The church beyond our boundaries/the ecumenical vocation of Orthodoxy.Introduction
1. The branch of theology that is concerned with the nature, constitution, and functions of a church.
2. The study of ecclesiastical architecture and ornamentation. was, from the very beginning of the ecumenical movement ecumenical movement (ĕk'ymĕn`ĭkəl, ĕk'yə–), name given to the movement aimed at the unification of the Protestant churches of the world and ultimately of , one of the most central, delicate and sensitive issues. The Toronto Statement of 1950 was a necessity to assure the member churches that in entering the WCC WCC n abbr (= World Council of Churches) → COE m (Conseil œcuménique des Églises)
WCC n abbr (= World Council of Churches) → Weltkirchenrat m none would lose or diminish its identity, none would be obliged to recognize the ecclesiality of another church and that the WCC was not and would not become a super-church. The clear affirmations of ecclesial Ec`cle´si`al
a. 1. Ecclesiastical. neutrality opened the way for the Orthodox churches to become WCC members, in particular after 1961. Despite this, however, two ecclesiological ec·cle·si·ol·o·gy
1. The branch of theology that is concerned with the nature, constitution, and functions of a church.
2. The study of ecclesiastical architecture and ornamentation. approaches, one Orthodox and the other more generally Protestant, could be identified behind different WCC documents issued since then, in particular those referring to the issue of Christian unity. The third assembly in New Delhi New Delhi (dĕl`ē), city (1991 pop. 294,149), capital of India and of Delhi state, N central India, on the right bank of the Yamuna River. made such a statement on unity. The Orthodox participants wrote a response to that statement and expressed the Orthodox position concerning Christian unity. The response identified the two approaches which despite many efforts may be traced in all WCC documents dealing with such topics until today: "The ecumenical problem, as it is understood in the current ecumenical movement, is primarily a problem of the Protestant world. The main question, in this setting, is that of Denominationalism de·nom·i·na·tion·al·ism
1. The tendency to separate into religious denominations.
2. Advocacy of separation into religious denominations.
3. Strict adherence to a denomination; sectarianism. ". Accordingly, the problem of Christian unity, or of Christian reunion, is usually regarded in terms of an interdenominational agreement or reconciliation. In the Protestant universe of discourse such an approach is quite natural. But for the Orthodox it is uncongenial. For the Orthodox, the basic ecumenical problem is that of schism. The Orthodox cannot accept the idea of a "parity of denomination" and cannot visualize Christian reunion just as an interdenominational adjustment. Unity has been broken and must be recovered. The Orthodox Church is not a confession A Confession is a short work on questions of religion by Leo Tolstoy. It was first distributed in Russia in 1882.
Consisting of autobiographical notes on the development of the author's belief, A Confession , one of many, one among the many. For the Orthodox, the Orthodox Church is just the church. The Orthodox Church is aware and conscious of the identity of her inner structure and teaching with the apostolic message (kerygma ke·ryg·ma
The proclamation of religious truths, especially as taught in the Gospels.
[Greek k ) and the tradition of the ancient undivided church. She finds herself in an unbroken and continuous succession of sacramental ministry, sacramental life and faith. Indeed, for the Orthodox the apostolic succession apostolic succession, in Christian theology, the doctrine asserting that the chosen successors of the apostles enjoyed through God's grace the same authority, power, and responsibility as was conferred upon the apostles by Jesus. of episcopacy episcopacy
System of church government by bishops. It existed as early as the 2nd century AD, when bishops were chosen to oversee preaching and worship within a specific region, now called a diocese. and sacramental priesthood is an essential and constitutive constitutive /con·sti·tu·tive/ (kon-stich´u-tiv) produced constantly or in fixed amounts, regardless of environmental conditions or demand. , and therefore obligatory, element of the church's very existence. The Orthodox Church, by her inner conviction and consciousness, has a special and exceptional position in divided Christendom, as the bearer of, and the witness to, the tradition of the ancient undivided church, from which all existing denominations stem, by way of reduction and separation. From the Orthodox point of view, the current ecumenical endeavour can be characterized as "ecumenism ecumenism
Movement toward unity or cooperation among the Christian churches. The first major step in the direction of ecumenism was the International Missionary Conference of 1910, a gathering of Protestants. in space", aiming at agreement between various denominations, as they exist at present. This endeavour is, from the Orthodox point of view, quite inadequate and incomplete. The common ground, or rather the common background of existing denominations, can be found, and must be sought, in the past, in their common history, in that common ancient and apostolic tradition This article is about the third century Christian text. For the deposit of faith on which some churches' dogma is based, see Sacred Tradition.
The Apostolic Tradition from which all of them derive their existence. This kind of ecumenical endeavour is properly denoted as "ecumenism in time". (1) The core of this self-definition of Orthodox identity has been repeated on many occasions. (2)
The two parallel ecclesiological approaches have created strange situations. On the one hand, Orthodox delegates have fully participated in the discussions during the great ecumenical gatherings, and brought their comments and inputs, which were included in the final documents. One could very easily trace the Orthodox contributions in different documents. The problem that emerged was linked to ecclesiology: the term "church" was used in such final documents as a generic, inclusive term. In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , it implied also the inclusion of the Orthodox into that reality that together with all the other members of the WCC formed the body of Christ--the church. Seen from that very perspective, the Orthodox felt reduced to the level of a denomination among other denominations, included in the theological system Noun 1. theological system - a particular system or school of religious beliefs and teachings; "Jewish theology"; "Roman Catholic theology"
theology of the "branch theory" that they strongly rejected. For such a primary reason among others, one should understand why at almost all the major ecumenical meetings, the Orthodox arrived in the end with a separate statement.
