Fr. PhD Mircea Lucian Nincu, Religious phenomenology from a missionary perspective

Mitropolia Olteniei Publishing House, Craiova, 2020, ISBN 978-606-731-075-7

The work Religious Phenomenology from a Missionary Perspective, presents the way in which religious phenomenology appears and develops as a philosophical movement and, at the same time, specifies the role that this school of thought can play in preaching the Gospel by the Orthodox missionary. The author identifies specific areas where religious phenomenology and Orthodox mission meet in order to fulfill the evangelical commandment that the Good News be made known to the whole world (Mark 16:15). In this study, in the light of an interdisciplinary analysis, the author highlights both the role and the place of religious phenomenology in the missionary space of the Orthodox Church.

The structure of the volume has four chapters, preceded by table of contents and introduction, followed by conclusions and bibliography. The study begins with an introduction to the evolution of phenomenological thinking in order to familiarize the Orthodox missionary thinking with the method and language of religious phenomenology, as well as to outline the perspective of the relationship between Orthodox missiology and religious phenomenology.

The first chapter presents the framework of European thought that generated the phenomenological school and religious phenomenological thinking. In the author’s opinion, the knowledge of the historical, cultural and philosophical factors that contributed to the establishment of religious phenomenology, are necessary arguments for the relationship between Orthodox missiology and religious phenomenology.

The second chapter presents the main concepts that the Orthodox missionary thinking encounters in both Orthodox missiology and religious phenomenology. The author’s goal was to achieve a correct approach to the religious phenomenon by the Orthodox missionary. The exposition of the Orthodox thinking about human experience, as it was developed by Father Dumitru Stăniloae, is in this study the meeting point between religious phenomenology and Orthodox missionary activity.

The third chapter highlights the challenges of religious phenomenology addressed to the work and thinking of the Orthodox mission. In this sense, the phenomenological investigation of prayer, pilgrimage and liturgical space, highlights, in the author’s view the preaching skills that the study of religious phenomenology can develop for the Orthodox mission.

The fourth chapter specifies the dimension of the space of thought that religious phenomenology can offer to Orthodox missiology. Thus, the specification of recognized phenomenological approaches means a real enrichment of today’s Orthodox missionary work, considers the author. Religious phenomenological concepts such as saturated phenomenon and donation, the role of apophatic knowledge in phenomenological knowledge, the revelatory nature of the phenomenon or the fact that phenomenological investigations appeal to the works and thought of the Holy Fathers, are, in the author’s opinion, real arguments for achieving the missionary perspective of religious phenomenology. The conclusions show how the Orthodox Christian mission activity acquires, through the punctual and applied language of religious phenomenology, an open space for action in order to include contemporary society and culture in the Orthodox ecclesiological space. The paper reveals how Orthodox missiology, through religious phenomenology, brings the religious phenomenon back to the dimension of a preaching and confessing event of the divine work. At the same time, it specifies how the integration of religious phenomenology in the work of Orthodox missiology releases, integrates and restores to the believer today the phenomenon in its full form, as revealed by the work of the Church that preaches to the world the Incarnate and Risen Christ.