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Orthodoxy and Ecumenism

Towards an Active <i>Metanoia<i>

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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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Chapter 1 Orthodoxy and the Orthodox

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CHAPTER 1

Orthodoxy and the Orthodox

Without aiming to exhaust the theme, we will begin by approaching ‘Orthodoxy’ and ‘the Orthodox Church’ and the way these terms and realities are understood from within communities of the Orthodox tradition. We will attempt to achieve this mainly by exploring the views of a number of modern or contemporary theologians belonging specifically to that tradition. We will concentrate, however, on those particular aspects of Orthodoxy which are of direct relevance to this exploration, namely, the way in which the Orthodox relate to other Christians, their approach towards ecumenical interaction and conversation, and the way they understand their participation within the ecumenical movement.

Although the terms ‘Orthodoxy’ and ‘the Orthodox Church’ are used interchangeably in literature, and the Orthodox Church is often referred to as ‘Orthodoxy’, especially in specialized theological contexts, this study will focus on what ‘Orthodox’ and ‘Orthodoxy’ mean, as these are the main defining characteristics of the Orthodox Church.

Orthodox theology is keen to present both the Orthodox Church and Orthodoxy as a complex reality, as a way of life and much more than just an institution. In the words of two important Orthodox theologians, Sergius Bulgakov and John Zizioulas:

Orthodoxy is the Church of Christ on earth. The Church of Christ is not an institution; it is a new life with Christ and in Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit.1 ← 39 | 40 →

The Church is...

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