Tim Perry | Theology of Benedict XVI
5:14PM Jan 29, 2021
Jonathan J. Armstrong
Annette Geoffrion Brownlee
We are extremely grateful for your presence today and for your interaction. Thank you so much for your valuable time. We all spend a lot of time on zoom calls these days. So we do not take that lightly. But we're extremely grateful for your participation inandtime. So we're delighted today to have with us, Dr. Tim Perry, adjunct professor of theology at St. Paul University, and Trinity school for ministry. He's going to be presenting today on the Theology of Benedict XVI, A Protestant Appreciation. which is available from Lexham press published in 2019. if you'll indulge me, I'll say a brief prayer. And then I'll turn our time over to Dr. Tim Perry. If you join me in prayer, please. Our gracious God and Heavenly Father, we do not want to miss the opportunity to welcome you into into this occasion, or more appropriately said that we remember that we are already in your presence. God, we ask that as we labor together, and reflect and work and do some theology together, that, that our hearts would beat for the unity of your body, as you prayed also, that we would experience that unity that the world might know that you are the Christ. So God give us wisdom. Give us patience, give us charity. And we ask that this would be fruitful. For your kingdom purposes, we pray these things in your name. Amen. Dr. Perry.
Thanks, everybody, for joining us today. And thank you also to the folks at aqueduct for their invitation to present, I'm really happy for the opportunity to do so. Because the book is an anthology, it's not really fair of me, I don't think to try to summarize the whole thing, it really is, in large measure the work of other people. And I get to be the beneficiary of the work of other people, which is really wonderful. And so I would like to thank all the contributors to this collection, and especially to those contributors who have been able to join us today, I see a few of your names don't see all of you because my screen, but I see a few of your names, and thanks to all who were able to contribute. I'd like to talk a little bit this morning about the genealogy of the book, about the big themes that I think unite the essays into a coherent whole. A little bit about my favorite essays in the book, though, I know that's risky. But I'm gonna I'm gonna do that anyway. And then a very little bit about my own essay on on Mary. So first of all, the genealogy of the book. This book is is not mine, in its inception. It was a project that that came to me in in 2016, I left my parish in Sudbury, Ontario, to move back to my hometown in rural Quebec, where I'm speaking to you from this morning to help look after my father as as he died. from cancer, I'd left academia a while before that, and I had simply assumed that chapter in my life was closed when two of my former students came calling and and presented me with with this project, as a way to get to get back into writing more regularly. So I need to thank right away, Jesse Meyers, who is an editor at Lexan press. And Joey Royal, who is the Bishop of the Arctic and the Anglican Church of Canada, friends of each other former students of mine who came to me and said you, you really should edit this project. And not being terribly adept. Even yet at discerning the hand of Providence in my life, I refused twice. But they refused my refusal. And I'm grateful. So after I, I accepted then the question became, who do we approach and Jesse and Todd Haynes and other editor at lexham had become involved by this time, we'd agreed that we wanted to be broad in terms of confession, but narrow in terms of tradition, so so people from across traditionally Protestant denominations, who would be comfortable with the word Protestant, even comfortable with the word evangelical, recognizing kind of some of the cultural changes in the word even between countries as close Canada and the United States. And we sent out invitations. With that in mind. I was quite pleased and surprised at how very few people declined. I'd edited a book like this before a number of years ago on pope John Paul II, that intervarsity was was kind enough to publish. And ironically enough, he seemed to be more of a lightning rod for controversy. In terms of the people I approached. I had people refuse in that project, both because john paul, the second was deemed to be too conservative, a Catholic and because he was deemed to be too liberal Catholic. Here, there wasn't that that kind of, of reaction I had a few people say no, because they had other commitments they needed to attend to. But for the most part, people agreed and agreed enthusiastically. Professor Catherine sonderegger, I can't tell if she's online, I hope she's able to join us at some point today. Her email to me sticks out as kind of the example. I sent her an invitation with some of the details of the project. And her first email back to me was simply Yes, send details Kate. And and that's the way the reaction has been for or was for, for just about everyone, people who were in, we're in quickly, we're in enthusiastically. And I think their enthusiasm is