The paradigm shift is accelerating

“We are not living in an epoch of change as much as a change of epochs.” Those words have come to mind over and over again these past few wee“We are not living in an epoch of change as much as a change of epochs.”

Nov 02, 2019

By Robert Mickens
“We are not living in an epoch of change as much as a change of epochs.” Those words have come to mind over and over again these past few wee“We are not living in an epoch of change as much as a change of epochs.”

Those words have come to mind over and over again these past few weeks as the Synod of Bishops held a special assembly here in Rome for the Pan-Amazonian Region.

It makes little difference what the Synod’s final document says about hot-button issues such as ordaining women to the diaconate or married men to the presbyterate.

While many are judging the success or failure of the Oct 6-27 gathering on these issues, the Synod assembly has already proven that – in the words of Francis – we are living in a change of epochs.

He also made reference to this in his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium (Joy of the Gospel).  The Pope said if we do not humble ourselves and accept that God emptied himself “we will understand nothing of Christian humanism and our words will be beautiful, cultured and refined, but they will NOT be words of faith. They will be words that resound of emptiness.”

Imprisoned within the confines of an all but collapsed ancien regime mentality, these Eurocentric Catholics have been the most vocal critics of the Synod assembly on the Amazon.

They have reacted hostilely to the event with a hysteria peppered with racist overtones and punctuated by acts of vandalism – all because they cannot accept the region’s pastors and people who are trying to give the Gospel an indigenous Amazonian face.

And the reason is simple. These Eurocentric Catholics believe – without irony – that the “pagan” philosophy of Plato (and later Aristotle, thanks to the effort of St Thomas Aquinas) is part and parcel of the kerygma, rather than the vehicle for the first inculturation of the core truth of the Gospel.

In fact, such Eurocentrism has been the dominant mentality in the Church since the earliest centuries, especially since the formal split between the Greeks and Latins at the beginning of the Second Millennium. But this dominance has never gone completely unchallenged.

In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, for example, the Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci broke ranks. He sought to use Confucian philosophy as a way of bringing Christianity to China.

This was similar to how St Paul and his disciples used Greek and Roman philosophy to help the faith spread to the Western world.

But other Catholic missionaries in China at the time, with the support of Rome, stymied Ricci’s efforts and the Euro-centrists thus retained ironclad control over the means of propagating the Christian message.

New missiology scholars argued that it was not necessary to impose Western ways of thinking and reasoning on indigenous peoples as a precondition for them to properly receive the Gospel.

Like Ricci, they too argued that faith in the Risen Lord could be explained and expressed through the idioms and symbols of these peoples.

The question missiologists are posing today is whether Greek philosophy is still useful in spreading the Christian faith to non Western societies, such as those of indigenous peoples of other continents.

The current theological thinking, teaching and ecclesiastical legislation – including the longstanding papal magisterium and Vatican approved doctrines and decrees – often appear to be more intrinsically dependent on this human wisdom (Greek Philosophy) than on the Gospel. All too often this has been employed to maintain at all costs the Eurocentric character of the Universal Church.

This paradigm must change (and is changing) as we enter into the new and changing epoch. What about in Malaysia?--LCI (https://international.la-croix.com) 

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