Revista Studii Teologice


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Spre o formulă lărgită a definiţiei dogmatice de la Calcedon? Contribuţia Pr. Dumitru Stăniloae la dialogul cu Bisericile necalcedoniene

Towards a broader formulation of the dogmatic definition issued by the Council of Chalcedon? Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae’s contribution to the dialogue with non-chalcedonian Churches

Autor(i): Ciprian Iulian TOROCZKAI

The Romanian Orthodox Church had a highly significant contribution to the ecumenical dialogue maintained during the 20th century between the Orthodox and the Old Oriental Churches. This dialogue engaged prominent Romanian specialists, among them the most important Romanian Orthodox theologian of the 20th century, Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae (1903-1993). Father Stăniloae joined the dialogue with the Old Oriental Churches with the visit paid by a Romanian Orthodox Church delegati-on to the Jacobite Church of Malabar (India), between 8-15 December 1961. Other steps were occasioned by the Inter-Orthodox Committee for dialogue with the Old Oriental Churches, which convened between 18-28 August 1971 at Addis Abeba, then by another meeting of the Orthodox sub-committee for dialogue with the Old-Orientals, held at Axum (Addis Abeba), between 8-13 January 1975. Both meetings were attended by Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae, to whom reporting on „Conciliar Christolo-gy” was also assigned.
This work presents the most important contribution of the Romanian theologi-an to the dialogue between the Romanian Orthodox Church and the non-Chalcedonian Churches, by his proposal of a broadened formulation of the dogmatic definition issued by the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, in order to prevent any possible unilateral interpretations of the two natures, divine and human, within the single Person of Jesus Christ.
Fr. Stăniloae approached the dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the non-Chalcedonian Churches with the belief that their separation, occurred in the 5th century, was caused by a terminological misunderstanding regarding Christology, as well as ethnic, political, social tensions between the Byzantine Empire and the ne-ighbouring populations east of it. Despite the infelicitous consequences, this regretta-ble event had no deep impact on Eastern Christianity: „the split never deepened, but has remained to this day a superficial misunderstanding over terminology, and not a separation of faith”. Hence the possibility for open dialogue to lead to the reconcile-ment and union of these two Churches.
Church dogmas aim to strike a balance between two extreme views. The Church has always sought to reach such a balanced stance. When this balance was threatened from one side, the Church strived to regain it by employing opposite terms. When, however, these terms were turned by the opposite party to its own advantage, the Church amended the text it had put forth to counter this. Thus the revealed truth came to be expressed increasingly accurately. Which is the general rule one may postulate? That „the balance reached by formulations is always unsta-ble. The cause for perpetual improvement lies in the dynamics of human spirit and the inexhaustible depth of divine Truth. Human spirit tends towards the ever more nuanced and appropriate expression of the inexhaustible revealed truth”.
The process described above concerned the definition of the Christological dogma, too; while the Council of Chalcedon attempted to strike this balance, it failed to employ perfect phraseology, as social-historical circumstances did not allow the parties to know each other better. Dumitru Stăniloae was convinced of the possibility to reconcile the non-Chalcedonian phraseology with the one used by the Council of Chalcedon. It might be termed as follows: „We confess One and the Same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, perfect God and perfect man, true God and true man, with ratio-nal soul and body, consubstantial (coessential) with the Father according to His divi-nity and with us according to His humanity, fully like us except for sin, begotten before all ages by the Father according to His divinity and born for our sake from the Holy Virgin Mary the Theotokos according to his humanity; One and the Same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten from and of two natures, that is, from and of two esences, unconfused, unchanged, undivided and unseparated; the two different natures or essences are not abolished because of their union, but rather each nature or essence retains its own properties and together they make up a person or hyposta-sis, or in other words, an incarnate nature of God the Word (as God the Word took and kept in His hypostasis full human nature, unchanged, unconfused, undivided and united with His divine nature and by the two of them, He in an undivided and unconfused way carried out His theandric works, that is, human works in a divine manner, and the divine ones with the participation of His humanity)”.
This broadened formulation might provide a balance between the non-Chalcedonian „extreme” which tends to emphasize unity, and the Chalcedonian „ex-treme”, respectively the one tending to highlight duality. The present paper concludes with an assesment of the importance and validity of this broader formulation, as well as the prospective opportunities entailed if both the Orthodox and non-Chalcedonians accept it. The Romanian Orthodox Church’s opennes to dialogue with the Old Orien-tal Churches was severely criticized by the monastic community of Mount Athos. However, the contribution made by the Romanian Orthodox Church in general and Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae in particular cannot be denied. Hence the rhetorical questions: By accepting the above-mentioned suggestion for a broader dogmatic formulation, would we not take a decisive step towards theological advancement of the dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Old Oriental Churches? Why not upon the forthcoming pan-Orthodox Council?

Pagini: 227-240