PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
Boston, MA
November 18-21, 2017

Preliminary 2017 Annual Meeting Program (PDF)

Preliminary 2017 Annual Meeting Program (MS Word)

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Ecclesiological Investigations Unit
Theme: Global Ecclesial Responses to Increasing Extremism and Nationalism
Miriam Perkins, Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan, Presiding
Saturday - 4:00 PM-6:30 PM
Sheraton Boston-Republic A (Second Level)

In response to escalating anxieties over refugees, immigration, and globalization, and their perceived threat to economic prosperity and civic life, there has been an increase in political parties emphasizing nationalist and sometimes racist ideologies in Europe, Asia, Australia, and in the United States. This has incited instances of hate speech and violence against immigrants, Muslims, people of color, and women. Papers consider the resistance and complicity of churches to these developments in different national contexts.

Vincent J. Miller, University of Dayton
Which Nationalism? What Extremism? Responding to Political Violence in a New Moment

Essential to any consideration of ecclesial responses to current extremism and nationalism is a critical conception of the contemporary specifics of these dynamisms. The events of the past two years have horrific historical resonance with some of the worst aspects of past extremism and nationalism. But clearly the moment is quite different from early 20th century nationalisms. This paper considers changes to media structures and the neoliberal transformation of state and international institutions as the context for the rise of contemporary nationalism and extremism in order to develop a more adequate ecclesial response.

Stan Chu Ilo, DePaul University
Confronting the Challenges of Religious Extremism and the Humanitarian and Migration Crisis in Africa

This paper will analyze the current situation in South Sudan to show how religious extremism, and humanitarian and migration crisis impact the lives of many Africans and contribute to the refugee crisis in Europe and North America. South Sudan will be presented within the bigger context of the semi-permanent nature of humanitarian crisis in some African regions eg, the Dadab refugee camp in Northern Kenya for Somali refugees which is the largest refugee camp in the world; the influx of refugees and unpredictable migratory patterns in the Great Lakes, and the present refugee crisis in Congo, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad Basin, and Northern Nigeria.
Using South Sudan as a representative portrait of this crisis, I will explore the reasons for the declaration of famine in this country in February by three UN agencies. I will historicize the problem through an analysis of religious extremism, nationalism, ethnocentricism and xenophobia in Africa.

Ulrich Schmiedel, Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich
European Extremes: Churches in the Clash of Cultures

In the controversies stirred up by the current migration crisis, PEGIDA (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes) protests the “insidious Islamization” of Europe. Criticizing how churches throughout Germany welcome migrants, pegida claims to be Christian, contrasting a “Christian Europe” with a “non-Christian non-Europe,” identified with Islam. I will analyze and assess the churches’ responses to pegida. What is at stake in the controversies stirred up by pegida’s protest, I will argue, is the circular logic of a clash of cultures. The conflict between cultures is both the condition and the consequence of this circular logic. Crucially, it is a logic to which both pegida’s defenders and pegida’s detractors in the churches resort. I will advocate for a political theology which criticizes this logic by weakening the identity of Christianity. Arguably, a weak identity is what is needed by churches in a Europe caught between refugees and religion.

Gerard Mannion, Georgetown University
Resisting the Politics of Hatred and Exclusion: Time for New Forms of Public and Political Theology

This paper will seek to explore if a new type of public and political theology can be shaped and indeed is already emerging in parallel and sharp contrast to the disturbing shift toward exclusionary and prejudicial political discourse and policy. It will argue for a global coalition against the politics of hatred and exclusion, and suggest that not only is a new form of public and political theological discourse necessary and possible, but that we can see it is already present in the form of multiple statements from leaders such as Pope Francis, as well as so many collaborations and grassroots organizations around the globe. The key challenge will be to encourage those church leaders in some of the countries worst affected by the new politics of hate, to be braver and to be at the forefront of resistance to such politics.

Business Meeting:
Bradford E. Hinze, Fordham University
Ecclesiological Investigations Unit
Theme: Church Perspectives on the Legacy of the Reformation
Mark Chapman, Ripon College, Cuddesdon, Presiding
Sunday - 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Sheraton Boston-Back Bay D (Second Level)

With the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, this session is devoted to exploring diverse official and theological assessments of various Christian Churches to Martin Luther’s Reformation. Papers explore views from across the spectrum of Christian churches and traditions and from various global perspectives.

