Orthodox Christians and the Evangelical Lutheran Tradition
Summary and Keywords
Despite positive remarks that Martin Luther made about the “Greeks,” neither he nor Philip Melanchthon possessed personal knowledge of, nor extensive contact with, the Orthodox Church of the 16th century. Second-generation Lutheran exchanges with Constantinople revealed the theological differences between the Orthodox and the churches of the Augsburg Confession. Despite sporadic 17th- and 18th-century encounters with the Orthodox that initially suggested common theological ground upon which to criticize Roman Catholic error, Lutherans came to view the Orthodox (whether Chalcedonian or Oriental) as suffering from corruptions nearly as alarming as those tolerated in Rome. Nineteenth- and 20th-century exchanges broadened to include the Orthodox in Russia, where a limited impact of Lutheran Pietism briefly influenced educational reforms. Imperial Germany’s alliance with the Ottomans prior and subsequent to World War I and the Armenian genocide further alienated the Orthodox from Lutherans and Protestants in general. Only in the late 1960s did serious theological dialogue begin, resulting in both national and international meetings. The rise of the Finnish school of Lutheran theology, with its interest in exploring the possible similarities between the Orthodox understanding of theosis and a transformative understanding of Lutheran justification, gave renewed impetus to dialogues into the early 21st century. Orthodox responses to Lutheran theology five hundred years after the Reformation now focus on questions of pneumatology, ecclesiology, and debates centered around questions of theological anthropology, with specific concerns about gender and sexuality.
Martin Luther enjoyed no direct contact with Orthodox Christianity during his lifetime, neither of the Chalcedonian nor the “Oriental” variety. Furthermore, his comments—when one finds them scattered throughout his works—commonly refer to “the Greeks,” “the eastern churches,” and “Greek Christians” as weapons for smiting the errors of the Roman papacy. Luther did not hesitate to point out abuses that crept into the Western Church after the time of Pope Gregory the Great, the last “good” pope, in the reformer’s opinion. In this, Luther was no more than a man of his time, for both Roman Catholic and Protestant writers of the 16th century would come to use the Orthodox in polemical exchanges, and rarely engaged the theology, the history, and the lived reality of the Eastern or the Oriental Orthodox.1
Nonetheless, Luther’s theological development cannot be easily understood without our paying attention to the few areas where some sense of Orthodox theological perspectives and convictions may have helped to shape his own. He did not share Orthodoxy’s understanding of ecclesiology, and had he enjoyed the opportunity to observe Orthodox worship firsthand, would almost certainly have condemned abuses, as he understood them, as vigorously as he did similar practices in the Roman Church. His unhappiness with the veneration of Mary and the saints, relics, and icons, and the ancient and medieval church’s esteem for monasticism meant that these aberrations exemplified the confusion of Law and Gospel as he understood those terms. Given such obvious points of disagreement, what remains that compels our attention regarding Luther and the Orthodox?
In what follows, we first review briefly what little can be said about Luther and the Eastern Orthodox in his own lifetime. Although from time to time Lutherans came into brief contact with Armenian, Coptic, West Syrian, or Malankaran Indian “oriental” Orthodox, those contacts did not produce significant or long-lasting theological exchanges. Of necessity, then, most of what we can say about Lutherans and the Orthodox remains confined to exchanges between the adherents of the Augsburg Confession and the Eastern, or Chalcedonian, Orthodox. Second, we can summarize with nearly equal brevity the contacts and exchanges between Lutheran theologians and the Orthodox between the 16th and the 20th centuries. Finally, we can offer some observations about the renewal of contact between Lutheran theology and some aspects of Orthodox tradition that have emerged only during the past generation. That renewal has emerged primarily in the light of the new approach to Luther pioneered in particular by the Finnish Lutheran theologians, with significantly fewer, or at most hesitant, responses on the part of the Orthodox themselves. The explanation for an uncertain future for Orthodox–Lutheran theological conversations lies in the ongoing disagreements about critical aspects of Lutheran theology among Lutherans. In addition, however, it reflects the equally tense process of articulating a self-identity upon the part of the Orthodox that continues to reveal deep ambivalences about Orthodoxy’s relationship not only to Luther and Lutheranism but also to Christianity in “the West” in general.
Lutheran–Orthodox Exchanges of the Reformation Era
We can summarize the actual historical aspects of Luther’s understanding of the Orthodox. Despite the profound influence that Johann von Staupitz (1460?–1524) exercised upon his fellow Observant Augustinian, nothing in Staupitz’s own theological training in Tübingen, nor his expositions in classroom lectures on Peter Lombard’s Sententiae, would have led him to investigate Orthodox patristic sources. Orthodox approaches to the question of what constitutes the knowledge of God and the Eastern understanding of “salvation,” as well as the crucial theandric approach to the question of the human condition, all remained hidden to late medieval Western Christians. With regard to Luther’s own theological formation, therefore, as in so much else that pertains to the reformer’s grounding in late medieval Western theology, few new insights have emerged from research since the pioneering work of the “Luther Renaissance” of the 20th century. Even our instinct to search first in such rudimentary sources as the form of published works that Luther may have consulted in his studies disappoints us. Thus, the compilation of Eastern patristic sources in the university library at Wittenberg tells us very little.
