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Zeitschrift für

Zeitschrift für Missionswissenschaft und Religionswissenschaft Heft 3 -4 | 2018


Yaoguang Tang Nikolaus Lobkowicz
Theologisches Denken Philosophische Missionswissenschaft und
bei Xu Zongze Memoiren Religionswissenschaft
(-) Erinnerungen an die Philosophie

Ein Versuch der Kontextualisierung


der katholischen Theologie in China in der
ersten Hälfte des . Jahrhunderts

Heft  - Klaus Vellguth | FORUM


. Jahrgang Henning Wrogemann  Jahre Medellín
 Transnationale missionarische
Bewegungen ® 163 Mariano Delgado
Themenheft »In der Morgenröte einer neuen
Transnationale Moritz Fischer Ära« ® 261
missionarische »In and out of Africa«
Bewegungen Transnationale Pfingstkirche Margit Eckholt
Nzambe-Malamu mit migrato- »Religion als Ressource einer
rischen Verflechtungen und befreienden Entwicklung« ® 267
»Wenn man über alles nachdenkt, bleiben missionarischer Strategie ® 167
Zu Beginn des . Jahrhunderts erfassten
große gesellschaftliche Umwälzungen China, Fragen übrig. Und wenn man das schön abstrakt Johannes Meier
die die katholische Kirche vor riesige Heraus- formuliert, wird das Philosophie. Jeder hat phi- Wilhelmus Valkenberg Paul VI. und Lateinamerika ® 273
forderungen stellten und sie zugleich sehr an- losophische Fragen – doch nicht jeder kommt zu Mission by Service: The Hizmet
greifbar machten. Vor diesem Hintergrund ent- dem Punkt, wo sie unbeantwortbar werden. Movement ® 180 José Casanova
stand eine neue Bewegung, die nach einer Und da beginnt die Philosophie. Jemandem
von hinreichender Intelligenz scheinen manche
Bedeutung und Auswirkung
Inkulturation des katholischen Christentums in Dimitrios Keramidas Medellíns in globaler
China strebte. Xu Zongze 徐宗泽 (1886-1947) war Fragen so allgemein zu sein, dass er ihnen besser
nicht nachgeht. Nicht jeder gräbt tief genug. New challenges for the Perspektive ® 279
ein Vertreter dieser Bewegung, der sein
theologisches Denken vor allem mittels der Das macht dann der Philosoph.« Nikolaus Orthodox mission after the
»Mission durch Pinsel und Tusche« (bimo Lobkowicz blickt auf sein Leben zurück – auf Pan-Orthodox Council Diana Viñoles
chuanjiao 笔墨传教), d. h. in einem umfang- sein Leben als Philosophierender und den Weg of Crete (2016) ® 192 Medellín gelebt ® 285
reichen Schrifttum, entfaltete. Sein Ansatz war zur Philosophie, auf seine Hegel- und Marxismus-
studien, auf die umfassenden Aristoteles-
dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass er sich intensiv
und Thomaslektüren sowie auf seine Tätigkeiten
Dana L. Robert FORUM
mit den gesellschaftlichen Problemen im China From »Give Us Friends« to Missionarische Spiritualität
seiner Zeit auseinandersetzte und diese anhand als akademischer Lehrer und Universitäts-
administrator. »Other Sheep I Have« ® 200
der katholischen Soziallehre zu lösen versuchte.
Hierzu gehörte die Haltung zur Frauenbe- Hans Vöcking Afr. M.
eos
wegung, die Modernisierung der katholischen 2018 / Seiten 308 / 19,95
Thomas K. Gugler Gerechtigkeit, Frieden und
Erziehung in China oder das katholische Ver- ISBN 978-3-8306-7921-9 Pakistanische Prediger ® 215 Bewahrung der Schöpfung ® 292
ständnis des gerechten Krieges. Diesen Versuch
einer theologischen Kontextualisierung nannte er Miranda Klaver Franz Weber MCCJ
selbst »Katholisierung« (gongjiaohua 公教化). Global Church Planting in the Mystik der Betroffenheit ® 297
Media Age ® 227
eos
2018 / Seiten 380 / 29,95 Christian Tauchner SVD
ISBN 978-3-8306-7898-4 Michael Sievernich SJ Kontemplatives Handeln ® 304
Römisch-katholische
Missionsbewegungen ® 236 In Memoriam ® 310