On the other hand, the documents, which tried to integrate the two ecclesiological perspectives, came out as contradictory and most confusing, as some paragraphs seemed to contradict other paragraphs of the same document. Such situations led some of the non-experienced Orthodox, involved in anti-ecumenical campaigns, to speak about "ecumenist double speak: the ecclesiological schizophrenia of the Orthodox ecumenists" or "ecumenism as an ecclesiological heresy". (3) Such united efforts produced great divisions and confusions in some local Orthodox churches. As a result, some have left the WCC. Others are under pressure from their own faithful to go out as well. It must be stressed again: it is not necessarily the WCC's fault for its structure or agenda, although those have contributed to such decisions. The main problem is an ecclesiological one: how can a church which confesses to be the Una Sancta sanc·ta
A plural of sanctum. be also an equal member with other denominations in a fellowship of churches? For many, such a membership is a contradiction in terms Noun 1. contradiction in terms - (logic) a statement that is necessarily false; "the statement `he is brave and he is not brave' is a contradiction"
logic - the branch of philosophy that analyzes inference , a denial of the authentic Orthodox ecclesiology.
Yet, despite problems and hardships at local levels, most of the Orthodox churches continue to be open and fully committed (Law) committed to prison for trial, in distinction from being detained for examination.
See also: Fully to the ecumenical dialogue. Still, the question remains: If the Orthodox Church holds the opinion that she is the "Una Sancta" and is aware of her apostolic identity, why and for which reasons is she still participating in the ecumenical movement? The answer comes from the most profound core of her theology and spirituality.
The inner ecumenical identity of the Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church is ecumenical by her very being. As the body of Christ
The Body of Christ is a term used by Christians to describe believers in Christ. Jesus Christ is seen as the "head" of the body, which is the church. , she confesses to be the church of the whole. Her catholicity is not expressed as the sum of the different parts, but as the expression of the fullness. Witnessing to and living the fullness of Christ, she believes herself to be in continuity of communion and faith with the church of the apostles throughout time.
Ecclesiology is closely and intimately related to the doctrine of pneumatology pneu·ma·tol·o·gy
1. The doctrine or study of spiritual beings and phenomena, especially the belief in spirits intervening between humans and God.
2. The Christian doctrine of the Holy Ghost. . It belongs to and is related to the work of the Holy Spirit. During his life, Jesus spoke to the apostles and to the people who surrounded him and had communion with them "face to face". From the day of Pentecost, through the descent of the Holy Spirit, Christ is interiorized, so that he lives, acts and speaks as he did through the apostles, and from within people who have received the Holy Spirit and have been baptized. There is a two way process: Christ is being interiorized, but also the people are integrated into the body of Christ, are grafted into his mystical body. As a result, the life of the whole Trinity flows in the veins of the people incorporated into Christ; the whole of the Trinity indwells a human being, through the grace of the Holy Spirit:
Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them" (John 14:23).
Or in Ephesians 2:21-22:
In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you are also together spiritually built into a dwelling place of God.
Therefore, it could be said in summary that the church is the communion of humanity and the whole of creation with the Triune God through Christ in the Holy Spirit. This has many descriptive names: people of God (Tit. 2:14, 1 Peter 2:9); body of Christ (Romans 12:5; 1 Cor. 12), temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19), the bride of Christ The Bride of Christ is a metaphor for the Church, Ecclesia. The image originates from the Old Testament prophets, who described Israel as God's bride, for example in Isaiah 54:5. (Rev. 21:1,9; Eph. 5), true vine (John 15), shepherd and his sheep (John 10).
The Church is a theanthropic the·an·throp·ic also the·an·throp·i·cal
Both divine and human in nature or quality.
[From Late Greek theanthr reality. This means that the church on earth has both a divine and a human element. It is a continuation, through the Holy Spirit, of the mystery of incarnation, of the hypostatic union (Theol.) the union of the divine with the human nature of Christ.
(Theol.) See under Hypostatic.
See also: Hypostatic Union , of the communion between God and creation by the full assuming of it within Godself. The communion is real, not symbolic. Mary is often used as an example of what the church is meant to be: the interiorization of Christ, full life in and with God. Mary is used as an image of the church and is even called in hymns "sanctified sanc·ti·fy
tr.v. sanc·ti·fied, sanc·ti·fy·ing, sanc·ti·fies
1. To set apart for sacred use; consecrate.
2. To make holy; purify.
3. church", as she bore the very son of God within herself. St Symeon the New Theologian Symeon the New Theologian (949–1022) is one of three saints of the Eastern Orthodox church to have been given the title of Theologian (the others are St. John the Apostle and St. Gregory Nazianzen). , speaking about the role and work of the Holy Spirit, said that like Mary we are also called to let Christ grow within ourselves in a very real, mystical way. That reality was clearly expressed from as early as the second century in the use of terminologies such as "theophoros", "christophoros", "pneumatophoros", "theosis" etc.
The Cosmic Christ and the "pre-existent church". The Fathers and the early church writings (for instance the Shepherd of Hermas and others later) spoke about the pre-existent church (that old woman with grey hairs but with a young face and look). As communion of God, humans and creation, the pre-existent "church" started in the garden of Eden Garden of Eden
Noun 1. Garden of Eden - a beautiful garden where Adam and Eve were placed at the Creation; when they disobeyed and ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil they were . Through the sin of the first humans, the communion was disrupted and had its consequences, as implied by estrangement from God, the source of life. It continued in a certain way within the elected people of Israel and was even described as a "church" of the gentiles. This seems to be the hidden mystery for ages discovered in Christ through whom we have access to the Father (Eph. 3:811). (4)
The identity of Jesus as the incarnate in·car·nate
a. Invested with bodily nature and form: an incarnate spirit.
b. Embodied in human form; personified: a villain who is evil incarnate. Logos of God as described in the gospel of John For other uses, see Gospel of John (disambiguation).
