Victoria: Receiving Reform and the Humbling of the Church: Catholic Ecclesial Learning from Lutheran Tradition

Professor Paul D Murray of Durham University
Prof. Paul Murray will give a public lecture at Australian Catholic University on Thursday night (2 November at 115 Victoria Parade) in the Mercy Theatre at 6pm. The topic of the lecture will be ‘Receiving Reform and the Humbling of the Church: Catholic Ecclesial Learning from Lutheran Tradition’.


 

Prof Paul Murray of Durham University, the developer of the idea of Receptive Ecumenism, is coming to Australia for the International Receptive Ecumenism Conference in Canberra in November 2017.

Prof. Paul Murray will give a public lecture at Australian Catholic University on Thursday night (2 November at ACU, 115 Victoria Parade, Fitzroy) in the Mercy Theatre at 6pm. The topic of the lecture will be ‘Receiving Reform and the Humbling of the Church: Catholic Ecclesial Learning from Lutheran Tradition’.

Prof. Paul Murray explores Receptive Ecumenical perspective on the theological lessons which Catholicism still has to learn during this Reformation anniversary year. Receptive Ecumenism is an instrument of ecclesial reform and renewal, which functions as a practice of ressourcement against the lost gifts of Christ and the Spirit in the other traditions. This particular exercise in Receptive Ecumenism asks after a possible Catholic reception of and learning from the Lutheran tradition. It is conducted in three steps.

Attention is given to the achievements and the limits of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. The claim is that the Catholic sensibility of graced existence and associated Catholic instinct for stable structures of grace – e.g. habits, virtues, and the formation of character – still need to engage the challenge and promise of a Lutheran actualist understanding of Christian existence as a life of continually renewed graced dependence. The argument is that in these regards there is still considerable need for substantive receptive learning on Catholicism’s behalf; a need which the ecumenical methods at work in the Joint Declaration leave untouched.

It will be shown that this has implications well beyond the level of individual Christian existence and is of relevance also to the need for ecclesial renewal within Catholicism. The connection between the earlier discussion of justification and this discussion of ecclesiology lies in the relationship between Lutheran graced actualism and the default Catholic instinct for stable structures of grace. At the individual level, this manifests in the characteristic Catholic focus on habits, the virtues, and the formation of character; at the ecclesial level, it manifests in the Catholic emphasis on the reliability of the sacraments, the ordained ministry, and church authority. The essential argument is that this Catholic concern for the visibility and stability of the structures of grace (in-itself right, proper, and required) is always in danger of being distorted into an idolatrous self-sufficiency. The constructive proposal is that the potential cure for this default pathology lies in the Catholic instinct for stable structures of grace needing to be held in close tension (much closer than is typical in Catholic spirituality, ethics, and ecclesiology) with a sustained Lutheran-style sense of our utter dependence on the moment-by-moment renewal of the active gracious initiative of God in the Spirit. This culminates in a proposal concerning what it means for the church to understand itself as the creature of the Word in the power of the Spirit, and as simul iustus et peccator (at the same time, righteous and sinner). It is to this that ‘the humbling of the church’ refers in the title.

Some initial consideration will be given to identifying some of the practical implications of all of this for Catholic ecclesial habits of mind, process, and structure.

Event Details

Program: Public Lecture by Prof. Paul D. Murray of Durham University
Lecture: Receiving Reform and the Humbling of the Church: Catholic Ecclesial Learning from Lutheran Tradition
Date: Thursday, 2nd November 2017, 6-8pm
Location: ACU, 115 Victoria Parade, Fitzroy, Mercy Lecture Theatre

 

 

 

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