Browse results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 26 items for :

  • Social Sciences x
  • Systematic Theology x
Clear All

Series:

Ivana Noble

This chapter offers a more detailed look at how, within the hermeneutics of Christian tradition, we can leave the central space for the subversion of ready-made schemes, for the divine Other as other. This subversion needs to be made present in human relations as well, including ecumenical, intercultural and inter-religious relations. Its aim is to purify, to convert and make space for a more grounded form of communion in process. In the following pages that subversion is called the apophatic way. While the concept is usually associated with Orthodox theology, here its more contemporary Western forms are also investigated. The text was first written as part of a research project investigating the relationship between Hermeneutics of Suspicion and the Apophatic Way,1 and presented at the third Leuven Encounters in Systematic Theology conference in 2001, and subsequently published in the collective monograph which came out of the conference.2 This version of the text is expanded with the inclusion of Vladimir Lossky’s concept of apophaticism,3 which was influential in the French context in which all three Western thinkers who are examined operated. Otherwise there are only minor changes in headings and bibliography, and in the concluding part.

Series:

Ivana Noble

This concluding chapter traces how my relationship to the church in its various bodies developed from the time of my conversion to Christianity, back in Communist Czechoslovakia, to becoming a priest in the Hussite Church and later a Professor of Ecumenical Theology. Particular attention is given to the shifts in inter-church relations that I have experienced, and also to theological concepts that helped me in retrospect to understand these shifts, and deepened a desire for unity. The first version of the text was presented in Helsinki in 2016 at the nineteenth consultation of Societas Oecumenica, entitled Just Do It? Recognition and Reception in Ecumenical Relations, under the title “From Non-Recognition to Recognition: Ecclesial Perspectives”, and subsequently published in the conference proceedings.1 There are some adjustments in this version, as I try to spell out more explicitly also the relation to other religions and religiosities that Ecumenical Theology needs to take on board, as well as the intercultural dialogue in which it needs to engage.

To speak about a journey from non-recognition to recognition in the ecumenical, intercultural, and interreligious context has many facets. Some of them were already addressed in chapter one, while speaking about the aims and the tasks of Ecumenical Theology. Others came out when dealing with the particular examples. These included Jan Hus and the process of not only his recognition but also of recognizing the reasons behind conflicting symbolic images of Hus and their role in various religious and secular subcultures. It also covered recognition of what place and mission Eastern Orthodoxy can have in the West and recognition of new ecclesial divisions and unions, and of the various dimensions and stages of secularity that came out of the modern search for freedom and authenticity. It also involved recognition that the European religious terrain has significantly changed, as we saw in chapter eleven. And we need to learn to recognise not only the growing religious plurality, but also the changes in how people live religious lives or undertake religious search. In this concluding chapter I will offer a more personal account of how my notion of recognition of various others developed, and how the development shaped what I have seen as Ecumenical Theology.

Recognition is not the same as reception. We could say that recognition is the first step towards any genuine reception, yes, the first step, but also an ongoing companion, otherwise reception grows formal and becomes only receiving our image of the other or our image of the whole. With Emmanuel Levinas (1906–1995), we could say that we need to recognise the other precisely as other, not to kill his or her otherness.2 This is true also about the collective others, such as church communities and denominations. Moreover, speaking from an ecclesial perspective, we need to recognise also all the phenomena which contribute to current improvement or deterioration of the intercultural and interreligious relations, of church unity and divisions, holiness and its opposites, catholicity and sectarianism, apostolicity and rootlessness. Without such recognition we would be moving in the realm of abstracts at the theoretical level and in the realm of illusions at the practical level. We need to recognise these very dualities: the holy—the not holy, the catholic—the sectarian, the apostolic—the rootless within ourselves and our various ecclesial homes, whether confessional or in our various diasporas and their amalgams.

I was a convert to Christianity as a young adult. So at the beginning the whole of the church was a problem for me. There were a number of things concerning the church I found repulsive then, and I still find repulsive. These included a certain caricature of humility, lies which are wrapped up in a pious vocabulary, a smell of decay, of life that has not been lived, of risks which were not taken, of projecting one’s responsibility onto God, of a ban on one’s creativity, a reduction of life to its ritual celebration, clericalism and authoritarianism, ambition disguised as a desire to serve, pomposity—or from the other end, glorification of misery. But, after my conversion to Christianity, the first important recognition was that the church is more than that, even if it is also that. The shift from NO towards the church into a qualified YES developed through various stages.

Borrowing terminology from Paul Ricœur (1913–2005),3 I will speak about the journey through the three stages: the “first naivety”, the pre-critical stage, which is dominated by the immediacy of belief, in this case, in the church as principally one, holy, universal (catholic) and apostolic community rooted in Christ and nourished by the life of the Spirit, and is accompanied by what is perceived by the unexperienced as a perfect recognition of where such a church is to be found. Then I will move to the “loss of naivety”, the breaking and disorienting stage, where, with the difficult spiritual and ecclesial experiences the time of reason comes back, the impact of the divisions of the church finally hits home, and various non-recognitions have to be encountered, existentially, theologically, spiritually. The third stage, called by Ricœur the “second naivety”, is a post-critical equivalent of the pre-critical immediacy of meaning. I will dedicate most of the time to this stage, unfinished as it is. Applying Ricœur’s insights, which I have been using for a long time,4 and still find helpful, to the ecclesial reading of the shifts from non-recognition to recognition, I will first look at the post-critical return of the church as one, universal, holy and apostolic community; then at genuine ecumenical relations as a case against supra-ecclesiality; at the challenge of multiple belonging; and finally, in the conclusion, I will comment on the nature of the connection between non-possession and hospitality at the heart of Christ-rooted, Spirited ecclesiality, out of which an ongoing recognition of others grows.