The Gospel of John (literally, According to John; Greek, Κατά Ιωαννην, Kata Iōannēn , chapter 1, had tremendous implications for the way the early church approached other cultures and religions. The development of this theology starting with the Apologists in the second century became central for the self-definition of Christian identity
2. A schoolmaster stands in loco parentis in relation to the pupils committed to his charge, while they are under his care, so far as to enforce obedience to his, commands, lawfully given in his capacity of to Christ--"paidagogos eis Christon". (7) In the non-Christian world there were present "sparks of the logos" (enausmata tou logou); even the truth within the history of religion in antiquity came directly from God. Clement mentions in this context many teachers from among the Greeks such as: Theophrastos, Aristotle, Mithrodors, Epicures, Plato, Socrates, Pythagoras; but also thinkers from among the wise of Egypt, India, Babylon, as well as all their astrologers, and he concludes:
But since there is but one uncreated being, the Almighty God, and only one who was before all and through whom all was made and without whom nothing was made, then he is the teacher of all created things. (8)
For Origen (185-254), the philosophers' views help us better to understand the scriptures. Like the Old Testament stories, the Greek myths present profound truths in allegorical narrative forms (Contra Celsum, 4,38). The same approaches will be used in the later centuries by many of the Church Fathers. Up to this day, the wise people of other faiths preceding Christ such as those mentioned in the writings of the apologists are painted on the outside walls of the churches, among other "Christian" saints. Usually, they point with their fingers to the doors of the church as precursors who through the assistance of the same Holy Spirit who worked in the Old Testament prophets "prepared the way" to Christ.
The marks of the church. The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (elaborated in 325 and 381) states that the church is "one, holy, catholic and apostolic".
The church is One because Jesus Christ Jesus Christ: see Jesus.
40 days after Resurrection, ascended into heaven. [N.T.: Acts 1:1–11]
See : Ascension
kind to the poor, forgiving to the sinful. [N.T. is one and he is the head of which she is the body (Eph.4, 4-6). There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. The oneness is a given, a gift of God. As a historical institution, as an "oikodomia"--a building up--is also a call and vocation to conform to Verb 1. conform to - satisfy a condition or restriction; "Does this paper meet the requirements for the degree?"
coordinate - be co-ordinated; "These activities coordinate well" and express that gift. Unity is not something that we realize--but we only express the visible unity. The church is indivisible INDIVISIBLE. That which cannot be separated.
2. It is important to ascertain when a consideration or a contract, is or is not indivisible. When a consideration is entire and indivisible, and it is against law, the contract is void in toto. 11 Verm. 592; 2 W. ; it cannot be split despite human errors or efforts to destroy it. The church is one and will remain one.
The church is holy, because her head, Jesus Christ, and the whole Trinity which inhabits the church through the Holy Spirit is holy. It is not the "holiness" of the people that gives holiness to the church. The sins of the members do not affect the holiness of the being of the church; rather they are amputating themselves from the trunk of the living tree by their own acts. The church is and remains holy. The members of the church could be the ones considered sinful. The grace of God shines and operates fully and without restrictions in the church despite the sinfulness of the people. It is expressed in particular at the beginning of the Orthodox Eucharistic Liturgy and during it when the priest or the bishop pray, saying: "do not stop, because of our sins, the coming of Thy Holy Spirit on the people and on the gifts here set forth".
The church is apostolic, as it is built on the basis laid by the apostles, of their faith in Christ who is the same "yesterday and today and forever" (Heb. 13:8). The apostolicity or the apostolic succession is expressed by the communion in the faith of the apostles and of the apostolic communities in the early church and subsequently in history but also by the communion in the uninterrupted chain of ordinations, which should be linked to that of the apostles. Both of these elements are equally important. One cannot he apostolic by ordination alone if one is no longer within the apostolic communion of faith. Confession of apostolic faith alone without the element of historic "laying on of hands Noun 1. laying on of hands - the application of a faith healer's hands to the patient's body
faith cure, faith healing - care provided through prayer and faith in God
2. " cannot be fully apostolic either.
The church is catholic. For Orthodox theology and praxis, this term has been used with the meaning of fullness, integrity, completeness. "Universality" could he a part of it but does not faithfully reflect or express its entire meaning. Kata+holon means according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. all. The truth and the life are in community not in solitude and separation. The term is found but once in the New Testament, in the book of Acts 4:18: "not to speak at all". Historically, the church started to use the word "catholic" from the second century onwards, in particular as related to the specific circumstances of those times. (9)
Catholicity is holistic: horizontal and vertical, encompassing time and space. Therefore, in the church God meets humanity in the communion of prayer and love of God. This communion with God incorporates both the living and the dead, with the angels and all of God's creation. Death does not cut off a person, does not remove him or her from the body of Christ. She or he will remain there, but in another level of existence, waiting for the resurrection of the dead
Fullness, wholeness and integrity also refers to the fact that the church is necessarily composed of clergy and laity, old and young, male and female, of all colours and from the whole of the cosmos. Laity have a vital role. Without laity the Eucharistic liturgy, for instance, cannot be celebrated in the Orthodox Church. If there is not at least one lay person present, the epiclesis cannot happen, the Holy Spirit cannot be invoked.
On the other hand, the faith expressed by the church is also catholic, as it is essential to be in full communion Full communion is a term used in Christian ecclesiology to describe relations between two distinct Christian communities or Churches that, while maintaining some separateness of identity, recognise each other as sharing the same communion and the same essential doctrines. with the church throughout time and space. The Patristic pa·tris·tic also pa·tris·ti·cal
Of or relating to the fathers of the early Christian church or their writings.
pa·tris witnesses, as evidence of the faith in history, are crucially important. (10) It is known, however, that not everything that the "fathers" said has been kept by the church as "the faith". Many elements have been avoided or even clearly rejected (Trinitarian ambiguities in the Apostolic Fathers, chiliasm chiliasm: see millennium. in St. Gregory of Nyssa Gregory of Nys·sa , Saint a.d. 335?-394?.
Eastern theologian and church father who led the conservative faction during the Trinitarian controversy of the fourth century. etc.) The criteria were expressed by Vincens of Leryn in the 5th century. In his Commonitorium, he said around 450:
Within the catholic Church itself the greatest care must be taken that we hold that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all. For this is truly and properly catholic, as the very force and effect of the word declares, which includes all things with practical universality. But this will be found precisely in this way, if we follow that which is universal, that which is ancient, and that about which there is consent.