Christoph Gellner Buchbesprechungen ® 312


Komparative Religionstheologie Anschriften | Vorschau ® 316
eos Verlag im Praxistest ® 248 Jahresinhaltsverzeichnis ® 317
Die Zeitschrift für Missions­ Für die Schriftleitung Eingesandte Michaela Geiger | Andreas Müller Christian Ströbele |
wissenschaft und Religions­ bestimmte Sendungen Schriften 3- 4 | 2018 Matthias Kirchenbau als Symbol. Mohammad Gharaibeh |
wissenschaft (= zmr) werden erbeten an In Auswahl Stracke-Bartholmai (Hg.) Zur Grundlegung der Anja
Zeitschrift für ist Organ des Internationalen Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr.h.c. Besprechung Inklusion denken Religions- und Middelbeck-Varwick |
Missionswissenschaft und Instituts für missionswissen­ Mariano Delgado liegt im Ermessen Theologisch, biblisch, Liturgiedidaktik des Amir Dziri (Hg.)
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New challenges for the Orthodox
mission after the Pan-Orthodox Council
of Crete (2016)
von Dimitrios Keramidas

Zusammenfassung Abstract Sumario


Im Jahr 2016 beging die Ortho­ The Orthodox Church cele­ En 2016 la Iglesia ortodoxa cele­
doxe Kirche auf Kreta das brated in Crete (2016) the bró en Kreta el »Santo y gran
»Hei­lige und Große Konzil«, bei »Holy and Great Council« in Sínodo«, en el que se acentuó
dem ein neuer und ganzheit­ which a renewed and holistic una visión nueva e integral de
licher Ansatz von Mission und approach on mission and la misión y la evangelización,
Evangelisierung bekräftigt wur­ evangelism was confirmed, in como corresponde a los desa­
de, wie er den Herausforderun­ accordance to the challenges of fíos de las sociedades modernas
gen der modernen pluralisti­ the modern pluralistic and glo­ y globalizadas. De manera
schen und globalisierten balized societies. The Council solemne, el Sínodo declaró que
Gesellschaften entspricht. Das declared solemnly that the la misión en primer lugar
Konzil erklärte, die Mission sei mission is in the first place the consiste en la proclamacion del
in erster Linie die Proklamation proclamation in history of the Eschaton en la historia; es tanto
des Escha­ton in der Ge­schichte, eschaton, which in its turn un signo visible del Reino de
sie sei sowohl ein sichtbares is a visible sign of and a partici­ Dios como también la participa­
Zeichen des Reiches Gottes als pation in the Kingdom of God. ción en él. La misión refleja la
auch die Teilnahme an diesem. Mission reflects God’s hyposta- hipostasis de Dios, la manera
Die Mission spiegelt Gottes sis – the way in He exists as a como él es la unidad y comu­
hypostasis, die Weise, wie er als perfect unity and communion nión perfecta de personas.
vollkommene Einheit und Com­ of Persons. Along with this Según esta verdad teológica, la
munio von Personen existiert. theological truth, the Church Iglesia acepta el etos sacrificial
Gemäß dieser theologischen embraces the sacrificial and y diaconal de Cristo, que ha
Wahrheit nimmt die Kirche das diaconal ethos of Christ who reconciliado en sí a todo el
sakrifiziale und diakonale Ethos reconciled in Himself the whole género humano. Esto implica
Christi an, der in sich das ge­ human gender, which implies que »los otros« y »los de
samte menschliche Geschlecht that the »others« and »those afuera« son socios y no meros
versöhnt hat; dies impliziert, outside« are partners, and not objetos de la evangelización.
dass »die anderen« und »die simply objects, of the evange­ Esta irradiación universal de la
draußen« Partner und nicht ein­ lism. Such universal breath of missio Dei significa que los
fach Objekte der Evangelisie­ the missio Dei means that the dones, que él ha regalado a la
rung sind. Diese universale gifts that He offered to human­ humanidad (paz y justicia,
Strah­­lung der missio Dei bedeu­ ity (peace, justice, righteous­ integridad), exigen la sinergía
tet, dass die Gaben, die er der ness) need the human synergy humana y la colaboración entre
Menschheit geschenkt hat and the collaboration between los ortodoxos y los fieles de
(Frie­den, Gerechtigkeit, Recht­ the Orthodox and the faithful diferentes tradiciones eclesiales
schaffenheit), die menschliche of different church traditions y religiones, incluso de todos
Synergie und die Zusammenar­ and religions, and even with all »los hombres de buena volun­
beit zwischen den Orthodoxen »people of good will«. tad«.
und den Gläubigen anderer Keywords Palabras clave
Kirchen und Religionen, ja aller BB Orthodox mission BB misión ortodoxa
»Menschen gute Willens« ver­ BB Pan-Orthodox Council of BB Sínodo Panortodoxo de
langen. Crete (2016) Kreta (2016)
Schlüsselbegriffe BB re-evangelization BB nueva evangelización
BB Orthodoxe Mission
BB Panorthodoxes Konzil von
Kreta (2016)
BB Neuevangelisierung

