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Conflict

The Conflict Between ‘Charismatic’ and ‘Academic’ Theology Not New in Orthodox Christianity by John G. Panagiotou.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul writes to his spiritual son Timothy about the “deposit of faith” (in Greek, paradosis) which has been handed down from Christ to His Apostles, to their disciples and to their successors.1 What is this “deposit” in its essence? The Apostle tells us this is the “Good News” or “Gospel” (in Greek, evangelion) of the incarnate, crucified and resurrected Jesus. This is the simple and redemptive message of the Gospel: the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the Second Person of the Trinity became man, and that “He the Christ is Risen!”

On a reasonable level, one would think that the simplicity of this message would resonate clearly with all Christians — divisions and disunity would just evaporate. Yet, this was neither the case in Apostolic Times nor is it the case in the present.

Over the last thirty years, there has emerged a tension and a resulting estrangement between “charismatic theology” and “academic theology”. The former emerging from within the monastic circles of piety and the latter emanating from the universities and seminaries. Occasionally, we have seen the adherents of both come to loud discord and sadly in some circumstances ecclesial schisms.

In both circumstances, either of these two positions carried to their extremes are not within the historic Apostolic Tradition. The very Tradition to which both sides seek to defend as “Orthodox” is found in a balanced expression that is present within both the charismatic and the academic represented in their fullness and harmony.

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