evident in the quality of the work that's been produced. I think it just really is a really good piece of work. In terms of putting the the contributors list together, the only difficult spot was the death of Professor Dan Westberg of Nashotah House, whom we originally contracted to write the essay on, on the theological virtues and essay that was picked up by by Professor Greg Allison's nice to see Greg here today. And thank you for stepping in. Dan died in a sailing accident within weeks of agreeing to contribute to this project. And I didn't know Dan well, but but he was an acquaintance of mine through mutual friends at IVP for many years. And so that was a difficult one for me. But we were honored to have been able to dedicate the volume to his memory, and glad for Professor Allison for stepping up the way he did. So if you look at the contributors list in terms of denomination or confession, you'll see a Canadian Anglicans, Episcopalians, Anglican Church in North America that largely reflects reflects my own ministry tradition. But you'll also see Southern Baptists. Evangelical free assorted Presbyterians. And so I'm really happy with the breadth of scholarship that's been able, that's come together this project. The book has been well received. It was nominated for an ECPA Christian Book of the Year award. We got an honorable mention. It has been in terms of sales, a bit of a sleeper, but I'm told that anthologies always are I do hope people will will read our book and will recommend it. More than that, though. I hope that our book stimulates people to read Joseph Ratzinger or or Pope Benedict the 16th. I really do. Because I think he is in terms in our world anyway. He's He's an underappreciated resource. And he's he's definitely worth reading. One of the in terms of the reception of the book, really happy surprise for me, was the friendship between Professor Carl Truman and Archbishop Emeritus Charles chap you. I didn't know about this beforehand. But because of that, friendship, Professor Truman gave a couple of copies of our book to the Archbishop. And he in turn, sent one to the Vatican. And we received two letters from the Pope Emeritus, one to the publishing house and one to two, the editor Todd Haynes directly thanking us for our contributions and that was just really, really nice. Nice gift to receive. So that's the genealogy of the book. The big themes. I mentioned four in the introduction. I think all the essays are united in their conviction that Ratzinger or Benedict is a theologian of the Bible and the fathers. And that that creates common ground for conversation. Common Ground for conversation, of course, does not mean agreement by any stretch of the imagination. We are not trying to say that, you know, the pope is a closeted Protestant. He's not. But you know, there's there is a shared Augustinian heritage between classical Protestants and someone like Joseph Ratzinger Ratzinger himself has a long preoccupation with Martin Luther. And that that really brings all of us together around the claim that that Holy Scripture is the unique place where God speaks. And if we are to hear God's voice, that is the place where we need to attend to it. So the very fact that that he conceives of himself, as he describes himself in his little interview last testament, he described himself as a biblical theologian that creates opportunity for for conversation. And I think all of the contributors agree with the former Pope that going into the future, the church, especially the church in the West will simply for the sake of its own survival have to become more biblically focused. Second, a second area a theme is, is that the Christian faith is reasonable. That it makes claims that are true. Some of these claims can be discovered by reason. Others are dependent upon revelation and so can't be discovered by reason, but they can be rationally defended. I think that's another theme that unites the contributions together as one piece and gives us common ground with the Pope. Of course, the implications. Christian faith is not something that is constructed, it's something that is that is received. That what it has received, it has received for the sake of the world. And that what it has received is, in fact, good news. Good news that is capable of Proposition capable of investigation and defense, and most importantly, without recourse to violence. And I think that's, that's a really, really important point. I think you'll find a strong commitment to the truth for its own sake. But there is a practical concern as well. And that is when you surrender claims to reasonability. And claims to the peacefulness of truth, then really, who shouts loudest wins violences is what's left, and whether that violence is rhetorical or literal. And and that's something that I think Benedict and all of us together want very much to avoid. I think third, you'll find a common commitment to the holiness of the church going forward. There's a recognition that we're in a time of winnowing, time of loss of power, loss of influence. And however painful that might be. It's on the whole a good thing. Because it increases our dependence upon God. Ratzinger