Moral Formation and Everyday Issues: Response to the Paper of John De Gruchy

By Kassmann, Margot | The Ecumenical Review, July 1997 | Go to article overview

Moral Formation and Everyday Issues: Response to the Paper of John De Gruchy


Kassmann, Margot, The Ecumenical Review


Study of the paper by John de Gruchy has been extremely rewarding. For instance I would be very interested to enter into a debate about the changes relating to the tension between the Confessing Church and the ecumenical movement. But this is not the place for that...

I cannot do full justice to the paper in a short response, so I will make a few comments from the European context in order to stimulate the debate about ecclesiology and ethics, and about moral formation.

1. First, let me take up de Gruchy's remarks about reconciliation. As you will know, the European churches are entering a new phase of the conciliar process for justice, peace and the integrity of creation. A number of regional activities have been planned, including the European Ecumenical Assembly, jointly called by the Conference of European Churches and the Council of European [Roman Catholic] Bishops' Conferences, with the overall theme of reconciliation. This was chosen because of frequent criticism that the conciliar process was lacking theological profile. So the theme itself is intended to ensure the necessary theological foundation from the outset. Nevertheless, my experience with the preparatory material so far is that a theological term like "reconciliation" is not so easily applied to society as such. Reconciliation can be taken to be a "somewhat" Christian naivete in the midst of conflict.

Here I share de Gruchy's point of view: there is no reconciliation without confession of guilt. Just as there is no cheap grace, there is no cheap reconciliation. Reconciliation does not mean you stand in the middle of two parties who are in conflict; it also includes the necessity of taking sides. As a consequence, reconciliation in South Africa is not possible without a Truth Commission. What that means for other places in this world, we would have to explore. The women participating in the above-mentioned European process are therefore asking: What comes before the reconciliation of women and men? Or, to give an example from another region, people in the Pacific are saying: Yes, we are willing to go the way of reconciliation, but it is not possible if the French leave us with hate in our hearts. Reconciliation is a process involving at least two parties; it is not a one-way act. Reconciliation needs the Christian notion of the ability to fail and still be accepted, the notion of forgiveness, in order to become a possibility.

2. To the observation that Christianity is a factor of division, and a legitimization of it, rather than a source of unification, we can relate European experiences even from the recent past. For instance, the war in the former Yugoslavia: religion, and especially Christianity, became one of the legitimizing factors for ethnic cleansing and for the violation of human rights. In the Ukraine it is Christian division between Orthodox and Uniates that causes civil conflict. And we must not forget the Irish situation, either. So even though we live in the century of the ecumenical movement, and even though there are sound statements about overcoming the dogmatic separations of the past, we find Christianity at the centre of conflicts.

My question is: Where do we locate the lack of moral formation, the lack of ecumenical encounter that leads to the possibility and reality of such distortion? Had there been ecumenical formation, the knowledge and conviction that Christian denominations are in koinonia with one another might have provided them the strength to resist the temptation of being used for political causes.

3. John de Gruchy emphasizes the point that in the midst of the struggle against apartheid there was neither the time nor the energy to deal with doctrinal differences inherited from a European past. I would like to relate that to the experience of many East Germans. They say that during the days of the German Democratic Republic, the struggle for the survival of the Christian heritage was so central that ecumenical differences did not seem to be important. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Moral Formation and Everyday Issues: Response to the Paper of John De Gruchy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.