Revista Studii Teologice


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Părintele Dumitru Stăniloae despre lege, politică şi natura umană

Dumitru Stăniloae on Law, Politics, and Human Nature

Autor(i): Lucian TURCESCU

As other commentators on Orthodox theology have noted, Orthodox theologi-ans tend to talk a lot about human nature, but much less about law, politics, and society. Stăniloae was no exception. Compared to Lossky, Berdyaev, and Soloviev, he said even less explicitly and directly about law. Nevertheless, several important points about law, politics, and human nature are reflected in his works. He saw law as a necessary result of the Fall into sin of the first humans, Adam and Eve. For him, the law given to Moses on Mount Sinai expresses the concentrated form of the will of God. It is God’s supernatural revelation, but it is meant only as a transitory step toward something higher that comes through Christ. In line with Apostle Paul and the book of Revelation, Stăniloae opposed the “newness of the spirit” to the “oldness of the law” and contended instead that as long as there is law there is sin and that the law was given to remove humanity’s sinful state. But eventually love has to take the place of the law. Sinfulness is connected with freedom. Misused freedom is the cause of the fall from grace of Adam and Eve, according to Stăniloae. In belie-ving that they exercised their freedom, the first humans fell into slavery to sin. This is how the patristic tradition tended to view the Fall. Shortly after that, God expelled Adam and Eve from paradise in order to prevent them from having access to the tree of life, and to live eternally in this fallen condition. Stăniloae understood fre-edom as that by which a willing subject always chooses the good. Adam and Eve were created free in the sense of being expected always to choose the good, to choose to obey God, the supreme good. Instead, they opted out of their relationship with God. According to Stăniloae, the church’s role in postcommunist societies is to preach Christ, not to assign guilt, especially in the public sphere. The church cannot publicly condemn anybody, because the church uses other methods to deal with malefactors. The most important such method is the sacrament of confession. This traditional role of the church, however, poses some problems in postcommunist times, as it assumes that most members of society are (Orthodox) Christian and that they will come for-ward to confess their sins and receive forgiveness. In short, it assumes some sort of a Christian state. But this is hardly the case, and the issue of civic justice and reconci-liation in Romania remains unsolved. In this regard, it would have been helpful for Stăniloae to reflect more fully than he did on the relationship between church law and secular law. In Romania, Stăniloae’s work has been very influential, although he himself recognizes that there are yet to appear local theologians able to emulate him. Older Orthodox theology professors, such as Ion Bria, Dumitru Popescu, and Dumi-tru Radu, did their doctoral studies with Stăniloae, and their own ecclesiologies were influenced by his ecclesiology. Younger theologians, including Evangelical Protestants connected with the Emmanuel Bible Institute in Oradea, have written doctoral disser-tations on various aspects of Stăniloae’s theology under the guidance of both Ortho-dox and non-Orthodox professors in the United Kingdom. They seem to have taken a particular interest in Stăniloae’s theology, and their writings meet Western standards of scholarship. Outside of Romania, Stăniloae’s theology has attracted attention in all the main branches of Christianity. Some Roman Catholics (such Ronald Roberson and Maciej Bielawski) have written doctoral dissertations on his theology, while ot-hers (such as Robert Barringer) studied with him and learned Romanian in order to translate some of his works into English. Various Anglican theologians have written books (Charles Miller) or articles (A.M. Allchin) on Stăniloae, while the Lutheran Romanian theologian Hermann Pitters translated his Dogmatics into German. In the French speaking world, Stăniloae has exerted considerable influence on Ortho-dox theologians such as Olivier Clement and Marc-Antoine Costa de Beaure-gard, while attracting the admiration of Russian and Greek Orthodox. The potential for Stăniloae’s further influence continues to grow given that his works are in-creasingly available to Western readerships and that Romanians are currently taking a keen interest in his thought. In Romania, no one was allowed to engage in any type of political activity other than in support of the Communist Party between 1947 and 1989. That period covered almost half of Stăniloae’s life. He refused to engage in Communist politics, and indeed he had to suffer five years of political imprisonment for his political convictions that bordered in some cases on the extreme right. Stăni-loae published his views on Romanian nationalism in both pre-World War II and postcommunist writings. But he did not develop much original political thought, and he appeared incapable of dealing with some of the hard political issues facing post-communist Romania. These included issues of how Orthodox clergy and laity were to deal with prior collaborators with the Communist secret police, the Securitate, and how to heal Romanian society following the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

Pagini: 115-140