first started enunciating these themes as early as the late 1950s. He is particularly remembered on this point for an article he wrote in 1969, talking about the church moving into a period of, of extended loss, and through that loss, the church would once again become more holy. So this is a time I think of preparation for whatever is coming next. And then fourth, this new chastened church that is more biblical, and committed to non violent ways of proposing its claims, will be a humble church. We will have to depend upon Christ because I think Christ will be just about all we have left. So those are the four themes I think that tie all the essays together. with each other, they're the they're the the four big areas of common ground with which we can enter into conversation with the Emeritus Pope. None of this is to presume that the Reformation is over, that the central claims of the Reformation had been overturned or need to be revised. The goal of the project was not to, you know, give India any indication that that's the case. The goal of the project was simply to recognize that given those abiding disagreements, what can we nevertheless learn, given these broad areas of common concern? And that's what the essay is focused on. And I think all the contributors did a really masterful job of threading that needle. So I like all the essays, I really do but but four are really stuck out as, as real gems. And those are the essays of Ben Myers. on faith and reason. Catherine Sonderegger, his essay on theological method, Peter light Hart's essay on liturgy, the Bible. And Karl Truman's essay on humanism. Professor Truman's essay certainly wins the award for the best title is the pope still Catholic? Those are my four. But you know that that might change next week, depending on, you know, my, my personal reading and whatever theological or pastoral concerns are going on, in my head at that time, but right now anyway, those are my favorites. I'd like to hear maybe from from some other contributors, and panelists, and both what they're about their favorites. My own essay is, is on Mary, I've been writing and reflecting on Mary, since 2004. And so it was nice to be able to, to revisit some of those themes again. And as that essay makes clear, what what I learned, I won't speak for anybody else what what I learned from the Pope, when I read his work about Mary had very little to do with Mary, I mean, the the abiding areas of agreement and disagreement persist. But what I learned was, how to read the Bible, and especially how to read the Old Testament Ratzinger, his little book on Mary is, the bulk of it is an extensive exercise in the type of logical reading of the Old Testament, which, at least in the, you know, the circles in which I used to move was a way of reading that had largely gone by the wayside. And, and, and so, you know, it's, it's ironic, I think, to sit at the feet of a convinced Catholic to learn how to read again, Holy Scripture, but that's, that's what the essay was for me. So, Ratzinger is conviction that that ultimately the Bible is one book with one author. And this does not contradict the humanity of the Scriptures or various hermeneutical methods. But it is how it is to be read and how it has been read within the church. So that, you know that that was the big takeaway for me. In in my essay, was basically relearning again, the habit of canonical reading of scriptures, and especially the canonical reading of the Old Testament. I really enjoyed working on this project. As I said, in my opening remarks, I came to it reluctantly, just for a whole host of personal and family reasons, but once we got into it and and saw it come together as well, as it did, I was really, really grateful that Joey and Jesse emailed me and really wouldn't take no for an answer. So that's about it. Really. I'm happy to turn it back to you, Jonathan, and to the panelists. And we can go from there.
Excellent. Let's have an open conversation at this point. I'd love to hear what your questions are directly. I'm very impressed with This is a publication project. I'm also very interested to know what kind of projects you all might propose for future work of this variety, that there's no reason no need to raise a hand, you can simply speak directly into the group,
I might start, this is Kate Sonderegger, from Virginia seminary, I, it's great to see all of your faces as some of you I know, and some I've not had a chance to meet yet. I have a meeting at 11:30 till 12. So well, I'll be gone for part of the panel, but come back on either wanted to say how much I appreciate being part of this group. And, Tim, you're such a wonderful editor and help to all of us contributors. I would love to see us take up the themes that Karl rahner raises and foundations about the Protestant Catholic divide after Trent. It seems to me that that is an opening that has resonance with Benedict's own deep study of Luther, but also gives us a list from from a prominent Catholic system and Titian, about what the remaining conflicts are the that he thought actually were deeper than matters of justification. And some of the other foundational Maxim's of the Reformation.