Brian Flanagan, Marymount University
Ecclesial Sin and Holiness in Liturgical Commemoration of the Reformation

The commemoration of 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation lifts up both the real advances made in the churches’ continuing reception of the Gospel, and the shattering of western ecclesial unity that resulted from the events of 1517. Explicitly not “celebrations” of the Reformation, at least according to From Conflict to Communion, ecumenical and confessional commemorative liturgies seek to balance praise and lament, joy and sorrow, thanksgiving and repentance, for this history. As the question of the confessing of the sins of the past in relation to the holiness of the church is precisely at issue in continuing Roman Catholic-Lutheran dialogues on the church, as well as other bilateral and multilateral ecumenical dialogues, the ways in which liturgical commemoration of this anniversary year embody these tensions provide a unique window into the convergences and divergences of Roman Catholic and Lutheran ecclesiologies of the holiness and sinfulness of the church.

Wolfgang Vondey, University of Birmingham
Pentecostalism and the Reformation: Toward a Joint Ecumenical Commemoration

This presentation examines the relationship of Pentecostalism to the Reformation through an ecclesiological comparison which suggests that the ecumenical implications of both the Reformation and Pentecostalism must be located outside of either movement and be identified with regards to the origin of the church as such. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost can function as the basis for unity not merely as a historical or ecclesial but as an ecumenical event. Both the Pentecostal and the Reformation traditions trace their origins to Pentecost rather than to the more immediate events that mark their historical appearance. Although each tradition obtained its particular form through very different teachings, practices, and experiences of the more immediate contexts, Pentecost can function as an ecumenical birthright for both traditions. The presentation follows this argument by identifying Pentecost as a symbol of the church throughout history in Pentecostal and Reformation thought, beginning with an observation of Pentecost in the thought of the Reformers, contrasting this view with Pentecostal theology, and assessing how each perspective is related to the other theologically through a shared appeal to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Shaun Brown, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto
George Lindbeck's Early Israelology: A "Catholic Protestant" Perspective on the Reformation

In the midst of his work as a Lutheran observer at the Second Vatican Council, George Lindbeck sought to determine if a Protestant can accept the Roman Catholic Church’s ecclesiological claims and still remain Protestant. Lindbeck acknowledges that this thought experiment may appear absurd at first glance. He argues, however, that Luther and the earliest Reformers held to a very similar view. The first generation of Reformers saw their work as a reform movement within the western church rather than the creation of a new church. Lindbeck notes that one criticism of the position he has outlined is that his approach appears to create a disjunction between faithfulness and churchly character. Lindbeck offers a counter-argument to these possible criticisms by exploring the parallel between Israel and the church. He seeks to show that just as Israel remained the people of God despite its unfaithfulness, so does the church.

Gunda Werner, Eberhard-Karls-University, Tuebingen
Ecclesiological Investigations Unit and World Christianity Unit
Theme: Rethinking Theology in Light of World Christianities: The Legacy of Robert Schreiter and Stephen Bevans
Deanna Womack, Emory University, Presiding
Sunday - 5:00 PM-6:30 PM
Sheraton Boston-Back Bay D (Second Level)

This session critically examines the trailblazing theological contributions of Robert Schreiter and Stephen Bevans, and consider their implications for the changing faces of contemporary ecclesiology and the growth of World Christianity,

Henry Kuo, Graduate Theological Union
A New Confessional Catholicity: Reformed Ecclesiology and the New Catholicity

In his groundbreaking work, The New Catholicity, Robert Schreiter engages in an extended conversation on intercultural hermeneutics and expands upon the work of Siegfried Wiedenhofer in positing the shape of what a “new catholicity” might look like. This presentation endeavors to bring Schreiter into conversation with Reformed constructions of the church’s catholicity or, “Reformed catholicity,” using the new catholicity as a guide for rethinking Reformed confessions in a way that holds difference and sameness together in dynamic unity. The presentation argues that attending to localized expressions of the gospel and the application of theological principles to bear on local historical and social challenges enables confessions in one context to be dangerous memories for another. Hence, the diversity of confessions becomes a concrete way for local ecclesial bodies to be in fellowship and solidarity with each other in the face of challenges to the gospel, thereby strengthening Reformed catholicity.