zmr | 102. Jahrgang | 2018 | 192 - 199


New challenges for the Orthodox mission 193

1 Is Orthodoxy uninterested to mission?

ntil a generation ago Eastern Orthodoxy was considered as indifferent to evange-


lization and attracted only by dogmatic confessionalism and by the ascetic, that is
the inner and spiritual, dimension of the Kingdom of God (Lk   17,21: »The Kingdom
of God is within you«, instead of the much more communal version of the Kingdom which
is »in your midst«)1. In fact, David Bosch in his Transforming Mission commented that »in
the Eastern tradition […] the emphasis was on conservation and restoration, rather than
on embarking on a journey into the unknown. The key words were tradition, orthodoxy,
and the Fathers, and the church became the bulwark of right doctrine. Orthodox churches
tended to become ingrown, excessively nationalistic, and without a concern for those
outside«2 .
However, the ecumenical achievements of the past century, as well as the missionary
awakening of many local Orthodox Churches (especially in Africa and in Asia) and the
efforts of inspired missiologists (such as the Greek-Orthodox Archbishop of Albania,
Anastasios Yannoulatos, and the late Romanian theologian, Fr. Ion Bria) brought Orthodoxy
closer to – or, in some cases, in the centre of – the wider Christian missiological community.
Orthodox are now willing to react more positively to the challenges of the third millen-
nium (globalism, cultural pluralism, economic instability, ecological crisis, acceptance
that all religions are able to promote coexistence among peoples) and to offer their own
perspective to contemporary theological discussions, especially in fields, like: the Trinitar-
ian and Pneumatological basis of mission (creation belongs to God’s Trinitarian way of
being, while the Economy of Christ goes side-by-side with the economy of the Holy Spirit);
the dimension of martyria as an opposite to arrogance or confessional (or even national)
triumphalism and denominational antagonism; the liturgical importance of Christian
witness in the form of »the liturgy after the Liturgy«3. Thus, Orthodox involvement in the
global mission movement is now seen in a much constructive manner.
Today, the approximately 260 million Orthodox Christian lie in »national«, mainly
Orthodox-majority States in which Christian faith is considered solid and important for
public and social life4 . Still, religious observance is low among Orthodox in Eastern Europe
(that is former USSR Republics), while it’s slightly higher in South-European countries
(Balkans). According to recent data, baptism is universal (almost 100%) among Orthodox
Christians in Balkans (Greece, Romania, Serbia etc.) and very high in Eastern Europe
(Russia, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Kazakhstan etc.). Yet, the rate of weekly attendance of
Church service (Eucharist) is moderate or low (21% in Romania, 17% in Georgia and Greece,

1 Cf. Petros Vassiliadis, Introduc­ 4 The Orthodox Church is a family ple, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem;
tory remarks, in: Id. (ed.), Orthodox of local, independent, self-governing b) The ten Autocephalous Churches
Perspectives on Mission, Oxford (Autocephalous) Churches held of: Russia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria,
2013, 2-3. together by a triple bond: (a) unity in Georgia, Cyprus, Greece, Poland,
2 David Bosch, Transforming the faith, (b) communion in the Albania, Czech lands and Slovakia.
Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology sacraments and (c) unity in a common Geographically, the areas where the
of Mission, Maryknoll 1991, 212-213. canonical tradition. Each local Ortho­ Orthodox Churches are present lie in
3 Cf. Petros Vassiliadis, Together dox Church is in full agreement with Eastern Europe (Russia, Poland, Czech
Towards Life: An Orthodox Assess­ the rest on all matters of doctrine. Lands & Slovakia), the Balkan penin­
ment, in: Kenneth Ross / Jooseop They all share the same Apostolic faith sula (Greece, Serbia, Romania, Bulga­
Keum / Kyriaki Avtzi / Roderick R. and the teachings of the Seven Ecu­ ria, Albania) and along the coasts of
Hewitt (ed.), Ecumenical Missiology. menical Councils which they accept as the Mediterranean Sea (North Africa
Changing Landscapes and New normative. Faith is a conditio sine and Middle East – Cyprus, Alexandria,
Conceptions of Mission, Oxford 2016. qua non for sacramental communion. Antioch, Jerusalem). Cf. Timothy
At present, the 14 Autocephalous Ware, The Orthodox Church. An
Orthodox Churches are: a) The four Introduction to Eastern Orthodoxy,
ancient Patriarchates of: Constantino­ London 32015.
194 Dimitrios Keramidas

