Being as Communion. Studies in Personhood and the Church
Contents1. Personhood and Being I. From Mask to Person: The Birth of an Ontology of Personhood II. From Biological to Ecclesial Existence: The Ecclesiological Significance of the Person 2. Truth and Communion I. Introduction: The Problem of Truth in the Patristic Era II. Truth, Being and History: The Greek Patristic Synthesis 1. The “Logos” Approach 2. The Eucharistic approach 3. The Trinitarian Approach 4. The “Apophatic” Approach 5. The Christological Approach 6. The Approach through the “Eikon” III. Truth and Salvation: The Existential Implications of Truth as Communion 1. Truth and Fallen Existence: the Rupture between Being and Communion 2. Truth and the Person 3. Truth and the Savior IV. Truth and the Church: Ecclesiological Consequences of the Greek Patristic Synthesis 1. The Body of Christ formed in the Spirit 2. The Eucharist as the Locus of Truth 3. Christ, the Spirit and the Church I. Introduction II. The Problem of the Synthesis between Christology and Pneumatology III. Implications of the Synthesis for Ecclesiology IV. Conclusions 4. Eucharist and Catholicity I. The “One” and the “Many” in the Eucharistic Consciousness of the Early Church II. The Composition and Structure of the Eucharistic Community as Reflections of Catholicity III. The Eucharistic Community and the “Catholic Church in the World” IV. Some General Conclusions 5. Apostolic Continuity and Succession I. The Two Approaches, “Historical” and “Eschatological,” to Apostolic Continuity II. Towards a Synthesis of the “Historical” and the “Eschatological” Approach III. Concrete Consequences for the Life of Church IV. Conclusions for the Ecumenical Debate 6. Ministry and Communion I. The Theological Perspective II. The Relational Character of the Ministry III. The “Sacramental” Character of the Ministry IV. Ministry and Unity V. The “Validity” of the Ministry 7. The Local Church In a Perspective of Communion I. The Historical and Ecclesiological Background II. Questions Concerning the Theology of the Local Church Today 1. Ecclesiality and Locality 2. Locality and Universality 3. The Local Church in a Context of Division List of Sources
For Costa and Lydia Carras
One of the major and permanent goals of a theologian, who wants to express the Christian faith, as it is held by the Orthodox Catholic Tradition, is to be able to do justice to history as well as to “systematic” thought addressed to contemporaries. In most cases, however, historians limit themselves to history establishing the facts of the past and leaving open the issue of objective truth. Systematic theologians, on the contrary, neglect the rigorous demands of historical criticism, and use the past merely as a source of proof-texts, selected by them to support their own, so often arbitrary interpretation of the truth.
This dichotomy is particularly dangerous for Orthodox theology, which simply ceases to be Orthodox if it either neglects Tradition, uncovered in history, or forgets the truth, which is its raison d’étre.
The present work by John Zizioulas should, I believe, be seen as important not only because it obviously transcends the dichotomy referred to above, but also because it succeeds brilliantly in showing that the Orthodox doctrines of man and of the Church cannot be compartmentalized in neatly separate sections of theological science – “theology,” “anthropology,” “ecclesiology” – but are simply meaningless if approached separately. Only together do they reflect the true “mind of Christ” of which St Paul wrote, the “true gnosis” defended by St Irenaeus, and the authentic experience of God, called for by the Fathers of later centuries.
Abundant in the various languages of the Balkans and Eastern Europe, Orthodox theological literature has become, in the last two decades, much more accessible in English as well. It includes general introductions to Orthodox history and doctrine, some important specialized studies and monographs, and a great abundance of texts related to spirituality. In Being As Communion, attentive readers will discover how all these dispersed elements of Tradition are linked to the Gospel itself, as it was lived by the early Christian community and expressed by the great Fathers. They will also see that it transcends historical limitations and is immediately relevant to today’s problems.
The book is not always easy reading. It presupposes some awareness of contemporary theological trends. Zizioulas’ disciplined and critical mind finds itself in constant dialogue with others, either giving them credit, or criticizing them – mostly on grounds of onesidedness, i.e. on the ground that they lack an authentically “catholic” grasp of ecclesial reality. His thought is, in many ways, close to that of the late Father Nicholas Afanasiev – well known exponent of “eucharistic ecclesiology” – but how sharp (and in my opinion, how justified) is also Zizioulas’ criticism of Afanasiev! Was not Afanasiev somehow overlooking the trinitarian and anthropological dimension of ecclesiology, focusing his thought on the “local” nature of the eucharistic community and, somewhat, excluding the problems of truth and of the universal presuppositions of unity?
