Revista Studii Teologice


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Paradigme apostolice ale dialogului dintre Biserică şi modernitate. De la Petru şi Pavel la Petru sau Pavel

Apostolic paradigms of the dialogue between Church and Modernity: from Peter and Paul, to Peter or Paul

Autor(i): Cezar UNGUREANU

Most likely, one of the greatest challenges Orthodoxy is now facing is how to provide a concrete response to the historical, social and political context in which we live as members of Christ’s body and citizens of a particular country. The present study identifies and assesses the Biblical grounds for the Church-secular world dialogue, with a special focus on the issue of Modernity. My aim is to demonstrate that the last 500 years of Western religious modernity can be described as a political outlook on the two apostles, by which Paul seeks to gain a historical „upper hand” over Peter. This antagonism with manifold consequences has ideologized Tradition in order to lend legitimate political and social authority to the ecclesial sphere. The research method I employ is that of social theology, understood as a prophetically- and ethically-oriented reflection of the Church on society and itself.
Centuries of developing a suitable theological and political context have been necessary to envisage Saints Peter and Paul as grounds for a dialogue between Church and the world. However they are not viewed together, as the liturgical tradition has consecrated them, but separately. The theological setting for St Paul’s „revisiting” in early Modernity was prepared by Reformation theologians in late Middle Ages. The process was much encouraged by the development of rich exegetical literature during the 16th century, which stressed the Biblical episodes where Peter either epitomized the fallen human nature, or was reprimanded by the Saviour and by St Paul, all intended to give preeminence to St Paul over St Peter and thus to delegitimize the Petrine origin of the papacy. Moreover, Henry VIII who sought legitimacy for himself as founder of the Anglican Church, lent a new theological-political dimension to the Scripture. It was the beginning of a concrete process pursuing an ideologized Tradition according to which St Peter epitomized the „primacy of Roman authority”, while St Paul represented the „primacy of truth” adopted by the Protestant churches, as is easily demonstrated y the times’ religious art and architecture. The depictions of the two apostles by Rembrandt, Guido Reni, El Greco, are actually the last such images in Modernity and emphasize the notion of opposition, of different schools, which actually occurred in the 20th century by the emergence of Paulinism and Petrinism. In the realm of architecture, St Paul’s Cathedral erected in the 17th century in London was meant to counter the Petrine authority represented by St Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.
Paradoxically, late Modernity marked a historical „spiral movement” in the theological perception of the couple Peter-Paul seen as distinct ecclesiological paradigms during Modernity. The two apostles’ separation, entailed by the 16th-century controversies, could no longer be supported with arguments by modern theologians. Hence the decline of Paulinism over the last two centuries. Late 20th century brought about an unexpected theological event: Western churches came to mutually confirm their main theological assertions, which had been denied and opposed during the Reformation.
The Orthodox churches did not have a direct contribution to the debates that engendered religious Modernity, but they were open to the times’ developments, even if the political realities did not allow them to enter and maintain a dialogue. Our Church accepted a number of modern elements strongly influenced by Protestantism (translations of the Bible and other service books) much earlier than the other sister Orthodox churches. On the other hand the time between the 16th-century Confessions of Faith and the first Congress of the Faculties of Orthodox Theology held at Athens in 1936, was a period when local Orthodoxies accepted the nationalist pathology and neglected their eschatological orientation and global outlook, which was reflected in historical, space-and-time or ontological categories. In the 20th century the Orthodox Church demonstrated that it can apply to inter-denominational relationships the genuine lesson taught by the icon of Saints Peter and Paul, namely the notion of harmony and reconciliation. The same theological outlook should be sought in the current relationships among the Orthodox sister Churches.

Pagini: 193-222