Monday, December 15, 2008

Remembering Avery Dulles

The passing of Avery Cardinal Dulles (noted at Fr Fenton's blog) has me remembering some of the incisive and salient arguments he has made in favor of the filioque, in numerous publications and, as I recall, at a Symposium on the Lutheran Confessions in Fort Wayne in the mid 1990s (which, quite worth the read, may be accessed here).

I had a brief opportunity to speak with him during the q & a after his lecture, when he was, as I recall, thinking aloud that he could not recall the use of the term ekporeueto (to proceed) being used anywhere Biblically for a double-procession, i.e., for a procession from two sources. As it happened, I had just finished looking at Revelation 22, in which one reads this: "And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding (ekpereuontos) out of the throne of God and of the Lamb," and I mentioned that. He brightened and expressed delight at this, er, revelation. Dr. Scaer, the moderator at the time, quipped that perhaps this was a moment of divine inspiration.

I remember feeling quite pleased with myself that day, though I tried to hide my foolish pride to the best of my ability.

I later learned of Cardinal Dulles' exceptional work on the question of the filioque; indeed one might even suggest it is the twentieth-century equivalent of the writing of St. Anselm on the same topic.

His voluminous writing bespeaks what is undeniable: this man had a brilliant theological mind. No wonder he was the first U.S. theologian to be named to the college of Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church.

Avery Cardinal Dulles, R.I.P.

1 comment:

Fr. Timothy D. May, SSP said...

Thank you for the reminder of Dulles' article on the filioque - this is one of my long-term topics of study that, like all long-term topics of study, seems to to get put on the back-burner. The recent Neuhaus' article on Catholic-Orthodox dialogue touches on it again. In a discussion among some Catholics the filioque is not considered a church-dividing question but I am not sure how representative that is of the overall view of Catholics and Orthodox.
Paranthetically, Dulles is associated with another great theologian and churchman, John Henry Cardinal Newman.
Finally, Dulles' recent work before he died, on the Magisterium, is likely to be a book worth reading on that topic.
[I do not need to be reminded by readers that the names mentioned here are not Lutherans. This is simply for discussion purposes.]