3. Christ, the Spirit and the Church
One of the fundamental criticisms that Orthodox theologians expressed in connection with the ecclesiology of Vatican II concerned the place which the council gave to Pneumatology in its ecclesiology. In general, it was felt that in comparison with Christology, Pneumatology did not play an important role in the council’s teaching on the Church. More particularly, it was observed that the Holy Spirit was brought into ecclesiology after the edifice of the Church was constructed with Christological material alone. This, of course, had important consequences for the teaching of the council on such matters as the sacraments, ministry and ecclesial institutions in general.
This criticism may be on the whole a valid one, but when we come to the point of asking what its positive aspect is, namely what the Orthodox would in fact like to see the council do with Pneumatology in its ecclesiology, then we are confronted with problems. In one of his articles Fr Congar quotes two Orthodox observers to the council, whose names he politely refrains from mentioning, as having said to him that “if we must propose a schema De Ecclesia, two chapters would suffice: one on the Holy Spirit and another on Christian man.”198 This quotation is in itself a clear indication that Orthodox theology needs to do a great deal of reflection on the relationship between Christology and Pneumatology, and that the actual state of Orthodox theology in this respect is by no means satisfactory.
A quick look at the history of modern Orthodox theology concerning this subject leads us back to the critique of Western thought by Khomiakov in the previous century and the famous idea of sobornost which resulted from it.199 Khomiakov was not explicit on the problem we are discussing here, but his views can make sense only if a strong dose of Pneumatology is injected into ecclesiology. In fact this dose – which, by the way, had already been generously given to ecclesiology by Khomiakov’s Roman Catholic contemporary Johannes Möhler through his work Die Einheit200 – was so strong as to make of the Church a “charismatic society” rather than the “body of Christ.” This led later Orthodox theologians, notably the late Fr Georges Florovsky, to reiterate with particular emphasis that the doctrine of the Church is “a chapter of Christology.”201By so doing Florovsky indirectly raised the problem of the synthesis between Christology and Pneumatology, without however offering any solution to it. In fact there are reasons to believe that far from suggesting a synthesis, he leaned towards a Christological approach in his ecclesiology.
The Orthodox theologian who was destined to exercise the greatest influence on this subject in our time was Vladimir Lossky. His views are well known, but two points need to be mentioned in particular. The first is that there is a distinct “economy of the Holy Spirit” alongside with that of the Son.202 The other is that the content of Pneumatology, as contrasted with that of Christology, should be defined in ecclesiological terms as concerning the “personalization” of the mystery of Christ, its appropriation by the faithful, what could be called the “subjective” aspect of the Church (the other one, the “objective,” being proper to Christology).203 Thus, with the help of the scheme “nature versus person,” Lossky would develop the view that both Christology and Pneumatology are necessary components of ecclesiology, and would see in the sacramental structure of the Church the “objective” Christological aspect which has to be constantly accompanied by the “personal” or “subjective” aspect. The latter is related to the freedom and integrity of each person, his inner “spiritual life,” deification etc. This seems to offer material for a synthesis between Christology and Pneumatology in ecclesiology. And yet its actual schematization makes Lossky’s position extremely problematic, as we shall see later. For the same reasons his first point, too, concerning a distinct “economy of the Spirit,” becomes questionable and in fact renders the synthesis so difficult that it must be abandoned.
Lossky did not draw conclusions from the implications of his views for the actual structure and institutions of the Church. The problem how to relate the institutional with the charismatic, the Christological with the Pneumatological aspects of ecclesiology, still awaits its treatment by Orthodox theology.
Two other Orthodox theologians of our time who have insisted on the importance of Pneumatology in ecclesiology have recognized the difficulties inherent in any dissociation of Pneumatology from Christology. Nikos Nissiotis and Fr Boris Bobrinskoy have stressed that the work of the Holy Spirit and that of Christ belong together and should never be seen in separation. This is an important corrective of the views expressed by Khomiakov and to a large extent also Lossky, although the priority given to Pneumatology is still preserved in both Nissiotis and Bobrinskoy.204 The question, however, remains still open as to how Pneumatology and Christology can be brought together into a full and organic synthesis. It is probably one of the most important questions facing Orthodox theology in our time.
