Rebooting Ecumenism - New Paradigms for the 21st Century

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Health/Psychology/Social Sciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 November 2023) | Viewed by 10464

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
The Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, Cambridge Theological Federation, Cambridge CB5 8BJ, UK
Interests: ecumenism; Orthodox Theology; pastoral and practical theology; literature and theology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The world is very different now compared to when the ‘golden age’ of ecumenism began, soon after World War II, when churches and their theologians around the world embraced the idea of ecumenism with drive and enthusiasm. In those fraught times, unity appeared as an existential, post-traumatic necessity, and it was sought in the genuine spirit of post-war humility. Our current times, however, compel us to do the same. With the divides in modern society and the threat of nuclear conflict, tensions have increased to perilous levels, even giving rise to an internecine war in Europe, while the situation in the Middle East also remains precarious. These tensions are not only evident in societal or cultural contexts, but also in the way people often allow their religious beliefs to ‘mirror’ conflicts in the secular world, which could potentially mar ecumenical interactions.

This is why, in the face of today’s conflicts and divisions, we are called on once again to make ecumenism a priority for all religious denominations worldwide. The concept of the papers in this Special Issue is to focus on new potential paradigms, or indeed old models worth revisiting, that ensure a more fruitful and dynamic ecumenical fellowship for the future. Any proposed vision can relate to the contributors' own traditions, though more general paradigms or perspectives can also be proposed and developed.

The articles contained in this Special Issue will make a contribution to bringing ecumenism back to the fore, an ecumenism, however, that is tailored for our modern reality in the digital era of accelerated globalization. Therefore, this Special Issue seeks to explore novel models of perceiving or conceiving ecumenism, from historical to contemporary examples, from theological to ecclesiological or pastoral designs, and from spirituality to methodology.

Dr. Razvan Porumb
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • ecumenism
  • theology
  • ecumenical theology
  • Christian dialogue
  • Christian tolerance

Published Papers (10 papers)

