2011 Conference - Stand Firm on TraditionDeep in History

Reconstructionism and the Eastern Churches – Fr. Ray Ryland

Fr. Ray Ryland |
August 1, 2018 No Comments

In a talk from our 2011 Deep in History Conference, Fr. Ray Ryland explores how Catholics and Eastern Christians understand the idea of the universal Church, and how that informs questions of ecumenism. He unpacks what the Second Vatican Council has to say about the Eastern Churches, and the imperative to seek Christian unity.  Fr. Ryland also explores what is meant by the term “Eastern Orthodox,” how Christians under that umbrella have a sacramental connection with the Catholic Church, and what still needs to be done to foster authentic unity between East and West.

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Study Questions:

-What is the difference between the ways in which Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy look at “the universal church”?

-What point does Fr. Ryland make about reconstructionism? Why is this important?

-What is “continuity”? Why does Fr. Ryland believe the “essence” of all non-Catholic Christian traditions discontinuity? How does “development of doctrine” of the Catholic Church fit into “continuity”? Has the desire for a church with “historical continuity” made a difference in your faith journey?

Why does Divine Revelation necessitate authority of interpretation, according to Fr. Ryland? Do you agree? Why is the authority of ecumenical councils alone problematic?

Vocabulary:

Reconstructionism: The appeal of believers to a “Golden Age” of authentic Christianity, which they have chosen to recapture (Utopianism). Reconstructionists are highly selective in what they retain from the “Golden Age” they have chosen, appeal to a new and unfounded authority, presuppose a decay or corruption in the church which they
claim to have corrected, include innovations and features that were not present in the “Golden Age” to which they appeal, and appeal to discontinuity (a break with the past to blaze a new path).


Fr. Ray Ryland

Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D., is a former minister of the Episcopal Church and scholar of the relations between Catholicism and the separated Eastern churches. Fr. Ryland examines certain ways in which the separated Eastern brethren have departed from the Catholic Faith, which was once shared. Fr. Ryland focuses on the issues of authority and tradition, Conciliarism and discontinuity.