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Archive for March 11th, 2007

Speaking Truth to Power, 4th-Century Style

The Art of Snaring Pigeons

[Note: The Inauguarl Post]

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For those of you who are familiar with the term “development of doctrine” and are further familiar with the fact that Roman Catholics, since Newman, have affirmed it, and Orthodox have either always denied it, or affirmed it in a way that distinguishes their view from that of Rome, and further, for those who are familiar with the Orthodox-Catholic debates over at Michael Liccione’s site (including all the pertinent players), may I commend to you one of Dr. L’s most recent posts:

Development of doctrine, Fr. Louth, and ecumenism

Dr. L opens his post thus:

Since Catholicism takes for granted that there is such a thing as authentic DD, the question is really whether Orthodoxy can also accept the idea. Notice that I did not pose the issue as whether there is such a thing as DD simpliciter. I take for granted that there is, or has been, in each of the three major Christian traditions. So did the late, great Jaroslav Pelikan, convert from Lutheranism to Orthodoxy, among whose works I’ve found profitable are Development of Christian Doctrine: Some Historical Prolegomena; and his five-volume The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine. To my knowledge, Pelikan never disputed the very idea of authentic DD after his conversion to Orthodoxy; and certain Orthodox thinkers in America today, such as Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon and Prof. David Hart, also accept authentic DD in some sense.

As I’ve implied, a burning question is which instances of DD are “authentic.” But that obviously raises the still more basic question what criteria, if any, beyond compatibility with what both sides profess in common, a developed doctrine must meet to count as authentic. With my own church and most of my interlocutors here, I further take for granted that the revelation in Jesus Christ is complete and definitive, so that no instance of DD can count as authentic if it adds in substance to the deposit of faith “delivered once-for-all to the saints” (Jude 1:3). So the question gets narrowed still further: how can DD can be authentic without constituting addition to said deposit? If a common answer to that question can be reached, we have a basis for ecumenical dialogue between Catholicism and Orthodoxy primarily, and between both and some branches of Protestantism secondarily.

As of this post, there are only 17 comments, so get in now, while you still can stay caught up.

Update: I just found this transcription of a talk given by Fr John Behr on Orthodoxy and the development of doctrine.  Compare and contrast.

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St. John Chrysostom – 1600th Anniversary Symposium:

2007 is the 1600th anniversary of the repose of St. John Chrysostom, the “Golden-mouth.” For the Orthodox Church, St. John is one of the most brilliant lights among the fathers and saints who adorn her history. He is best known for his sermons and commentaries on the Scriptures, fearless leadership as a chief hierarch and shepherd of the Church, selfless care for the poor and sick, and for the Liturgy that bears his name. The service for the feast of the Three Hierarchs extols him as an equal to St. Gregory the Theologian and St. Basil the Great. Yet St. John is not noted as an exponent of the dogmas of the faith.

What then is St. John Chrysostom’s place among the fathers of the Church? This is the theme of the Symposium to be held in St. Louis, September 28-30, 2007. Our distinguished speakers will offer their insights on this topic. We invite you to attend and to take part in the discussions.

The Symposium is being hosted by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). More info at the link above.

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