This is precisely what the Orthodox church upholds.
The Orthodox Church witnesses to the ecumenical affirmations of the apostolic faith. She is "ecumenical". This commitment relies on the ecumenical decisions of the early undivided church. She is the church of the seven ecumenical councils. At this point it is important to mention again the role of the church as a whole in taking decisions and in expressing the truth or the orthodoxy of faith. There are only seven ecumenical councils because only these councils were accepted by the "oikoumene". All the others, many of them, although with the pretention to be "ecumenical" were not accepted as such because "the church" as a whole did not sanction them. For this reason, the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed became the symbol of faith of the Orthodox Church. Although the other early creeds such as the Apostles' Creed or the Athanasian Creed are Orthodox in content and form they are not in use in the liturgical life of the Orthodox church. Those creeds are particular, not ecumenical. Orthodoxy stands on ecumenical expressions of the apostolic faith. The Orthodox church is ecumenical in its very being.
For such reasons, even in the ecumenical movement it is clearly affirmed that the Orthodox Church is not a confessional church. It is not a confession among other confessions. Attempts to write confessions of faith, the so-called "Orthodox symbolic books" were done much later and in the very specific circumstances of the 17th-18th centuries in particular. Although interesting from the historical perspective, in their majority those attempts did not capture and express the Orthodox faith in its fullness and integrity. Trying to respond either to Catholic or Protestant proselytism pros·e·ly·tism
1. The practice of proselytizing.
2. The state of being a proselyte.
pros , they have become themselves expressions of rigid scholasticism scholasticism (skōlăs`tĭsĭzəm), philosophy and theology of Western Christendom in the Middle Ages. Virtually all medieval philosophers of any significance were theologians, and their philosophy is generally embodied in their , with formulations which show at times either Catholic or Protestant influences. (11) At present, many Orthodox scholars trying to rediscover the authentic ecumenical ethos of the Orthodox Church speak about this period of formulations foreign to Orthodoxy as "the Babylonian captivity of Orthodox theology" (Florovsky, Yannaras etc.)
The ecumenical dimension of Orthodoxy is clearly expressed not only in its theology but also in its liturgical life and in its spirituality. The litany for the "union of all" is a constant prayer in all services of the Orthodox Church. The eucharistic offerings are brought "for the whole world" (St John Chrisostomos) and remember "the holy catholic and apostolic church the Christian church; - so called on account of its apostolic foundation, doctrine, and order. The churches of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem were called apostolic churches.
See under Apostolic.
See also: Apostolic Church from one part to the other of the whole world" (St Basil the Great Noun 1. Basil the Great - (Roman Catholic Church) the bishop of Caesarea who defended the Roman Catholic Church against the heresies of the 4th century; a saint and Doctor of the Church (329-379)
Basil of Caesarea, St. Basil, St. ).
Therefore, the Orthodox Church is ecumenical by its very nature. It holds, affirms and witnesses to the apostolic faith of the oikoumene. For this reason, from its very beginning the Orthodox became involved in the ecumenical movement, which attempts to rediscover the visible unity of the church of Christ. The search for unity is for Orthodoxy an ontological vocation. It is not a matter of church strategy, political diplomacy and relationship building. It is first of all a matter of deep faith.
The church and the churches: the nature of the relation between the Orthodox Church and the other churches and confessions
The international and bilateral theological dialogues have made essential points of progress in the rapprochement between divided churches. Theological positions, which in the past seemed irreconcilable, are nowadays closer to harmony. Through dialogue and common efforts, some classical and historical antagonisms belong today to the past and the churches from within the WCC have reached an important degree of convergence in their witness to the world. And in this process the Orthodox Church has played a vital role. (12)
Ecclesiology, however, even after 50 years of ecumenical dialogues, has remained until today a delicate and neuralgic neu·ral·gia
Sharp, severe paroxysmal pain extending along a nerve or group of nerves.
Adj. issue. The Faith and Order Commission is making efforts today for the elaboration of a possible convergence document on ecclesiology. (13)
During all this time, the Orthodox Church has continued to affirm its belief in its identification with the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. On the other hand, Orthodox theologians seem to have avoided dealing openly with the issue of their ecclesial relationship with Christians of other churches and confessions. If the Orthodox Church is identical with the church witnessed to in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed, who are the other Christians and what is the nature of their relationship to the Orthodox Church? To this question, the Orthodoxy of our time does not have a unique and coherent answer, thus creating confusion and pro and anti attitudes vis-a-vis participation in the ecumenical movement.
Orthodox theologians from the diaspora, in particular those of Russian origin, confronted with the reality of cohabitation A living arrangement in which an unmarried couple lives together in a long-term relationship that resembles a marriage.
Couples cohabit, rather than marry, for a variety of reasons. They may want to test their compatibility before they commit to a legal union. as a minority among the Christians of other confessions, have preferred to use the agnostic sentence "we know where the church is (the Orthodox Church) but we do not know where she is not". The first one who dared to deal with this delicate issue was Father George Florovsky, who published an article in 1933 entitled "The Limits of the Church". (14) The merit of this article is that it identifies the issue, asks questions, proposes a reconsideration of the position of Augustine on the charismatic limits of the church in the light of the positions of the Greek Fathers, but remains still within a more descriptive and general frame, without giving a clear answer on the nature of the relationship between Christians of other confessions and the Orthodox Church. The very few Orthodox theologians who have followed the example of Father Florovsky and tried to deal afresh with the same issue have also remained within the sphere of a more generic, general and descriptive approach, without giving a clear, coherent and theologically convincing answer. (15)
The diversity of the ecclesiogical discourse in contemporary Orthodox theology is expressed both by contradictory positions vis-a-vis the ecumenical movement, as well as within the liturgical and pastoral fields when one has to deal with mixed marriages or with the reception of Christians of other confessions into the Orthodox Church. The different ecclesiological positions can be structured in three general categories:
1. Following the acrivia of St Cyprian (16) and of certain Apostolic Canons a collection of rules and precepts relating to the duty of Christians, and particularly to the ceremonies and discipline of the church in the second and third centuries.