12 % in Ukraine, 6% in Russia and Serbia), though 61 % of Orthodox in Balkans believe in
God with absolute certainty (compared to the 33 % of ex-USSR countries)5.
One could say that while Orthodoxy apparently seems to preserve its influence on
traditional Christian territories, on the other hand the new ecumenical understanding of
mission is not any more limited to terms such »Christianization«, »conversion« etc. – at
least in their literal and exclusive sense – but it applies more inclusive ideas, like witness/
martyria, and interreligious  /intercultural dialogue. The Orthodox Church had formally
endorsed this goal since the 2008 Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches which
stated that: »Efforts to distance religion from societal life constitute the common tendency
of many modern states. The principle of a secular state can be preserved; however, it is
unacceptable to interpret this principle as a radical marginalization of religion from all
spheres of public life«6.
In this paper we will question if Orthodoxy is ready to accomplish the transition from the
traditional model of »national orthodoxies« to the one in which the vocation to announce
the Gospel can embrace a more inclusive – i.e. more universal – attitude in the post-modern,
post-nationalistic, and pluralistic world situations7.

2 Gospel, service and prophetism

The 2008 Synaxis of the Orthodox Primates had endorsed the view that »the Church of
Christ today fulfils its ministry in a rapidly developing world, which has now become
interconnected through means of communication and the development of means of trans-
portation and technology«8.
The awareness that the present global world experiences profound and rapid changes had
inevitably raised the demand for the updating of the traditional – or »national« – orthodox
missionary models in order to challenge those cultures and ideologies that live in a condi-
tion of life »without Christ« or that can be defined as »post« or even as »not any more«
Christian9.
This growing sensibility of Orthodoxy to mission was confirmed by the convocation of the
»Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church« (Crete, June 2016) and by the approval of
the latter of the document »The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World«10. This
Statement, together with the conciliar Encyclical, the conciliar Message and the document
»Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World« concern Ortho-
doxy vis à vis the others. Previously, the 5th Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference (2015)
had edited the document issued by the 3rd Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference (1986)
entitled »The contribution of the Orthodox Church to the realization of peace, justice, liberty,

5 Pew Research Center, 7 It must be said that the concept Persons. Thus, neither the mission nor
Nov. 8, 2017, »Orthodox Christianity of »national Church« is not the centre the kerygma are the realization of the
in the 21th century«, in: h​t​t​p​:​/​/​w​w​w​.​ or the starting point of orthodox Kingdom, but rather its proclamation.
p​e​w​f​o​r​u​m​.​o​r​g​ ​ ​/​2​0​1​7​ ​ ​/​1​1​ ​ ​/​0​8​ ​ ​/​o​r​t​h​o​d​o​x​-​c​ ecclesiology, but rather a »modern«, 8 Message of the Primates of the
h​r​i​s​t​i​a​n​i​t​y ​-​i​n​-​t​h​e ​-​2​1​s​t ​-​c​e​n​t​u​r​y​/​ so to say, deviation of the Eucharistic Orthodox Churches (fn. 6), §4.
(25.3.2018). ecclesiology. According to the latter, 9 By saying that I do not mean to
6 Message of the Primates of the it is the Eucharist, and not the nation, underestimate the great contribution
Orthodox Churches, in: h​t​t​p​:​/​/​w​w​w​.​ that constitutes the true nature and of the Orthodox Church and its coura­
e​c​-​p​a​t​r​.​o​r​g​ ​ ​/​d​o​c​d​i​s​p​l​a​y​.​p​h​p​?​l​a​n​g​=​ purpose of the Church. By celebrating geous missionaries to the proclama­
e​n​&​i​d​=​9​9​5​&​t​l​a​=​e​n​ (20.3.2018). the supper of Christ, the Church tion of the Gospel in the Roman and
anti­cipates by grace the Kingdom of Greek-speaking world, in Egypt and
God – a Kingdom of perfect commun­ Near East, among the Slavs, and in the
ion among the people that reflects the vast lands of the Russian Empire, from
unity and communion of the Divine Kiev to Siberia and the Alaska.
New challenges for the Orthodox mission 195