Series:

(with Tim Noble)

The previous chapter showed how a plurality of standpoints was already present within a single stream of one religious tradition in a shared context, namely Eastern Orthodoxy in the West. In examining the proponents of the Neo-patristic synthesis, it could be seen that there were as many syntheses as those who constructed them. In this chapter an alternative methodological conclusion to that of synthesis will be considered, one which would allow the dialectics to remain open. To do so, we will go back to where I finished in the last chapter, to Russian Orthodoxy, and this time especially to its encounters with Western Christianity after the Russian Revolution. The principles taken from those encounters are extended to include what we may see as a communicative plurality, embracing different forms of Christianity, different cultures and religions, and different people of good will. The text was co-authored with my husband Tim and entitled “A Non-Synthetic Dialectics between the Christian East and West: A Starting Point for a Renewed Communication”.1 It was originally written for a Festschrift in honour of our friend and colleague Bernd Jochen Hilberath, Professor of Ecumenical Theology at the Catholic Theological Faculty in Tübingen and also a former president of Societas Oecumenica. This version is close to the original text, with some changes in the first part, so that the text would develop what has been said in the previous chapter rather than repeating it, some changes to the structure, and adjustments to the conclusion. The passages related more directly to the festschrift have been removed.

Series:

Ivana Noble

In 1997 when the Institute of Ecumenical Studies, of which I was the first director, started negotiations over a closer relationship with the Protestant Theological Faculty of Charles University in Prague, I was invited to a consultation of people working in the field of Ecumenical Theology. I have never been sure if there was some missing communication, or whether it was a kind of test, but I found, on my arrival, that I was expected to deliver one of the main papers. I did not have anything prepared. However, as the setting was relatively informal, I was able to change the topic to what I was currently thinking about and working on. After the presentation I was asked to publish my presentation. The article “Applying Hermeneutical, Phenomenological and Epistemological Methods in Contemporary Ecumenical Theology”1 is the written form of my unexpected lecture from 1997. It has been translated into English by Tim Noble, and only slightly adjusted for this volume.2

Ecumenical Theology needs to work with the denominational mentalities of churches and their members to help expand their awareness and give them a more grounded knowledge of other Christian traditions. It has to teach them to interpret these traditions in ways that would be fair both to the historical contexts in which these traditions arose and to the current needs challenging them and causing them to be grasped always anew. The historical aspect has been well attended to as theology has learned to work with the notion of development and as it has adopted the historical critical method. In this text, however, I will return to the question of the methods which would be most adequate for interpreting the interaction of Ecumenical Theology with the current challenges: how to do justice to that which can mutually enrich us without claiming ownership of it; how to come to terms with what in the traditions is negative and not life-giving; which criteria to use for evaluating the traditions. The list is obviously not exhaustive; these are only a few fundamental points. In this chapter I will concentrate on three current methods, the use of which can be beneficial for responding to these tasks. These are the hermeneutical, phenomenological and epistemological methods.

Series:

Ivana Noble

While the last chapter showed how apophaticism helps both the subversion of the ready-made schemes of our thinking about God and others, and thus makes space for broadening and deepening of communion, this chapter will consider how the question of normativity is asked within the kataphatic symbolic and narrative tradition, and how the normativity of tradition and the historical experience of lived traditions of faith coexist. Investigating normativity and the types of certainty it operates with, will show us in practice how epistemological method complements the hermeneutics of tradition. The text, one of the first results of a five-year research project I was engaged in, examining Orthodox theology and spirituality in the West,1 was first presented at the 8th Leuven Encounters in Systematic Theology in 2011, and published as “History Tied Down by the Normativity of Tradition? Inversion of Perspective in Orthodox Theology: Challenges and Problems”.2 This chapter presents that text with some additions to the introductory part, some new or updated footnotes, and a slight change of the subheadings.

Series:

Ivana Noble

This first chapter is based on the text of a handout prepared for the very first lecture I gave at the newly founded Institute of Ecumenical Studies in Prague in 1995. The lecture was part of a course entitled “Introduction to Theological Thought”. I have decided to leave in the text the traces of the radicalism of my youth. I was 28 when it was written and the churches in the Czech Republic were, with much difficulty, emerging from the totalitarian mentality. Ecumenism, if it was to be more than formal belonging to the Ecumenical Council of Churches, was not welcome. A number of church representatives saw active and lived inter-church relations as a threat to the identity of their denomination.1 The decision to open the book with this particular text is not only because it is the very first of my studies which explicitly deals with the subject of Ecumenical Theology, but also because it stated a programme for Ecumenical Theology which I still find valid. The original title of the Czech text was “The Significance of Ecumenical Theology for the Life of the Christian and the Church”. It appeared in the textbook for students published by the Institute in 1996.2 The text has been translated into English by Tim Noble. This version also includes parts of the Introduction to the textbook, where the very concept of Ecumenical Theology is defined.3 The introductory section of the text and the subheadings have been substantially changed, but the rest of the text remains almost unaltered.

Series:

A. van de Beek, Eduardus van der Borght and Bernardus Vermeulen

The idea of freedom of religion was developed in Europe in the 16th and 17th century in the context of religious diversity as an alternative for religious wars. The concept requires reconsideration in the current globalized culture: religious plurality has increased as has the awareness of the religious potential for social cohesion and for sectarian division and violence. In this volume, legal experts, sociologists, theologians, and philosophers clarify the historical development of the concept, and analyze the present situation in various countries with religious tensions. They propose possible models and solutions, and discuss the fundamental question of whether the Western model of human rights with its separation of religion and state and freedom of religion can be conceived as universal.