See also: Apostolic (17) there are a minority of theologians, priests and especially monks who hold the opinion that there is no salvation outside the church and that the Holy Spirit does not work except in the church. For this reason, any sacrament celebrated outside the church (i.e. the Orthodox Church) is void of grace and those who would like to join the Orthodox Church must be rebaptized. For those following this ecclesiological direction, modern ecumenism is considered to be an "ecclesiological heresy". Consequently, these people accuse the other Orthodox who participate in the ecumenical movement of "ecclesiological schizophrenia" because while affirming that the Orthodox Church is the Una Sancta they seem also to accept that the Christians of other confessions belong to this sacramental reality.
2. The second category follow the line of patristic synthesis elaborated in the 4th century by St Basil the Great. (18) St Basil does not look globally to those outside the Orthodox Church, but brings certain nuances and puts them in different categories: a) heretics: those who differ in their faith in God such as Manichaiens, Gnostics, Marcionites. These have to be rebaptized, as the very God that they have confessed is different from the God confessed by the church; b) schismatics: those who have separated themselves from the church for internal reasons which could be solved by dialogue; c) parasinagogs or dissidents who came into being by opposition to church authority. Both the schismatics and the dissidents "are still of the church" and must be received without rebaptizing them. Later, canon 95 of the Council in Trullo (692) identifies three ways of reception for those separated from the church: by confession of faith, by chrismation and by rebaptism. This ecclessiological direction, with its liturgical and pastoral consequences, has been the most widely accepted and practiced by the majority of Orthodox churches, with some exceptions due to certain difficult historical contexts. The general practice is that one who has been baptized in the name of the Trinity is to be received in the Orthodox Church by chrismation, without rebaptism. After the Great Schism of 1054, it was only in 1484 that a council in Constantinople decided that the Western Christians who wanted to join the Orthodox Church be received by chrismation. And the prayers which were to be said on that occasion show clearly that this service was not considered a repetition of the sacrament of chrismation (confirmation) but was rather a service of reintegration reintegration /re·in·te·gra·tion/ (-in-te-gra´shun)
1. biological integration after a state of disruption.
2. restoration of harmonious mental function after disintegration of the personality in mental illness. into the church, and the prayers had a penitential pen·i·ten·tial
1. Of, relating to, or expressing penitence.
2. Of or relating to penance.
1. A book or set of church rules concerning the sacrament of penance.
2. A penitent. character. In 1667, another council held in Moscow by the Russian Orthodox Church arrived at similar decisions. The 18th century was a very difficult historical period for the Orthodox Church as it was confronted with the emerging "missionary" proselytizing activities both from the Protestant and from the Roman Catholic churches. In such a new and very particular situation, the attitude of the Orthodox Church vis-a-vis the other confessions changed. The council of 1755 in Constantinople had required that all the Western Christians who wanted to be received in the Orthodox Church be received by rebaptism. Though the councils of 1875 and 1880, also held in Constantinople, came back to the practice of chrismation, the decision of the council in 1755 which required rebaptism has not been abrogated to this day. For this reason, for most cases, it is the decision of the local priest as to how to receive a non-Orthodox into the Orthodox Church. And such a decision is very much related to the relationships the churches in a certain local context have with one another, or to the personal position of the parish priest.
3. The third ecclesiological direction is expressed around the term "sacramental economy". Wishing to remain faithful to the rigid line of St Cyprian and thus to satisfy Orthodox fundamentalist groups, but at the same time to show certain openness to those outside the Orthodox Church according to the example of St Basil and to the practice of the church during her history, there are certain contemporary Orthodox theologians who say the following: the church is one, and this one church is the Orthodox Church. Those outside the Orthodox Church, even if they were baptized in the name of the Trinity, cannot be considered members of the church as long as they do not "return" to the Orthodox Church. When they decide to join the Orthodox Church, the church recognizes their baptism through "economy" and rebaptism is not required. But as long as they are away from the Orthodox Church, such baptism cannot be recognized as efficient baptism in any way. Such a position tries to avoid the possibility of recognizing any sign of ecclesiality outside the Orthodox Church. Though interesting at a first look, this ecclesiological position--which is relatively new in the history of the Orthodox Church (19)--created problems instead of solutions to the ecumenical dilemma. Such a position is contrary to Orthodox theology and in particular to liturgical practices over time. I will give two examples. First, I will quote from the prayer that the priest is to say during the service of reception to the Orthodox faith of "a Roman Catholic or others". Before the chrismation, as the baptism is not repeated, the priest prays:
You Master, Lover of humankind, look to your servant (Name), who is a sheep of Your flock ... humbly I pray: fulfill in his (her) heart the light of the grace of Your Holy Spirit, to the true knowledge of Your Holy Gospels. Light in him (her) the light of the saving baptism, which inhabits his (her) soul ... towards the accomplishment of Your precepts. (20)
The second example refers to the liturgical practices concerning the sacrament of matrimony MATRIMONY. See Marriage. for mixed families. There are some Orthodox priests belonging to the line of acrivia who will require that the non-Orthodox person be received into the Orthodox Church before the sacrament of matrimony is celebrated. But the practice generally accepted by most of the Orthodox churches is that since one of the two is Orthodox, the Orthodox priest may celebrate the sacrament of matrimony according to the Orthodox liturgical tradition with the stipulation that the non-Orthodox person already had been baptized in the name of the Trinity. The question thus remains unsolved. If baptism in the name of the Trinity has no ecclesial significance outside the Orthodox Church, how could an Orthodox sacrament have been administered to one who is outside the canonical borders of the Orthodox Church?