Of the possible authors Luther may have encountered, volumes in that library in the original Greek included one or two offerings by Gregory Nazianzus and John of Damascus, and a scattering of Latin texts, including John Chrysostom’s homilies on Genesis, a few sermons of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, and three works on Cyril of Alexandria. We have no way of knowing which—or indeed if any—of these volumes in the Wittenberg library had been acquired by the time Luther took up his teaching duties in the new university in 1512. Moreover, Luther’s later grappling with Latin fathers, especially Augustine, suggests that in any event, he would not have been inclined to receive as authoritative an appeal to a collective “mind of the fathers,” East or West.2
With regard to his hopes for a reform of the church and a reexamination of the question of where ultimate authority over matters of doctrine and practice lay, whatever hopes Luther may have entertained that the Holy Roman Emperor would convene a general council of the church vanished within a decade of his first calls for reform. The fond memories of the role played by Emperor Sigismund at Constance flew in the face of recent church decisions. The appeal to a conciliar understanding of how the Christian church was to deal with disputed theological issues had been settled two years before Luther’s composition of the Ninety-five Theses. The Fifth Lateran Council had definitively rejected conciliarism in any of its forms, and an appeal by Luther to “the Greeks” as a counterexample to the question of where the ultimate authority in Christendom rested had already been settled in the mind of the papacy, and as events proved, of the monarchies of Europe and the imperial house as well.
In the face of this rejection of the Orthodox belief in the principle of conciliarism, Luther and his contemporaries turned to the task of ordering the Evangelical churches. Even had Emperor Charles acceded to the reformers’ first hopes that he call a general council of the church, how authoritative such a gathering would have been understood by the reformers is more complicated a question than it seems. In the composition of various confessional statements after 1530, the role of the first and second councils in crafting the symbol of the Nicaean-Constantinopolitan Creed found repeated affirmation, including endorsement in the first article of the Augsburg Confession. Luther’s recognition of the first four ecumenical councils by 1539 exhausted his affirmations. Aware of Petrus Crabbe’s 1538 history of the ancient councils, Luther devoted no attention to the fifth and sixth councils, nor did the appearance in 1540 of a Latin translation of the Acts of the Seventh Council (787) as well as the canons of the Quinisextum (691/2) (the latter in Greek), evoke further commentary from him.
The reason for Luther’s silence has long recognized by scholars. Whatever respect the reformer had for the ancient councils, his hermeneutical principle that asserted that Scripture alone provided the norm for Christian teaching could not be reconciled with that of the Orthodox. To have accepted Scripture as merely a part of the larger received apostolic teaching insisted upon by the Orthodox would have undercut Luther’s primary objection to the claim of the Patriarch of the West to be the ultimate guardian of “tradition.” That the Orthodox reject the juxtaposition of “scripture” and “tradition” (the latter identified with the “teaching office” of the papacy) was a position that Luther could not have had the opportunity to engage in his lifetime.3
Sporadic Contacts From the Late Early Modern to the Early 20th Century
Although neither Luther nor Philip Melanchthon personally observed Orthodox worship or carried on a dialogue with Orthodox theologians, Melanchthon’s prodigy-student David Chytraeus did. Managing to hear Luther lecture shortly before the latter’s death, the teen-age Chytraeus embarked on a stellar career that included a lengthy stay in Prague in 1569, where his conversations with Jacobos Paleogos and Michael Lebadarius, bishop of Gaza, provided him with the basis for his later lecture series on Eastern Christianity to his students in Rostock. The publication in Latin and German of the expanded version of the lectures as the Oration on the Latest Condition of the Christian Churches under the Turks and Various Other Powers reignited Lutheran interest in seeking Orthodox support for their theological positions.4
Despite his enthusiasm for the subsequent attempts shared by Martin Crusius (1526–1607), Chytraeus, no less than the first generation of reformers, lamented the “worship” of images, praying to the Virgin, and other signs of “superstition,” considering them to be as bad as any abuses present among the papists. Chytraeus’s judgments taken together with new evidence about the famed Greek translation of the Augustana prove that the translation was not written by Melanchthon but by Paulus Dolscius, and for the purpose of teaching his own students, not for a putative Orthodox audience. Further, the Serbian Orthodox deacon Demetrios (who, according to contemporaries, spoke a passable Greek) met a miserable death in 1564 in Wallachia, with the result that neither the translation nor Melanchthon’s letter to Patriarch Joasaph II written in 1559 ever reached Constantinople. Only a decade later, after the appearance of Chytraeus’s lectures, did actual contact ensue. The resulting exchange of letters between the theologians of the Evangelical faculty at Tübingen and the Ecumenical Patriarch Jeremias II between 1574 and 1583 revealed the unbridgeable gulf between the Orthodox and Lutheran understandings of tradition and Scripture, the standing of the councils (including the addition of the filioque to the original Greek text) and writings of the church fathers, the Mysteries and especially the centrality of the Eucharist, and the predictable disagreements about the importance of prayers to the saints, the veneration of icons and relics, and the distinction among bishops, presbyters, and deacons as the ordained servants of the church.5
That both sides recognized the futility of further efforts became manifest by 1599 with the appearance of Lucas Osiander’s Epitomes historiae ecclesiasticae centuria septima. Osiander’s treatment of the Quinisext included his rejection of the majority of the canons adopted to address pastoral issues postponed from the preceding council of 681. Since 16th-century Roman Catholics also refused to recognize the Quinisextum’s conciliar standing, Osiander’s rejection of the canons should not be considered exclusively typical of the Lutheran theologians’ opinion only. Nonetheless, during the decades that followed, no significant exchanges between Lutheran and Orthodox theologians even approximated the levels of interest that had arisen during the preceding century.6
During the maelstrom of the Thirty Years War, the Orthodox Greek cleric Metrophanes Kritopoulos (1589–1639), journeying to the West at the behest of his patron and later Ecumenical Patriarch Kyril Loukaris (1572–1638), undertook a brief examination of sacramental teaching among the Orthodox and compared it to what he understood to be the case among Lutherans, at least those with whom he became acquainted during his brief stay in Helmstedt. In his 1625 Confession, Kritopoulos hinted at a distinction between sacraments of initiation (baptism and Eucharist) and “lesser” sacraments. Even if Lutherans might have noticed a similarity between Kritopoulos’s opinion and Melanchthon’s willingness expressed in the Apology to the Augsburg Confession Article XIII to include “lesser” sacraments alongside baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the similarity remained one of surface appearance only. Kritopoulos insisted on reaffirming marriage as a sacrament based on the image and likeness teaching of Ephesians 5, a position that had not found favor among many Lutherans despite the reformer’s vacillation—first rejecting the Ephesians source during the 1520s and then, in qualified fashion, reaffirming by the 1530s the “mystery”—but not-quite-sacramental—dimension of marriage.7
Evidence now surfaced in the 1620s, hinted at first in private correspondence and later in published book form, that the patriarch of Constantinople, Loukaris, had adopted Reformed theological teaching on the nature of grace, justification, and preelection. He never repudiated his 1629 Orthodox Confession of Faith, which appeared nine years before his own execution by the sultan. As a result, the Synod of Jerusalem in 1672—which by that time included Kritopoulos as Patriarch of Alexandria—condemned Loukaris’s theology and deployed Roman Catholic numbering of seven sacraments (for the first time in Orthodox conciliar statements). That decision effectively closed the door to further discussions with Lutherans, or any other version of Protestant Christianity.8 It is worth noting, however, that the appearance of both Loukaris’s Confession, and the subsequent proclamation of the Synod of Jerusalem’s condemnation of Loukaris as the “Confession of Dositheus,” may well have encouraged Lutherans and non-Orthodox in general to regard the Orthodox now as yet another “confessional” Church, even though that self-identification would remain alien, at least in official Orthodox self-understanding.