Thank you, Catherine for that, and I second her appreciation for the chance to work on this project. I would second what she says and underscore what one of the things I think is the great gift of this book and future books like it, and sort of not so much getting into the content of Benedict's theology and how it is in contrast to Protestant but I think at the core of this book, all of the essays witness to the need for great humility among Christians. And I don't think there's any gift we could offer to our divided world more than that, at this time, to listen seriously to one another across both theological and ecumenical divides. I teach at Wycliffe College in Toronto, which is an ecumenical seminary, a more conservative and one of my colleagues was attended and participated in a large conference in Toronto, by evangelical churches and the fact that he was invited to participate as an Anglican It was huge, but it was different under different understandings, and then other religions. And they put the Roman Catholic Church in the section on other religions, which is telling and the more we can, by our interests by scholarship, speak to the church about the need to receive each other with humility. And learn from one another not a washing over real differences. The more I think we are following Benedict, adage that all theologies in the service of the world.
I guess if I could ask a follow up question to Professor Sonderegger. Before she has to leave us in this next volume that you propose, what essay would you write?
You know, I, I would be very interested in following up some of the themes I tried to pursue in, in the essay on on method about the important central importance of the human person, that that's clearly so important for Pope Benedict, its centerpiece of his theological method and it clearly is the the governing center of Carl Rogers. Great work and I think gives us a tie back to schleiermacher and to a number of important themes in personalism in the modern period on these different accounts of the human person, as they are received in the churches after the Reformation. The commonalities and differences would be a very deep and rich one. I think.
I Tim, this is Aaron, your brother, I would like to hear and this could be maybe you can start and then other people who have contributed essays would be glad to, I'd be glad to hear from them as well, especially in light of Dr. Sun directors comment about the human person. One of the ways that people are interacting now is over social media. It's incessant, it's, it's a practice that's not only forming, are taking our time it's forming our brains and the ways that we see other persons and are able to or unable to interact in real life. I have in mind how maybe both of the both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis, use or don't use social media, maybe wisely or foolishly. So I would like for you to comment what might be learned from from Pope Benedict, maybe not in his way that he used social media, but what might we learn from him about how to use such a tool, so that we are doing so humbly and wisely and in a way that takes seriously that this is a context that isn't isn't going away anytime soon?
I'll leave it to family to ask the stumper question. Thanks for thanks for joining in today.Um, I really don't know.I mean, we've we've had this versions of this conversation between the two of us before and you know, that I'm deeply ambivalent about technology in general. And so while I'm really, really grateful for the opportunity to do things like this today, I, you know, it's social media is an is an amplifier for everything, and there's a lot in everything that's not good or helpful, or kind of praiseworthy. And, honestly, I honestly don't know. I mean, certainly, Pope Francis, simply because of, of the amount of time that's passed, has, has had to be more engaged on social media than than Benedict. I don't know that, that he or his Vatican handlers who are in charge of this file are terribly good at it. And I don't say that mainly, I don't know very many people who who are terribly good at it. As to what, as to what Benedict would say, you know, I honestly don't know. I think, though his his profound concern for the humanity of the other would would I think control or ought to control how we behave, at least on social media. Even recognizing that the tool itself is in some way tainted, I mean, the medium medium is the message. But like you say, we're stuck with it. And I think I think that's, that's where I'll stop. And I see a note here from Jonathan, maybe he wants to jump in at this point.
I have found Antonio Spadaro's Cybertheology, which is a 2014 publication. He is one of the young theologians in the Vatican network that's working on social media, and he has comments, there may be time to propose new themes. So questions about the book as a whole or future prospects for this type of engagement. Please don't be bashful.