fraternity and love among peoples, and the elimination of racial discrimination and other
forms of discrimination« – the first, so to say, pan-Orthodox missiological Statement. This
attitude was also confirmed by the fact that the topic of »mission« was listed first in the
order among the pre-conciliar texts and that the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in
His inaugural discourse reminded that »the meeting of the Church in Council makes it by
extension also a missionary meeting, that is, one turning outwards and going forth unto
all nations (cf. Matt. 28,19) in order to transmit the love of Christ to every person, sharing
in the vicissitudes of history, as a sign for the nations (Is. 11,12)«11.
Not accidentally, the Council desired to address its final message »to the Orthodox people
and to all people of good will« and to open the horizon of Orthodoxy to »the contemporary
diverse and multifarious world«, namely the problems and opportunities of the 21st century,
in order to emphasize the pastoral responsibility of the Orthodox Churches to witness the
truth about God and to overcome the pain and the anguishes that threaten the integrity of
human existence. This task, Patriarch Bartholomew said, derives from the consideration
that »in more recent years, new challenges have appeared that demand the articulation of
a common direction and position among the individual Orthodox Churches«12 .
On the other hand, the expectation of the »new earth« announced by Christ reveals the
need to re-direct ecclesial action from old priorities to current world needs. On the basis
of this auspice, the Council of Crete explain that »the Church lives not for herself. She
offers herself for the whole of humanity in order to raise up and renew the world into new
heavens and a new earth (cf. Rev 21,1)«. The centrality of mission concerns the pleroma
(= the totality of faithful, clergy, monks and laity) of the body of the Church and, as such,
it must be integrated in the events and the pressing needs of our century.
The mission document recalls in its Prologue, not incidentally, the eschatological
nature of the Church: »The Church of Christ exists in the world, but is not of the world
(cf. Jn   17,11.14-15). The Church as the Body of the incarnate Logos of God (John Chrysostom,
Homily before Exile, 2 PG 52, 429) constitutes the living »presence« as the sign and image
of the Kingdom of the Triune God in history, proclaims the good news of a new creation
(2   Cor  5,17)«13. The Good News of the transformation of the world, the Statement explains,
is experienced in the Eucharistic synaxis, where Gods dispersed children are gathered
together in the same place without distinction of race, gender, age or social origin, as well
as in the life of the saints who, by practicing Christian virtues, have witnessed that the trans-
figured world is not a utopia, but an authentic and tangible reality. In this sense, Christian
mission becomes truly a »heaven on earth«; mission is mainly not what the Church does
but what she is and proclaims, i.e. an ongoing Pentecost, a perpetual divine parousia. In this
way, the apostolate becomes an anamnesis of the Lord’s »second and glorious coming«, as
the anaphora of the Byzantine liturgy reminds us.

10 The convocation of the Council Orthodox Diaspora; 3) Autonomy and 11 Opening Address by His All-Holi­
was an important historical moment its manner of proclamation; 4) The ness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartho­
for Eastern Orthodoxy as a whole, as sacrament of Marriage and its impe­ lomew at the Inaugural Session of the
it sealed 40 years of a preparatory, diments; 5) The importance of Fasting Holy and Great Council, in: h​t​t​p​s​:​/​/​
pre-conciliar process. The gathering’s and its application today; and 6) Rela­ w​w​w​.​h​o​l ​y​c​o​u​n​c​i​l​.​o​r​g ​/​-​/​o​p​e​n​i​n​g​-​
purpose was to promote inter-Ortho­ tions of the Orthodox Church to the e​c​u​m​e​n​i​c​a​l​-​p​a​t​r​i​a​r​c​h​?​_​1​0​1​_​I​N​S​T​A​N​C​E​ _​
dox cooperation, to renew Ortho­ rest of the Christian world. Unfortu­ o​O​I​L​s​D​U​A​G ​Y ​7C​ ​ _​l​a​n​g​u​a​g​e​I​d​=​e​n​_​U​S
doxy’s common voice to contempo­ nately, four Churches (Patriarchates (10.3.2018).
rary global problems and to witness of Antioch, Moscow, Bulgaria, 12 Ibid.
the unity of the 14 canonical local Au­ Georgia) did not participate in the 13 The Mission of the Orthodox
tocephalous Churches. The agenda of proceedings of Crete. Church in Today’s World (from now
the Council regarded six points: 1) The on: The Mission), in: h​t​t​p​s​:​/​/​w​w​w​.​
Mission of the Orthodox Church in h​o​l ​y​c​o​u​n​c​i​l​.​o​r​g ​/​-​/​m​i​s​s​i​o​n​-​o​r​t​h​o​d​o​x​-​
the contemporary world; 2) The c​h​u​r​c​h ​-​t​o​d​a​y​s​-​w​o​r​l​d​, Prologue.
196 Dimitrios Keramidas