Jaisy Joseph, Boston College
Re-imagining Catholicity: Robert Schreiter and the Interruption of Universalizing Tendencies

One dimension of Robert Schreiter’s enduring legacy lies in his interruption of universalizing tendencies in European and North American theologies (Schreiter, 2004). Along with Stephen Bevans, he recognizes diverse human experience as a locus theologicus that complements, rather than contradicts, scripture and tradition (Bevans, 2008). Schreiter, however, takes this distinction between universal and universalizing further when he calls for a “new catholicity” that meets the challenges of global social change. In this paper, I will first address the significant advances of Schreiter’s trailblazing argument, which locates catholicity between the global and the local. I will then consider his thesis in light of the challenges that Eastern Catholics face in asserting their ecclesial identity after the Second Vatican Council. Finally, I will conclude with the ecclesiological implications of this dialogue for reimagining catholicity today.

Norbert Hintersteiner, University of Münster
The Translational Fabric of Cultures: When Theology is Cross-Cultural Translation

The notion of translation has enjoyed a certain pride of place among the approaches adopted by scholars studying the cross-cultural process of World Christianity (A.Walls, L. Sanneh, K. Bediako). This paper explores Bob Schreiter’s reservation for the cross-cultural translation model in light of his own culture theory and theology engagement. Despite Schreiter’s embrace of cultural semiotics (Y.Lotman), which allowed him to recognize in translation not only cultural borders of semiospheres to transgress (as in a traditional concept of translation), but a more fluid and complex understanding of translation at the root of culture and cross-cultural processes itself, he has never developed a “theology of cross-cultural translation.” The paper therefore seeks to unearth the potential of Schreiter’s thinking for new theologies of cross-cultural translation, by applying novel shifts and prospects on translation ranging from recent intersemiotic theory to Asian translation traditions.

Scott Hagley, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Suffering Translation: Faithful Presence as the Means and Hope of Contextual Theology

What outcome does contextual theology generate? Drawing upon the work of Stephen Bevans, Willie James Jennings, and Lamin Sanneh, the following essay suggests faithful presence as the means and hope for contextual theology. The Christian Imagination by Willie James Jennings discloses problems of detachment and disembodiment that plague the Western Christian theological imagination. While contextual theology intends both contextual engagement and embodiment, it does not escape from Jennings’s critique. The problem, I argue, is related to both means and intention. We do not think of our own formation and suffering as part of our theological work, nor do we reflect on the shared life and conversations enabled by our theological inquiry. Thus, I suggest faithful presence to express both the means and hope of contextual theology, naming how theologian and community are shaped through their shared work.

Vatican II Studies Unit
Theme: The Contributions of John O’Malley, SJ to the Critical Study of Vatican II
Gerard Mannion, Georgetown University, Presiding
Monday - 9:00 AM-11:30 AM
Sheraton Boston-Gardner (Third Level)

The works of John W. O’Malley, Jesuit historian of Georgetown University, have greatly contributed, thanks also but not only to his internationally acclaimed book "What Happened at Vatican II" (2008) to the critical understanding of conciliar events. His recent book on Trent (2013) and his book on Vatican II represent a major shift in the understanding of the modern conciliar tradition. His forthcoming book on Vatican I promises to give us a new view of the conciliar tradition between Trent and Vatican II. The 2017 session of the Vatican II Studies group reflects on O'Malley's work and its consequences for the scholarship and interpretation of the Second Vatican Council, and on the relevance of historical-theological studies for Roman Catholicism.

Catherine E. Clifford, Saint Paul University
Style is Substance: John W. O'Malley's Contribution to the Study and Interpretation of Vatican II

This paper explores the substantial contribution of John W. O’Malley to the understanding of the event of the Second Vatican Council and to the critical interpretation of its teaching. His many contributions to the study of conciliar history, including the Councils of Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II, invite serious reconsideration of many widely-held suppositions. O’Malley’s attention to the rhetorical style of Vatican II’s teaching provides a significant key to an adequate interpretation of its documents. Further, his writings invite us to rethink the place of Vatican II within the broad trajectory of religious and cultural history. In particular, O’Malley’s reconsideration of Jedin’s characterization of the Council of Trent as a moment of “Catholic Reform / Counter-Reformation” in favor of an expression of “Early Modern Catholicism” suggests the possibility of considering Vatican II as a coming of age of Catholicism within the context of modernity.