I hope that readers will not be set back by the technical character of this book. John Zizioulas is actually dealing with the most contemporary, the most urgent, the most existential issues facing the Orthodox Church today. Unless the visible reality of our Church life becomes consistent with that communion which is revealed to us in the Eucharist, unless our ecclesiastical structures – especially here in the West – conform themselves to that which the Church truly is, unless the eucharistic nature of the Church is freed from under the facade of anachronism, and ethnic politics, which hide it today, no ecumenical witness, no authentic mission to the world is possible.
Born in Greece in 1931, John Zizioulas is a graduate of the Theological Faculty of the University of Athens, where he also later received a degree of Doctor of Theology, with a thesis on The Unity of the Church in the Eucharist and the Bishop during the First Three Centuries (Athens, 1965). He also studied Patristics at Harvard and was a Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies. For several years, he served on the staff of the Commission on Faith and Order, World Council of Churches, in Geneva and was gradually recognized as one of the most influential Orthodox theologians of the younger generation. As a representative of the ecumenical patriarchate, he is a member of the International Commission for dialogue with Roman Catholicism. His ecumenical involvement has led him to publish a number of articles and studies in various periodicals. Some of these articles appeared in the French volume L’Être ecclésial (Paris, Labor et Fides, 1981). These same articles, with important additions are included in this volume.
At present, John Zizioulas is professor of theology at the University of Glasgow. He was also recently appointed to a part-time position at the University of Thessalonica.
– John Meyendorff
Certain parts of this book have already appeared in French in my L’être ecclésial (Labor et Fides, Geneva, 1981). The rest are published for the first time here in English. In both cases the text has undergone special revision in view of the present English edition.
I should like to express warmest thanks to my friends, the Reverend John Clarke and Mrs Elizabeth Templeton for their invaluable help in translating from the French the Introduction of this book, and to Father Norman Russell for translating so brilliantly chapter I from the original Greek. My special gratitude is due to Dr Peter J. Bussey, of the Department of Natural Philosophy of the University of Glasgow, for the interest he has shown in chapter II of this book both as a scientist and as Christian. I am indebted to him for kindly taking the initiative to translate himself this chapter from French into English.
Finally, I wish to thank most warmly Mr Costa Carras for the great amount of time and work he contributed in arranging for the publication of this book. To him and to his wife Lydia I dedicate this book with gratitude for their unfailing friendship over the last years.
The Church is not simply an institution. She is a “mode of existence”, a way to being. The mystery of the Church, even in its institutional dimension, is deeply bound to the being of man, to the being of the world and to the very being of God. In virtue of this bond, so characteristic of patristic thought, ecclesiology assumes a marked importance, not only for all aspects of theology, but also for the existential needs of man in every age.
In the first place, ecclesial being is bound to the very being of God. From the fact that a human being is a member of the Church, he becomes an “image of God,” he exists as God Himself exists, he takes on God’s “way of being.” This way of being is not a moral attainment, something that man accomplishes. It is a way of relationship with the world, with other people and with God, an event of communion, and that is why it cannot be realized as the achievement of an individual, but only as an ecclesial fact.
However, for the Church to present this way of existence, she must herself be an image of the way in which God exists. Her entire structure, her ministries etc. must express this way of existence. And that means, above all else, that the Church must have a right faith, a correct vision with respect to the being of God. Orthodoxy concerning the being of God is not a luxury for the Church and for man: it is an existential necessity.
* * *
During the patristic period, there was scarcely mention of the being of the Church, whilst much was made of the being of God. The question that preoccupied the Fathers was not to know if God existed or not – the existence of God was a “given” for nearly all men of this period, Christians or pagans. The question which tormented entire generations was rather: how he existed. And such a question had direct consequences as much for the Church as for man, since both were considered as “images of God.”
To answer the question about the being of God, during the patristic period, was not easy. The greatest difficulty stemmed from ancient Greek ontology which was fundamentally monistic: the being of the world and the being of God formed, for the ancient Greeks, an unbreakable unity. That linked together the being of God and the being of the world, while biblical faith proclaimed God to be absolutely free with regard to the world. The Platonic conception of the creator God did not satisfy the Fathers of the Church, and this, precisely because the doctrine of creation from pre-existing matter limited divine freedom. So it was necessary to find an ontology that avoided the monistic Greek philosophy as much as the “gulf” between God and the world taught by the gnostic systems – the other great danger of this period. The creation of this ontology was perhaps the greatest philosophical achievement of patristic thought.
