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COMMUNIQUÉ AT THE END OF THE SYMP OSIUM: “ORTHODOX APPROACH FOR A THEOLOGY OF RELIGIONS”

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://theorthodoxchurch.info/blog/news/2013/06/communique-at-the-end-of-the-symposium-orthodox-approach-for-a-theology-of-religions/ COMMUNIQUÉ AT THE END OF
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      COMMUNIQU� AT THE END OF THE SYMPOSIUM: �ORTHODOX APPROACH FOR A
      THEOLOGY OF RELIGIONS�

      by OCP on June 26, 2013

      *26/6/13- OCP News Service*

      Given the affirmation of the Orthodox engagement in the inter-faith
      dialogues, expressed in a high ranking document of the Eastern Orthodox
      Church, such as the Synod of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches (see
      Message of their 2008 Synod), but also the �paradigm shift� in world
      mission toward an inter-faith dialogue, and in particular on the basis
      of a theological contribution by the Orthodox, the articulation,
      positive or negative, of an Orthodox �theology of religions� constitutes
      a responsibility of the Orthodox academic community to the Orthodox Church.

      On the basis of the above explicit affirmation, as well as the
      theological concern of such a shift in world mission, expressed in the
      academic world, the Department of Theology of Aristotle University of
      Thessaloniki, Greece (AUTH), jointly with the Theological Faculty of
      Holy Cross Orthodox Theological School, Boston USA (HC), and the Centre
      for Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies �Metropolitan
      Panteleimon Papageorgiou� (CEMES), organised a series of scientific
      consultations aiming: (a) at the investigation of the problem of
      existence of, but also the responsible approach to, the living world
      religions (symposium 11.5.2012); and (b) at the heart of the
      contemporary theological missiological thinking, i.e. the need or the
      possibility of an articulation of a �theology of religions� (symposium
      14-15.2013).

      The thematic occupied also the concern of a post-graduate seminar on the
      subject at the Department of Theology of AUTH during the past academic
      year. Although the ambition of these scientific efforts was a scholarly
      research from the point of view of the Orthodox theology, they did not
      omit to also deal with the experience on the subject of other Christians.

      From the /conclusions /of these consultations, organised by members of
      the WCC (emeritus prof. Petros Vassiliadis, former CWME commissioner and
      currently member of the PWE group, prof. Georgios Martzelos, member of
      the Central Committee, and Rev. prof. Emmanuel Clapsis, former Faith and
      Order chairman), most important are the following:

      * Participation in the inter-faith dialogue does not mean acceptance
      that �all religions are the same�.
      * It does not undermine the universality of the truth of the Church,
      nor does it reverse her faith that Christ is /�the way, the truth
      and the life � /(Jn 14:6), and the apostles� belief that /�//there
      is salvation in no one else/, /for there is no other name //under
      heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved//�/ (Acts 4:12).
      * The inter-faith dialogue does not endanger the fate of the
      inter-Christian dialogue, nor does it leads to syncretism.
      * In accordance with the contemporary Christian mission theology the
      inter-faith dialogue is not simply an academic dialogue
      /(inter-religious/ dialogue), neither is it related to a
      �comparative religion�; it is a dialogue with the /faithful /of//the
      other living religions /(inter-faith/ dialogue), and it should not
      lead to an anti-modern front.

      The Orthodox faithful at the exercise of the imperative of mission
      should appear as reconciling and healing agents, and render their
      witness as /�servants of reconciliation�, /according to the biblical
      demand �/that God has reconciled us in Jesus Christ and gave us the
      ministry of reconciliation� /(II Kor 5:18).

      This research effort examined in-depth the limits of �salvation in
      Christ�, and whether the other living religions are even legitimised at
      a minimal level. On the basis of the reciprocity that exists between the
      �economy of the Son� and the �economy of the Holy Spirit�, who /�blows
      where s/he wills� /(Jn. 3:8), it was investigated if one can exclude
      the other religions as points which the Holy Spirit acts upon. The
      research projected, however, the spectrum of theological investigation
      of the subject beyond Pneumatology to Christology, underlining that the
      theology of the �spermatikos logos� can constitute the foundation of a
      healthy Orthodox theology of religions that goes beyond the tension
      between /exclusivism/ and /inclusivism/. It also underlined the
      prospects of the various �covenants� in the O.T., and the Gospel
      reports, with their climax in the parable of the last judgement (the
      magna Charta of Christianity), and mainly the teaching of Christ on
      /aphesis, /and the universality of the salvation in Christ as it is
      expressed in such biblical texts as the one presenting the descent of
      the resurrected Christ to the hell to teach all humankind.

      The symposia came to the general conclusion, that both in the Bible and
      in the Patristic tradition there are elements that present the other
      religions as human constructions, but there are also other testimonies
      that while recognize Christ as the unique saviour of the world and his
      church as the ark of salvation, they accept the saving presence of God
      beyond the boundaries of the Church. From a theological perspective, and
      especially within the frame of the Orthodox tradition, it was argued
      that a synthesis of the two positions is possible; after all they
      constitute equally substantial elements of our Christian faith. For this
      reason any Orthodox formulation of a theology of religions should be
      based on the catholicity of the Christian tradition and not on selective
      elements that in most cases reflect personal phobias and ideological
      conservative or liberal perceptions.

      As a final conclusion it was considered that from the viewpoint of
      Orthodox theology a �theology of religions� /is/ possible, feasible, but
      also legitimate; it requires however further scientific theological
      investigation.

      The totality of the scholarly papers of these international Orthodox
      inter-faith consultations will be published in the second issue of the
      2013 scholarly journal of the Church of Greece/�Theologia�,/ and will be
      submitted accordingly to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of
      Greece.

      (? more detailed presentation in Greek of the above consultations can be
      f?und in http://www.amen.gr/article14283#sthash.CVCfiDnS.dpuf)

      From the Organizing Committee

      Att. The afisa and the program of this year�s second consultation.




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