Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Ethnophyletism, the Universal and the Particular

These words are quite relevant to the situation in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem:


Greek culture or language cannot be a universal culture precisely because it is a real culture of real people. It is embodied, not an ideal or an abstraction, let alone a mission civilizatrice. Claims of the universality of Hellenism, rooted merely in the fact that it was the prestige culture of the Eastern Mediterranean from Alexander to Muhammad, are just as absurd as 19th and 20th century claims by French, Russian and American imperialists about the universality of their cultures.

In the end, only Christ’s Gospel is universal. The early Christians’ acute awareness of this fact is demonstrated by their insistence on the possibility of translating scripture and liturgy into any language, on the fact that Christ’s universal message can be fully available to all in any language– a claim that is all the more remarkable when compared with attitudes toward translation in Judaism and Islam. The second century author of the Epistle to Diognetus perfectly expressed how the universality of the Gospel is expressed in the particularity of individual Christians across all cultures:
Inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers.
Awareness and acceptance our own particularity while embodying Christian universality is a necessary condition for being able to accept and embrace the other. If we seek to be universal, to transcend the constraints of concrete particularity and so place ourselves above all others, we have given in to a desire which, as Pope Saint Gregory the Great reminds us, springs from pride not unlike that of the Antichrist.

Read the whole thing here.

1 comment:

The Anti-Gnostic said...

You can have an ecumenical/imperial model, but it's still going to bear the stamp of the dominant tribe, in this case the Hellenist one. Too bad for them much of the Church is non-Hellenist.