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Many Christians in the Western tradition would find the idea of salvation as the deification of man alien because the concept of justification by faith has played such a central and influential role in Western soteriologies. There is, however, a renaissance of the concept of deification or theosis in contemporary theology even outside its traditional home in Eastern Orthodoxy. Many Roman Catholic and Protestant theologians have discovered that although the two metaphors, justification and deification, emphasise different aspects of salvation, they are not incompatible with each other. In addition, theologians in the Western tradition are arguing that although the forensic and declarative aspect of justification is important, justification also has a transformative aspect. An exploration of the transformative aspect of justification has resulted in the discovery of interesting ways in which this concept can be brought closer to that of theosis in the Eastern tradition.
Giles of Viterbo's early sixteenth-century commentary on Peter Lombard's Libri sententiarum includes a discussion of the controversial Western doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son (Filioque) in its regular place at distinction 11 of book 1. In treating this issue Giles remained true to his aim of producing a commentary ‘according to the mind of Plato’ (ad mentem Platonis). Giles had access to the dialogues of Plato but only limited access to original texts of the Greek Fathers. Nevertheless, he reviewed the Filioque controversy in a manner which respects the sententia Graecorum, even disagreeing with a line of argumentation championed by scholastic supporters of the Augustinian tradition, including Thomas Aquinas, over the related question of whether it should be said that there is one spirator or plural spiratores. Giles' conciliatory position owes much to his intellectual environment, which fostered a renewed admiration for Hellenism and classical humanism. Working largely without benefit of the emerging rediscovery of Eastern patristic theology Giles nevertheless reassesses the arguments for and against the Filioque which he received from the Latin scholastic tradition, seeking, as he does throughout his commentary, what is true on both sides of apparently divergent teachings on divine mystery.
The question of ecology is fundamentally a question of relatedness. Is the Christian tradition, at once incarnational and other-worldly, responsible for the ecological crisis? This article examines the position of Bonaventure whose unique theological-philosophical synthesis leads to a new understanding of created reality, which I term ‘kataphysics’. The foundation of kataphysics begins with Bonaventure's understanding of philosophy as a heteronymous discipline, insofar as philosophy is completed and perfected in theology. From this position he develops an understanding of Being as Goodness based on the Trinity. Bonaventure's integral relationship between Trinity and creation leads to an understanding of created reality as essentially good and intrinsically relational. The integral relation between Trinity and creation through the divine Word gives rise to a theological metaphysics; the metaphysical question becomes the christological question and hence a new understanding of created reality, kataphysics, emerges which involves relatedness. It is suggested that kataphysics undergirds a Christian philosophy of nature which has implications for an ecological stance today.
Karl Barth's ecclesiology has come under fire in recent years from those who find his work on the church insufficiently concrete. Proponents of concrete ecclesiologies argue that Barth's use of the wirkliche Kirche/Scheinkirche motif, and his general lack of attention to the way in which the assent of faith takes shape in the concrete church, result in the belittling of the concrete church. In turn, this lack of regard for the visible church creates problems relating to the role of the Holy Spirit. This article rereads Barth's lack of concentrated attention on the concrete church and argues that his ecclesiological minimalism functions as a theological crash barrier. By attending to the structure and doctrinal context of Barth's sections on the church in the Church Dogmatics, Barth's reticence to pronounce on the concrete church can be seen not as omission or denigration, but as a methodological principle preserving the freedom of the Holy Spirit in relation to the concrete church. The way in which Barth opens up space for the work of the Spirit in the historical, sinful church has much to offer those in search of a challenging, faithful, realistic and pastorally careful concrete ecclesiology.
Katsume Takizawa (1909–1984) was one of the most innovative of twentieth-century Japanese philosophical theologians. His study with Barth (1935) led him to attempt to bring together aspects of Barth's theology with concepts derived from Jodo-shin and Zen. He found in both religions a basic relationship between God and man which transcended both identity and distinction, which he expressed in Nishida's concept of the self-identity of the absolute contradiction. This relationship he called ‘Emmanuel 1’. The fulfilment of the relationship is ‘Emmanuel 2’ and is reflected for Christians in Jesus.
The success of reductionism as a method in the natural sciences has heavily influenced modern theology, much of which attempts to reduce theology to other disciplines. However, the past few decades in science have shown the limitations of reductionism and the importance of emergence. The properties of complex systems with many constituents cannot be understood solely in terms of the constituent components and their interactions. I illustrate emergent properties and concepts with specific examples from geometry, condensed matter physics, chemistry and molecular biology. Emergence leads to a stratification of reality which affirms that ontology determines epistemology. To show the significance of emergence for the dialogue between theology and the natural sciences parallels are drawn with the theology of Karl Barth. The approach here is distinctly different from most writing on emergence and theology which embraces ‘strong’ emergence (which most scientists consider speculative), an immanent God and does not engage with orthodox Christian theology. Aspects of Barth's theology which are particularly relevant include his view that theology is an autonomous discipline which is not reducible to anthropology or history, the irreducible character of revelation, and the emphasis that ontology determines epistemology.