We are pleased to announce that at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion (Baltimore, MD, November 23-26, 2013) alongside our additional meetings we will host a Wildcard Session as part of the regularly scheduled conference.
‘ONE CHURCH: HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOCALYPTIC’
Sunday, November 24th, 3:00 – 4:30 pm
Continuing the work of the ‘Explorations in Theology and Apocalyptic’ group which has previously convened as an additional meeting in recent years, this session focuses upon the doctrine of the church as a particularly neuralgic point of contemporary Christian theology and explores various possibilities for drawing upon apocalyptic discourse and modes of thought to advance, re-frame and creatively shift current ecclesiological debates. Four invited panelists engage this task by asking, from varied perspectives and with differing concerns, about the ‘difference apocalyptic makes’ to contemporary theological understandings of the church’s witness and mission, its institutional forms, its sacramental life and practice, and the manner and horizon of its political engagements. What light might renewed attention to the apocalyptic character of the Christian gospel shed upon enduring questions of the unity, particularity, catholicity and historic continuity of Christian communities?
Dr Philip Ziegler (University of Aberdeen), Presiding
Dr. Joseph Mangina (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto): If It’s a Symbol, To Hell With It: Apocalyptic and Transubstantiation
The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist demands consideration of the bodily character of God’s Selbstmitteilung. Christ’s self-gift in the Eucharist is the gift of his body. A good theology of real presence will uphold both the gift-aspect and the bodily-aspect. Setting the Eucharist in an explicitly apocalyptic frame of reference aids in this endeavour. Theologies of real presence often betray dualist assumptions, but if the Eucharist is apocalyptically given, such unhealthy dualisms can be overcome. Since Christ is the reality manifest in the Eucharist, the sacrament can be thought on analogy with the incarnation. George Hunsinger’s recent creative proposal for thinking about real presence has much to recommend it,but I argue that a more properly apocalyptic doctrine of real presence is in fact provided by transubstantiation, carefully understood, with its strong kinship to the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. Important ecumenical and ecclesiological consequences follow.
Dr. Susan Eastman (Duke University Divinity School): One Church Holy and Apocalyptic?
Does appeal to apocalyptic trump ‘apostolic’ as a descriptor of the church? This paper explores the points of tension and of contact between descriptions of the church as apostolic and as apocalyptic. Insofar as ‘apostolic’ signals an overriding concern to protect the church’s identity through an institutionally protective and unbroken stream of tradition and leadership, apocalyptic descriptors of the church represent a profound interruption and disruption of such self-description. Insofar, however, as the meaning of ‘apostolic’ is drawn from the force of the Greek — ‘sent out’ — the church as apocalyptic must indeed be apostolic. In this sense, the word ‘apostolic’ conveys the church’s union with Christ in Christ’s redemptive incursion into human history existence without remainder and without exception.
Dr. Chris Huebner (Canadian Mennonite University): The Apocalyptic Body of Christ? Reflections on Yoder and Apocalyptic Theology
The work of John Howard Yoder figures prominently among many of those who represent the so-called “apocalyptic turn” in recent theology. And yet among the many themes that are said to identify Yoder as a fellow apocalyptic thinker, one theme about which there seems to be comparative silence is his understanding of the body. This paper sets out to explore that silence. In doing so, it investigates two questions: first, Is Yoder’s understanding of the body in tension with other aspects of his work that might be characterized as more properly apocalyptic? Or, second, can we find in Yoder an account of the apocalyptic body that might serve to enrich recent discussions about apocalyptic theology?
Mr. Ry O. Siggelkow (PhD Candidate, Princeton Theological Seminary): The Transgression of the Integrity of the Church
Post-Yoderian political theology concentrates upon preserving the church’s distinctive public identity vis-à-vis modern political formations claiming that previous ways of thinking about the church’s relationship to politics owe too much to Troeltsch and the liberal Protestant establishment. Convinced that political theology has too often acquiesced to the norms of modern secular politics, such theology redirects Christian theological attention away from the modern nation-state and onto the church’s tradition and core practices. The church and its liturgy are not only the site for the formation of Christian virtue, but also in themselves and as such constitute Christian political action. Drawing on the work of Käsemann, MacKinnon, and Yoder I argue that this “turn to the church” in political theology can re-inscribe the very Constantinian logic it seeks to resist and suggest that an account of the church framed by an apocalyptic theologia crucis provides the necessary corrective.