The ecclesial experience of the Fathers played a decisive role in breaking ontological monism and avoiding the gnostic “gulf” between God and the world. The fact that neither the apologists, such as Justin Martyr, nor the Alexandrian catechetical theologians, such as the celebrated Clement and Origen, could completely avoid the trap of the ontological monism of Greek thought is not accidental: they were above all “doctors,” academic theologians interested principally in Christianity as “revelation.” By contrast, the bishops of this period, pastoral theologians such as St Ignatius of Antioch and above all St Irenaeus and later St Athanasius, approached the being of God through the experience of the ecclesial community, of ecclesial being. This experience revealed something very important: the being of God could be known only through personal relationships and personal love. Being means life, and life means communion.
This ontology, which came out of eucharistic experience of the Church, guided the Fathers in working out their doctrine of the being of God, a doctrine formulated above all by Athanasius of Alexandria and the Cappadocian Fathers, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa. Below, in brief, is the result of this important philosophical development which would never have been possible without the experience of ecclesial being, and without which ecclesiology would lose its deep existential meaning.
The being of God is a relational being: without the concept of communion it would not be possible to speak of the being of God. The tautology “God is God» says nothing about ontology, just as the logical affirmation A = A is a dead logic and consequently a denial of being which is life. It would be unthinkable to speak of the “one God” before speaking of the God who is “communion,” that is to say, of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity is a primordial ontological concept and not a notion which is added to the divine substance or rather which follows it, as is the case in the dogmatic manuals of the West and, alas, in those of the East in modern times. The substance of God, “God,” has no ontological content, no true being, apart from communion.
In this way, communion becomes an ontological concept in patristic thought. Nothing in existence is conceivable in itself, as an individual, such as the τόδε τί of Aristotle, since even God exists thanks to an event of communion. In this manner the ancient world heard for the first time that it is communion which makes beings “be”: nothing exists without it, not even God.
But this communion is not a relationship understood for its own sake, an existential structure which supplants “nature” or “substance” in its primordial ontological role – something reminiscent of the structure of existence met in the thought of Martin Buber. Just like “substance,” “communion” does not exist by itself: it is the Father who is the “cause” of it. This thesis of the Cappadocians that introduced the concept of “cause” into the being of God assumed an incalculable importance. For it meant that the ultimate ontological category which makes something really be, is neither an impersonal and incommunicable “substance,” nor a structure of communion existing by itself or imposed by necessity, but rather the person. The fact that God owes His existence to the Father, that is to a person, means (a) that His “substance,” His being, does not constrain Him (God does not exist because He cannot but exist), and (b) that communion is not a constraining structure for His existence (God is not in communion, does not love, because He cannot but be in communion and love). The fact that God exists because of the Father shows that His existence, His being is the consequence of a free person; which means, in the last analysis, that not only communion but also freedom, the free person, constitutes true being. True being comes only from the free person, from the person who loves freely – that is, who freely affirms his being, his identity, by means of an event of communion with other persons.
In this way the discussion of the being of God leads patristic thought to the following theses, which are fundamentally bound up with ecclesiology as well as ontology:
(a) There is no true being without communion. Nothing exists as an “individual,” conceivable in itself. Communion is an ontological category.
(b) Communion which does not come from a “hypostasis,” that is, a concrete and free person, and which does riot lead to “hypostases,” that is concrete and free persons, is not an “image” of the being of God. The person cannot exist without communion; but every form of communion which denies or suppresses the person, is inadmissible.
This theology of the person, which appeared for the first time in history through the patristic vision of the being of God, could never have become a live experience for man without the mystery of the Church. Humanism or sociology could struggle as much as they wished to affirm the importance of man. The existentialist philosophers, however, have shown in our day – with an intellectual honesty that makes them worthy of the name of philosopher – that, humanly speaking, the person as an absolute ontological freedom remains a quest without fulfilment. Between the being of God and that of man remains the gulf of creaturehood, and creaturehood means precisely this: the being of each human person is given to him; consequently, the human person is not able to free himself absolutely from his “nature” or from his “substance,” from what biological laws dictate to him, without bringing about his annihilation. And even when he lives the event of communion either in the form of love or of social and political life, he is obliged in the last analysis, if he wants to survive, to relativize his freedom, to submit to certain natural and social “givens.” The demand of the person for absolute freedom involves a “new birth,” a birth “from on high,” a baptism. And it is precisely the ecclesial being which “hypostasizes” the person according to God’s way of being. That is what makes the Church the image of the Triune God.
