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Title: Sketching an ecumenical ecclesiology for Eastern Orthodoxy : the form of Christ crucified with special reference to Stǎniloae, von Balthasar and Tillich
Author: Maican, Petre
ISNI:       0000 0004 5922 2329
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2016
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The position of Eastern Orthodox churches towards ecumenical engagement is ambivalent. Although they support participation in the ecumenical movement formally, the Eastern Orthodox churches still regard the other interlocutors as insufficient ecclesial bodies (if indeed churches at all). This thesis seeks to offer a positive understanding of the multiplicity of churches that will enable a more fruitful ecumenical dialogue from a distinctly Eastern Orthodox perspective. The thesis traces the source of Eastern Orthodox ambivalence to the lack of an ecclesiological centre of unity and identity able to allow for a more generous ecumenical attitude. To respond to this lack, this thesis will argue that for the Orthodox churches the form of Christ crucified is a notion capable of defining - as well as embracing - unicity and difference in worldwide ecclesiological discourse as an integral part of the Eastern Orthodox heritage. This thesis will use a tripartite conversational structure and bring three major theological figures into dialogue: Dumitru Stăniloae, Hans Urs von Balthasar and Paul Tillich. In using different interlocutors, the thesis will also emphasise how significant and beneficial receptive ecumenical encounter can be for Eastern Orthodoxy. Chapter one will introduce the tripartite ecumenical dialogue between Stăniloae, von Balthasar, and Tillich, by connecting ecclesiology with form. It will be argued that form can be identified as a unifying concept, providing a constructive account of the diversity of the church. The thesis then proceeds to explain the centrality of the form of Christ crucified for the church in three dimensions: cosmic, universal and denominational. Drawing on Stăniloae's view that the world is destined towards an eschatological union with God in a self-sacrificial community (church), chapter two will stress that the form at the centre of both the world and the church may be located in the concept of Christ crucified. Chapter three then treats the universal dimension of the church. In reference to Tillich and von Balthasar, it explains that the relationship between human beings and the form of Christ crucified is primarily defined by experience and is not conditioned by any prior doctrinal knowledge, thus transgressing any artificial confessional borders. In chapter four, the issue will be addressed at the denominational level, by pointing out that Scripture, the Christian doctrines and the sacraments find their ultimate source in the form of Christ crucified. A denomination is an interpretation of the form of Christ crucified through Scripture and doctrines (Tillich, von Balthasar), and an imprinting of this form upon the members of the congregation (von Balthasar) and then on the entire creation (Stăniloae). The thesis concludes by turning to the Eastern Orthodox framework of the world's progression into God, where the doctrinal differences are no longer boundaries but bridges, whereby each denomination becomes a unique partner, helping the church to fulfil its eschatological vocation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Christian Union ; Orthodox Eastern Church