During the 18th century, the sole expression of Lutheran interest in the Orthodox surfaced in a predictable context—the desire for an improved version of the original Greek New Testament. But in addition to a renewed desire to contact Orthodox experts in Greek from the Ottoman Empire, the diplomat and linguist Heinrich Wilhelm Ludolf (1655–1712) now extended Lutheran interests into Orthodox Russia. Visiting the newly founded Halle Foundations that had begun as a rescue attempt aimed at the street orphans in Glaucha outside Halle by August Hermann Francke (1663–1727), Ludolf sketched a cosmopolitan vision of contact among the Russian, the captive Greek Orthodox, and the renewal movement within Lutheranism that would become known as a version of the broader movement of Pietism. Wholly unsympathetic to Orthodox theology and praxis as such, the German Pietists nonetheless responded to Ludolf’s fascination with the East by founding an “oriental college,” whose purpose lay in preparing Protestant missionaries to evangelize the East, rescuing Christians from the errors of both Catholicism and Orthodoxy. The invitation to a small group of Greek Orthodox to prepare a new translation of the New Testament in Greek foundered on predictable lines: the promise made, then retracted, to allow the Orthodox to celebrate the Divine Liturgy and observe the traditional practices of piety that had long stood in the way of Lutheran–Orthodox theological agreement.9
The contact with Russia, however, did result in a brief flirtation on the part of at least one Russian hierarch with the Halle Pietists’ efforts at renewing the piety of ordinary believers. It was controversial because of Feofan Prokopovich’s (1681–1736) endorsement of Tsar Peter the Great’s insistence upon the importance of Western standards of education, and as author of the instrument (the Spiritual Regulation) that abolished the Moscow Patriarchate in favor of the new Holy Synod, Prokopovich ultimately failed to found a seminary in Petersburg. He did manage to bring teachers to Russia whose connections with Halle found expression in a new emphasis upon scriptural literacy and the translation of Pietist classics, such as Johann Arndt’s Four Books of True Christianity, into Russian. The impact of the Spiritual Regulation continued to make itself felt throughout the balance of the 18th and 19th centuries in the attacks on local forms of piety deemed to be echoes of former pre-Christian “superstitions” that were prosecuted under criminal law. With the death of both the tsar and Prokopovich in 1736, however, and despite the possession of selected Lutheran Pietist texts in the library of St. Tikhon Zadonsky (1724–1783), Lutheran Pietist influences upon Russian Orthodox theology and practice faded and eventually disappeared.10 Neither in the form of popular expressions of Christian piety, therefore, nor at the level of academic theology can one find significant exchanges between Lutheran and Orthodox theologies beyond the close of the 18th century.
Whether the 16th-century epistolary exchanges or familiarity with the controversy that swirled around Loukaris informed later Orthodox understandings of Lutheran theology is something we cannot say. What is clear is that beginning in the 18th century with a London translation of the rites of the Russian Church, those coming from a Protestant background and wishing to enter the Orthodox Church now faced a series of confessionally specific renunciations. Those renunciations were demanded of all who were deluded by “Lutheran” or “Reformed” error. When the Russian ritual for the reception of Protestants into the Orthodox Church received an updated and expanded English translation in the early 20th century, those Lutherans who would have been addressed in English answered the questions of the bishop that required renouncing the filioque (the Western Church’s later insertion into the original Greek version of the Nicaean-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381), the denial of the transmutation of the elements of the Eucharist; the failure to include Chrismation, marriage, anointing, and ordination by the bishops as Mysteries of the Church; and finally, the error of not accepting the tradition of the church and, hence, that Lutherans “reverence not the Saints, and deprive the dead of spiritual aid and the living of spiritual consolation, in … reject[ing] prayers for the dead.”11 The theological issues that had arisen in the 16th century-context with the Lutherans remained, at least from the perspective of the Orthodox, unchanged.