I'd like to jump in jump in here. I wasn't participating in the in the book. But I do have a keen medical interest, particularly because I work on the medieval Luther. And I've directed dissertations on Ecumensim. And I've been participating in the pro ecclesia group for for some time. I. So I don't know if my comments are going to be up from left field or if you want to talk about what I'm interested in. I'm actually interested in taking a critical look at Benedict. I think that there is a German methodology that is at play in Benedict's own work, particularly his understanding of time zones because she's, well, you know, he his sort of method looks in that sort of old what I think obsolete way of, you know, this sort of kernel of Orthodoxy moving through the Old Testament moving through the New Testament and moving through The history of the church which I think can be critically looked at as a selective reading of church history along a sort of a linear progress narrative. So I'm actually sort of averse to a kind of ecumenism that is lauding this kind of sort of study. So it's shifting to hear mature in theology. So that's kind of one, one critical point that I just want to raise. And another is the kind of critical point of humility. I'm not sure how you agree, because I have looked at Benedict's theology of the priesthood and his own theology, the priesthood is far from humble. It's actually, I think, I would say, not humble understanding of the priesthood as the gift of God to the church. So I think, you know, I'm kind of looking at taking a critical look at at his theology, the priesthood, which is not humble at all, but which is an actual aggregation of, of of celibacy and gift and non humble notion of the priesthood to the church. So I think I would like to see some critical comments about Benedict theology rather than a humble applause for his theology.
Yeah. One thing I'm wondering about is just where we are at in terms of ecumenism in here, maybe some of them are senior professors, who have a deeper experience with that command ticket mechanism than I do would would have something to say, in terms of volume, I guess, I feel like maybe I'm the person who's supposed to speak up now because I did the essay on priesthood. But I, but I mentioned that in that, that his his theology of priesthood presupposes Christian division. And it's, so we can see it as part of this Tridentine perspective, which Dr. saundra mentioned earlier. But I think this represents the fact that we've we've tended to move away from a vision of ecumenism, like the clock classical model, which hoped that through all of these agreements, we would suddenly realize that we have nothing substantial dividing us, right. And it's at its strength, that classical model of ecumenism was a model which facilitated these aha moments of convergence, where people realized in conversation that they actually had to pay the same fate. The downside of that approach is that you have to abstract from the particulars, often, in order to find that convergence, and therefore have to minimize the points of difference, which on the ground, are still functional, when it comes to the divisions between these, these separated churches. And so maybe there's a difference in ecumenical vision there, which are particular volume hasn't our art hasn't articulated. And perhaps we're kind of floating somewhere between between those two. I think certainly we we wanted to affirm difference. And I think Carl Truman's essay, especially brings that forward. We're not trying to hide that. And yet, in the midst of those divisions, we are still trying to to find convergence and agreement, which is not, which doesn't make the particular disagreements incidental and doesn't ignore them, but somehow, somehow manages to overcome. However, we define that and I think this has to do as well with what Dr. Perry said in terms of the sales of the book. When you're in a context in which your vision of ecumenism, it wants to affirm that this is a this is a conversation across difference, and not a conversation that obliterates difference. I think it's easy to fall back into kind of a an apathy, which just says, you know, since we want to affirm these differences, and we want to affirm that we engage our common faith faith from the standpoint of the separated bodies, therefore, we don't really have to do anything urgent, the way that a classical humanism would pursue reunification and common agreement as something which is urgent for the life of the church. So I think we're now that we're in this this new reality. There's there's a there's a it compounds this Problem of apathy for these kinds of pursuits that we're interested in.
George Kalantzis, I teach at Wheaton College. And one of the things that as we're talking through this and working through the book, well, thank you so much to all the contributors in for the book. One of the things that sticks out to me to what we were just talking is that Wheaton College is fundamentally an evangelical institution, self identified fundamentalist, evangelical institution that tries to be in the middle of this spectrum. What I'm seeing with my students is a generational divide. I came to Wigan about 14-15 years ago, 20 years ago, it would be inconceivable to have courses in Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy, or the father's etc. Yet, in the last generation of students, all this has changed and has changed dramatically. So it seems to me that quite often we have to, especially if we are to address a younger generation of, of students and practitioners and budding academics in this role of acumen is to differentiate between or actually to understand that thrust of engagement that they need, that they need a deeper, they're yearning for a deeper discussion, for an understanding of the other that is from within, and not placating the difference in working over the difference in such a way that it is not true to the tradition itself. Yet at the same time, there's a thirst for engagement and a thirst for engagement that the next generation, it seems to me will continue. So I would like to see further volume, perhaps on the practiced elements of humanism. What does it actually look like on the ground?
