Not long ago I have been invited by Professor Adrian Marinescu, who teaches Orthodox theology at the University in Munich, Germany, to contribute a short paper to an occasional issue of the the journal called Studii Teologice [Theological Studies], dedicated to the commemoration of twenty years since Fr. Dumitru Staniloae went to be with the Lord.
Prof. Marinescu suggested that I could write 3-5 pages about something like ‘how my mind has changed’ through interaction with Eastern Orthodox theology in general, and Staniloae’s theology in particular. Unfortunately, the relentless traveling that is part of my professional responsibilities made it impossible for me to write the requested paper. However, I am compensated by the fact that a postgraduate Romanian Orthodox student, doing his research on Staniloae’s theology at the University of Strasbourg, in France, will publish in this journal an academic review of my PhD thesis of Staniloae.
Also, for some time now, I have become a member of the Facebook group ‘Anglican Discussions: Respectful, Diverse, Orthodox’, at the invitation of my virtual friend Carson Clark (at a simple search you will find on this blog a number of links to the interesting blog posts he writes quite often). I do not have a lot of time to interact there, but I do it from time to time, when members discuss issues that are not connected to the most troubled context of Anglicanism in the US).
Today, one of the members complained that, in spite of the claimed diversity of this group, his recent request for a ‘biblical basis’ for the theological position that ‘the Eucharist makes the church’, expressed by one of the more Anglo-Catholic inclined members has not been welcomed, as he expected. I could very well imagine why this happened, because I was myself where John (the complainer), was. That is why I have decided to respond with a little bit of a personal testimony of my spiritual journey in this area. And, since I have put it there, I have decided to also share it with those who read my blog, most of which are not members of that group on Facebook. So, here it is.
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I have lived most of my life in the Baptist fold, I have been a dispensationalist, a Zionist and a fundamentalist in my hermeneutics, asking, like you, biblical proof for everything, but I got healed of this through theological interaction with Eastern Orthodoxy. So, there is hope. 🙂
One of the books that helped me clarify where I am now in terms of hermeneutics is The Bible Made Impossible, by Christian Smith. The author argues, convincingly for me, that ‘biblicism’ – holding that the Bible is like a ‘recipe book for life’ in which everything fits perfectly together, is simply an impossible position, because people who hold firmly to it end up, most often, with extremely opposite positions on the most important matters of faith anf life.
Thus, although I hold dearly to the Scriptures, as written witness of God’s revelation, I have stopped reading it individualistically (I do not believe anymore that me and God are the majority 🙂 ) and have started reading it in community (in its local and – as much as possible in its – global expression, but also in sync with the ‘communion of the saints’ – the church triumphant).
That, of course, makes things much more complex, but is an effective cure to the foolishness and pride of the selfish hermeneutic of the modern soul.
That has been my journey, which is still going on, and it is the only witness I can bring at this table.