of an Image and now of an Icon.
As a scholar of the philosophy of language, I got to the point where, after listening to each of your competent talks, I would be tempted to dismiss my concluding re- flections and say ‘goodbye’. The reason is that, as represented by the papers offered in this conference, the obstacles to ecclesial unity seem to involve contingent, historical, theological-philosophical, linguistic and ecclesiological, or political notions, rather than reasons stricto sensu amenable to the usual notions of a standard philosophy of language. Of course, philosophy of language is included in many of the topics treated here; and this occurs because most theological controversies are based on so-called tacit knowledge, whose nature is a matter for philosophical discussions about how language is used both by people in their everyday life and by philosophers in their speculations about the nature and essence of the Church. Moreover, your