Among modern Orthodox theologians, deeply appreciated and accepted by the Orthodox Church worldwide, one who dared openly to approach such a delicate issue was the late Father Dumitru Staniloae. Although he did not intend to write an "ecumenical theology", his theology is profoundly ecumenical because it remained authentic to the wholeness of Orthodox tradition and spirituality. Christ, the Divine Logos, whom Father Staniloae put at the centre of his theology, is the embodied Reason of the whole of creation. Through Christ, the incarnate Logos, God has created the whole world. Through his incarnation, Christ gathers in himself the whole of creation, saving and making it potentially divine by his saving work, because Christ did not come to save only a part of creation, but the whole cosmos. The church, the body of Christ, actualized ac·tu·al·ize
v. ac·tu·al·ized, ac·tu·al·iz·ing, ac·tu·al·iz·es
1. To realize in action or make real: "More flexible life patterns could . . . in the world by the power and work of the Holy Spirit, has also a cosmic dimension, being open to the whole of creation. The Orthodox Church, having the integrity of the apostolic faith and of the grace of the sacraments, shares in the fullness of union and communion with Christ. But even other Christians, despite their separation from the Orthodox Church and despite their partial witness to the apostolic faith, are not completely outside this sacramental mystery which is the body of Christ, the church. This is because there is one church, as there is one Christ: one head and one body. All Christians belong to the same reality, the only difference being the level of their participation to that reality:
Christ cannot have many bodies organically extended out of his personal body and cannot have many brides. Any full union of the faithful with Christ cannot mean but an intimate, integral and working presence within them. And this union alone is the church. But then comes the following question: What are the other Christian confessions who do not witness to such an intimate and working union of the integral Christ within them? We believe that they are less full churches, some closer to this fullness, some farther from it ... The Orthodox teaching and Tradition makes us consider that all the non-Orthodox confessions are separations which came into being in a certain relation with the full church and exist in a certain relation with her, but they do not share in the fullness of the light and power of Christ. Therefore, in a certain way, the church comprises all the confessions separated from her, because those could not separate themselves fully from the Tradition present in her. (21)
The Christians of other confessions are not "completely outside this mystery (church) ... These will find themselves in the less illuminated, less transparent of the many mansions of the heavenly Father (John 14:2)". (22)
On the basis of such an ecclesiology with cosmic dimensions that goes beyond the strict canonical limits, Father Staniloae launched as early as 1971 the notion of "open conciliarity or catholicity", pleading for the rediscovery and re-implementation of the old practice of the church of universal koinonia Noun 1. koinonia - Christian fellowship or communion with God or with fellow Christians; said in particular of the early Christian community
fellowship, family - an association of people who share common beliefs or activities; "the message was addressed not just to within which the whole of Christendom is asked to bring its contribution. This open catholicity offers the promise of understanding between churches through the harmonization of unilateral decisions adopted historically by the churches in order to exclude one another, choosing instead the rediscovery of a more supple and overarching unity which accepts the pluralism and the diversity of understanding without ending in uniformity.
To this contemporary actualization of the totality of the Christian teaching held in principle by Orthodoxy, the traditions of other Christian confessions are also called to bring their contributions, even if those did retain lesser aspects of it or have emphasized too exclusively others from within the totality of the spiritual and divino-human reality of Christianity ... The Orthodox catholicity (conciliarity) of our time must enrich itself with the spiritual values lived by the Western Christians. These Christians have retained lesser aspects of the Christians teaching or have emphasized some of them to a greater extent, and may have to deepen them more profoundly ... (23)
By living in open catholicity, Christians are enriched reciprocally by mutual critics and life experiences as they witness to one another, (24) thus preparing thus the way towards the realization of Christian unity.
In conclusion, Orthodoxy is ecumenical in its very identity and has an ecumenical vocation. To be concerned about and committed to the realization of Christian unity as response to the prayer of Christ before his passions "that all may be one" (John 17), and out of a feeling of guilt vis-a-vis the sin of division, is not a matter of choice and does not belong solely to an elite or to special people. Such a concern and commitment belong to the Orthodox identity. He who will stop praying for the "unity of all" is denying his own Orthodox identity. Because, according to Father Staniloae, "one cannot avoid seeing in the appearance and work of the ecumenical movement the work of God". (25)
The salvific sal·vif·ic
Having the intention or power to bring about salvation or redemption: "the doctrine that only a perfect male form can incarnate God fully and be salvific" Rita N. Brock. and redemptive work of Christ has a cosmic dimension, both during the time of his earthly life and afterwards by the power of the Holy Spirit in and through his sacramental body, the church. The Holy Spirit cannot be contained within the canonical borders of any ecclesial identity. All those who belong to Christ belong to one degree or another to his mystical body, the church, as well. The member churches of the WCC came together as a fellowship of churches on a very solid theological basis. Though there are differences of detail which still separate them, the God they witness and pray to is one and the same: "Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures ... to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit". We, the Orthodox, might continue to affirm that the Orthodox Church is the Una Sancta as it has kept more integrally the fullness of the apostolic faith throughout the centuries. But in order to be faithful, coherent and accountable to our theology, we must have the courage to say that the other churches of the WCC fellowship, as they came together in fellowship by fully accepting and affirming the council's theological basis, are also a part of the body of Christ, though the level of their participation in it may be different. In fact, the famous encyclical letter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate pa·tri·ar·chate
1. The territory, rule, or rank of a patriarch.
2. See patriarchy.
the office, jurisdiction or residence of a patriarch
Noun of 1920, considered to be a pioneer piece of ecumenical endeavour, is addressed "Unto the Churches of Christ Everywhere". (26) But such an affirmation stops far short of accepting or promoting the branch theory of the parity of confessions, either.