David A. Stosur, Cardinal Stritch University
A Tale of Two Translations: Rhetorical Style and the Post-conciliar English Translations of the Mass

This paper will compare and contrast a selection of texts from the English translation of the Missale Romanum, that of The Sacramentary (1974/1985) and the corresponding texts of the current translation, the Roman Missal, the most recent English translation (2010), along with each translations’ principles and procedures outlined in Comme le prévoit (1969) and Liturgiam authenticam (2001), respectively the first and fifth instructions from the curial offices concerned with implementing the Second Vatican Council’s liturgical reforms. The paper will examine how the style of these two sets of instructions on translation, along with that of the ritual text translations they produced, compare with the rhetorical style of the council as described by John O’Malley, and will conclude with a theological consideration of the implications of such a rhetorical approach to matters of liturgical praxis.

Unregistered Participant
What Happens When We See Them through the Lens of the Council? John W. O’Malley, “Parishization", and Vatican II

The historiography of progressive Catholic intellectuals from the first half of the twentieth century tends to veer in the direction of the Second Vatican Council, where many did have an impact. Drawing on two distinct insights from John W. O’Malley – the power of studying the Church humanistically and the concerns over what he called “the parishization” of Catholicism -- I want to ask: what are the perils and rewards for seeing early twentieth-century progressive Catholics as precursors to Vatican II? Does it risk enacting what O’Malley called a kind of “parishization” of their activism and work? When we dig in, humanistically, to their lives and ideas, does their gradual absorption into the Council have a narrowing, or an enlarging, effect? To think through these questions, I offer examples from a community men and women who worked in France and Egypt to forge a more humane understanding of Islam between 1930-1960. Interested primarily in unearthing Islamic mystical texts and practices, they also laid the foundations for many changes later promulgated at Nostra Aetate, but what do we gain and lose from this emphasis?

Ormond Rush, Australian Catholic University
Pope Francis as an Interpreter of Vatican II: On Implementing the Council’s Style and Substance

One of the contributions by John O’Malley to Vatican II studies is his focus on the “style” of the council’s rhetoric in its documents, as well as the “style” of church it promotes through the substance of its teachings. Unlike his two predecessors, Pope Francis does not often explicitly refer to Vatican II, nor cite detailed passages from its documents. Nevertheless, the pope’s vision for reform of the Catholic Church brings to the fore many of the more significant shifts in style evident in the council debates, in its symbolic gestures, as well as in its final documents. The paper will examine a selection of such elements and show how Pope Francis both embodies those elements in his papal “style,” and brings them explicitly into a new theological synthesis, a synthesis that is thoroughly grounded in a comprehensive interpretation of Vatican II’s vision.

John O'Malley, Georgetown University
Business Meeting:
Massimo Faggioli, Villanova University
World Christianity Unit
Theme: Identities in Crisis: Cases of Christianities across Asia
Francis X. Clooney, Harvard University, Presiding
Monday - 4:00 PM-6:00 PM
Hynes Convention Center-111 (Plaza Level)

Recent publications have put before us the panorama of Christianity across that vast expanse known as “Asia,” but in-depth study has only begun. Avoiding the too-broad and too-narrow, this panel explores what can be learned by focused themes applied in particular regions, and seeks to capture contemporary Asian Christianity in the act, in five difficult moments where the meaning of being Christian is even now being called into question: West Asia, India, the Central Asian republics, Indonesia, and Taiwan. In each instance, shifting identities adjust and react in the face of acute social, economic, and political pressures calling into question simple notions of how being-Christian ought to be interpreted in those societies. What is learned in this pan-Asian conversation illumines more broadly and freshly how Christianity – and other traditions – can be interpreted on other continents.