* * *
But patristic theology insisted from its origins on something very significant: man can approach God only through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. Ecclesiology which uses the notion of the “image of God” cannot be founded simply on triadology. The fact that man in the Church is the “image of God” is due to the economy of the Holy Trinity, that is, the work of Christ and the Spirit in history. This economy is the basis of ecclesiology, without being the goal of it. The Church is built by the historical work of the divine economy but leads finally to the vision of God “as He is,” to the vision of the Triune God in his eternal existence.
This meta-historical, eschatological and iconological dimension of the Church is characteristic of the Eastern tradition, which lives and teaches its theology liturgically; it contemplates the being of God and the being of the Church with the eyes of worship, principally of eucharistic worship, image of the “eschata” par excellence. It is for that reason that Orthodoxy is often thought of, or presented by its spokesmen, as a sort of Christian Platonism, as a vision of future or heavenly things without an interest in history and its problems. By contrast, Western theology tends to limit ecclesiology (and actually even the whole of theology) to the historical content of the faith – to the economy – and to project realities belonging to history and time into the eternal existence of God. In this way the dialectic of God and the world, the uncreated and the created, history and the eschata is lost. The Church ends by being completely “historicized”; it ceases to be the manifestation of the eschata and becomes the image of this world and of historical realities. Ecclesial being and the being of God are no longer organically bound; ecclesiology no longer has need of “theo-logy” to function. Orthodox theology runs the danger of historically disincarnating the Church; by contrast, the West risks tying it primarily to history, either in the form of an extreme Christocentrism – an imitatio Christi – lacking the essential influence of pneumatology or in the form of a social activism or moralism which tries to play in the Church the role of the image of God. Consequently, the two theologies, Eastern and Western, need to meet in depth, to recover the authentic patristic synthesis which will protect them from the above dangers. Ecclesial being must never separate itself from the absolute demands of the being of God – that is, its eschatological nature – nor from history. The institutional dimension of the Church must always incarnate its eschatological nature without annulling the dialectic of this age and the age to come, the uncreated and the created, the being of God and that of man and the world.
* * *
But how can we draw together ecclesial being and the being of God, history and eschatology, without destroying their dialectical relationship? To achieve this we need to find again the lost consciousness of the primitive Church concerning the decisive importance of the eucharist in ecclesiology.
The rediscovery of this consciousness, lost in the tortuous paths of medieval scholasticism and the “Babylonian captivity” of modern Orthodoxy, presupposes that we give up envisaging the eucharist as one sacrament among many, as an objective act or a “means of grace” “used” or “administered” by the Church. The ancient understanding of the eucharist – common in its general lines until about the twelfth century to both East and West – was very different. The celebration of the eucharist by the primitive Church was, above all, the gathering of the people of God ἐπὶ τὸ αủτὸ, that is, both the manifestation and the realization of the Church. Its celebration on Sunday – the day of the eschata – as well as all its liturgical content testified that during the eucharist, the Church did not live only by the memory of a historical fact – the Last Supper and the earthly life of Christ, including the cross and the resurrection – but it accomplished an eschatological act. It was in the eucharist that the Church would contemplate her eschatological nature, would taste the very life of the Holy Trinity; in other words she would realize man’s true being as image of God’s own being. All the fundamental elements which constituted her historical existence and structure had, by necessity, to pass through the eucharistic community to be “sure” (according to Ignatius of Antioch) or “valid” and “canonical” (according to the terminology of contemporary canon law), that is, to be ecclesiologically true. No ordination to fundamental and structural ministries of the Church took place outside the eucharistic community. It was there, in the presence of all the people of God and of all the orders, in an event of free communion, that the Holy Spirit distributed gifts “by constituting the whole structure of the Church.” Thus the eucharist was not the act of a pre-existing Church; it was an event constitutive of the being of the Church, enabling the Church to be. The eucharist constituted the Church’s being.
