Tijdschrift voor Theologie vol:51 issue:2 pages:152-169
This article examines the main themes of Anton Houtepen’s ecumenical vision against the background of ecumenism’s contemporary challenges. As Roman Catholic ecumenist, Houtepen’s view of the church is rooted in the Second Vatican Council. However, it is typical of Houtepen that he drew inspiration from the entire Second Vatican Council giving special attention to the connection between Lumen gentium and Gaudium et spes. Mensen van God: Een pleidooi voor de kerk (1983) seems at first glance a Catholic ecclesiology, but was de facto an ecumenical view of the church that drew inspiration from Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (BEM). Houtepen’s recommendation was that churches should develop a common vision on apostolic faith, the sacraments of baptism and Eucharist, on ethics and on ministry. As Faith and Order’s theological advisor, he was closely involved in drafting Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (1982) and A Treasure in Earthen Vessels: An Instrument for an Ecumenical Reflection on Hermeneutics (1998). His ecumenical research focussed mainly on methodological issues. His articles on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry usually treat the wide-ranging reception of this document. His work for A Treasure in Earthen Vessels allowed him to develop an original outlook on ecumenical hermeneutics that was indebted to Ricoeur’s work. When responding to recent postmodern criticism on the search for a consensus in ecumenical dialogue, Houtepen defended ecumenical hermeneutics as a common endeavour that focused on the diachronic ‘faith of the church throughout the ages’, rather than being restricted to the synchronic level. In his assessment of Faith and Order’s preliminary studies on ecumenical ecclesiology (1998 & 2005), he regretted that when compared to BEM the churches defended their own positions all the more strongly, but he appreciated how the multilateral ecumenical movement, his brainchild, kept attention for doctrine and life together.