ABOVE: Depicted on the Baroque iconostasis in the 13th-century Trinity Cathedral on the grounds of the Ipatiev Monastery In Kostroma, Russia, are left to right, at bottom: an icon of the Virgin and Child, a set of holy doors, and icons of the Christus Pantocrator and the Old Testament Trinity; at top: icons of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, Pentecost, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection.
© DeA Picture Library / Art Resource, NY.
Contact: Mary Ann Meyers, Ph.D., Senior Fellow
The purpose of this symposium is to explore contemporary scholarship in pneumatology and its application to other ways of understanding reality. Under the auspices of the Internationales Wissenschaftsforum at the University of Heidelberg and the John Templeton Foundation, it takes place during a millennium of which the world has taken little note, the insertion in 1009 of the filioque clause in the Nicene Creed, the theological event leading to the first major division in Christendom. But no matter their differences on progression, Catholic and Orthodox traditions have always affirmed the creative activity of the Spirit in the world. In Protestantism, the emphasis has often been stronger on the dimensions of personal experiences and the community-shaping powers of the Spirit. The recent resurgence we have seen in work on the Spirit, moreover, suggests that understanding this core Christian belief is of continuing relevance. The complex and challenging questions confronting two theological traditions, as well as theologically-open scientists, include: How can theologians speak of the working of the Spirit in creation in a way that enables scientists to identify areas in what was once thought of as primarily religious knowledge as containing challenges for their research? What reflections on the working of the Spirit in New Creation could challenge scientists to question familiar convictions and presuppositions in cosmology and anthropology? How could this outreach enrich or challenge the discourse between the theologies/pneumatologies of the East and the West? Do the pneumatologies of the East and the West pose different theological challenges to science? What scientific ideas or problems could be formulated in a way that theological/pneumatological presuppositions in the East or in the West or both could be meaningfully questioned? What scientific insights could affirm or challenge basic theological/pneumatological convictions? The sixteen scholars from five countries, England, Germany, Russia, the Ukraine, and the United States, who gather on the banks of the Neckar at one of Europe’s oldest educational institutions, the fourteenth-century University of Heidelberg, are drawn from a variety of disciplines but share a single passion for discovery of, amongst other things, “spiritual realities” and the reality of the Spirit.