Christian Orthodoxy

(2014/2) Editor(s): Felix Wilfred (c), Daniel Pilario
Cover Page

Articles of the issue

Orthodoxy Today

‘Heresy’ in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity

Robert M. Royalty, JR


The Christian notion of heresy, the idea that someone holding different theological ideas should be condemned as satanic and excluded from fellowship, and the genre of heresiology, the rhetoric of demonized difference, are central in the formation of orthodox Christianity.  While scholars have usually placed the development of this notion and the discourse of heresiology in the second century CE, the notion of heresy precedes the technical use of the term in first century Christian texts and the sectarian writings from Qumran.  The notion of heresy is central in many texts that become part of the New Testament.

Orthodoxy in Nicaea-Constantinople and Chalcedon

Norman Tanner S.J.


This article traces the formulation of orthodoxy through the Nicene Creed and the Definition of Chalcedon.  The creed grew out of the first two ecumenical councils, Nicea I in 325 and Constantinople I in 381. It remains today the most important formula of faith for the three main branches of the Christian community: the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches.  The council of Chalcedon in 451 produced the key Definition regarding Christ’s divinity and humanity. 

          While acknowledging the definitive nature of the two statements, the article also explores their updating. 

Orthodoxy and Ideology

Werner G. Jeanrond


Orthodoxy has been an important concern throughout Christian history, the criteria for which were stated by Christian writers such as Irenaeus and Vincent of Lérins. Their understanding of Christian Orthodoxy and criteria is based on what Paul Ricœur would call Idem-identity or identity understood as sameness. But St. Augustine leads us to a new understanding of Christian faith and orthodoxy which Paul Ricœur would call ipse-identity in which the agency of the subject is involved.  The article argues in the light of St. Augustine that orthodoxy should not be defined as a matter of ensuring the borders by exclusion, but rather it should be defined from the heart of Christian faith, that is love. The claims of orthodoxy, in short, need to be derived from the interpretation of love and its practice.

A Hermeneutic of Orthodoxy

David Tracy


The ultimate test of orthodox Christianity is the test of a genuinely Christian way of life.  Hermeneutically, the precise meaning of all doctrinal propositions is determined by their use in a historically definite context.  The judgments endure but always need new cultural and linguistic formulations in the increasing cross-cultural conversation of the global church.  

There is no innocent culture, tradition, or orthodoxy.  Contemporary theology will do well to employ basic modern Western hermeneutics:  retrieval, critique, suspicion followed by more informed retrieval.  A four-fold vision that pluralizes an earlier mystical-political theological focus is proposed.

Orthodoxy in the Postmodern Context

Lieven Boeve


How to adequately understand the Christian truth claim, and its relation to our current context? Answering this question immediately involves entering into the discussion about the different ways this truth claim is understood in relation to the multiple ways in which the context is analysed. In the postmodern context the often self-evident truth claim is interrupted both from a socio-cultural and philosophical perspective. In a concise manner, three ways to deal with the challenge of this interruption are discussed: one defending orthodoxy against its interruption; another associating orthodoxy with this interruption; and a third allowing orthodoxy to be challenged by this interruption in order to rediscover its own interruptive nature.

Orthodoxy when the Christ is Jesus

Jon Sobrino, SJ


El presupuesto del artículo es que, histórica y existencialmente, el cristianismo gira alrededor de Jesús de Nazaret. En cuanto realidad histórica es camino al Cristo y salvaguarda de su realidad. Esta realidad es, en definitiva, buena noticia, eu-aggelion. El recto pensar de la ortodoxia  debe ir acompañado por el recto actuar en el seguimiento de Jesús, la ortopraxis, y por el recto dejarse afectar por Jesús de Nazaret. Así lo han dicho, en la línea de este artículo, Leonardo Boff e Ignacio Ellacuría. Y así lo dijo, desde su propia teología, Karl Rahner.

Radical Orthodoxy

Georges De Schrijver, SJ 


In his book Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (1990), the Anglican theologian John Milbank refused to admit any type of secular mediation in theological reflection, for fear it might distort orthodox faith. He, instead, opted for a postmodern version of  Augustinianism, in which the church community, in its diversity,  was seen as participating in the Triune God’s peaceful coexistence (in sharp contrast to the violence prevalent in the secular city). For Milbank, the theme of participation became so central that later on he gave it a, sophiological,  panentheistic  flavor – the church community’s worship revitalizes the inner life of the Trinity. This view is no longer Augustinian. So, the question can be asked: is Milbank’s orthodoxy not excessively radical?

‘Orthodoxy’ and ‘Heterodoxy’ in Hinduism and Buddhism

George Gispert-Sauch, SJ


The categories of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy as generally understood in Semitic and Western tradition may not apply to Hinduism and Buddhism. Orthodoxy for Hinduism is bound-up with the authority of the Vedas symbolizing the belonging to a community. Heterodoxy (nastika) is the failure to recognize the authority of the Vedas and of the community, which is more in the line of apostasy. Once the authority of the Vedas is accepted, one is free to interpretate its texts in the way it is most helpful to his/her salvation. Here, orthodoxy does not come into play as a matter of correct preposition or truth of a belief system. Buddhism is unorthodox, not because of its denial of God, but because of its refusal to accept the Vedas as a source of knowledge for final liberation. The element of heresy is stronger in Buddhism and its history because it became a matter of interpreting the historical figure of Buddha and his path. 

The Bishops and the Reproductive Health Bill

Eric Marcelo O. Genilo, SJ

Bishop Tebartz van Elst and the Universal Church

Johannes Hoffmann

Jesus Against Rebirth

Francis X. Clooney, SJ