Dr. Kalantz I would be very interested to hear from you and from others, what would the questions be that such a volume would attempt to answer?
I would think that we would need a chapter on the history of a humanism, post Vatican two, to talk about the advances, represented in groups like evangelicals and Catholics together, the United States, catholic bishops, and evangelicals together, those kinds of things. I think that would be helpful to my students, the Dr. countesses students as well to give an idea of where we've come from. This would tie in with Professor Sandra Eggers notion of it's not just justification that has been discussed, but there are many other very important doctrines and issues and practices that continue today. So that would just be one proposal for a specific chapter.
Another one, I would argue would be an I see it all the time is addressing Can I call it the shallow ecumenism of rights. It is my right to be received in the Eucharist. It's my right to come for which at least from the evangelical side seems to be an operative motif. As an Protestant or evangelical student, one would enter into a Catholic or an Orthodox Church and assume a right to the mass into the Eucharist. So addressing the difference between what actually is happening and perhaps even lamenting the fact that we cannot participate in each other sacraments. And that is okay. Well, not historically long term, but currently right now, it is okay to not have the right to come to receive.
Jason Byassee here in Vancouver School of Theology, I was struck studying Alfa, especially in Britain at the degree of cooperation between Catholics and Anglicans and others. And it's just a really different approach. They're not doing something called humanism. They're doing something called evangelism and catechesis. And something new gets born that they weren't aiming for out of that, for what it's worth.
I would this is Annette brown again, I would say there needs to be a chapter that addresses the place of ecclesiology and and humanism in that and perhaps this His situation at Trinity probably a lot like Wickliffe is, first of all, humanism is not a word. All of our students know the new generation and they don't mean anything to them. But in the growing movement in Christianity around the world and non denominational churches ecclesiology historically works within a set churches. I attended a conference A while back on humanism, and, and Pentecost, Pentecostalism. And truthfully, historically, although positively is changing. churches that don't have a strong ecclesiology don't really have, until recently, any interest in the rest of the church. their interest is in evangelism. And so how do we do this? And perhaps the model of Anglicans Roman Catholics doing alpha together is a very good one. But they're not talking about church structures, but about a mission discipleship evangelism. But this this question of ecclesiology is very central to any ongoing interest in humanism, which is very much waned historically, recently, as you know,
we have father Thomas Dowd, Where are you calling from father Dowd,
I'm in Montreal. Great. Go ahead, please. Thank you. The, I think an interesting element about humanism that we've got to address and this is something I'm seeing emerge quite a bit, is the need to focus on soteriological questions. And I see that not just across churches, but within I don't know if you're experiencing this, but certainly what I've noticed that if there are differing soteriological perspectives, then you wind up with vastly different mythologies. And if you wind up with different concept of mission, then you wind up with a different concept of church. And if you have a different cut, like for example, is it the church that has a mission? Or is it the mission that has a church, those are two very different perspectives. And once you've got a different perspective on church that affects your understanding of sacraments and worship. And once you've changed your perspective, on worship, you got a different perspective on scripture. I mean, there's, there's kind of a sequence you know, so I know from my own research, my key area of focus is soteriology. And, and trying to have a global portrait, there's a danger within soteriology of kind of reducing it to how to get to heaven, you know, so, say this prayer, and you're in or have this water on you and you're in, you know, what's the what's the overall perspective, the link between ritual faith and so on? And, frankly, what is the vision of salvation to, you know, I find that sometimes their perspectives on salvation that can be kind of dumbed down. Sometimes they're very otherworldly without considering the kind of salvation God wants to see in our world today. And so that conversation and and trying to break down or categorize soteriological perspectives. That's been my research right now is developing a taxonomy of soteriological perspectives, across the different traditions from universalism to double predestination, ism, and everything in between. That kind of taxonomy. I think, if you need a chapter for a book, give me a call. But that would be that that's something that I would I would see focusing on. Thank you.
