According to St. Augustine, erroneous interpretation of Scripture is not just the result of a misapplication of technical exegetical tools; it is a failure to understand the Scriptures in a way that builds up the twofold love of God and neighbor. This love for God and neighbor is essential for fruitful ecumenical engagement. More than anything, therefore, the Center’s goal is that together we may respond, through prayerful scholarship, to the divine invitation to see, love, and enjoy the reality of the Holy Trinity. This enjoyment is hampered in part by our ecclesial divisions and by our varying conceptions of the Great Tradition of the Church. At the same time, we are convinced that Catholics, Orthodox and evangelicals all benefit from the gifts inherited from the Great Tradition, and it is this common heritage that enables common theological and scriptural engagement for the sake of the love of God and neighbor. What is more, as we benefit from each other’s gifts in our common life in the Holy Trinity, we thereby move toward manifesting more clearly Christ’s prayer for unity in John 17. The ecumenical nature of the Center therefore embraces our various traditions while pursuing a Christian unity rooted in love of God and neighbor.
Facilitating the goal of the Center involves a fourfold understanding of our task as Catholic, Orthodox and evangelical scholars in dialogue:
- Hearing God’s doctrina. Christians are called upon to transmit faithfully the gospel from generation to generation through the power of the Holy Spirit. The divine Scriptures normatively make present to us the spiritual realities of the gospel. The Paradoseis Center regularly sponsors endeavors aimed at reading the Scriptures together, with a sustained effort to appreciate how the Scriptures draw us into the eternal wisdom and love of the Holy Trinity.
- Teaching God’s doctrina. Near the beginning of the second millennium of Christian history, monastic education, with its associated spiritual practices, gave way to education in the universities. While this change implied a positive view of reason, it also opened up the possibility of a growing rationalism. The Paradosis Center will promote the cultivation of Christian doctrine in light of the “sacramental” worldview according to which creation points to God, against an instrumentalization that removes created objects from their ultimate end in God—an approach that too often pervades modern university and seminary education.
- Living God’s doctrina. In our sensate culture, the evangelization of culture requires a renewed appreciation that the created order, redeemed in Christ, is a mysterium that participates in the truth, goodness, and beauty of the eternal Word of God. The Paradosis Center will support the promotion of new life in Christ and the Spirit-led life of Christian virtue, which challenges us to live up to the higher purpose to which we are called in the midst of culture that tempts us to put second things first.
- Passing on God’s doctrina. While the current post-modern environment has opened the next generation of Christians to more robust spiritual experiences, this spirituality is often unhinged from deep intellectual penetration into God’s doctrina. The Paradosis Center is committed to forming the next generation of Christians in the Great Tradition. Therefore, the Center provides opportunities and events geared particularly toward university students that facilitate their formation in God’s doctrina.
In sum, Scriptural interpretation, educational formation, and the evangelization of individuals and cultures cannot be separated from love of God and of neighbor. As Catholics, Orthodox and evangelicals, we believe that there is a close interconnection between how we interpret Scripture and how we understand education and evangelization (hearing and teaching God’s doctrina) as well as spiritual formation and discipleship (living and passing on God’s doctrina). Our work together thus aims at exegetical, doctrinal, and cultural revitalization so that we may “hold fast to the traditions” passed down to us from the beginning (cf. 2 Thess 2:15) and thereby be formed, as a people, in “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8).