Florovsky Plenary Paper Abstract - Salvation as 'Participation' in the Ecumenical Councils

Feast of St Joanna the Myrrhbearer

THIS LECTURE seeks to apply Father George Florovsky’s ‘neopatristic synthesis’ to the doctrine of salvation in the age of the Ecumenical Councils (325-787 A.D.). Special attention is given to the saving ontology of the Incarnation as expressed in the Nicene dogma of the homoousios, and the Chalcedonian doctrine of the hypostatic union and its fuller conceptual articulation through Nicea II (787). In comparing the Fathers’ views on salvation as participation with the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone, I observe the ascetic renunciation of good works as meritorious in St. Mark the Monk’s work, Concerning Those Who Imagine that they are Justified by Works (The Philokalia, vol. 1). I conclude by drawing out two issues that are ecumenically relevant for this conference. The first is ecclesiological: Which of our communities most faithfully embodies the faith and order of historic Christianity? The second is soteriological: When seen from the perspectives of the Ecumenical Councils, the differing views of the Reformers, and modern Luther scholarship, the doctrine of justification by faith need not be a church-dividing issue from an Eastern Orthodox perspective. If true, how then might Roman Catholics and Protestants respond to this Orthodox perspective on the Reformation?

Bradley Nassif is a professor of biblical and theological studies at North Park University (Chicago). He holds a PhD in patristics from Fordham University (directed by the late Father John Meyendorff), an MDiv from St. Vladimir’s Orthodoxy Seminary, MA’s in New Testament from Denver Seminary and History from Wichita State University, and a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Friends University. He has been a consultant for The New York Times, a longtime contributor to Christianity Today, and a pioneer of Orthodox-Evangelical dialogue in America, the World Council of Churces, and the Lausanne-Orthodox-Initiative. The New Republic described him as “the leading academic expert on Eastern Orthodox and Evangelical dialogue.” He is the general editor of New Perspectives on Historical Theology: Essays in Memory of John Meyendorff (Eerdmans), co-editor of The Philokalia: A Classic Text of Orthodox Spirituality (Oxford University Press), and author of Bringing Jesus to the Desert (Zondervan).

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