In the light of the above theology, Christian unity as viewed by the Orthodox Church is not an idealistic and utopian expectation that all the other churches may one day enter the canonical borders of the Orthodox Church and become Orthodox in the sense of a confessional family where unity may lead to uniformity. The Orthodox Church has never expected the "return" of the other historically separated entities within its realm. What the Orthodox Church is expecting is that one day all churches may find one another within the full koinonia and witness of the integrity of the apostolic faith while keeping a plurality of particular identities and expressions as experienced even today among the many Orthodox Churches. In that process of rediscovery and recovery we need one another: to witness, to challenge, to critique constructively, to assist, support and help. That goal and expectation has been expressed already as early as 1961 in New Delhi:
No static restoration of old forms is anticipated, but rather a dynamic recovery of perennial ethos, which only can secure the true agreement "of all ages". Nor should there be a rigid uniformity, since the same faith, mysterious in its essence and unfathomable adequately in the formulas of human reason, can be expressed accurately in different manners. The immediate objective of the ecumenical search is, according to the Orthodox understanding, a reintegration of Christian mind, a recovery of apostolic tradition, a fullness of Christian vision and belief, in agreement with all ages. (27)
(1) Cf. Orthodox Visions of Ecumenism: Statements, Messages and Reports of the Ecumenical Movement 1902-1992, Gennadios Limouris comp., WCC, 1994, pp.30-31.
(2) Consultation on Orthodox Involvement in the World Council of Churches, Sofia 1981; Decisions of the Third Preconciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference on the Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Movement, Chambesy 1986; Inter-Orthodox Consultation of Orthodox WCC Member Churches on the Orthodox Churches and the World Council of Churches, Chambesy 1991 and most recently the meeting in Thessaloniki, 1998.
(3) As example, I will mention just some of the many titles that could be easily found in the internet: The Heresy of Ecumenism and the Patristic Stand of the Orthodox; Ecumenism as an Ecclesiological Heresy; An Ecclesiological Position Paper for Orthodox Opposed to the Pan-Heresy of Ecumenism; Ecumenist "double speak": The Ecclesiological Schizophrenia of the Orthodox Ecumenists; The Price of Ecumenism: How Ecumenism Has Hurt the Orthodox Church; Orthodoxy and Fundamentalism: the Fundamentalism of the Orthodox Ecumenists; Holy Canons and Patristic Quotes related to Ecumenism. Books of this kind have been translated and spread more recently among Orthodox people in the countries of Eastern Europe in particular.
(4) St John Chrisostomos calls the church "bride" and Christ "bridegroom". "At His coming into the world, Christ, the bridegroom, finding his bride--the church, dirty, naked and defiled de·file 1
tr.v. de·filed, de·fil·ing, de·files
1. To make filthy or dirty; pollute: defile a river with sewage.
2. by blood--He washes, anoints and feeds her" ("Expositio in Psalm 5, no.2", Patrologia Graeca, 55, col.63). St Gregory of Nyssa says that the Word (Jesus) calls the Church saying: "Raise up the fallen one in the mud of sins and chained by the snake and fallen on the earth", in "Cantica Canticorum, Homilia 5", Patrologia Graeca, 44, col. 868A.
(5) As early as 1971, during the Central Committee of the WCC, Metropolitan Georges Khodr of Lebanon gave a paper entitled "Christianity in a Pluralistic World--The Economy of the Holy Spirit" (see The Ecumenical Movement: An Anthology of Key Texts and Voices, Michael Kinnamon and Brian E. Cope eds, WCC, 1997, pp.401-06). It was received with puzzlement puz·zle·ment
The state of being confused or baffled; perplexity.
Noun 1. puzzlement - confusion resulting from failure to understand
bafflement, befuddlement, bemusement, bewilderment, mystification, obfuscation by many of the Central Committee participants of that time.
(6) Stromata 1,5.
(8) Stromata 6,7.
(9) In the Martyrdom of Polycarp 8,1: "the whole catholic church throughout the inhabited world (the oikoumene). Or in St Ignatius, Letter to the Smyrnaeans The Letter to the Smyrnaeans was written by Saint Ignatius of Antioch around AD 110.
It mentions the resurrection of Jesus: (2:1a) "Now, he suffered all these things for our sake, that we might be saved. , 8,2: "Wherever Christ is, there is the catholic church". By 150 it started to be used to define the true apostolic church from the schismatic schis·mat·ic
Of, relating to, or engaging in schism.
One who promotes or engages in schism.
schis·mat bodies--Gnostics, Donatists. St Cyril of Jerusalem around 350, in his Catechetical cat·e·che·sis
n. pl. cat·e·che·ses
Oral instruction given to catechumens.
[Late Latin cat lectures (18) said: "The church is called catholic because it is spread throughout the world, from end to end of the earth; also because it teaches universally and completely all the doctrines which man should know concerning things visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly; and also because it subjects to right worship all mankind, rulers and ruled, lettered and unlettered; further because it treats and heals universally every sort of sin committed by soul and body, and possesses in itself every conceivable virtue, whether in deeds, words or in spiritual gifts of every kind".
(10) The search for catholicity in time is not only an Orthodox and Roman Catholic concern. The early Reformers were aware of this dimension of the early church and had deep appreciation for the Fathers, in particular Calvin. The idea was to rediscover the apostolic roots of the church; for this reason he has used many quotations from the Fathers. Luther and Melanchthon did the same. Luther has declared: "The Fathers and the doctors like Augustine, Jeronimus, Hilaire, Bonaventure etc. must be given much honour because of their faith testimonies, by which they show that the ancient Church believed in Jesus Christ". Melanchthon had a humanist education and appreciated the Fathers, using them for apologetic reasons: they interpreted correctly the scriptures; the church of Rome went away; Reformation is in continuation with the ancient church. The Augsburg Confession starts with the decree of Nicea; in chapter IV is mentioned the authority of the symbol of the apostles. In chapter VI St Ambrosius is quoted to support the idea of salvation by faith. In order to show how the church of Rome is no longer in continuity with the early church quotations are used from the Fathers: communion only with bread, celibacy of priests, monastic vows etc. (chapter 23,24,25,27,28).
