fredag 3. september 2010

Helene Lund disputerer i systematisk teologi 8. oktober

Cand.theol. Helene Lund holder prøveforelesninger og disputerer for graden PhD på Menighetsfakultetet.

Torsdag 7. oktober 2010

kl. 1615: første prøveforelesning (tema oppgis 23.09).

kl. 1715: andre prøveforelesning over selvvalgt emne:

’The idea of “just war” in the Russian Orthodox Church at the beginning of the 3rd millennium’.

Fredag 8. oktober 2010

kl. 1015: doktordisputas:

”Conflicting Ecclesiologies. Exploring the Ecclesiological Discourse in the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the World Council of Churches from 1998 to 2002”.

Disputasen ledes av rektor Vidar L. Haanes.

Prøveforelesninger og disputas holdes i Aud. I, Gydas vei 4.

Sammendrag av avhandlingen:

The thesis is about the power struggle and crisis in the World Council of Churches in the year of 1998 and the following years until 2002 between Orthodox member churches and the other member churches. The Orthodox criticized the WCC for being organised by a Protestant way of thinking and for defining ecclesiology and ecumenism on Protestant terms. Based on this critique the Orthodox demanded radical changes in the way the WCC should be organised, threatening to discontinue their participation if not. The WCC responded to this claim by establishing the “Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the World Council of Churches” with a mandate to propose the necessary changes in order make further Orthodox participation possible.

The struggle is about competing understandings of the Church and of the nature of fellowship of member churches in the WCC, and thus also of what ecumenism is really about. Some member churches understand themselves as parts of the one Church, while the Orthodox member churches understand themselves as being the one Church and the other member churches as pseudo-churches. The reasons for engaging in the modern ecumenical movement and for participating in the WCC are thus also different for these two groups. The Orthodox member churches have from the beginning and still today argued for participating in the WCC by referring to the missionary task of the [Orthodox] Church, to witness about the truth and the unity of the Church for the divided Christendom, and inviting the separated Christian brothers back into the fellowship of the [Orthodox] church1. This understanding is different from most of the other member churches. Some of the other member churches understand the task of ecumenism more in terms of making visible some sort of already existing unity.

The organisational space for membership from both groups was meant to be established by the Toronto statement, “The Church, the Churches and the World Council of Churches” in 1950. This statement has been used differently by the Orthodox and the other member churches. For the Orthodox chapter III is foundational for membership, because it states that the WCC is not and shall never become the Church. Other member churches have been more interested in elaborating the ecclesiological implications of the nature of the fellowship of the member churches (chapter IV). This has caused organisational ambiguity for the WCC concerning how to understand the organisational development and history of the WCC.

This thesis argues that the Orthodox wanted to get rid of this organisational ambiguity. The Special Commission made several and extensive suggestions for changes in order to solve the crisis, including among others to terminate the existing democratic voting system and introducing a new decision making model. The present thesis shows that the proposals and solutions proposed by the Special Commission did not manage to get rid of the organisational ambiguity that has followed the WCC from the Toronto Statement. The WCC does in fact need this ambiguity in order to facilitate participation for member churches holding these different self-understandings and understandings of ecumenism. From this follows that the WCC has chosen a very difficult and ambitious organisational goal, keeping the questions alive about what is ecumenism really about, without taking position with either the Orthodox or the other ones. In other words the WCC cannot make any other progress than keeping this question alive. This is a very challenging goal because its success depends on great virtues from the participants and must expect that the delegates from the various member churches have extensive knowledge about and acceptance of the fact that there is no unified understanding of what the church is or what ecumenism is really about.

In fact, the assumed recommendation of not taking position either with an Orthodox’ or the other member churches’ ways of thinking is very difficult to put into practice. The Special Commission recommended the consensus model of decision making that had been used in a Protestant member church “Uniting Church of Australia”, without reflecting on how this model might contribute to cause similar problems as those that led to the crisis in 1998. My thesis argues that if member churches start using the experiences from this new decision making model as the basis for interpreting the fellowship of member churches as an experience of the fellowship of the one Church, then the WCC might soon experience a new crisis with similarities to the one in 1998.