Consequently, the eucharist had the unique privilege of reuniting in one whole, in one unique experience, the work of Christ and that of the Holy Spirit. It expressed the eschatological vision through historical realities by combining in the ecclesial life the institutional with the charismatic elements. For it was only in the eucharist that the dialectical relationship between God and the world, between the eschata and history, was preserved without creating dangerous polarizations and dichotomies. This is because:
(a) The eucharist manifests the historical form of the divine economy, all that which was “transmitted” (cf. I Cor. 10:23: eucharist = “tradition”) through the life, the death and the resurrection of the Lord, as well as through the “form” of bread and wine and a “structure” practically unchanged since the night of the Last Supper. The eucharist realizes in the course of history the continuity that links each Church to the first apostolic communities and to the historical Christ: in short, all that was instituted and is transmitted. The eucharist is thus the affirmation par excellence of history, the sanctification of time, by manifesting the Church as historical reality, as an institution.
(b) But a eucharist founded uniquely on history and manifesting the Church as simply “institution” is not the true eucharist. It might be said, by paraphrasing the biblical sentence, that “history kills, it is the Spirit who gives life.” The epiclesis and the presence of the Holy Spirit mean that in the eucharist the being of the Church is not founded simply on its historical and institutional base, but that it dilates history and time to the infinite dimensions of the eschata, and it is that which forms the specific work of the Holy Spirit. The eucharistic community makes the Church eschatological. It frees it from the causality of natural and historical events, from limitations which are the result of the individualism implied in our natural biological existence. It gives it the taste of eternal life as love and communion, as the image of the being of God. The eucharist, as distinct from other expressions of ecclesial life, is unthinkable without the gathering of the whole Church in one place, that is, without an event of communion; consequently, it manifests the Church not simply as something instituted, that is, historically given, but also as something con-stituted, that is constantly realized as an event of free communion, prefiguring the divine life and the Kingdom to come. In ecclesiology, the polarization between “institution” and “event” is avoided thanks to a correct understanding of the eucharist: Christ and history give to the Church her being, which becomes true being each time that the Spirit con-stitutes the eucharistic community as Church. In this way, the eucharist is not a “sacrament,” something parallel to the divine word: it is the eschatologization of the historical word, the voice of the historical Christ, the voice of the Holy Scripture which comes to us, no longer simply as “doctrine” through history, but as life and being through the eschata. It is not the sacrament completing the word, but rather the word becoming flesh, the risen Body of the Logos.
* * *
Through the studies of this volume, the reader will easily recognize the fundamental presuppositions of “eucharistic ecclesiology”. Since the late Fr Nicholas Afanasiev, a modern Orthodox theologian, published his well known thesis, many Western theologians know Orthodoxy in the form of this “eucharistic ecclesiology.” However the reader who wants to study the present texts with attention and to place them in the light of the history of theology will certainly discover some fundamental differences from this “eucharistic ecclesiology.” It is therefore necessary to be aware in what important respects the author of these studies wishes to go further than Afanasiev, or to disassociate his own opinions from the latter, without either underestimating or minimizing the importance of this Russian theologian and those who have faithfully followed him.
First of all, the preceding pages have made clear the desire of the author of this book to enlarge, as much as possible, the horizon of ecclesiology in order to relate the theology of the Church to its philosophical and ontological implications as well as to the rest of theology. It is certain that such a project, to be properly carried out, demands a work of synthesis rather than a collection of studies as is the case in this present volume. However, in the first two chapters the efforts of the author seek to show that the mystery of the Church, and more especially its eucharistic realization and expression, are very deeply bound to the entirety of theology with its existential implications. That must be stated so as to distance the present studies from the opinion that eucharistic ecclesiology is founded simply on the concept or on the celebration of a sacramental act. For the opinion frequently recurs among a great many Western Christians as well as among Orthodox, in referring to eucharistic ecclesiology, that Orthodox ecclesiology is only a projection of the mystery of the Church into sacramental categories: a sacramentalization of theology. And in effect, such an impression appears inevitable if we do not go beyond what eucharistic ecclesiology has said up until now, if we do not try to widen both our theological and philosophical horizons.
Furthermore, eucharistic ecclesiology such as has been developed by Fr Afanasiev and his followers raises serious problems, and because of this it is in need of fundamental correction. The principle “wherever the eucharist is, there is the Church” on which this ecclesiology is built, tends to lead towards two basic errors that Fr Afanasiev did not avoid, any more than those who have faithfully followed him.