German Lutheran contact with Arab Christians began during the 1840s under the auspices of a joint Anglican-Prussian bishopric for Jerusalem. Lutherans, however, moved into educational and social-relief work, famously founding the Schneller Orphanage, and made no significant attempts to convert Arab Orthodox, nor, as far as surviving records reveal, to engage theologically with Arab Orthodox hierarchs or theologians. The complicity of the German imperial government in the Armenian genocide during World War I in all probability remained unknown, or at least only suspected, among the Armenian and the Eastern Orthodox of the Middle East. That imperial Germany was not, in actual fact, a confessionally Lutheran state did little to allay suspicions about European Protestant complicity in the sufferings of the Orthodox and further discouraged Orthodox–Lutheran dialogues.12
Formal Dialogues and New Theological Perspectives
The fact that both Scandinavian and German-speaking Lutherans lived in Orthodox Russia for centuries did not lead to theological dialogues or mutual reassessments. Not until 1905 were the ethnically isolated Lutherans allowed to hold their services in the Russian language. Proselytizing remained forbidden, and not only in the dying years of the Tsarist regime. With the Bolshevik Revolution and the invasion of Russia by Nazi Germany in 1942, mass deportations disrupted the centuries-long communities of Lutherans in the now–Soviet Union. The initial steps toward theological exchange between the Orthodox and Lutherans did not begin until after World War II, and even then, in a very halting and cautious manner. Those discussions started only in 1967 when the Lutheran World Federation initiated conversations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Further meetings during the 1970s led finally to the establishment of the Joint Lutheran–Orthodox Commission in 1981.
As those meetings continued, the controversial and alternative reading of Luther’s own theology somewhat misleadingly labeled “the Finnish school” or “Finnish Luther Research” refocused attention upon certain aspects of Luther’s own thought and that of Lutheranism in general. Although different theologians identified with the Finnish Research have explored dimensions of Trinitarian theology, the concept of grace as “gift,” and the question of whether Luther and his later followers were in actual agreement on the question of forensic justification, it is the latter question—justification and theosis—that has sparked the most interest in Lutheran–Orthodox conversations.13
In his summation of the positive and negative responses to certain aspects of the Finnish Luther research, Olli Pekka Vainio dispenses with six issues that pose continuing challenges within Lutheran circles but that appear less likely to be of concern to the Orthodox. Thus, he notes that the term “theosis” or its equivalent does not appear often in Luther’s own works; that theosis could be taken to imply an actual swallowing up of the human person into “God”; that a focus on theosis misleads the believer into a wrong focus on internal spiritual experience as the assurance of salvation; that theosis by its nature must reject the notion of imputed justification; and (intimately connected to one another) that theosis of necessity posits a “gap” between Luther’s teaching about justification and the eventual Lutheran Formula of Concord’s authoritative teaching. By raising this last-named question, critics finally have worried, the Finnish school’s version of Luther and theosis appears to rehabilitate Andreas Osiander, despite the condemnation of his theology in the Formula of Concord (FC SD III).
The remaining issue upon which Vainio rightly focuses attention is the “Ecumenical Usefulness” of theosis. But in so doing, he concludes that after comparing Lutheran, Orthodox, Calvinist, and Catholic “notions of theosis,” they remain distinct. Since Lutheran theology, in common with Western theology by and large has not developed the generally accepted importance among the Orthodox of distinguishing the “essence” from the “energies” of God, comparisons of how the Orthodox understand theological anthropology appear to remain distinct from the Finnish research attempts to assert that Luther’s teaching on justification is simultaneously one that is forensic, and transformative. Instead, Vainio, following the lead of American Lutheran theologian Paul Hinlicky, suggests that Christology opens up a potentially more promising path for Lutheran–Orthodox theological exchanges.
Orthodox theologians have been relatively more hesitant to provide responses or critiques of the new Luther research or to tease out its implications for Orthodox theology. Initially, both Romanian Orthodox and German Lutheran statements in the late 1990s appeared to be content with claiming that the presence of Christ by faith in the believer implied that “salvation” had to mean a genuine participation in God’s nature, citing the classic text 2 Peter 1:4.14 Yet since a Lutheran theologian pointed out, for example, that a Greek translation of Augustine of Hippo’s De Trinitate was used by the medieval hesychast theologian Gregory Palamas, no Orthodox response has been forthcoming. Moreover, Reinhard Flogaus has consistently objected to some of the Lutheran–Orthodox statements that imply that somehow Luther could have endorsed a “processual growth in holiness.” Instead, as Risto Saarinen has aptly summarized Flogaus’s objections, “progress for Luther means that one always begins anew. Therefore the recent Lutheran-Orthodox statements which speak of growth, healing, and progress are misleading.”15
The hesitancy of the Orthodox to take up the complex of issues surrounding a potentially new view of Luther’s Christology has less to do with lack of interest in that topic than with the primary concern of Orthodox theologians for developing an adequate theological anthropology. The Romanian theologian Dumitru Staniloae (1903–1993), in particular, continues to influence Orthodox theologians in insisting, in the words of one commentator, that “cosmology is inseparable … from an anthropology” that is itself rooted in the understanding of the image and likeness of God in humans.16 More critical still, however, was Staniloae’s judgment that the pneumatology of the West remains weakened. In his later years less critical of Roman Catholic tendencies toward “monarchical institutionalism,” Staniloae nonetheless remained troubled by what he judged to be the “weak Christology of Protestantism,” whose end result was “chaotic individualism.”17