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17 pages, 266 KiB  
Article
Rebooting Ecumenism, the Theological Equivalent of the Climate Crisis: The Role of Urgency and Accountability on the Road to Ecclesial Interdependence
by Dragos Herescu
Religions 2024, 15(4), 421; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15040421 - 28 Mar 2024
Viewed by 1267
Abstract
This article puts forward the argument for the acute and urgent need to move from ecclesial self-sufficiency to ecclesial interdependency in the ecumenical process. The difficulties in ecumenical cooperation mirror those in the climate crisis, as despite a global crisis of relevance for [...] Read more.
This article puts forward the argument for the acute and urgent need to move from ecclesial self-sufficiency to ecclesial interdependency in the ecumenical process. The difficulties in ecumenical cooperation mirror those in the climate crisis, as despite a global crisis of relevance for Christianity and for the ecumenical movement, individual Churches, much like individual states, fail to work together effectively as they negotiate their own internal challenges. Not dissimilar to the ecological climate breakdown, what we understand as the history-bound reality of the Church will not be safeguarded and will not be made relevant in today’s globalised, pluralistic, interconnected, and dominantly secular, in many contexts, world, except by concerted action from all Churches. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rebooting Ecumenism - New Paradigms for the 21st Century)
9 pages, 229 KiB  
Article
Contemporary Critical Reflections on Ion Bria’s Vision for Ecumenical Dialogue
by Doru Marcu
Religions 2024, 15(3), 369; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030369 - 20 Mar 2024
Viewed by 691
Abstract
In this study, I will expose the perspective of the ecumenical dialogue in the theology of Fr. Ion Bria, one of the well-known Romanians involved in the ecumenical movement. In the first part, after a short introduction, I will present the most important [...] Read more.
In this study, I will expose the perspective of the ecumenical dialogue in the theology of Fr. Ion Bria, one of the well-known Romanians involved in the ecumenical movement. In the first part, after a short introduction, I will present the most important biographical milestones of the Romanian theologian, as well as some details about his activity in the World Council of Churches. Then, in the second part, I will critically present the most important aspects of Bria’s ecumenical theology, as well as the reception of these ideas in contemporary Orthodox theology, in discussion with common witness and eucharistic communion within ecumenical dialogue. In the last part, I will present the critical remarks on ecumenism in Bria’s theology. Through this analysis, I will emphasize important directions that the ecumenical dialogue can exploit today to overcome some historical, cultural or theological preconceptions and misunderstandings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rebooting Ecumenism - New Paradigms for the 21st Century)
16 pages, 298 KiB  
Article
“Open Sobornicity” in Dumitru Stăniloae’s Theology—Christian Orthodox Creeds in the Context of Contemporary Ecumenical Relationships
by Nathanael Neacșu
Religions 2024, 15(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15010012 - 20 Dec 2023
Viewed by 894
Abstract
This study analyses several of the key principles of Father Dumitru Stăniloae’s conception of Orthodox ecumenical theology. It considers the foundations, the possibilities, and the type of ecumenical manifestation, specifically regarding the relationships between Orthodox Christians and Christians of different denominations and traditions. [...] Read more.
This study analyses several of the key principles of Father Dumitru Stăniloae’s conception of Orthodox ecumenical theology. It considers the foundations, the possibilities, and the type of ecumenical manifestation, specifically regarding the relationships between Orthodox Christians and Christians of different denominations and traditions. This is a necessity as the result of the profound actual theological crisis and the lack of clarity of principles of faith at the ecumenical level across the whole Christian world. This study fills this gap by seeking to identify the doctrinal principles that define Orthodox Christian life in an ecumenical context and the manner in which such theology can be practically applied. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rebooting Ecumenism - New Paradigms for the 21st Century)
12 pages, 261 KiB  
Article
Towards an Orthodox Acceptance of Geopolitical Responsibility: Building an Orthodox Agenda Based on Peace Ethics
by Cezar Marksteiner-Ungureanu
Religions 2023, 14(12), 1489; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14121489 - 30 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1044
Abstract
Because of the Russian aggression in Ukraine, the question about the capacity of the Eastern Orthodox Church to act as a geopolitical actor and to explore its role on the international stage is more urgent than ever. The aim of this paper is [...] Read more.
Because of the Russian aggression in Ukraine, the question about the capacity of the Eastern Orthodox Church to act as a geopolitical actor and to explore its role on the international stage is more urgent than ever. The aim of this paper is to stress the importance of providing an ethics of peace regarding the Ukrainian conflict, following the classical methodology of social ethical research: (1) I begin by paying attention to the context; (2) I then analyse it according to the normative principle of social ethics; finally, (3) I try to respond to the following question: What could be done to improve the current situation? Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rebooting Ecumenism - New Paradigms for the 21st Century)
15 pages, 254 KiB  
Article
Imaginative Ecumenism—Rethinking the Paradigm from an Anglican Perspective
by Jeremy Morris
Religions 2023, 14(11), 1410; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14111410 - 10 Nov 2023
Viewed by 775
Abstract
This article reviews the history of the ecumenical movement from an English Anglican perspective, exploring its successes and limitations. It suggests that ecumenical aspirations risk being bogged down in incremental ecumenism, the pursuit of small steps in inter-church relations. A worked example is [...] Read more.
This article reviews the history of the ecumenical movement from an English Anglican perspective, exploring its successes and limitations. It suggests that ecumenical aspirations risk being bogged down in incremental ecumenism, the pursuit of small steps in inter-church relations. A worked example is the Porvoo agreement, which depended on a new paradigm of the Anglican understanding of order, yet which has not been applied equivalently elsewhere. The necessity of unity is reasserted, and a call for a more imaginative, eschatological paradigm of unity is made. Some implications for Anglican ecumenism are briefly explored. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rebooting Ecumenism - New Paradigms for the 21st Century)
11 pages, 340 KiB  
Article
Where Scripture and Tradition First Meet: How the Field of the Early Reception of the New Testament May (Re)Shape the Academic Dialogue between Evangelicals and Orthodox—Romania as a Case Study
by Amiel Drimbe
Religions 2023, 14(10), 1323; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14101323 - 22 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1008
Abstract
In recent years, Evangelical scholars in Romania have shown a growing interest in studying the early reception of the New Testament, particularly in the writings of the Pre-Nicene Fathers (c. 90–300 CE). In parallel, a new generation of Romanian Orthodox scholars [...] Read more.