As this brief historical survey, suggests Orthodox theology has no ready-made answers to offer to the problems at hand. It is often assumed that Orthodoxy can be helpful in the ecumenical discussions by contributing its Pneumatology to them. This may be true to some extent, especially if the Orthodox contribution is taken as a corrective to Western excesses іn ecclesiology. But when it comes to the point of doing justice to the basic components of the Orthodox tradition itself or – and this is more important – to the point of facing our actual ecumenical problems with positive propositions, it becomes clear that Orthodox theology needs to work closely together with Western theology if it is to be really helpful to itself and to others. This brief study will reflect problems and concerns relating to Orthodoxy itself, which is by no means immune from the post-Vatican II problematique. A proper synthesis between Christology and Pneumatology in ecclesiology concerns Orthodoxy as much as the West.
II. The Problem of the Synthesis between Christology and Pneumatology
What would a proper synthesis between Christology and Pneumatology have to include? This question must be asked before any attempt is made to tackle the problem of ecclesial institutions. We shall discuss it only in those aspects which concern ecclesiology.
Few people if any would question the statement that Christology and Pneumatology belong together and cannot be separated. To speak of “Christomonism” in any part of the Christian tradition is to misunderstand or be unfair to this part of tradition. (Fr. Congar has shown this with regard to the Roman Catholic Western tradition.)205 The problem is not whether one accepts the importance of Pneumatology in Christology and vice versa; it arises in connection with the following two questions: (i) The question of priority: should Christology be made dependent on Pneumatology or should the order be the other way around? (ii) The question of content: when we speak of Christology and Pneumatology, what particular aspects of Christian doctrine – and Christian existence – do we have in mind?
First, the question of priority. That this is a real question and not the product of a theological construction is to be seen in the fact that not only the entire history of theology in what concerns the East-West relationship, but even the most primitive theology and liturgical practice we know of are conditioned by this problem.206 In the New Testament writings themselves we come across both the view that the Spirit is given by Christ, particularly the risen and ascended Christ (“there was no Spirit yet, for Christ had not yet been glorified”)207; and the view that there is, so to say, no Christ until the Spirit is at work, not only as a forerunner announcing his coming, but also as the one who constitutes his very identity as Christ, either at his baptism (Mark) or at his very biological conception (Matthew and Luke). Both of these views could co-exist happily in one and the same Biblical writing, as is evident from a study of Luke (Gospel and Acts), John’s Gospel, etc. On the liturgical level these two approaches became quite distinct very early with the development of two traditions concerning the relationship between baptism and confirmation (or chrismation).208 It is well known that in Syria and Palestine confirmation preceded baptism liturgically at least until the fourth century, while in other parts, the practice of the Church which finally prevailed everywhere was observed, namely the performance of confirmation after baptism. Given the fact that confirmation was normally regarded as the rite of the “giving of the Spirit,” one could argue that in cases where confirmation preceded baptism we had a priority of Pneumatology over Christology, while in the other case we had the reverse. And yet there is also evidence suggesting that baptism itself was inconceivable in the early Church without the giving of the Spirit,209 which leads to the conclusion that the two rites were united in one synthesis both liturgically and theologically, regardless of the priority of any of the two aspects over the other.
It seems, therefore, that the question of priority between Christology and Pneumatology does not necessarily constitute a problem, and the Church could see no problem in this diversity of approach either liturgically or theologically for a long time. Thus there is no reason why things should be different today, as some Orthodox seem to suggest. The problem arose only when these two aspects were in fact separated from each other both liturgically and theologically. It was at this point in history that East and West started to follow their separate ways leading finally to total estrangement and division. Not only baptism and confirmation were separated liturgically in the West, but Christology tended little by little to dominate Pneumatology, the Filioque being only part of the new development. The East while keeping the liturgical unity between baptism and chrismation, thus maintaining the original synthesis on the liturgical level, did not finally manage to overcome the temptation of a reactionary attitude towards the West in its theology. The atmosphere of mutual polemic and suspicion contributed a great deal to this situation and obscured the entire issue. What we must and can see clearly now, however, is that so long as the unity between Christology and Pneumatology remains unbreakable, the question of priority can remain a “theologoumenon.” For various reasons which have to do with the idiosyncrasy of the West (concern with history, ethics etc.), a certain priority will always be given by it to Christology over Pneumatology. Indeed, there are reasons to suppose that this could be spiritually expedient, especially in our time. Equally, for the East Pneumatology will always occupy an important place given the fact that a liturgical meta-historical approach to Christian existence seems to mark the Eastern ethos. Different concerns lead to different emphases and priorities. As long as the essential content of both Christology and Pneumatology is present, the synthesis is there in its fulness. But in what does this “content” consist? From what exactly does ecclesiology suffer if the content of Christology or Pneumatology is deficient?