Something I would really want to add, Father, Thomas, without wanting to contradict you is that certainly from your own interests and experience, as soteriology seems to be a primary way in, but it seems to me that we might be dealing with a circle here, as opposed to just just a linear projection of one, one step moving to the next. And the reason why I say that is it seems to me that almost any, any theological low side could be an in to kind of a more Catholic understanding of the faith, which propels you to engage questions about humanism, and cooperation with others seriously.
That's fair, I
can read that. And and and as we think about kind of as we think about this kind of evangelistically It seems to me that almost any topic can be engaged as a way in which would then propel people into a different way of conceiving of their thing.
Yeah, I don't want to propose that there's some theologies that are somehow more important than others. I mean, you pull on one thread and the whole thing can can affect the tapestry. I just take it from that perspective, because I see division. And when I see division, I mean, for example, there was this election in the US recently that us Canadians were witnessing from the outside you may have heard it and a certain amount of division, certainly within my own church about which candidate to vote for. But when you when you look behind what people are talking about, and what their sources of tension are, there's a there are theological perspectives that relate specifically to those questions. So that's why I bring it up as a point of entry. But I agree with you, it's, it's like a car, you know, what one piece breaks, other pieces are gonna break too. So it all fits together.
one topic that, from a perhaps historical perspective, more than a theological one that might be worth exploration is the history of cross confessional friendships. Certainly on the on the EV angelical side of things. The invitations made by Catholicism for further conversation after the Second Vatican Council, they they simply weren't taken up because evangelicalism is too diverse to diffuse to respond in any kind of unified way. What changed was not so much. At a programmatic level, what changed was, was the cultivation of specific friendships and specific times creating an atmosphere of trust within which these kinds of conversations could be had. You know, the the kind of the, the exemplary one, I guess, is the one between Billy Graham and john paul the second, but you could think also of new house and Colson. You know, aect was a friendship. Before it was a group of CO signers to, you know, whatever issue was being discussed of the day, and, and certainly from the evangelical side, it's a history of personal friendships as much as it is anything else.
Excellent. We are coming towards the end of the hour, we have about five or so minutes, we'll go probably just a few minutes past the hour, but we won't prolong the conversation. So please, get your opinions out. Why I'm glad all of you are here. We're extremely glad you're here. I know some of you better than others. Dr. True, Carl Truman, you've called in, we'd love to hear from you. Dr. Sanders, we're super glad you're here as well. We haven't heard from you. Please, everybody, make sure you get in your last comments. last advice for where book projects as such could go before we close in a few minutes.
Apologies for turning up late my day job rather gets in the way on a Friday. I'm sort of catching up. But I wonder if one essay that might be useful to explore would be one on liturgy. And one of the things that interests me and there's always a danger, of course of extrapolating from your own student body to the world in general. But a lot of students at Grove City College they typically come from sort of Bible Church backgrounds, and many of them are very attracted to Anglicanism and even to Roman Catholicism and orthodoxy and in chatting to them. One of the themes that comes up continually is they they love liturgy. And I wonder if that's something worth exploring, I think they're not so much struck by the theology as by the aesthetics, and by the especially the security that the fixed form, gives them historically. So my suggestion for an essay would be to have somebody writing on on liturgy, not necessarily from the usual angles, but from the perspective of why is liturgy striking a chord so deeply with, with many young Christian people today.
