2/2015

Series: Nouă
Year of publication: 2016
Publishing house: Andreiana, Sibiu
ISSN: 1222-9695
ISSN Online: 2069-8895

Editorial

Meetings between the theologies formulated within local sister churches component of the universal Orthodox Church occur most often in the context of international Pan-Orthodox or ecumenist events, where unity of faith, or mere discerning the return to it are in the spotlight. Direct way of mutual knowledge of these theologies, in their details and inherent diversities, is regrettably far less devoted. For this reason, Revista Teologică is pleased to contribute to the knowledge between the Russian Orthodox theology and Romanian Orthodox theology through the publication in the present issue of the papers presented at the bilateral symposium “The Most Common Distortions of Church Life. Their Contents and Ways to Overcome Them”, organized in Moscow, within the partnership between the University” Lucian Blaga “/ Faculty of Orthodox Theology in Sibiu, Romania (FTO) and the St Philaret Christian-Orthodox Institute from Moscow (SFI), a unit of higher education in theology belonging to the non-governmental organization for promoting spiritual development “Sreten”, accredited by both the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian state. Signed in early 2014, the partnership was inaugurated by the participation of a delegation from the SFI, consisting of Vice-rector Prof. Dr. Dmitry Gasak, accompanied by Prof. Dr. Alexandr Kopirovsky at the international symposium “The Epoch of Constantin Brancoveanu in Southeast European context: Church, Society, Geopolitics “, held in Sibiu under the auspices of the Faculty of Theology and the Institute of South-East European Studies on 12-14 June 2014. This year, it was a delegation from Sibiu – consisting of Rev. Prof. Nicholae Chifăr, Rev. Prof. Vasile Grăjdian, Rev. Prof. Ioan-Mircea Ielciu, Rev. Prof. Vasile-Sorin Dobre, Hierom. Prof. Vasile Bîrzu, and Dr. Sebastian Moldovan – to visit in turn the partner institution in the Russian Federation.
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Assoc. Prof. Sebastian Moldovan
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Welcome Address to the Conference Attendees

Dmitry Gasak: Reverend Fathers, dear colleagues, brothers and sisters, we are very glad to see the delegation from the Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu at our St Philaret’s Institute. A cooperation agreement between our schools was recently signed. Last year Alexander Kopirovsky and I attended a conference on the epoch of Constantin Brâncoveanu (the proceedings have been already issued). Today we host our Romanian colleagues at the conference on the most common distortions of church life, their content and ways to overcome them. In my opinion, the selected topic for our common discussion, in fact, the first one on this scale, is quite risky. But we can assume the risks of communication, dialogue and theological discussion in order to deepen our knowledge of Orthodox tradition, church history and to better understand what is going on in today’s church life in Russia and Romania (and maybe on a broader scale). It is also important to think about the prospects of church life in our countries and churches.
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Tradition in Orthodox Theology and Practice: Norm and Distortions - Prof. David GZGZYAN (Moscow)*

Based on the classic patristic formulas and contemporary Orthodox theologians’ reflections, the paper explores the phenomenon of Tradition. The author pays special attention to the characteristics which allow discerning between genuine Tradition and its distortions, or ‘dark twins.’ This set of issues is of paramount importance due to the fact that there are no rigid, formally defined criteria for identifying authentic Christian Tradition. The predicate of ‘possession’ is neither applicable here: any Christian believer (as well as any Christian community) is placed in a situation of making continuous spiritual and creative efforts to remain within the true Tradition and to confirm his or her life-long fidelity to it.
Keywords: - Tradition, Revelation, cognition of God, Church, Christian identity, eschatology, St Basil the Great, Nikolay Lossky, Søren Kierkegaard
David Gzgzyan, Professor, Ph.D. in Philology, M.A. in Theology, Head of Theology and Liturgical Studies Department at SFI, lecturer in Christian Ethics and Dogmatic Theology. Member of the Inter-Council Convocation of the Russian Orthodox Church. Research interests include Dogmatic Theology, Ecclesiology, Christian Ethics and Christian Anthropology.
Address : - Russia
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Discussion - Prof. David GZGZIAN (Moscow)*

