Pro Ecclesia Vol 19-N2: A Journal of Catholic and Evangelical Theology

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Pro Ecclesia is a quarterly journal of theology published by the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. It seeks to give contemporary expression to the one apostolic faith and its classic traditions, working for and manifesting the church's unity by research, theological construction, and free exchange of opinion. Members of its advisory council represent communities committed to the authority of Holy Scripture, ecumenical dogmatic teaching and the structural continuity of the church, and are themselves dedicated to maintaining and invigorating these commitments. The journal publishes biblical, liturgical, historical and doctrinal articles that promote or illumine its purposes.

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Tradition, Priesthood, and Personhood in the Trinitarian Theology of Elisabeth Behr-Sigel

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Tradition, Priesthood, and Personhood in the Trinitarian Theology of Elisabeth Behr-Sigel

Sarah Hinlicky Wilson

In the 1950s, when the French Orthodox lay theologian Paul Evdokimov suggested that “woman” could not become a priest without betraying her ontological alignment with the Holy Spirit, no one in the Orthodox Church was actually entertaining the possibility of female priests.1 He answered the question in passing, a small part of his larger project to illuminate the spiritual dimension of femininity against the tradition’s tendency to demean women. Likewise, Orthodox theologians Nicolae Chitescu and George Khodre could answer a simple “no” to the hypothetical question of women in the priesthood at a Faith and Order conference in 1963; the idea was not worth a second thought.2 At the first-ever international gathering of Orthodox women at the Agapia convent in Romania in 1976, the ordination of women was not on the agenda for discussion. Only one woman brought it up at all, in her keynote address. Even her answer was a provisional “no”—but also a charge to engage in better and deeper reflection on the issue. She called upon the Orthodox Church to “internalize” the question.3

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Trinity and Exegesis

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Trinity and Exegesis

C. Clifton Black

My thesis in this essay is that a remapping of “biblical theology” as scriptural theology invites forthright reclamation of the church’s canonical resources, especially its doctrine of the Triune God and an appeal to its regula fidei. The pages that follow develop this suggestion for the revitalization of the hermeneutical enterprise, noting some of the problems and prospects along the way.

I. A Place to Read

In an era of academic specialization, it may seem foolhardy for one trained in New Testament exegesis to essay reflections on the Trinity, a subject that continues to daunt professional dogmaticians.1 The risk is nevertheless worth taking, indeed one I feel impelled to take. I write not as a systematic theologian,2 but as a member of the church for which belief in the Trinity is a common property. The catholic scope of the doctrine,3 I will argue, is among the most basic of reasons for Christian interpreters to look to it for hermeneutical guidance. Drawing from the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England (1563–1571), the Methodist Church’s Articles of Religion (1808) stipulate the Trinity as a theological a priori, adherence to which is essential for the affirmation of Christian faith:

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The Metaphysics of Divine Self-Donation

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The Metaphysics of Divine Self-Donation

John R. Meyer

When theologians study the relationship between the immanent and the economic Trinity they encounter a variety of speculative and doctrinal challenges. Foremost among these is the need to safeguard God’s freedom by not implicating him directly in the evolution of the world or implying that his “self-constitution” requires interaction with the created order. One way to pursue this two-fold aim is to explicitly reject the idea that God is “being” as such, asserting instead that he is “beyond being” (cf. Republic 509b). Following Martin Heidegger’s effort to overcome metaphysics and the specter of onto-theology, Jean-Luc Marion argues that divine gift takes precedence over divine being, establishing the free event of self-donation as God’s defining characteristic.1 John Milbank appreciates Marion’s innovative study of the phenomenology of “gift” and “gift-giving,” especially the idea that receiving the other in her gift demands respecting the distance between giver and recipient. Nevertheless, he criticizes Marion’s unilateral merging of gift and giver, as well as his notion of divine giving as pure gesture, in which that which gives being does not have “to be” itself.2 Milbank insists that gift exchange constitutes the distance between giver and recipient. And in the unique case of creation ex nihilo, God gives being to no one, for nothing preexists the act of creation. Consequently, God gives inexorably and a return of his gift is inevitable, “for the creature’s very being resides in its reception of itself as a gift.”3

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Some Early and Later Fathers on the Visitation of the Sick

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Some Early and Later Fathers on the Visitation of the Sick

Philip H. Pfatteicher

G. H. Gerberding, that wise and delightful son of the First English Lutheran Church in Pittsburgh and long-time professor at Chicago and at Northwestern Lutheran Seminaries, in his classic of 1902, The Lutheran Pastor, begins chapter 21, “Visiting the Sick,” with this observation: “Among the most delicate and sometimes the most difficult of the seelsorger’s office is that of visiting the sick. To the true pastor it ought to be also among the most welcome.”1

Gerberding quotes the Evangelical Anglican vicar Charles Bridges (1794–1869) on The Christian Ministry: “This Divinely appointed work [Jas 5:14]—often the only kind of office we can do for some [originally “our”] people—is a Ministry of special responsibility. God himself is the Preacher, speaking [through the sickness] more loudly and directly to the conscience than the mere voice of man. Our work, therefore, is to call attention to the speaking voice. . . . Again, in the sinner’s contact with ‘Death—that terrible and thundering preacher’—a deeper impression is sometimes made in the sick chamber than in the pulpit. Most of all at this crisis the conscience is more or less awakened—the need of a refuge is acknowledged—the prospect of eternity without it is dreaded. How golden the opportunity to set forth the Saviour.”2

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