Calvin follows the same logic. In the fourth book of his Institute, he defends the authority of the councils against those who think that is up to them to accept or to reject their decisions: "If anyone will ask if the resolutions of the councils have no authority at all, I would say that yes, they have ... we accept happily the councils such as those of Nicea, Constantinople, first of Ephesus, Chalcedon and the similar ones which took place to condemn the wrong mistakes and opinions of the heretics; we give them, let's say, honour and reverence ... Because these councils do not contain anything else but a pure and natural interpretation of the Scriptures ... And in fact, the Fathers who attended the council of Chalcedon Noun 1. Council of Chalcedon - the fourth ecumenical council in 451 which defined the two natures (human and divine) of Christ
ecumenical council - (early Christian church) one of seven gatherings of bishops from around the known world under the , did not take their decision but through the Word of God. Nevertheless, we follow them with the condition that we have the word of God enlightening us; according to which they were also led" (IV,9,8; IV,9,9), cf. Andre Benoit, Lactualite des Peres de l'Eglise, Editions Delachaux & Niestle, Neuchatel, 1961, pp.17-21.
(11) For example, under the name of Cyril Lukaris, patriarch of Constantinople, murdered in 1638, there has been published a Calvinist confession of faith in Latin in 1629 and in Greek in 1633. It affirms predestination predestination, in theology, doctrine that asserts that God predestines from eternity the salvation of certain souls. So-called double predestination, as in Calvinism, is the added assertion that God also foreordains certain souls to damnation. , salvation by faith alone, two sacraments, spiritual presence of Christ in Eucharist. It was rebuked in 1638 by a synod in Constantinople. Another example is the symbolic book of Peter Mogbila, the Metropolitan of Kiev who elaborated the "Orthodox Confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Church of the East". It has been approved by the Synod of Iassi, 1642. it is also very scholastic. It had to be reviewed since initially it had mentioned the purgatorium and the moment of epiclesis at the pronunciation of the words of institution The Words of Institution are those used, inserted into a narrative of the Last Supper, in Christian Eucharistic liturgies to recall those used by Jesus on that occasion. Eucharistic scholars sometimes refer to them simply as the verba (Latin for "words"). . The formula of absolution absolution
In Christianity, a pronouncement of forgiveness of sins made to a person who has repented. This rite is based on the forgiveness that Jesus extended to sinners during his ministry. , which is in use until today in the Slavonic tradition, has also strong scholastic connotations (Book of needs). Another clear example is the Confession of Dositei of Jerusalem written in 1672. It had in it the scholastic term transsubstantiatio, which had to be revised later.
(12) The introduction of the Trinitarian dimension in the WCC basis, the debates on scripture, Tradition and traditions, on the role of the role of the Holy Spirit, on the relationship between local and catholic church, on the theological foundations for the dialogue with people of other faiths are just few examples of the particular Orthodox contributions to the ecumenical dialogues.
(13) The first draft of the document entitled "The Nature and the Purpose of the Church" has been sent for study to the WCC member churches. On the basis of the responses from the churches, a new revised document will be elaborated and will be presented for adoption to the ninth assembly of WCC in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2006.
(14) In Church Quarterly Review, 117, 1933, pp.117-131.
(15) For a summary of the positions of different contemporary Orthodox theologians on this issue, see Prof. Emmanuel Clapsis, "The Boundaries of the Church: An Orthodox Debate, in Greek Orthodox Theological Review, 35, 2, 1990, pp.113-27. Michel Stavrou, L'ecclesialite du bapteme des autres chretiens dans la conscience de l'Eglise orthodoxe, in La Maison-Dieu 235 (2003/3), pp.89-123.
(16) Epistles 69:7; 71:1; 73:2; 75:17. Acrivia, or "strictness, rigidity", is sometimes transliterated akribeia.
(17) Canon 45(46) etc.
(18) Epistle 188.
(19) The use of the notion "sacramental economy" with the understanding it has until today is linked to the great personality of St Nicodemus of Holy Mountain (1748-1809). In his work Pedalion (1800), St. Nicodemus reintroduces the old canonical terminologies "acrivia" and "economy" but giving them a new nuance compared to the meaning these notions had in the early church. He was a great supporter of the council of Constantinople Council of Constantinople can refer to:
Noun 1. consistence - a harmonious uniformity or agreement among things or parts
consistency and is even contradictory. It is imperative today to do afresh a profound study on this subject and to articulate it within the realities and challenges of our times. An excellent description on the evolution of this problem in baptism and sacramental economy in An Agreed Statement agreed statement n. occasionally the two parties on opposite sides of a lawsuit or on an appeal from a trial judgment will agree upon certain facts and sign a statement to be used in court for that purpose. of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation is an ecumenical standing conference that has been meeting semiannually since it was founded in 1965 under the auspices of the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference , St Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary, Crestwood NY, 1999, cf. Internet: www.usceb.org/seia/agreed.htm.
(20) Molitfelnic (Book on Needs), Editure Institutului Biblic si de Misiune al Bisericii Ortodoxe Romane, Bucuresti, 1992, p.692.
(21) Teologia Dogmatica Ortodoxa, 2, Editura Institutului Biblic si de Misiune al Bisericii Ortodoxe Romane, Bucuresti, 1978, p.267.
(22) Cf. Dumitru Staniloae, "The Mystery of the Church", in Church", in Church, Kingdom, World: the Church as Mystery and Prophetic Sign, Gennadios Limouris ed., Faith and Order paper no.130, WCC, 1986, p.57; Dogmatica, 2, p.269.
(23) "Sobornicitate deschisa", in Ortodoxia, 2, 1971, pp.171, 172.
(24) Ibid., p.176.
(25) Miscarea ecumenica si unitatea crestina in stadiul actual, in Ortodoaxia, 3-4, 1963, p.544.
(26) The Ecumenical Movement: An Anthology of Key Texts and Voices, pp. 11-14.
(27) Orthodox Visions of Ecumenism, p.31.
Ioan Sauca is director of the Ecumenical Institute, Bossey. He is a priest of the Romanian Orthodox Church.