The Theology of John Zizoulas: Contributions to Anthropology

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Woelkers, Alex
John Ries
Mark Smillie
Murphy Fox
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The Theology of John Zizoulas: Contributions to Anthropology
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The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially ofthose who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well. Nothing that is genuinely human fails to find an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community of people united in Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit in their pilgrimage towards the Father’s kingdom, bearers of a message of salvation for all humanity. That is why they cherish a feeling of deep solidarity with the human race and its history. These opening lines of the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, certainly among the most celebrated words written by the council fathers, proclaim the dignity and splendor of humanity. These words declare that the Church’s cry for salvation echoes the deepest cries of every human heart; and these cries not only echo in the heart of the Church, but are definitively answered there in the person of Jesus Christ. Thus, the council fathers make this second, and equally celebrated statement: “In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of humanity truly becomes clear.”2 3 By these statements, the council fathers declare that the mystery of man and the mystery of God have become indivisibly united in the person of Christ, and thus in the deepest identity of the Church. In so doing, they emphatically underline the importance of anthropology for every aspect of the Church’s life and being. They place the truth of the human person at the very foundation of the mystery of salvation in the Church, the body of Christ. Therefore, Christian theology demands a Christian anthropology. The goal of this thesis is to develop a Christian anthropology. The impetus for this anthropology is not merely a generalized understanding of the human person, but an articulation of the salvation of the human person. Such an anthropology attempts to be faithful to the vision of the Second Vatican Council described above by placing every aspect of theology and ministry into relationship with that understanding of personhood. This understanding must be organically bound to and derive its content from all the areas oftheology if it is to succeed in grounding the salvation of human persons. The Church is about nothing more and nothing less than the salvation of every human person in every time, and so the anthropology which this thesis seeks must be situated at the very heart of Her self-understanding, and must be capable of resonating with every aspect of Her being. This means that this anthropology must derive first and foremost from the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. The Church only gives what She has first received, and so Her anthropology must find its foundation in God himself. I have chosen the theology of John Zizioulas as the basis for my inquiry into Christian anthropology because in its foundations and application, the anthropology contained there fulfills the goals which I have outlined above.
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