Tag Archives: Christology

No need for a Protestant Giussani today: a brief response to Archie Spencer

Worshipping, preaching and witnessing Jesus Christ as the unique and only Savior of the world is a complicated issue for some Christians today.

A good refresher course in the study of Christ as Savior and Redeemer would be situated in the CDF document¬†Dominus Iesus (2000), or something more substantive as Jesuit Father Edward Oakes’ recent book, Infinity Dwindled to Infancy: A Catholic and Evangelical Christology (Eerdmans, 2011). There are other books to recommend but I am not writing to make those suggestions.

Archie Spencer,ThD, an Evangelical Christian theologian wrote a piece titled: “We stand in need of Protestant Giussani today.” Dr Spencer is a competent theologian with interests in a wide variety of reformed and evangelical matters including Christology. He teaches Systematic Theology at Northwest Baptist Seminary (Canada). In fact, he’s interested in the Christological controversies Christianity faced in the first three centuries of salvation history, particularly the Alexandrian type. Spencer is also versed in the method of Communion and Liberation and its founder, Father Luigi Giussani. ¬†In my opinion, Spencer wrote a well thought-out essay (noted above); Catholics and mainline Protestants ought to read Spencer’s article (and then re-read it) for he clarifies the key point of what it means to be saved by Jesus Christ. He, however, opens a can worms that many in the Protestant world find difficult to preach today: Truth is objective, personal, merciful and exclusive.

It can be argued that orthodox Catholics converge with the Evangelicals in ways (e.g., Christology) many mainline Protestants do not today. I appreciate much of what he proposes: Jesus Christ is either the center of my life, or He’s not; either Christ is my only Savior, or He’s not. Right-believing, right-worshipping and right-living Christians can’t utilize other methods for Christian life. BUT Dr Spencer doesn’t complete the case.

Respectfully, I note two glaringly missing points in Spencer’s article: (1) Christians can’t be satisfied with the separation of the Body of Christ (the Church) with various ecclesial communities; the divisions among Christians is a scandal for those baptized in Jesus Christ. The other matter missing (2) is the issue of right-worship –the sacred Liturgy and sacraments administered by a valid priesthood is the only realistic way to make Christ known, lived and proposed to the world. Protestant worship is missing some very essential matters of right belief. The lex orandi tradition is very limited in Evangelical, Lutheran and Anglican (Protestant) worship.

Hence, I would never be able to support the idea that Christians in other ecclesial communities need a “new” Giussani without wrestling in a more direct way with the fact that unity among Christians and a proper, that is, faithful worship are non-negotiables and that we can’t be satisfied with the religious status quo. To love Luigi Giussani and his Christocentricism is to be catholic and to live the Catholic faith. Christians, including Catholics and Orthodox have Luigi Giussani pointing the way, and exhorting us to live under the banner of Jesus Christ in a Church that lives properly the faith handed down to us from Apostolic times. I doubt that Giussani would say that it is a good thing to keep the divisions in Christianity alive and to worship without the Eucharist and the other sacraments as a reasonable proposal. Giussani always points in an uncompromising way to the fullness of truth as lived in the Roman Church (even to the point of accepting the Church of the millennium).

It is theologically and humanly incoherent to believe otherwise.

Desiring to do everything the Father desired

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Saint Hilary of Poitiers: “He who said ‘I have come not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me’ hastened to fulfill the task he had undertaken out of obedience, though in such a way as to remind us that he possessed a will of his own. In fact, he willed whatever the Father willed. His saying ‘I have come not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me’ revealed who had sent him and whom he obeyed, but without detriment to his own power of willing. Desiring to do everything the Father desired, Christ hastened to carry out his wishes with regard to his passion before the wicked could hinder him or prevent his doing so. He had a great longing to eat the Passover with his disciples, and he celebrated the paschal meal in haste. He had an intense desire to drink the cup of his passion, for he said: ‘Shall I not drink the cup which my Father has given me?’ When the search party came to arrest him and asked which man was Jesus, he stepped forward of his own accord. He asked for the sour wine which he knew he was destined to drink, and having drunk it and achieved his great purpose he said: ‘It is accomplished’, thus expressing his joy at obtaining his heart’s desire.”

When you meet Christ, you accept his history

Father Sergius Bulgakov expressed himself very adequately when he said: “He who has once met Christ, His Savior, on his own personal path, and has felt His Divinity, has, in that very moment, accepted all fundamental Christian dogmas — Virgin Birth, incarnation, Second Glorious Advent, the Coming of the Comforter, the Holy Trinity. To this I want to add: Or else he has not yet met Christ, or, at any rate, has not recognized him.”

— Father Georges Florovsky in The Work of the Holy Spirit in Revelation

New York-native Benedictine monk illuminates the Word

Pope Paul VI told us we need more witnesses to the faith. I’ve quoted the pope several times on this just point. True, the personal witness of a man and woman to the inner and outer works of the Holy Spirit is what concretely moves the heart. Truth is encountered in the witness. Father Tom Rosica, CSB, of Salt and Light TV interviews known and less known witnesses of the faith that for me, really opens new vistas.

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That I am interested in sharing the beauty of the Benedictine charism on Communio as the baptismal vocation is lived through monks, nuns, sisters and the laity. Father Rosica interviews Benedictine priest and monk Father Michael Patella of Saint John’s Abbey (Collegeville. MN). It is linked at the end of this post.
Saint John’s is a very large large abbey. At one time it was the largest in the world, now the monks numbers about 150. The monastic community administers a university, a high school, a press, an ecumenical center, a critically acclaimed international library of digital manuscripts, and several parishes. The monks of this abbey also serve the Church in a variety of places in the USA and other countries. No one can doubt the creative genius as a gift the Spirit with the men called to live a monastic vocation at Saint John’s Abbey.
Father Michael’s interview happened in August 2012 and was released in April 2013.

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Popes of Rome and Alexandria meet: Francis and Tawadros

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A rare meeting between two Popes, that is, between the Patriarch of the West and the Patriarch of Alexandria happened earlier today in Rome when Pope Francis received Pope Tawadros of Alexandria, who heads the largest Christian Church in the Middle East. The first meeting between the two churches happened 40 years ago to the day with the Servant of God Pope Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III; at that meeting a Christological agreement was signed and a hope expressed to find a path to unity. Tawadros is on his first pilgrimage outside of Egypt since becoming the head of the Coptic Church in November. He is in Italy for 5 days. 


Pope Tawadros proposed that 10 May each year should be marked as a day of celebration between the two churches. He also invited Francis to visit his Church, founded by Saint Mark the Evangelist around the middle of the First century.


Here is Pope Francis’ address:

For me it is a great joy and a truly graced moment to be able to receive all of you here, at the tomb of Saint Peter, as we recall that historic meeting forty years ago between our predecessors, Pope Paul VI and the late Pope Shenouda III, in an embrace of peace and fraternity, after centuries of mutual distrust. So it is with deep affection that I welcome Your Holiness and the distinguished members of your delegation, and I thank you for your words. Through you, I extend my cordial greetings in the Lord to the bishops, the clergy, the monks and the whole Coptic Orthodox Church.


Today’s visit strengthens the bonds of friendship and brotherhood that already exist between the See of Peter and the See of Mark, heir to an inestimable heritage of martyrs, theologians, holy monks and faithful disciples of Christ, who have borne witness to the Gospel from generation to generation, often in situations of great adversity.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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