Lest Lutherans be tempted to dismiss the late Romanian theologian as atypical, they would find in one of the most important contemporary Orthodox theologians, Metropolian John Zizioulas of Pergamon, a voice that echoes Staniloae’s concerns. In his assessment of the relationship of the Orthodox to the non-Orthodox, Zizioulas reiterates Staniloae’s observations on the weak pneumatology in the West. Zizioulas does not accept the view that the West has ever been ‘Christomonistic’ … but recognizing the importance of the Holy Spirit is not enough … The Church has no hypostasis of its own. This makes Christ’s identity dependent on the existence of the Church, which is paradoxical, for though the Church has no hypostasis of its own, it is a factor that conditions Christ’s identity: the one cannot exist without the many. Such a Christology, conditioned by Pneumatology, explains the fact that the Mystery of Christ is in essence nothing other than the Mystery of the Church. 18 Zizioulas also connects his reflections to the insight of the late Russian theologian Alexei Khomiakov (1804–1860) that the church is “communion,” a term that cannot be understood aright apart from pneumatology. That in turn leads Zizioulas to the Russian theologian Nicholas Afanassieff’s (1893–1966) identification of Orthodoxy as the church characterized by “Eucharistic ecclesiology.” Any discussion of Christology, then, it appears, would not enhance Lutheran–Orthodox discussions in the 21st century without confronting the interconnected set of issues that finally come down again to what Zizioulas identifies: “with regard to the Protestants [it] is the understanding of confessional Churches … a very serious matter, because the use of the term ‘church’ in connection with a ‘confession’ is something that appeared only in the seventeenth century and afterward, not before … We are now in a situation where the Orthodox themselves are treated as a confession, and of course the Orthodox protest that they are not a confession: they are the Church.”19
If Lutheran theologians find Zizioulas’s connections convincing, they would be the first to note that to date, no work in any language has set out a comprehensive picture of Martin Luther’s own cosmology. Lacking such a study, can we be certain that we possess an adequate understanding of the other related theological issues that Zizioulas believes cannot be separated from one another: Luther’s pneumatology, his theological anthropology, his ecclesiology? Moreover, if these parts of the reformer’s theology can be successfully reintegrated, how will this accomplishment affect the standing of the confessional documents themselves? Those late 16th-century statements do not enjoy—among Lutherans or among the Orthodox—the same degree of eminence granted to at least the first four of the Ecumenical Councils. Thus, even before following the suggestion of Paul Hinlicky endorsed by Vainio, that a “more Christologically grounded view on justification offers” a way forward in Lutheran–Orthodox theological exchanges, it would appear necessary to address these related questions first.20
In actual fact, the American theologian Hinlicky appears to agree with Zizioulas to the degree that he has criticized the later history of Lutheran theology in having neglected the pneumatological transformation of creation. For Hinlicky, the correct understanding of “the Law” in Lutheranism must imply “God’s twofold rule of humanity against Satan within the two realms of creation and redemption.” Any separation between the imputed and the sanctifying nature of justification, Hinlicky has argued, destroys “the organic relation of Christ and Spirit in justification and sanctification.”21 If contemporary Lutheran theologians are still debating Luther’s indebtedness to classic Trinitarian and, hence, implicitly, a pneumatological conviction of the Creation’s redemption, the same can be said for his relationship to deeper forms of Western mysticism. A controverted topic in Luther scholarship for generations, Luther’s indebtedness to the various strains of late medieval western mysticism has received renewed attention in recent years. So far, however, this aspect of contemporary Luther research has not been the topic of Lutheran–Orthodox dialogues, although it would appear to be a necessary component of any such future conversation. How theologians like Hinlicky would appropriate or affirm the insights of Volker Leppin, who insists that Luther’s theology is incomprehensible apart from its mystical roots, has also not yet been explored.22
Dvisions among the Eastern Orthodox themselves have emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of post-Soviet states in Eastern Europe. Reassessments of how the Orthodox understand themselves with regard to conventional categories of “Eastern” versus “Western” civilization and Christianity resurfaced after long years of dormancy. That reawakened debate about Orthodox identity also informs Lutheran–Orthodox theological exchanges. With the decline of a public Christian culture in Western Europe and North America, some voices within Orthodoxy have insisted that the preservation of the Christian faith depends upon an Orthodox self-identity that renounces ecumenical ventures or “dialogues” with Catholics or Protestants. Given the long history of estrangement between the Orthodox and Roman Catholics, attempts to analyze the reemergence of a self-proclaimed Orthodox role as the defender of true Christianity highlight Catholic–Orthodox disagreements. This turn toward a more passive-aggressive form of defining Orthodox identity has been analyzed in conferences in Europe and the United States.23
Just so, conversations with Lutherans appear to ultraconservative voices among the Orthodox to be fruitless, threatening an “anti-ecumenical extremism … which aims to annihilate the dialogue between Orthodoxy and other Christian traditions.”24 That substantively different notions about what it means to be human—especially on the controverted issue of same-sex and trans-gendered persons and the standing and meaning of Christian marriage—have now complicated Orthodox-Lutheran discussions of theological anthropology.25 Bringing the respective resources of Lutheran and Orthodox theology to the challenge of Christian witness on that question in an increasingly pluralistic society unimagined by Luther or his Orthodox counterparts has the potential to silence theological conversations or to re-enhance them. The value of such conversations will depend upon an awareness and frank acknowledgment of the interrelated issues explored by both Orthodox and Lutheran theologians since the bi-lateral dialogues began in the late 20th century.
