Monday, February 15, 2016

Book Review In the Image and Likeness of God – A Hope-Filled Anthropology The Buffalo Statement 2015

Book Review
In the Image and Likeness of God – A Hope-Filled Anthropology
The Buffalo Statement 2015[1]

            The Buffalo Statement (2015) is the newest statement, agreed by the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue (ICAOTD), entitled In the Image and Likeness of God. This fourth phase began in 2009 under the co-chairmanship of Archbishop Roger Herft and Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, completing it in September 2015 in Buffalo, USA.
            Metropolitan Kallistos has, in a number of occasions, when referring to the official dialogue between the Anglicans and the Orthodox, proposed the change of theme from ecclesiology to anthropology. Additionally, we can also identify that ‘in the section entitled ‘Christ, Humanity, and the Church,’ The Cyprus Statement also raised questions concerning the Christian understanding of the human person.’ (p. viii) Thus, the Commission wished to officially move from ecclesiology to anthropology, a theme which will dominate in the relations in the 21st century.

This agreement will shape future talks and examinations of a number of topics, such as bioethics and the sanctity of life, human rights, ecology and the human person, who is created in the Image and Likeness of God. The Commission decided to have this as the first part. The second one, not yet drafted, will follow, examining the ‘practical consequences that follow from these theological presuppositions. Topics to be discussed will include the responsibility of humankind for the environment, questions on sexuality, the meaning of marriage, and human interventions at different stages of life: before and at birth (birth control, abortion, experimentation on the foetus, etc.), during the course of life (transplant of organs), and at death (euthanasia, assisted dying).’ (p. ix) Therefore, both these parts seem to examine issues which do not only have a religious interest, but also a social, medical, anthropological, philosophical and political concern.
It is interesting to see that the Commission identifies the difficulties of the relations between the Anglicans and the Orthodox since 1977, due to the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate. In the introduction we read, ‘it is also possible that we shall not agree entirely concerning the practical consequences of our theology of personhood. Yet without doubt our recent dialogue is drawing us more closely together, as we share in the prayer of Christ: ‘May they all be one.’’(p. x.).
The Statements between the Anglican Communion and the Orthodox Church (Moscow, Dublin, Cyprus and Buffalo) show the great progress and continued relations between the two ecclesiastical traditions, trying to bring a better understanding of the commonalities and differences. Dialogue is crucial in order to attempt, with the inspiration and blessing of the Holy Spirit, to achieve unity. These Official Statements are a way forward towards this objective. That is why we need to read them and re-read them in order to identify the progress of the relations and try to achieve ‘that they all may be one.’

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