From this follows the indispensable imperative to [re]-evangelize »God’s people in


contemporary secularized societies«, as well »those who have not yet come to know Christ«
is an »unceasing duty of the Church«14 . Orthodox faithful are and must be apostles in the
world, and they must participate in this missionary journey which consists in15:
1 The announcement of God’s plan for the humankind and the creation16.
2 The evangelisation of the world in the mystery of Holy Trinity and the distribution of
the gifts of the new creation that God has offered to us (God’s righteousness, peace and
will for reconciliation)17.
3 The participation in the divine Eucharist and to the so-called »liturgy after the Liturgy«18.
The exhortation to »live« the new creation means primarily to offer the Gospel to the
whole world as a guide and to accompany the humanity in her earthly pilgrimage with love,
patience, and prayer. The love of which the Gospel speaks is not an attitude of diplomatic
courtesy, nor a conventional philanthropy, but an invitation to welcome and embrace the
diaconal hypostasis of the Trinity, towards an ascetic exodus from the narrow limits of the »I«,
and to trust the meaning of the relationship with the Triune God. »The one, holy, catholic
and apostolic Church is a divine-human communion in the image of the Holy Trinity, a
foretaste and experience of the eschaton in the holy Eucharist and a revelation of the glory
of the things to come, and, as a continuous Pentecost, the Church raises her prophetic voice
in this world that cannot be silenced, the presence and witness of Gods Kingdom »that has
come with power« (cf. Mark 9,1)«19.
Thus, the eschaton has a central role in the missio ecclesiae, for the Church announces
a new way of being that has been revealed to her and which does not belong to the world
of this century. Therefrom, comes out the belief that the celebration of the Divine Liturgy
»constitutes the innermost core also of the conciliar functioning of the ecclesial body«20.
The document notes that the Orthodox Church, based on the experience and the teaching
of the »patristic, liturgical, and ascetical tradition, the Orthodox Church«, shares »the
concern and anxiety of contemporary humanity with regard to fundamental existential
questions that preoccupy the world today«, allowing »the peace of God, which surpasses
all understanding (Phil   4,7), reconciliation, and love to prevail in the world«21. The missio
ecclesiae in such an eschatological and therefore liturgical perspective does not by any means
contradicts the primary missio Dei theology, which in its Trinitarian understanding leads
to the same relational missionary attitude.
It is beyond any doubt that the Council’s main intent was to reconcile the (apparent
or effective) dialectic tension between prophecy and social commitment towards a truly
evangelical historical prophetism. Evangelical life is for Christians a promise and a hope, i.e.
an event that we live by grace (in the Eucharist, and in the holiness of the saints). However,
Church mission is realized through the proclamation of the »already« of the eschaton to
the »not yet« of history. Thus, the inevitable tension between living in the world and not
being of this world is overcome by the ethos and sacrificial example of Christ that leads
everyone to the participation in His Resurrection, in which every trace of death and pain
disappears. If mission is not engaged in social life, she does not follow the traces of Christ’s
Incarnation, she does not breathe the sanctifying breath of the Holy Spirit, and she does

14 Encyclical of the Holy and Great 16 Cf. The Mission (fn. 13), I.1, VI.1, 19 Encyclical, 1.
Council of the Orthodox Church, VI.4; Encyclical, II. 20 Encyclical, 20.
Crete, June 2016, 6. 17 Cf. The Mission (fn. 13), Prologue, 21 The Mission (fn. 13),
15 Cf. Encyclical, 6; cf. The Mission III.1, VI.9; Encyclical, II.6. Prologue.
(fn. 13), B.3. 18 Cf. Encyclical, Epilogue, I.3, II.6,
VII.20.
New challenges for the Orthodox mission 197