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Hinlicky, Paul R. “Autonomy Is Heresy.” Lutheran Forum 36 (Easter–Spring 2002): 38–45.Find this resource:
Hinlicky, Paul R. “Luther’s New Language of the Spirit: Trinitarian Theology as Critical Dogmatics.” In The Substance of the Faith: Luther’s Doctrinal Theology for Today. Edited by Paul R. Hinlicky, 131–190. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008.Find this resource:
Hinlicky, Paul R. “The Trinitarian Advent: Resituating the Dialectic of Law and Gospel.” In Luther and the Beloved Community: A Path for Christian Theology after Christendom. Edited by Paul R. Hinlicky, 105–135. Grand Rapids, MI, and Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans, 2010.Find this resource:
Kalaitzidis, Pantelis. “The Image of the West in Contemporary Greek Theology.” In Orthodox Constructions of the West. Edited by George Demacopoulos and Aristotle Papanikolaou, 142–160. New York: Fordham University Press, 2013.Find this resource:
Kark, Ruth, Dietrich Denecke, and Haim Goren. “The Impact of Early German Missionary Enterprise in Palestine on Modernization and Environmental and Technological Change, 1820–1914.” In Christian Witness Between Continuity and New Beginnings: Modern Historical Missions in the Middle East. Edited by Martin Tamcke and Michael Martin, 145–176. Berlin and Piscataway, NJ: LIT Verlag, 2006.Find this resource:
Koppe, Rolf, ed. Gemeinschaft der Heiligen: Berufung unserer Kirchen und ihre Erfüllung in der säkularisierten Welt: Siebtes Gespräch im bilateralen Theologischen Dialog zwischen der Rumänischen Orthodoxen Kirche under der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland vom 7. November bis 5. Dezember 1995… Hermannsburg: Missionshandlung, 1999.Find this resource:
Kusukawa, Sachiko. A Wittenberg University Library Catalogue of 1536. Binghamton, NY: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1995.Find this resource:
Leppin, Volker. “‘Ich hab all mein din von Doctor Staupitz’: Johannes von Staupitz als Geistlicher Begleiter in Luthers reformatorischer Entwicklung.” In Wenn die Seele zu atmen beginnt … Geistliche Begleitung in evangelischer Perspektive. Edited by Dorothea Greiner et al., 60–80. Leipzig: Evangelischer Verlangsanstalt, 2007.Find this resource:
Leppin, Volker. “Transformationen spätmittelalterlicher Mystik bei Luther.” In Gottes Nähe unmittelbar erfahren: Mystik im Mittelalter und bei Martin Luther. Edited by Bernd Hamm and Volker Leppin, 165–185. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2007.Find this resource:
Leppin, Volker. Die fremde Reformation: Luthers mystische Würzeln. Munich: C. H. Beck, 2016.Find this resource:
Mastrantonis, George. Augsburg and Constantinople. Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1982.Find this resource:
Mattox, Mickey L., and A. G. Roeber. Changing Churches: An Orthodox, Catholic, and Lutheran Theological Conversation. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2012.Find this resource:
Moennig, Ulrich. “Die griechischen Studenten am Hallenser Collegium orientale theologicum.” In Halle und Osteuropa: Zur europäischen Ausstrahlung des hallischen Pietismus. Edited by Johannes Wallman and Udo Sträter, 299–329. Tübingen, Germany: Niemeyer, 1998.Find this resource:
Nedungatt, George. “The Council of Trullo Revisited: Ecumenism and the Canons of the Council.” Theological Studies 71 (September 2010): 651–676.Find this resource:
Oberman, Heiko A. “Quo Vadis, Petre? Tradition from Irenaeus to Humani Generis.” In The Dawn of the Reformation: Essays in Late Medieval and Early Reformation Thought. Edited by Heiko A. Oberman, 259–296. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1992.Find this resource:
Osiander, Lucas. Epitomes historiae ecclesiasticae centuria septima. VD 16: YV 4854, 281–312. Tübingen, Germany: Georg Gruppenbach, 1599.Find this resource:
Petra, Basilio. “Christos Yannaras and the Idea of ‘Dysis.’” In Orthodox Constructions of the West. Edited by George Demacopoulos and Aristotle Papanikolaou, 161–180. New York: Fordham University Press, 2013.Find this resource:
Roberson, Ronald G. “Dumitru Staniloae on Christian Unity.” In Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology. Edited by Lucian Turcescu, 104–125. Portland, OR: The Center for Romanian Studies, 2002.Find this resource:
Roeber, A. G. “Western, Eastern, or Global Orthodoxy? Some Reflections on St. Augustine of Hippo in Recent Literature.” Pro Ecclesia: A Journal of Catholic and Evangelical Theology 16 (April 2008): 222–235.Find this resource:
Roeber, A. G.Hopes for Better Spouses: Protestant Marriage and Church Renewal in Early Modern Europe, India, and North America. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2013.Find this resource:
Roeber, A. G. “The Orthodox Influence on Western Theologies.” In The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theology. Edited by Ulrich Lehner, Richard Muller, and A. G. Roeber. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.Find this resource:
Saarinen, Risto. “Justification by Faith: The View of the Mannermaa School.” In The Oxford Handbook for Martin Luther’s Theology. Edited by Robert Kolb et al., 254–263. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.Find this resource:
Schulze, Manfred. “Martin Luther and the Church Fathers.” In The Reception of the Church Fathers in the West, vol. 2. Edited by Irena Backus, 573–626. Leiden, The Netherlands and New York: Brill, 1997.Find this resource:
Shevzov, Vera. Russian Orthodoxy on the Eve of Revolution. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.Find this resource:
Stoeckl, Kristina. The Russian Orthodox Church and Human Rights. London and New York: Routledge, 2014.Find this resource:
Vainio, Olli Pekka. “Luther and Theosis: A Response to the Critics of Finnish Luther Research.” Pro Ecclesia 24.4 (2015): 459–474.Find this resource:
Wendebourg, Dorothea. Reformation und Orthodoxie: Der ökemenische Briefwechsel zwischen der Leitung der Württembergischen Kirche und Patriarch Jeremias II: Von Konstnatinopel in den Jahren 1573 bis 1581. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhöck and Ruprecht, 1986.Find this resource:
Wilson, Renate. Faith and Holiness: Lutheran-Orthodox Dialogue 1959–1994. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1997.Find this resource:
Wilson, Renate. “Heinrich Wilhelm Ludolf, August Hermann Francke und der Eingang nach Rusland.” In Halle und Osteuropa: Zur europäischen Austrahlung des hallischen Pietismus. Edited by Johannes Wallmann and Udo Sträter, 83–108. Tübingen, Germany: Niemeyer, 1998.Find this resource:
Zizioulas, John D. “The Orthodox Ecclesiology and the Ecumenical Movement.” In The One and the Many: Studies on God, Man, the Church, and the World Today. Edited by Gregory Edwards, 309–320. Alhambra, CA: Sebastian, 2010.Find this resource:
(1.) For details, see A. G. Roeber, “The Orthodox Influence on Western Theologies,” in The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theology, eds. Ulrich Lehner, Richard Muller, and A. G. Roeber (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).
