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Is it possible to receive an unbaptized person into the Orthodox Church without baptizing him? What would it mean to do such a thing? You might not expect a book about the Second Vatican Council to elicit such questions from Orthodox sacramental theology but Fr. Peter Heers’s 2015 doctoral thesis, published with the title The Ecclesiological Renovation of Vatican II (ERV2), does just that. The book examines the theology and practice of baptism in the Latin West as it was articulated at the Second Vatican Council (V2), tracing its development from the time of St. Augustine, and contrasts this narrative, unfavorably, with what is presented as the theology and practice of the Orthodox East.
The main thesis of ERV2 is that the Latin West has departed by degrees from the patristic theology and practice of baptism, culminating in an entirely novel understanding of baptism articulated at V2. This new conception of baptism becomes the theological foundation for a new ecclesiology that enables the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) to enter the arena of ecumenical engagement, from which it had previously been excluded by its own theological commitments.
Years - Publication - Book - Attention - Terms
In the more than three years since its publication the book has received little sustained attention in terms of its structure, thesis, and argument. Such attention is needed, because ERV2 asserts a particular understanding of our own canonical and ecclesiological tradition that bears further scrutiny. Additionally, the way in which that tradition is deployed against the West raises methodological questions about the structure of the argument as a whole. This essay will highlight the structural flaws in ERV2 and devote sustained attention to the canonical and historical dimensions of its claims concerning the Christian East, with the intention of demonstrating that it presents a distorted understanding of the Orthodox tradition and fails to offer a sound...
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