Receptive Ecumenism is a kind of 'third way' for ecumenism once we have realised that nothing is going to change in the short term between churches insistent that they are in the right. This new direction for ecumenism is to shift the paradigm from 'teaching' to 'learning.' When we think we are in the right then we are liable to approach ecumenical dialogue with the attitude that we have something to teach the other partner or partners. Receptive Ecumenism encourages the idea that we might enter such dialogues ready to learn from the other, no matter how much we might think the other has wrong-headed ideas or ecclesial deficits. I gather Receptive Ecumenism is now important to the direction the ARCIC III conversations are going in.
Just browsing through the papers yesterday I noticed an interesting paper by Nicholas Sagovsky. With a surname like that people as prone to rushing to judgement like me might think it was an Eastern Orthodox contribution but, no, Sagovsky is an Anglican and the paper is entitled, 'Anglicanism and the Conditions for Communion - A Response to Cardinal Kasper' (pp. 373-384). He takes up a searching question of Kasper to Anglicans:
"How is it possible to designate Scripture and the Apostles' and Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creeds as normative in the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, but to disregard the binding force of the subsequent living tradition?"
Sagovsky's reply has both a certain intellectual neatness and a modelling of receptive ecumenism. For time and space's sake I pass over an important argument Sagovsky makes concerning Anglican 'comprehensiveness' (which Kasper concomitantly takes up in relation to the question) and head to this paragraph (p.380):
"A distinct concern for Anglicans to put to Roman Catholics is the way in which definitions that have taken place after the division of the West and the East have for them constrained the depevelopment of 'living tradition' within the understanding of one particular historic epoch. One such case would be the definition of transubtantiation (1215); another would be the definition of the Immaculate Conception (1854); another the bodily Assumption of Mary (1950). In each case the Orthodox have refrained from making similar definitions. The Orthodox would undoubtedly press the question of the role of the Bishop of Rome in doctrinal definitions such as those of 1854 and 1950, neither of which was made in the conciliar context but only after consultation within the Roman Catholic Church. Yet the Roman Catholic faithful are bound to accept such definitions. Kasper's question to Anglicans about their failure to accept 'the binding power of the living tradition' becomes in reverse a question to Roman Catholics about the premature binding of the living tradition." [my italics]
Tomorrow I will take up a point Sagovsky makes about tradition and communion within Anglicanism. It is one thing to neatly offer a rejoinder to Kasper's searching question, it is another thing to work out the manner in which tradition binds Anglicans and the means by which Anglicans themselves avoid premature binding of tradition!