(2.) Volker Leppin, “‘Ich hab all mein din von Doctor Staupitz’: Johannes von Staupitz als Geistlicher Begleiter in Luthers reformatorischer Entwicklung,” in Wenn die Seele zu atmen beginnt … Geistliche Begleitung in evangelischer Perspektive, eds. Dorothea Greiner et al., 60–80 (Leipzig: Evangelische Verlangsanstalt, 2007); and Manfred Schulze, “Martin Luther and the Church Fathers,” in The Reception of the Church Fathers in the West, vol. 2, ed. Irena Backus, 573–626 (Leiden, The Netherlands, New York, Cologne: Brill, 1997). Sachiko Kusukawa, A Wittenberg University Library Catalogue of 1536 (Binghamton, NY: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1995), provides the lists of volumes for the collection a full generation after Luther’s arrival.
(3.) This summarizes Reinhard Flogaus, “Die altkirchlichen Bekenntnisse als Grundlage der reformatorischen Bekenntnisschriften und die Bedeutung der ökemenischen Konzilien für die Reformation,” in Theologischer Dialog mit dem Ökumenischen Patriarchat: Die Bedeutung der Konzilien und Bekenntnisse für den Ökumenischen Dialog, eds. P. Bosse-Huber and M. Illot, 55–94 (Leipzig: EVA, 2015). On the different understandings of tradition and its relationship to Scripture, see Heiko A. Oberman, “Quo Vadis, Petre? Tradition from Irenaeus to Humani Generis,” in The Dawn of the Reformation: Essays in Late Medieval and Early Reformation Thought, ed. Heiko A. Oberman, 259–296 (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1992).
(4.) This summarizes Daniel Benga, David Chytraeus (1530–1600) als Erforscher und Wiederentdecker der Ostkirchen: Seine Beziehungen zu orthodoxen Theologen, seine Erforscheungen der Ostkirchen und seine ostkirchlichen Kenntnisse (VVB Laufersweiler, 2006).
(5.) See, variously, Ernst Benz, Wittenberg und Byzanz: Zur Begegnung und Auseinandersetzung der Reformation und der Östlich-orthodoxen Kirche (Marburg: Elwert-Gräfe and Unzer Verlag, 1949); George Mastrantonis, Augsburg and Constantinople (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1982); Dorothea Wendebourg, Reformation und Orthodoxie: Der ökemenische Briefwechsel zwischen der Leitung der Württembergischen Kirche und Patriarch Jeremias II: Von Konstnatinopel in den Jahren 1573 bis 1581 (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhöck amd Ruprecht, 1986). But the definitive interpretation of these events is now Reinhard Flogaus, “Eine orthodoxe Interpretation der lutherischen Lehre? Neue Erkenttnisse zur Entstehung der Confession Augustana Craeca und ihrer Sendung an Patriarch Joasaph II,” in Orthodoxie im Dialog: Historische und aktuelle Perspektiven: Festschrift für Heinz Ohme, eds. Reinhard Floguas and Jennifer Wasmuth, 3–42 (Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2015).
(6.) Lucas Osiander, Epitomes historiae ecclesiasticae centuria septima . . . (Tübingen, Germany: Georg Gruppenbach 1599) (VD 16: YV 4854, 281–312. I am indebted to Reinhard Flogaus for bringing this to my attention. For a recent Roman Catholic argument that the Roman Church did in fact eventually accept the conciliar standing of the Quinisextum, see George Nedungatt, “The Council of Trullo Revisited: Ecumenism and the Canons of the Council,” Theological Studies 71 (September, 2010): 651–676.
(7.) Colin Davey, Pioneer for Unity: Metrophanes Kritopoulos (1589–1639) and Relations between the Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Reformed Churches (London: British Council of Churches, 1987), 167–179. For Luther’s stances on marriage, see A. G. Roeber, Hopes for Better Spouses (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2013), 23–28.
(8.) George A. Hadjiantoniou, Protestant Patriarch: The Life of Cyril Lucaris (1572–1638) Patriarch of Constantinople (Richmond, VA: John Knox, 1961), 91–109; Reinhard Flogaus, “Die griechischen Übersetzungen des Heidelberger Katechismus: Entstehung, historischer Kontext, Wirkungsgeschichte,” in Profil und Wirkung des Heidelberger Katechismus: Neue Forschungsbeiträge anlässlich des 450jähringen Jubiläums, eds. Christoph Strohm and Jan Stievermann, 224–268; at 256–260 (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagsbaus, 2015).
(9.) Renate Wilson, “Heinrich Wilhelm Ludolf, August Hermann Francke und der Eingang nach Rusland,” in Halle und Osteuropa: Zur europäischen Austrahlung des hallischen Pietismus, eds. Johannes Wallmann and Udo Sträter, 83–108 (Tübingen, Germany: Niemeyer, 1998); and Ulrich Moennig, “Die griechischen Studenten am Hallenser Collegium orientale theologicum,” in ibid., 299–329.
(10.) Robert Collis, The Petrine Instauration: Religion, Esotericism and Science at the Court of Peter the Great 1689–1725 (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2011), 271–353; and Vera Shevzov, Russian Orthodoxy on the Eve of Revolution (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 17–20.
(11.) Isabel Florence Hapgood, ed., Service Book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Church, 7th ed. (Englewood, NJ: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, 1996) 454–469; here at 456–457.
(12.) Ruth Kark, Dietrich Denecke, and Haim Goren, “The Impact of Early German Missionary Enterprise in Palestine on Modernization and Environmental and Technological Change, 1820–1914,” in Christian Witness Between Continuity and New Beginnings: Modern Historical Missions in the Middle East, eds. Martin Tamcke and Michael Martin, 145–176 (Berlin and Piscataway, NJ: LIT Verlag, 2006); and Wolfgang Gust, ed., The Armenian Genocide: Evidence from the German Foreign Office Archives, 1915–1916 (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2014).