not defeat our old way of being. The mission document explains that the eschatological
nature of Christianity does not lead to any kind of exodus from history, but invites us to
project the Kingdom within it.
Therefore, Christian peace has a »mystical« power since it is based on the peace of Christ,
that is to say:
1 The reconciliation of all things in Him.
2 The manifestation of the organic unity of humankind.
3 The universality of the ideals of peace, liberty and social justice.
Such universal gifts, although of divine origin, need human synergy and arise where Chris-
tians »strive for the work of faith, love, and hope in our Lord Jesus Christ«, and where
peace, justice, fraternity and love is achieved »among all children of the one heavenly
Father, as well as between all peoples who make up the one human family«. Interreligious
(or inter-faith) cooperation can offer a concrete support to those who in various parts of
the world »are deprived of the benefits of peace and justice« (The Mission, III, 3-5). Repres-
sion and persecution of Christians and of faithful of other religious communities threatens
»existing interfaith and international relations«. The proximity of Christians with the rest
of humanity is inspired not only by the principle of universal dignity of mankind, but also
by the ethical and practical effects of Christian faith and of the abolition of »all barriers
erected by enmity and prejudice« (The Mission, V.2).
The conciliar Message insists that »sober inter-religious dialogue helps significantly to
promote mutual trust, peace and reconciliation […] The truth, however, is that fundamen-
talism, as »zeal not based on knowledge (Rom 10,2), constitutes an expression of morbid
religiosity. A true Christian, following the example of the crucified Lord, sacrifices himself
and does not sacrifice others, and for this reason is the most stringent critic of fundamen-
talism of whatever provenance. Honest interfaith dialogue contributes to the development
of mutual trust and to the promotion of peace and reconciliation« (4.17).
Finally, in the Mission Statement it is stated that: »The various local Orthodox
Churches can contribute to inter-religious understanding and co-operation for the
peaceful co-existence and harmonious living together in society, without this involving
any religious syncretism« (A3); and later: »The Orthodox Church resolutely condemns
the multifaceted conflicts and wars provoked by fanaticism that derives from religious
principles […] Existing interfaith and international relations are threatened, while many
Christians are forced to abandon their homes« (D.  3).
The commitment of [re-]evangelization must not ignore the fact that the Gospel of
Christ is offered to all, not in an aggressive manner, nor in the sense of a forced conver-
sion to Christian faith, but as a guide in order to redeem the world from its sufferings.
Inter-faith-dialogue from an Orthodox Christian point of view aims to make the »other«
a real partner in, and not just an »object« of, mission.
In this sense, the profile of ecclesial mission becomes a continuous »witness of love
through service«, as the title of paragraph VI reiterates, which conclusion summarizes the
focal point of the Council:
Ιn our times, just as throughout history, the prophetic and pastoral voice of the Church,
the redeeming word of the Cross and of the Resurrection, appeals to the heart of human-
kind, calling us, with the Apostle Paul, to embrace and experience whatever things are true,
whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever
things are lovely, whatever things are of good report (Phil   4,8) – namely, the sacrificial love
of Her Crucified Lord, the only way to a world of peace, justice, freedom, and love among
peoples and between nations.
198 Dimitrios Keramidas

3 The challenge of re-evangelization

The Council reminded us that Christians are concerned not only of the evangelization
of those who do not yet know Christ, but also of the re-evangelization of the people of
God in the present secularized societies, as a result of secularization. The commitment of
re-evangelization must not ignore the fact that the Gospel of Christ is offered to all, not in
an aggressive manner, nor in the sense of a forced conversion to Christian faith, but as a
guide in order to redeem the world from its sufferings.
The Gospel is given to the whole world in order to re-build it spiritually and in this sense
has a strong and irreversible ideal that tends to welcome and not to divide humanity. The
witness of the Gospel must share and not hide the gifts of God, especially the reconciliation
and the sacrificial ethos (= the way of being) of the Crucified Lord.
This could lead one to presume that in the post-Constantinian world, Christianity from
an institution belonging to the civil apparatus becomes a post-institution with the task
to integrate history into the eternity, the biblical reality of »kairos« beyond the illusory
»now« of the secular ideologies and the goal of the institutional prevalence of Christianity.
The divine [»not of the world« (John 18,36)] character of the Church is incompatible with
any conformation to the world (cf. Rom 12,2)22 . Therefore, one can argue that the topic of
re-evangelization moves us from the institutional to the prophetic Christianity in which we
re-discover our charismatic vocation to accompany the world, also with its post-Christian
or pluralistic characteristics, to the spiritual safeness of Christ.
In other words, re-evangelization means the moving from the model of the State-guarantor
of a dominant religion towards the one in which the Church is a post-institution which
reveals the diaconal and relational way of existence with the others. Christian mission
doesn’t legitimize or ideologize the current Church-State model, nor the development
of an apologetic attitudes towards the world; Christians are called to announce the hope
of Resurrection! That is why the Council wanted to underline the responsibility of the
members of the Church to overcome the »Christian by birth« model with that of »Christian
by vocation or by free choice«23.
The need of an articulation of an Orthodox »theology of the others« much focus on the
following aspects:
1 Participation in the inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue does not mean acceptance
that all religions are the same.
2 The universality of the truth of the Church cannot be undermined, nor the faith that
Christ is »the way, the truth and the life« (Jn 14,6) must be reversed, notand even the
apostles« belief that »there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under
heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved« (Acts 4,12).