In recent years, Evangelical scholars in Romania have shown a growing interest in studying the early reception of the New Testament, particularly in the writings of the Pre-Nicene Fathers (c. 90–300 CE). In parallel, a new generation of Romanian Orthodox scholars has come to appreciate the importance of a critical approach to both Scripture and Christian Tradition. As a result, fresh common ground is currently taking shape in academia: a critical approach to the early reception of the New Testament. This presents an opportunity for both Evangelical and Orthodox scholars in Romania to come together and explore certain issues of faith that have not been previously explored in this way. Since there are already several hints that the early reception of the New Testament could lead to a more meaningful dialogue, an innovative project has been initiated to further the hypothesis. The ongoing project involves five Evangelical New Testament scholars and five Orthodox New Testament scholars independently researching the same five obscure passages in the New Testament (Matthew 27.51–53, Romans 9–11, 1 Corinthians 15.29, Hebrews 6.4–6 and 1 Peter 3.18–22). Each passage is analyzed independently by one scholar from each denomination using the same methodology, i.e., a critical dialogue between exegesis and reception history. The forthcoming volume aims to assess not only the value of this approach for academic dialogue between Evangelicals and Orthodox in Romania, but also to estimate other potential gains should this method be applied on a larger scale, such as in various international ecumenical projects. There is one overarching question behind this project that still awaits a response: if the early reception of the New Testament is where Christian Scripture and Christian Tradition first meet, could it also be where Evangelicals and Orthodox finally meet? Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rebooting Ecumenism - New Paradigms for the 21st Century)
8 pages, 185 KiB  
Article
An Ecumenical Spirituality
by John Binns
Religions 2023, 14(10), 1238; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14101238 - 26 Sep 2023
Viewed by 868
Abstract
The modern ecumenical movement is a part of a wider ecumenism which expresses the universal character of the Christian faith. It is an approach to faith which is aware of the world-wide context of church life and the variety of the cultures and [...] Read more.
The modern ecumenical movement is a part of a wider ecumenism which expresses the universal character of the Christian faith. It is an approach to faith which is aware of the world-wide context of church life and the variety of the cultures and communities where it is practiced. The Orthodox Church of Ethiopia shows the importance of ecumenism because here we find a style of worship and theology which has taken a very different character from other parts of the church, especially in its relations with other faiths. Ecumenical faith recognises and welcomes difference and always seeks fresh ways of witness and proclamation. In a changing society, this ecumenical character of faith is an essential part of an effective mission and church life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rebooting Ecumenism - New Paradigms for the 21st Century)
10 pages, 252 KiB  
Article
Ecumenism as Hope: The Prophetic Role and the Eschatological Function of the Church
by Cristian-Sebastian Sonea
Religions 2023, 14(10), 1225; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14101225 - 24 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1075
Abstract
The article is structured around one of the questions that has been at the forefront of controversies in the orthodox church in recent years: why is ecumenical dialogue necessary and why “must” we engage in it? The answer can be simple: because it [...] Read more.
The article is structured around one of the questions that has been at the forefront of controversies in the orthodox church in recent years: why is ecumenical dialogue necessary and why “must” we engage in it? The answer can be simple: because it is the will of the Saviour Jesus Christ, who prays to the Father “that they may all be one” (John 17:21). Nevertheless, some Christians reject or even condemn ecumenical dialogue. To explain the presence of the orthodox church in the ecumenical movement, I proposed the concept of ecumenism as hope. In this article, I also offered a synthesis of the relations between the orthodox church and the other Christian communities from the perspective of teleology. I then tried to show that the re-evaluation of eschatology could oppose the “mechanical paradigm” of the historical–critical method, because eschatology contains the element of “hope”. I concluded that “hope” in the eschatological sense could be understood as the eschatological inauguration of the unity of faith in the church. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rebooting Ecumenism - New Paradigms for the 21st Century)
10 pages, 263 KiB  
Article
Reimagining Ecumenism for the 21st Century—Stăniloae’s Theology as a Source and Inspiration
by Dănuț Jemna and Dănuț Mănăstireanu
Religions 2023, 14(6), 725; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14060725 - 31 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1135
Abstract
There are many competent voices who estimate that in recent years ecumenism has been going through a crisis. Concern for ecumenical dialogue is becoming secondary for many theologians or members of the clergy, including hierarchs, who are preoccupied almost exclusively with addressing the [...] Read more.
There are many competent voices who estimate that in recent years ecumenism has been going through a crisis. Concern for ecumenical dialogue is becoming secondary for many theologians or members of the clergy, including hierarchs, who are preoccupied almost exclusively with addressing the problems facing their local and confessional communities. As a result, receptivity to ecumenical dialogue and cooperation is even lower among the faithful, who are preoccupied with assessing their own Christian identity in a socio-cultural context marked by rapid change and unprecedented challenges, of which secularism is only one of many. The disappointing assessment of the state of contemporary ecumenism, has led some ecumenists to an effort of identifying solutions for reimagining interconfessional dialogue in an ever-changing world. Theologians from all Christian traditions seek to contribute to identifying ways to unblock the current situation and to propose concrete approaches for rethinking ecumenism for future generations of believers. One of the ways suggested in the literature is to think of ecumenism less in terms of theological agreements, and more in terms of a process of mutual learning, considering that we can receive and offer our gifts in a mutual process, being aware of the need for each community to be open to such a perspective. In this paper, we argue that the constant receptivity to Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae’s theology, and to his anthropology in particular, that exists in Western traditions can be an opportunity for revitalising the ecumenical dialogue through the gift exchange model described above. We start from the premise that Fr. Stăniloae’s work represents an important gift not just for the Orthodox, but also for many Protestant and Catholic theologians, and we suggest that this direction can produce a reciprocal effect on Orthodox theologians to open up and receive the gifts of Western theology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rebooting Ecumenism - New Paradigms for the 21st Century)