Yeah. I was thinking about when you when you talk about friendship, ecumenical friendship and dialogue of this nature, is a natural tendency to focus on areas of difference and kind of try to figure out like, well, there's the knot, how do we untie What's going on there? Just want to point out, we often overlook the broad areas of existing agreement. So I would say that working on the doctrine of the Trinity, you don't, you don't come to the doctrine of the Trinity and say, oh, let's figure out how to relate the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity to the Protestant doctrine of the Trinity. I can't remember which Lutheran theologian it is who said, there is no specifically Lutheran doctrine of the Trinity, thank God. So, just that point, that there are these broad areas of shared objective substantive doctrines in the church, Trinity, incarnation and atonement. There is a lot to say there. And in places like that dialogue with a thinker like Ratzinger Benedict kind of gives you an as a Protestant theologian, it gives me an old Alternative traditions weigh in to common issues that are vexing everyone who's trying to do the doctrine of the Trinity or the Incarnation in the modern period. They have a different angle of approach different set of tools. historicism hit them differently, romanticism hit them differently. And that's all extremely informative. For theologians working on the Protestant side.
I'd like to add to the the friendship, the friendship comment, because i think i think i think that is very kind of illuminated. Also in religious studies where friendships are becoming the object of empirical research, particularly because they are transformative. I mean, if you want to look at constructive theology, or acute ecumenical theology as constructive theology, one has to look at the ways in which friends talk with each other and transform each other's thinking about particular topics in a reciprocal way. And I know from the Lutheran Catholic ecumenical dialogue, friendships have been formed over decades, that have led to the reciprocal changing of each other starting point, so that the actual ecumenical theology that comes about as a result of these friendships, is going to transform both both sides.
Friendship is also the source of books is to knows. And so just on the path of the publisher, I want to thank them for all the work and effort they put into this. And it's been wonderful to see it come together. One point that I think, potentially in the follow up book about Benedict that I would like to see that we didn't take up in this one is something on political theology. I think, Benedict's critique of modernity. And he put a lot of thought actually into, obviously, political thought, and just given the degree to which we've seen the political form and deform theology, actually think but it has a lot to say on that. And I'd be very interested in entertaining ideas in that area.
Yeah, it's the way that he uses liberation theology. People often talk about his criticisms for liberation theology, but he has a lot to affirm. And that would be a good way to pivot. With some of that, I think, Jesse, though, I'm, I'm the editor, Todd Haynes, I had the joy of working with everybody on this too. But I was thinking with what Carl and Fred and and actually, what Christine was saying about friendship, that something that's missing here in the ecumenist ism, is often we do get distracted just by the issues. But that's been thinking about this a lot where we have sort of theology is talking about the thing that the Christian church talks to a person to you addresses God's word to you. And that's what the liturgy does. The liturgy is taking God's very words and addressing them to your person. And I wonder how, that sort of personal approach might change things. But we're, what I what I was thinking about, too, is the rod singers prayer book, where he talks, he starts by the common desire for everyone to cry out to a creator. And that might be an interesting plot place to start from our own feelings of need, rather than strictly sort of good ideas.
Excellent. Again, this conversation will be carefully transcripted. any final comments before we close in a moment or two?
I might just add on I am sorry to have missed the substantial comments that continued after I, I ducked out. But the prospects of future work together on themes of common interest and the things that I heard before I had to leave and when I look back on our exciting ones, and good for the church Catholic.
Well, we are extremely grateful for your time. I know you're all exceptionally busy. So we will cut a little early today. But I think the things that have been shared have been useful, we can hope there might be a subsequent publishing project and those networks will form. Some speak about ecumenism coming into a winter season. I rather hope there's a very glorious spring on the way our world is so interconnected, and so ripe to reconsider these classic divides, but it's going to take some very substantial leadership that this be done in a way that reflects the Christian tradition. So there is a lot of work to do. Dr. Allison, would you be willing to pray for us as we dismiss?
Yes, join me in prayer, please. Lord, we are thankful for this conversation between friends, with thankful for stimulating suggestions about going forward with other projects. Lord, we do pray for your church, the church of Our Lord Jesus Christ here on this earth, that it would be more united, that it would give you glory and would express love to you and love to others. Thank you for these friends, for our conversation. We pray your blessing upon us as we leave this, this webinar, that we would be filled with your spirit we would be filled with love, and we would give you glory and honor as our Triune God and we pray this in Christ's name. Amen.
Amen. Have a wonderful day and a wonderful weekend everybody. Thank you for your participation.