The first of these errors consists in considering even the parish where the eucharist takes place as a complete and “catholic” Church. Several Orthodox, following Afanasiev, have come to this conclusion without recognizing that they are raising in a very acute manner the entire problem of the structure of the Church. The reason is the following: if a local Church comprises only a single eucharistic parish-community, as must have been the case in the primitive Church, it is then possible to speak of a complete and “catholic” Church, given that it fulfils all the conditions of catholicity: a gathering of all the members of the Church of one place (so an overcoming of all kinds of division: natural, social, cultural etc.) in the presence of all the ministers, including the college of presbyters with the bishop at its head. But when a eucharistic community does not meet these conditions, how can it be called a complete and “catholic” Church? The parish, as it has been formed in the course of history, does not include all the faithful of a place, nor all the presbyterium with the bishop at its head. Consequently, in spite of the fact that the eucharist is celebrated there, the parish is not a complete and “catholic” Church. But then, does the principle of eucharistic ecclesiology “wherever the eucharist is, there is the Church” find itself weakened? Not necessarily, but it needs a new interpertation so as to manifest the correct relationship between the parish and the diocese, between the eucharist and the Church.
The other great problem created by “eucharistic ecclesiology” as Fr Afanasiev has developed it concerns the relationship between the local Church and the Church “universal.” The eucharistic community envisaged in its parochial or even episcopal form is necessarily local. The principle “wherever the eucharist is, there is the Church” risks suggesting the idea that each Church could, independently of other local Churches, be the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” Here there is a need for special attention and creative theological work to keep an adequate balance between the “local Church” and the “universal Church.” Roman Catholic ecclesiology before Vatican II (which drew attention to the importance of the local Church) tended to identify the “catholic Church” with the “universal Church” (an identification which had already begun in the West with Augustine), thus considering the local Church as simply a “part” of the Church. This tendency has begun to fade a little, at least among certain groups of Roman Catholic theologians, but it remains an open question. On the other hand, in certain Protestant churches, the local Church (whose meaning is not always clear) retains priority and almost exhausts the concept of Church. Several Orthodox theologians faithful to the doctrine of eucharistic ecclesiology – Afanasiev had already given such an interpretation – have an equal tendency to give priority to the local Church. Others, by contrast, basically following Roman Catholic ecclesiology before Vatican II, refuse to accept both the catholicity of the local Church and eucharistic ecclesiology, which they regard as responsible for an inadmissible “localism” in ecclesiology.
It is clear that we must steer towards a third solution, which would justify eucharistic ecclesiology without carrying with it the risk of “localism.” And it is the eucharist itself which will guide us in this, for, by its nature, it expresses simultaneously both the “localization” and the “universalization” of the mystery of the Church, that is the transcending of both “localism” and “universalism.” It is in this direction that the studies of this volume would wish to point the reader.
* * *
These studies are not intended to be simply a contribution to the theological dialogue between Orthodox. Written in the West on the occasion of different international and ecumenical theological conferences, they presuppose a certain knowledge of the theological problems which today preoccupy the Western world. Situated in the context of Western theological problematic, they are motivated by two basic concerns: the first consists in detaching Western theology from the confessional mentality with which it habitually approaches Orthodoxy, by considering it as something “exotic,” different, “worth the trouble” of being known. If Orthodoxy is only this sort of “interesting” subject, provoking the curiosity and enriching merely the knowledge of Western theologians, it would be better that it stop being presented: it has played this role enough up until now and accomplished this “task.” These studies are addressed to the reader who seeks in Orthodox theology the dimension of the faith of the Greek Fathers, a dimension necessary to the catholicity of the faith of the Church and to the existential implications of Christian doctrine and of the ecclesial institution. They are addressed to the Western Christian who feels, as it were, “amputated” since the East and the West followed their different and autonomous paths.
As for the second concern of these texts, it is a result and a consequence of the first: it provokes and invites contemporary theology to work with a view to a synthesis between the two theologies, Eastern and Western. It is of course true that, in some respects, these two theologies seem incompatible. That is due, among other things, to the independent historical roads followed by East and West since the great schism or perhaps even earlier. However, this was not the case during the early patristic period. As the late Fr Georges Florovsky liked to repeat, the authentic catholicity of the Church must include both the West and the East.
It may be said in conclusion that these studies are intended to offer their contribution to a “neopatristic synthesis” capable of leading the West and the East nearer to their common roots, in the context of the existential quest of modern man. This object may perhaps justify their appearance in the shape of this volume.
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