(13.) This paragraph and what follows rely upon Risto Saarinen, “Justification by Faith: The View of the Mannermaa School,” in The Oxford Handbook of Martin Luther’s Theology, eds. Robert Kolb et al., 254–263 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014); Olli Pekka Vainio, “Luther and Theosis: A Response to the Critics of Finnish Luther Research,” Pro Ecclesia 24.4 (2015): 459–474; Anna Briskina, “An Orthodox View of Finnish Luther Research,” Lutheran Quarterly 22.1 (2008): 16–39; and Mickey L. Mattox and A. G. Roeber, Changing Churches: An Orthodox, Catholic, and Lutheran Theological Conversation (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2012), 69–111.
(14.) See, for example, the documents in Rolf Koppe, ed, Gemeinschaft der Heiligen: Berufung unserer Kirchen und ihre Erfüllung in der säkularisierten Welt: Siebtes Gespräch im bilateralen Theologischen Dialog zwischen der Rumänischen Orthodoxen Kirche und der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland vom 7. November bis 5. Dezember 1995 … (Hermannsburg: Missionshandlung, 1999).
(15.) Reinhard Flogaus, Theosis bei Palamas und Luther (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck Ruprecht, 1997), and A. G. Roeber “Western, Eastern, or Global Orthodoxy? Some Reflections on St. Augustine of Hippo in Recent Literature,” Pro Ecclesia: A Journal of Catholic and Evangelical Theology 16 (April, 2008): 222–235; Reinhard Flogaus, “Inspiration-Exploitation-Distortion: The Use of St. Augustine in the Hesychast Controversy,” in Orthodox Readings of Augustine, eds. George E. Demacopoulos and Aristotle Papanikolaou, 63–80 (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir Seminary Press, 2008), 63–80; and Risto Saarinen, Faith and Holiness: Lutheran-Orthodox Dialogue 1959–1994 (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1997), 244–245.
(16.) Marc-Antoine Costa de Beauregard, “Le Cosmos et la Croix,” in Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology, ed. Lucian Turcescu, 147–166; here at 151 (Portland, OR: The Center for Romanian Studies, 2002).
(17.) Ronald G. Roberson, “Dumitru Staniloae on Christian Unity,” in Dumitru Staniloae, ed. Lucian Turcescu, 104–125; here at 124 (Portland, OR: The Center for Romanian Studies, 2002).
(18.) John D. Zizioulas, “The Pneumatological Dimension of the Church,” in The One and the Many: Studies on God, Man, the Church, and the World Today, ed. Gregory Edwards, 75–90 (Alhambra, CA: Sebastian Press, 2010); and Ziziolas, “The Mystery of the Church in Orthodox Tradition,” (in ibid., 136–146; here at 138, 146.
(19.) John D. Zizioulas, “Orthodox Ecclesiology and the Ecumenical Movement,” in The One and the Many:Studies on God, Man, the Church, and the World Today, ed. Gregory Edwards, 309–320; here at 319 (Alhambra, CA: Sebastian Press, 2010).
(20.) Vainio, “Luther and Theosis,” p. 474.
(21.) Paul R. Hinlicky, “Autonomy Is Heresy,” Lutheran Forum 36 (Easter–Spring, 2002): 38–45, here at 43, 42. See also in greater detail, Hinlicky, “Luther’s New Language of the Spirit: Trinitarian Theology as Critical Dogmatics,” in The Substance of the Faith: Luther’s Doctrinal Theology for Today, ed. Paul R. Hinlicky, 131–190 (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008); and Hinlicky, Chapter 4: “The Trinitarian Advent: Resituating the Dialectic of Law and Gospel,” in Luther and the Beloved Community: A Path for Christian Theology after Christendom, ed. Paul R. Hinlicky, 105–135 (Grand Rapids, MI, and Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans, 2010).
(22.) Volker Leppin, “Transformationen spätmittelalterlicher Mystik bei Luther,” in Gottes Nähe unmittelbar erfahren: Mystik im Mittelalter und bei Martin Luther, eds. Bernd Hamm and Volker Leppin, 165–185 (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2007); and, more extensively, Leppin, Die fremde Reformation: Luthers mystische Würzeln (Munich: C. H. Beck, 2016). For later echoes of these strains in early modern Lutheranism, see also A. G. Roeber, Hopes for Better Spouses, 1–33.
(23.) See, for example, Pantelis Kalaitzidis, “The Image of the West in Contemporary Greek Theology,” in Orthodox Constructions of the West, eds. George Demacopoulos and Aristotle Papanikolaou, 142–160 (New York: Fordham University Press, 2013), and Basilio Petra, “Christos Yannaras and the Idea of ‘Dysis,’” in ibid., 161–180. For the Russian issues, see the essays in Alfons Brüning and Evert van der Zweerde, eds., Orthodox Christianity and Human Rights (Leuven, Belgium, and Paris: Peeters, 2012); and Kristina Stoeckl, The Russian Orthodox Church and Human Rights (London and New York: Routledge, 2014).
(24.) For an introduction to the problem of primacy, see, for example, John Panteleimon Manoussakis, “Primacy and Ecclesiology: The State of the Question,” in Orthodox Constructions of the West, eds. George Demacopoulos and Aristotle Papanikolaou, 229–239 (New York: Fordham University Press, 2013); on the ultraconservative Orthodox “Confession of Faith,” see Pantelis Kalaitzidis, “Concluding Reflections,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 60.1–2 (2016): 279–297; here at 296.
(25.) For literature and commentary, see Mattox and Roeber, Changing Churches, 194–223; 281–314.