Chandra Mallampalli, Westmont College
Dalit Christian Reservations: A Live Debate with Colonial Moorings

Since 1950 the Government of India has maintained its policy of denying affirmative action benefits to Dalit converts to Christianity. Debates about such reservations have most often centered on contemporary political trends. Far less attention has been paid to developments during the colonial period, when sharp differences between religious “communities” were formulated as policy. As much as colonialism’s “ethnographic state” (Dirks) attempted to grapple with realities on the ground, it ultimately embraced an idealized notion of a “caste-less Native Christian community”. Contrary to massive data exposing the persistence of caste among converts, this idea of casteless Christianity was readily appropriated by the postcolonial state, which has been all too eager to use it as the basis for denying affirmative action to Dalit Christians. Dalit Christians seeking a change to this policy must therefore grapple with the past, by refuting assumptions embedded in 19th century missionary rhetoric and state policies.

Herman Teule, University Louvain
Middle Eastern Christian Identity - Ethnic Instead of Ecclesiastical: A Shift in Perspective

In the Middle East, Christians are seen mostly as members of religious communities or churches. This continues the Ottoman millet-system, where the patriarch was held responsible for the insertion of his community into the State. This system not only preserves traditional ecclesiastical divisions, based on dogmatic divergences and church politics, but transposes them into the political field. Over the years, politicians in Syria judged this system to be detrimental to Christian interests. They developed the idea of a common ethnic identity for all churches, with Syriac as the common language. New political circumstances in Iraq too made it possible to effect a political translation of this idea by the creation of Christian political parties defending common ethnic minority rights. Despite some positive results, however, attempts at creating unity failed not only because a lack of unanimity about particular political choices, but also about the idea of ethnic identity itself.

Albertus Bagus Laksana, Sanata Dharma University, Indonesia
Hybrid Identity in Peril: Christian Community and Political Islam in Indonesia

Signs of identity crisis are visible in the recent political tensions surrounding the gubernatorial election of Jakarta, since it directly concerns the identity and role of Christianity vis-à-vis the political Islamic movement. Christian-Muslim relation in Indonesia have reached a new level of tension. In turn, this has prompted renewed discourses on identity, now defined as quite purist and exclusive, along religious and racial lines. These political dynamics reveal the precariousness of hybrid national identity and highlight, in the postcolonial situation, the question of national identity, race, and religions, especially regarding Christianity. Postcolonial Indonesian Catholic writers have traditionally embraced a hybrid national identity marked by racial, religious, and ethnic pluralism and by aspirations to modernity along with rootedness in local traditions. But these writers fail to resolve the question of political Islam that continues to haunt the Christian communtities. Will hybrid identity survive the current storm?

Sebastien Peyrouse, George Washington University
Christianity and Ethnicity in Soviet and Post-Soviet Central Asia: Mutual Intrusions and Instrumentalisations

This presentation will address the link between religion and nationality (ethnicity), and its impact on the policies towards Christian minorities by the governments in Post-Soviet Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan). First, in these Muslim majority countries, Christian churches constitute a place of spiritual as well as cultural-national commonality for national minorities. Second, for many officials, as well as segments of the Muslim and Christian populations, it is a truism that religion should follow from ethnicity. Christian denominations that proselytize have, however, challenged this principle. More and more people from titular nationalities (Uzbeks, Kyrgyz, etc.) have been converted to Christianity. Since the 1990s, this has driven governments to introduce numerous legislative restrictions and crackdowns on religious freedom.

Po Ho Huang, Chang Jung Christian University
Christian Bewilderment of Identity Struggling in East Asia – A Taiwanese Perspective

Christian identity in East Asia is complex, yet understanding it is crucial if we are to understand Christian mission in this part of the world and clarify our perception of inter-religious relations between Christian congregations and people of different religious and cultural backgrounds throughout history. Although the Christian religion was born in Asia, Christianity still appears foreign in most East Asian societies, and many are still alien and even hostile. Implicated in the colonial histories of East Asia, Christian mission has been entangled with a political and economical colonization that shadow Christian identity in a controversial matter. The following characteristics illustrate the potential crisis of Christian identity in East Asia today: the perception that Christianity is alien; Christians as strangers at home; Christianity’s minority complex, alongside its place as a dominant minority; the tension between proselytism and interfaith dialogue.