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9 pages, 275 KiB  
Essay
Fire, Beards, and Bread: Exploring Christian East–West Relations à Propos of Edward Siecienski’s (Latest) Work
by Sotiris Mitralexis
Religions 2023, 14(11), 1349; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14111349 - 25 Oct 2023
Viewed by 742
Abstract
The debate on Christian East–West relations usually centres on the “usual suspects”: papal primacy, the filioque and core doctrine in general, the interpretation of Scripture, ecclesiology, and so on. This review article of Edward Siecienski’s Beards, Azymes, and Purgatory explores other issues that [...] Read more.
The debate on Christian East–West relations usually centres on the “usual suspects”: papal primacy, the filioque and core doctrine in general, the interpretation of Scripture, ecclesiology, and so on. This review article of Edward Siecienski’s Beards, Azymes, and Purgatory explores other issues that divide East and West, particularly those that may be approached via material ecologies: Fire, Beards, and Bread. “Bread” as in the debate on the Azymes, following Siecienski’s 2023 book; “Beards” as in the beardfullness or beardlessness of clerics; and “Fire” as in ignis purgatorius, yet at an even wider scale, the very fire of Gehenna: the question of the hereafter and the location of the dividing line between doctrine and theologoumena. Thus, a wider spectrum of the debate emerges, with which the present review article aspires to familiarize its readers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rebooting Ecumenism - New Paradigms for the 21st Century)
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