It is difficult to make distinctions when a unity is involved. Our task at this point is somewhat delicate and involves the risk of separating where we should be only distinguishing. We must bear in mind that according to patristic tradition, both Eastern and Western, the activity of God ad extra is one and indivisible: Wherever the Son is there is also the Father and the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit is there is also the Father and the Son. And yet the contribution of each of these divine persons to the economy bears its own distinctive characteristics210 which are directly relevant for ecclesiology in which they have to be reflected. Let us mention some of these concerning the Son and the Spirit in particular.
The most obvious thing to mention is that only the Son is incarnate. Both the Father and the Spirit are involved in history, but only the Son becomes history. In fact, as we shall see later, if we introduce time and history into either the Father or the Spirit we automatically deny them their particulars in the economy. To be involved in history is not the same as to become history. The economy, therefore, in so far as it assumed history and has a history, is only one and that is the Christ event. Even “events” such as Pentecost which seem to have an exclusively pneumatological character at first sight should be attached to the Christ event211 in order to qualify as part of the history of salvation; otherwise they cease to be pneumatological in the proper sense.
Now if becoming history is the particularity of the Son in the economy, what is the contribution of the Spirit? Well, precisely the opposite: it is to liberate the Son and the economy from the bondage of history. If the Son dies on the cross, thus succumbing to the bondage of historical existence, it is the Spirit that raises him from the dead.212 The Spirit is the beyond history,213 and when he acts in history he does so in order to bring into history the last days, the eschaton.214 Hence the first fundamental particularity of Pneumatology is its eschatological character. The Spirit makes of Christ an eschatological being, the “last Adam.”
Another important contribution of the Holy Spirit to the Christ event is that, because of the involvement of the Holy Spirit in the economy, Christ is not just an individual, not “one” but “many.” This “corporate personality” of Christ is impossible to conceive without Pneumatology. It is not insignificant that the Spirit has always, since the time of Paul, been associated with the notion of communion (κοινωνία).215 Pneumatology contributes to Christology this dimension of communion. And it is because of this function of Pneumatology that it is possible to speak of Christ as having a “body,” i.е. to speak of ecclesiology, of the Church as the Body of Christ.
Now there have been also other functions attached to the particular work of the Spirit in Christian theology, e.g. inspiration and sanctification. The Orthodox tradition has attached particular significance to the latter, namely the idea of sanctification, perhaps because of the strong Origenist influence that has always existed in the East. This is evident in Monasticism as a form of what is normally called “spirituality.” But monasticism – and the notions of “sanctification” and “spirituality” that lie behind it – has never become a decisive aspect of ecclesiology in the East. Ecclesiology in the Orthodox tradition has always been determined by the liturgy, the eucharist; and for this reason it is the first two aspects of Pneumatology, namely eschatology and communion that have determined Orthodox ecclesiology. Both eschatology and communion constitute fundamental elements of the Orthodox understanding of the eucharist. The fact that these two things are, as we have just seen, also fundamental aspects of Pneumatology shows that if we want to understand Orthodox ecclesiology properly, and its relation to Pneumatology, it is mainly to these two aspects of Pneumatology that we must turn, namely to eschatology and communion.216
Now, all this needs to be qualified with another fundamental point. It is not enough to speak of eschatology and communion as necessary aspects of Pneumatology and ecclesiology; it is necessary to make these aspects of Pneumatology constitutive of ecclesiology.