Dmitri Gasak: Thank you very much, Professor David Gzgzyan, for your reflections that are not quite simple for perception. However, I think, the discussion can clarify some points. Maybe someone has already got questions or feedback to what Professor David Gzgzyan has just said? You are welcome.
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David Gzgzyan, Professor, Ph.D. in Philology, M.A. in Theology, Head of Theology and Liturgical Studies Department at SFI, lecturer in Christian Ethics and Dogmatic Theology. Member of the Inter-Council Convocation of the Russian Orthodox Church. Research interests include Dogmatic Theology, Ecclesiology, Christian Ethics and Christian Anthropology.
Address : - Russia
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Respect or neglect/ break. An Actual Reporting to the Canonical-Liturgical Provisions of the Ecumenical Councils - Revd. Prof. Nicolae CHIFĂR (Sibiu)*

The canonical order within the Orthodox Church is of great importance because it determines the entire dogmatic, moral, liturgical and administrative life of the Church. It is therefore fundamental to respect the canonic treasure established by the Holy Apostles, by the Ecumenical Councils, by some local councils and some Church Fathers, and which was appropriated by the Church. This study is intended as a reflection on how the Church relates itself today to this canonical treasure and to what extent its dynamism makes this canonical order be respected or, where appropriate, adapted to the missionary, cultural, pastoral and spiritual needs of each people, as it expressed its loyalty to the faith and teaching of the Church everywhere and always, in certain geographical areas and certain times. Some special situations in the life of the Church, to which reference is made, do not manifest the slightest doubt that it would not respect the canonical tradition established by the Ecumenical Councils and other private councils, but shows its dynamic nature. What we can see today, as deviations or negligence, does not fall within the canonical discipline of the Church, which remained faithful to the Apostolic Tradition, but within its application by each bishop in part, because the whole liturgical, spiritual and moral life of each parish depends, to a great extent, on the exactness or the oikonomia of the application of these regulations.
Keywords: - canon, canonical, oikonomia, deviation, negligence.
Revd. PhD Nicolae Chifăr, Professor of Church History at the Andrei Şaguna Orthodox Faculty of Theology, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania.
Address : - Sibiu, Romania
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Discussion - Revd. Prof. Nicolae CHIFĂR (Sibiu)*

I think this is a good continuation of our morning discussion. Examples of various ecclesiological distortions have been provided. In my opinion, there is room for discussion here.
Fr Ioan Mircea Ielciu: We thank the Rev. Prof. Nicolae Chifăr very much for the presented report. The merit of this report is that it is an approach from a canonical perspective made by a historian which gives a greater substantiation to this approach. All these problems of practice of the provisions of canons, to which he has made reference, could we understand them in the context of the dynamic aspect of tradition? Because, in the introduction, he made a point extraordinarily important, which should not be forgotten whenever we address the issue tradition, that is the role of tradition and the meanings of tradition, and how tradition is reflected in our lives, of every Christian, namely that the Church received a revelation much broader than that documented in the apostolic period. And this revelation, much broader than that recorded in the apostolic period, which was kept and passed on is called the Holy Tradition. The idea is that at first was the Tradition and the Scripture, actually the first book of the Bible, of the New Testament, is the first written tradition. We must not forget that between Scripture, Tradition and the Church there is a very very tight relation. If you were to symbolically represent this ratio, we could present it in the form of three concentric circles. The first circle is the Scripture. The second, which includes the Scripture, is the Tradition. And the third circle, which includes both, is the Church. So, in this context, in the context pointed out by father Professor in the paper, Our Church should decide and clarify those issues. Can we say: are these apparent or less apparent contradictions regarding the canonical provisions, canonical provisions regarding the today practice, can we understand them as a dynamic aspect of tradition? I would ask father Professor if he wished to expand a little this aspect. How does he see this problem in the context of the dynamic aspect of tradition.
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Revd. PhD Nicolae Chifăr, Professor of Church History at the Andrei Şaguna Orthodox Faculty of Theology, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania.
Address : - Sibiu, Romania
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The Imperative (rule, regulation, commandment, order, discipline, authority). An Onto-Theological Perspective - Assoc. Prof. Sebastian MOLDOVAN (Sibiu)*

