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On 04 December 2018, Fr. Martin George Mankunnath, CMF successfully defended his Doctoral Thesis in Biblical Theology and obtains his Doctorate. The Thesis “Denunciation of Ritualism and the Option for Ethical Religion in the New Testament: a Case Study of Mt 23:13-33” was directed by Dr. Sebastian Mullooparambil CMI at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram (DVK), Pontifical Athenaeum of Philosophy, Theology and Canon Law in Bengaluru, India.

The Theme Discussed in the Thesis:
The New Testament denounces the error of neglecting the essential matters of religion, while paying too much attention to its non-essential aspects. This study proposes that this error is the result of a ritualistic approach to religion and the solution to the problem lies in an ethical approach to religious praxis. A common misunderstanding about religious praxis is that ritual practices form the essence of religion and that solely by performing the rituals one can summarily fulfill one’s religious duties. However, the New Testament teaches that the ethical principles such as love, truth, justice, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, etc. are the ones that form the essence of religion. Therefore the New Testament condemns ritualism, the tendency to limit one’s religious praxis to ritual observances, neglecting the ethical values necessary for the well-being of humanity and the universe. On the contrary, it promotes an ethical approach to religious praxis, wherein one’s religious duties do not end with ritual observances, but necessarily extends to the practice of the above ethical values. It is this approach that will enable the Christians to partake in the kingdom of God proclaimed in the New Testament.

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