What I mean by “constitutive” is that these aspects of Pneumatology must qualify the very ontology of the Church. The Spirit is not something that “animates” a Church which already somehow exists. The Spirit makes the Church be. Pneumatology does not refer to the well-being but to the very being of the Church. It is not about a dynamism which is added to the essence of the Church. It is the very essence of the Church. The Church is constituted in and through eschatology and communion. Pneumatology is an ontological category in ecclesiology.
III. Implications of the Synthesis for Ecclesiology
All this sounds somewhat theoretical. If we try to apply this to the concrete existence of the Church, some of the peculiarities of Orthodox ecclesiology will become easier to explain.
1. The importance of the local Church in ecclesiology. This has been brought out with particular force in our time mainly since the work of N. Afanasiev and his “eucharistic ecclesiology.” But it has not yet been justified in terms of Pneumatology. Let me make a first attempt here by referring to what I have just said about the constitutive character of Pneumatology in both christology and ecclesiology.
The Church is the Body of Christ, which means that she is instituted through the one Christological event: she is one because Christ is one and she owes her being to this one Christ. If Pneumatology is not ontologically constitutive of Christology, this can mean that there is first one Church and then many Churches. K. Rahner, for example, has argued that the “essence” of the Church lies in the universal Church; it is the “existence” of the Church that makes it local.217 However, if Pneumatology is made constitutive of both Christology and ecclesiology, it is not possible to speak in these terms. The Spirit is in this case the one who actually brings about, constitutes ontologically, the Body of Christ. The Pentecostal event is an ecclesiologically constitutive event. The one Christ event takes the form of events (plural), which are as primary ontologically as the one Christ event itself. The local Churches are as primary in ecclesiology as the universal Church. No priority of the universal over the local Church is conceivable in such an ecclesiology.
Ever since Afanasiev this idea has become current in Orthodox theology. But there is a danger in it which Afanasiev did not see and which many Orthodox theologians fail to see too. Because of the lack of a proper synthesis between Christology and Pneumatology in Orthodox ecclesiology, it is often too easily assumed that eucharistic ecclesiology leads to the priority of the local Church over the universal,218 to a kind of “congregationalism.” But as I have tried to argue in another study of mine,219 Afanasiev was wrong in drawing such conclusions, because the nature of the eucharist points not in the direction of the priority of the local Church but in that of the simultaneity of both local and universal. There is only one eucharist, which is always offered in the name of the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” The dilemma “local or universal” is transcended in the eucharist, and so is any dichotomy between Christology and Pneumatology.
To make this even more concrete, let us turn to the question of how in fact this simultaneity works in ecclesiology. This leads us directly to the question of the ecclesial institutions: what ecclesial structures and institutions exist which help the Church to maintain the right balance between local and universal? And how must these structures and institutions be interpreted so as to do justice to the proper synthesis between Christology and Pneumatology which we have been advocating here?
2. The significance of conciliarity. That Orthodoxy does not have a Pope is in fact true. But that it has councils instead is wrong. The council is not present in Orthodox theology as a substitute for the Roman Catholic Pope, and this for the simple reason that the council cannot play the role of the Pope or replace his ministry. The true nature of conciliarity in Orthodox theology can be understood only in the light of what I have called here the constitutive role of Pneumatology in ecclesiology, and of the fact that Pneumatology implies the notion of communion.
The theological raison d’être of conciliarity – or of the institution of the synod – is to be found in the idea that communion (which, as we have seen, is a characteristic of Pneumatology) is an ontological category in ecclesiology. At this point the relevance of trinitarian theology for ecclesiology becomes clear. There seems to be an exact correspondence between the trinitarian theology, as it was developed particularly by the Cappadocian Fathers – especially St Basil – and Orthodox ecclesiology. Let me say a few words on this point, because I think that this is essential and not so widely appreciated.
