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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 6 The consubstantial humanity

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CHAPTER 6

The consubstantial humanity

Reflections on the paradigms that inform a new ecumenical vision

Theological reflection may attempt to describe what Orthodoxy is, what ecumenism is, or what Church unity is, but it succeeds far better at pointing to what all these realities could be, or, better, what they must become. It directs people towards what things ought to look like, as things in human actuality are quite often far from perfect. It functions as the projection of potentiality – as aspiration. The Orthodox in particular insist – even in the most ‘hands-on’, practical, concrete situations – on a constant return to theological reflection, to philosophical thought, often to the exasperation of their Protestant peers in ecumenical encounters. The present theological exploration up to this point mirrors to a degree this aspirational character of theology, as well as the Orthodox obstinate insistence on holistic theology as the core of reference for all concrete action within the Church. It might appear that an approach that constantly presents an ideal reality against the very difficult and complex situations in the real world may not always be the best course of action.

This is, however, an undeniable tendency of the Orthodox theologians, who tend to focus on an eschatological vision of theology, of a constantly improving or deified reality, firmly setting their sights on the final fulfilment and full revelation in the transcendent reality that is to come, in the eschata – the last things....

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