Revista Studii Teologice


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Exigenţele învăţământului teologic universitar contemporan" // "The Demands of Contemporary Academic Theological Education

Autor(i): Daniel Benga
As early as 1936, George Florovsky spoke of the pseudo-morphoses of Orthodox theology, manifest in the infiltration of Occidental scholastic categories in the thought of Orthodox theologians, which entailed an alienation from the patristic tradition. In 1938, translators Dumitru Fecioru and Olimp Căciulă signalled, in the foreword to „The Sources of Orthodoxy” (the collection of translations they had initiated), the same dependency on catholic and protestant textbooks: patristic texts were known only through the quotations within the former ones, so that, the translators concluded, „we have been suckling adulterated milk at an alien mother’s breast.”

The result was an academic scientism, from which only the neopatristic movement of the 20th century, represented among others by Father Dumitru Stăniloae, began to free itself. Starting from the remark of John Zizioulas, Metropolitan of Pergam, to the effect that the Holy Fathers would not have wanted us to merely repeat what they had taught, like schoolchildren, but rather to create ourselves, present-day Orthodox theology needs the liberty and creative interpretation of the entire patristic legacy.

To achieve this end, the issues confronting the Holy Fathers must be understood correctly, and their understanding may only be achieved through logical and systematic study. On the other hand, the understanding of current issues is also necessary, in order to achieve the inculturation of the Fathers in our times. At academic level, theology must establish a dialogue with the other sciences, because as Jurgen Moltmann demonstrated, there is a communion of questions and answers, so that both communities – the Church and the scientific community – are not mutually exclusive, but complementary. Examples of this contact can be provided by the medical field (the bioethics debates), natural science, philosophy, or law.
Academic theology must not give up its ecclesial and apophatic dimension, its existential character, it must not depart from the life of the faith community. But equally, it cannot give up its scientific character, method, and inquiry either, without which the theological discourse would run the risk of becoming isolated. The professors of theology are first and foremost fathers, as the mere conveying of information does not suffice, but the shaping of characters and directing the students towards the knowledge of God is paramount. The debates of the Second Congress of the Faculties of Orthodox Theology in Romania, held at Sâmbăta de Sus in 2005, resulted in the decision of giving special attention to the liturgical and spiritual formation of students, by reviving the institution of spiritual director (tutor) within the faculties of theology.

In the Orthodox tradition, the work of theologians and professors numbers among the Church’s charismas. Thus, according to Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, the tradition asserts the interconnection of rational, philosophical, demonstrative, argumentative theology, and mystical theology, which means the union of soul and God.

Pagini: 67-79