Saturday, 2 May 2015

Shane Owens: Christological Participation: Augustine, Nicaea, and Twenty-First Century Ecumenism

St. Augustine of Hippo's Trinitarian theology is Nicene and emphasizes three themes: divine transcendence, a Christological epistemology, and a theology of ascent and deification. The Augustinian notion of Christological participation is a promising starting point for dialogue amongst contemporary Catholic and Orthodox theologians. While many Thomists and followers of Lossky may balk at this notion (preferring to emphasize either participation in the divine essence or divine energies) two well respected contemporaries have advanced similar positions on Christological participation. This short communication focuses on the appraisal of the Trinitarian theologies of Giles Emery, O.P, and Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon. The common ground between Augustine (and Nicene orthodoxy at large), Emery, and Zizioulas can become the fecund foundation for rapprochement. It is in the hypostasis of Christ that the Christian learns of God and participates in his divinity. It is through Christ, that man is deified. The ontology of personhood as developed in St. Thomas Aquinas' commentary on the Sentences and Zizioulas' theology can serve as the basis for new metaphysical and systematic speculation on what being a "person" means. Because Zizioulas normally relies on the theology of the Cappadocians as his Patristic foundation, Augustine will have a special place in helping bridge the gap between the Thomistic theology of Emery (founded largely on Augustinianism) and the Eastern theology dependent on Augustine's Eastern counterparts.

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