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Orthodoxy and Ecumenism

Towards an Active <i>Metanoia<i>


Razvan Porumb

This book explores the relationship between the Orthodox tradition and the ecumenical practice of engagement with other Christian traditions. This relationship has for a long time been compromised by an underlying tension, as the Orthodox have chosen to participate in ecumenical encounters while – often at the same time – denouncing the ecumenical movement as deficient and illegitimate. The author perceives this relationship to be even more inconsistent since the core of Orthodoxy as professed by the Orthodox is precisely that of re-establishing the unity and catholicity of the Church of Christ. This vision informs Orthodox identity as essentially a Church of exploration, of engagement and dialogue, a Church committed to drive all other traditions, but also itself back to the «right» primordial faith. The book exposes the risk of Orthodox theology turning into an oppositional picture of Orthodoxy as necessarily opposed to a heterodox antipode, rather than being the continuous dynamic reality of the living Church of Christ. The author proposes the rediscovery of a set of paradigms in an ethos of humble, active metanoia that would enable a more plenary ecumenical operation for the Orthodox as well as a renewed awareness of their own spirituality.
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The study

The main purpose of this study has been to explore the tension between the Orthodox Church and the ecumenical movement by addressing, primarily, the theological understanding that the Orthodox have of themselves, of Church unity and of other Christians. I have also explored the ecumenical phenomenon itself and some of the views (not necessarily Orthodox) of what ecumenism represents and some ideas regarding its methodology. This study has aimed to identify a new starting point for the ecumenical endeavour: a new perspective or set of paradigms that would enable the Orthodox (but also other Christians) to approach the ecumenical encounter from a different angle. This new perspective returns to certain principles and visions that are central to Christian theology.

The motivation of this exploration has been a context of hostility and intolerance, sometimes extreme, which some groups within the Orthodox Church have manifested towards ecumenical or inter-Christian encounters, one which has marred or even prevented a genuine dialogue between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christian communities. Such an attitude is not shared by Orthodox communities in their entirety, yet it has been strong enough to be reflected to varying degrees in the official statements of the Orthodox Churches and is an attitude which has often negatively influenced the way in which the Orthodox have participated in the ecumenical dialogue. Research on this theme has been limited till now since it runs counter to a prevailing attitude in Orthodox circles that attempts to avoid or...

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