This paper aims to contribute to debate issues of deviations from Church discipline by addressing the very foundation of ecclesiastical discipline, namely the notion of imperative, as it appears in the New Testament and Eastern Patristic Tradition, with special reference to St. Maximus the Confessor. The conclusion of the argument can be summarized as: the imperative expresses the logic of life as love.
Keywords: - imperative, law, life, gift, love, St. Maximus the Confessor
PhD Sebastian Moldovan, Associated Professor at the Andrei Şaguna Orthodox Faculty of Theology, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania..
Address : - Sibiu, Romania
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Discussion - Assoc. Prof. Sebastian MOLDOVAN (Sibiu)*

Fr Vasile Bîrzu: I will not talk about love, but about an issue that was highlighted by Professor Sebastian implicitly, namely, this aspect that escaped from the nuances raised, the excess. Love as the source of life is agapic, the love that flows from the Holy Trinity. As a source of life, as a source of uncreated divine energies, it organizes and feeds all creation. Life in the kingdom of God, about whom the Gospel says at one point that is taken zealously. He who forces conquers it, earns it. Here it came to my mind an example of life of a hesychast, more or less known, namely Alexander the Akoimetos, who excelled through ascetic excess, and troubled the entire Church of the fifth century. As a result of his very turbulent activity he has forced the following ecumenical councils of the fifth century to regulate monasticism through certain canons. As a saint, he was not so famous in Church history, because the hierarchy did not like, and his monastery remains famous through Marcel of Ancyra, the abbot who followed him. From his life emerges precisely this escalade of the kingdom of God, precisely this categorical imperative of fulfilling the Gospel commandments, which could not be tried and convicted by any human law, or canon. Because through the ascetical zeal he wanted to show the real life and this aspect of the excess, of the zeal, which, if well targeted, fits perfectly into the source of life, and that can not be judged. On the contrary, from this perspective, indifference, accommodation with the world, present in the life of every clergyman – clericalism, finally – can be seen precisely as a disconnection from the source of life. When you enter the logic of the Spirit and begin to feel God’s commandments, just like Mark the Ascetic, as remorse for what you have not accomplished the day before, as a call to accomplish more than you accomplished yesterday, you basically enter on a path to the final running for the kingdom of God. And in this way, the canon laws are outweighed by the spiritual laws.
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PhD Sebastian Moldovan, Associated Professor at the Andrei Şaguna Orthodox Faculty of Theology, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania
Address : - Sibiu, Romania
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Problem of Superstitions among Parishioners and Way of Overcoming them during Catechesis. Catechist’s Reflections from Practical Experience - Vladimir YAKUNTSEV (Moscow)*

The author analyses his long-term personal experience of providing catechetical instruction to the baptised and defines its main and most complex problem, i.e. superstitious beliefs among modern christened people. The article confirms that catechesis of previously baptised people requires the catechist to have a special focus not merely on firmly establishing the Orthodox faith but on standing against specific superstitions.
The article examines the nature of superstitions and the distinction between superstitions and heresies. The focus is on the most common superstitious belief that sacraments are efficacious ex opere operato. This superstition encourages a particular kind of pietism characterised by a false hope of salvation. The holders of this superstitious belief have been nicknamed ‘zahozhane’ (‘drop-in Christians’). The author briefly reviews ways of overcoming the power of superstitions through revival of comprehensive patristic catechetical instruction for people prior to their baptism.
Keywords: - catechesis, tradition, superstition, heresy, drop-in Christians.
Vladimir Yakuntsev, M.A. in Theology, senior lecturer at SFI, senior fellow at the Mission and Catechesis Research and Methodology Centre at the Department of Missiology, Catechetics and Homiletics at SFI. Research interests include Missiology and Catechetics.
Address : - Moscow, Russia
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Discussion - Vladimir YAKUNTSEV (Moscow)*

B. Voskresensky: I ask your permission in public to use your findings in my psychotherapeutic work. My question to you is also professional but it may be of interest for the entire audience. You have briefly characterised the contingent of ‘occasional parishioners,’ above all, in terms of their social status and residence. Can you say something about their specific psychological features? To what extent are they open to communication, both daily and within catechesis? To what extent are they pertinacious, rigid or, on the contrary, lively and agile, etc.?
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Vladimir Yakuntsev, M.A. in Theology, senior lecturer at SFI, senior fellow at the Mission and Catechesis Research and Methodology Centre at the Department of Missiology, Catechetics and Homiletics at SFI. Research interests include Missiology and Catechetics.
Address : - Moscow, Russia
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