22 Encyclical, 10. 24 Having said all the above, I do 25 Encyclical, 3.


23 Archbishop of Albania, Anasta­ not insist, together with other Ortho­ 26 Opening Address by His All-Holi­
sios, defined egocentrism as the dox missiologists, that the Orthodox ness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartho­
»major heresy« and the »mother of all mission statement (The Mission of lomew at the Inaugural Session of the
heresies«, as a »poison of human re­ the Orthodox Church in Today’s Holy and Great Council (fn. 11).
lationships and of all forms of harmo­ World) is the perfect mission docu­
nious and creative coexistence«. Ego­ ment, but a Statement that opens
centrism of people, States and groups new avenues in a traditional Church,
is »the opposite to peace«. Anastasios like the Eastern Orthodox one. See
[Yannoulatos], »Discourse at the recommendations in h​t​t​p​s​:​/​/​p​u​b​l​i​c
opening ceremony of the Holy and ​o​r​t​h​o​d​o​x​y​.​o​r​g​ ​ ​/​2​0​1​6​ ​ ​/​0​5​ ​ ​/​0​9​ ​ ​/​s​o​m​e ​-​c​o​m​
Great Council« (in Greek), in: ​h​t​t​p​s​:​/​/​ m​e​n​t​s​-​o​n​-​t​h​e ​-​m​i​s​s​i​o​n​-​d​o​c​u​m​e​n​t ​-​b​y​-​
w​w​w​.​h​o​l ​y​c​o​u​n​c​i​l​.​o​r​g​. o​r​t​h​o​d​o​x​-​m​i​s​s​i​o​l​o​g​i​s​t​s​/ (20.3.2018).
New challenges for the Orthodox mission 199

3 Inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue does not lead to syncretism, it is not an academic
dialogue, neither it’s related to a »comparative religion«; it is a dialogue with the faith-
ful of the other living religions (inter-faith dialogue), and, as such, it should not lead to
an anti-modern front.
4 The Kingdom of God does not assume institutional forms, but it reveals a new way of
being which doesn’t aim at the propagation or transmission of intellectual and logical
convictions, »religious« doctrines and moral commands, but at the transmission of the
life of communion that exists in God and guides the hole human gender in various ways
and at different levels towards the Life of the Trinity.

4 Conclusions

The Council of Crete exposed its teaching with coherence to the ecumenical openness of Ortho-
doxy. It invited the Orthodox pleroma to welcome the charismatic and exodic character of the
Gospel, to embrace the sacrificial and diaconal love of God, and to engage our neighbours to the
life of the Kingdom. Such participation does not imply any kind of coercion or forced attachment
to Christian dogmas, but it relates the announcement of Gospel with the eschaton, with the life
of the Paraclete which we already live in the Eucharist. The task of the Church is to turn history
into a space where salvation can be – or is – realized. Bringing the eschaton into history means
to announce the coming of the Kingdom, to denounce the dominion of secularization (and do
not identify Christian identity with any form of secular ideology) and to live the dialogic tense
with the world, seeking the abundance of goodness, even where sin seems to prevail.
Thus, the conciliar documents adopted a prophetic logic at the basis of which stands the
organic unity of humanity and the recapitulation of all things in Christ, which brings us dynam-
ically to the option of cooperation with the so-called »heterodox« and with not Christians.24
Those who are engaged in mission are no longer subject to the divisional tensions of history
(confessional, cultural or even ethnic); they rather have the task to discover the signs of God
beyond all social, racial, confessional and religious differences, as ethno-phyletism is as an
»ecclesiological heresy«25. The texts help us to assert that the ideal of the Christian mission is far
from legitimizing the politicization of faith that schematizes a Christianity in history, namely a
»party« Christianity, accustomed to fight ideological or national battles, without offering to the
humankind the holistic prospect of Christian message. As Patriarch Bartholomew pointed out
»without synodality, the unity of the Church is severed, the sanctity of its members is reduced
to mere individual morality and articulation about virtue, catholicity is sacrificed in favor of
particular individual, collective, national and other secular interests or intentions, and the
apostolic message falls prey to various heresies and ruses of human reason«26. A

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