Revista Studii Teologice


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Patrologia şi poliţia română urmat de un decalog al învăţării şi dezvăţării sufletelor" // "A Decalogue of Learning and Unlearning

Autor(i): Cristian Bădiliţă
For almost fifteen years, I have concerned myself with Patrology and the history of ancient Christianity, but was only in the Occident that this interest turned into a fully-fledged specialization. Patrology canot be properly studied in Romania, because nowhere here its mandatory instruments, from paleography to the history of late Antiquity, from old Greek and Latin, to Biblical studies and historiography, can be thoroughly assimilated so as to meet the Occidental standards. For this reason, a Ph.D. or at least a Master’s degree in Western university context is the main, if not the sole guarantor for one’s qualification. The studies in our field undertaken in the country, the academic works or Ph.D’s are of a very modest value, and their only justification is the symbolic one of achieving a degree.
The recovery of Romanian research must begin with the ethical aspect, with intellectual probity, a quasi-natural quality of Western scholars, consisting of the ability to read ancient texts in the original, quoting all their modern interpretations, referring to manuscripts if necessary, undertaking exhaustive inquiry into the matter, and especially, not appropriating others’ ideas without mentioning their paternity.

A Decalogue of learning and unlearning:
1. Unlearning is often more important, and more intellectually, morally, and spiritually rewarding, than learning. This occurs when learning actually means flawed learning, against the commandments of intellectual integrity. I shall make a blunt statement (parrhesia) based on first-hand experience: Romanian Orthodox education suffers from chronic ideologization. It is an imperative that we deideologize our approach to the Scriptures, the Holy Fathers, religious matters, and especially our attitude towards our brethren, irrespectively of their belief and denomination.
2. Unlearning means humility before theology as a “science”. Naturally, if not in a secular sense, but in a highly mystical one, it still is a science, it is knowledge. Theological education is based on thorough research into the sources, in the original, without any denominational/ideological bias, by means of the proper methodology.
3. To this end, willy-nilly, we must turn to Western specialized institutions. As at present Romania does not have a creditable education system, it is only a Ph.D. granted by an Occidental university that can credential scientific competence. Otherwise, we shall delude ourselves, and, even worse, the students, for years on end, which is anti-Christian in spirit.
4. Orthodoxy has lost the historical dimension in its interpretation of the Revelation. To make things clear, I do not proclaim early 20th century modern heresies, as the “know-it-alls” rush to accuse me. No, what I mean is recovering the spirit of the times when the Christian texts were written, from St. Paul’s epistles to the great medieval Byzantine summae.
5. A confession-statement by His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel: “We must urgently leave the paradigm of making do and internalize the paradigm of improving ourselves”. An annotation: we must abandon the arrogant, unproductive slogan: “We do it badly but we do it ourselves!” It is better not to read than to read poorly, better not to write and not to teach, than do both things badly.
6. Romanian Orthodox education must assimilate the quality lay spirit. It can be easily seen that our “synchronization” (in the positive sense) with the Occidental theological movement is, for now, undertaken in lay note. Two codicils: priests and monks ought to “whiten” their vestments and un-frown their ideologically-moralizing countenance, allowing the “publicans” to enter the Temple; and the lay people involved in the Church’s life should humiliate their “erudition” by bowing before the divine mystery in fear and trembling.
7. Orthodox theological education must reach real, not ideal-phariseical, excellence. Nothing has been happening, almost anywhere, for almost 18 years, with a few exceptions marginalized by the “centre”. Education must go hand in hand with active, systematic research.
8. Theological education must be brought again in contact with the actualities of life. We are not in the same situation as France, where due to its tragic experiences throughout the history, one witnesses a virtually complete rupture between the lay and theological realms. Which does not mean, however, that the Church should invade the State institutions, school included. It must provide models and paradigms of spiritualization. On the other hand, theological education must receive fruitful seeds from the part of lay culture, not only with respect to its research methods, but also to its contents. Let us return to Antiquity’s catechetical schools: theology joined history, literature, philosophy, mathematics, music, etc. Nichifor Crainic’s case must be perpetuated in today’s Institutes.
9. Deideologization does not entail the elimination of the apologetic vein. Apologetics must be revigorated, today more than ever, in the context of modern societies’ desecularization and the mondialization of religious conflicts. At present, Romanian Orthodoxy responds only monologically, irrationally, in a tense, spasmodic, ridiculous and disconcerting manner, to the challenges coming from the outside.
10. Education is the privileged realm of collaboration among hierarchs, priests, monks and lay people. Didaskalia is one of the great charismata of which St. Paul speaks. An incompetent didaskalos may destroy, over a few years, not only a community but an entire Church. A good didaskalos is a martyr of peaceful times.

Pagini: 119-127