One of the striking peculiarities of St. Basil’s teaching on God, compared with that of St Athanasius and certainly with that of the Western Fathers, is that he seems to be rather unhappy with the notion of substance as an ontological category and tends to replace it – significantly enough for our subject here – with that of κοινωνία. Instead of speaking of the unity of God in terms of His one nature, he prefers to speak of it in terms of the communion of persons: communion is for Basil an ontological category. The nature of God is communion.220 This does not mean that the persons have an ontological priority over the one substance of God, but that the one substance of God coincides with the communion of the three persons.
In ecclesiology all this can be applied to the relationship between local and universal Church. There is one Church, as there is one God. But the expression of this one Church is the communion of the many local Churches. Communion and oneness coincide in ecclesiology.
Now, when we look at the institutional aspect of ecclesiology, it follows that the institution that is supposed to express the unity of the Church must be an institution which expresses communion. Since there is no institution which derives its existence or its authority from anything that precedes the event of communion, but from the event of communion itself (this is what it means to make communion ontologically constitutive), the institution of universal unity cannot be self-sufficient or self-explicable or prior to the event of communion; it is dependent on it. Equally, however, there is no communion which can be prior to the oneness of the Church: the institution which expresses this communion must be accompanied by an indication that there is a ministry safeguarding the oneness which the communion aims at expressing.
We can now become more concrete and try to interpret our view of synodality in the light of these theological principles.
The canonical institution of the synod is often misunderstood in Orthodox theology. Sometimes the synod is called “the highest authority in the Church,” as if Orthodoxy were the “democratic” opposite of the “monarchical” Rome. Many Orthodox think of the council in terms of late Medieval Western Konziliarismus. The true significance of the synod in Orthodox tradition, however, seems to me to be given in the canon 34 of the so-called Apostolic Canons; and its meaning is based on two fundamental principles put forth by this canon. The first principle is that in every province there must be one head – an institution of unity. There is no possibility of rotation or of collective ministry to replace this one head. The local bishops-Churches can do nothing without the presence of the “one.” On the other hand the same canon provides a second fundamental principle, namely that the “one” cannot do anything without the “many.”221 There is no ministry or institution of unity which is not expressed in the form of communion. There is no “one” which is not at the same time “many” – is this not the same as the pneumatologically conditioned Christology, which we mentioned earlier? Pneumatology, by being constitutive of both Christology and ecclesiology, makes it impossible to think of Christ as an individual, i.e. of Christ without his Body, the “many,” or to think of the Church as one without simultaneously thinking of her as “many.”
To conclude this point, Orthodox theology is wrongly understood if we simply think of the Church as a confederation of local Churches. The Orthodox view of the Church, in my understanding at least, requires an institution which expresses the oneness of the Church and not simply its multiplicity. But the multiplicity is not to be subjected to the oneness; it is constitutive of the oneness. The two, oneness and multiplicity, must coincide in an institution which possesses a twofold ministry: the ministry of the πρῶτος (the first one) and the ministry of the “many” (the heads of the local Churches).
3. The Bishop and the community. We can now turn to a consideration of the institutions on the level of the local Church itself, always bearing in mind the same theological principles. Here again communion is ontologically constitutive. But as has been already observed in connection with the universal Church, the proper relationship between the “one” and the “many” must be maintained. In the case of the local Church the “one” is represented through the ministry of the bishop, while the “many” are represented through the other ministries and the laity. There is a fundamental principle in Orthodox ecclesiology going back to the early centuries and reflecting the proper synthesis between Christology and Pneumatology which I have been advocating here. This principle is that the “one” – the bishop – cannot exist without the “many” – the community – and the “many” cannot exist without the “one.”
First, the principle that the “one” is inconceivable without the “many.” In practical canonical terms this is expressed in various ways: (a) there is no ordination to the episcopate outside the community.222 Since ordination is an act which is ontologically constitutive of episcopacy, to condition the ordination of the bishop by the presence of the community is to make the community constitutive of the Church. There is no Church without the community, as there is no Christ without the Body, or the “one” without the “many.” (b) There is no episcopacy without a community attached to it.223 Here a detail must be stressed because it points to a peculiarity of Orthodoxy compared with Roman Catholic theology: the mention of the name of the community takes place in the prayer of ordination of a bishop. Since in the Orthodox Church there is no missio canonica or a distinction between potestas ordinis and potestas iurisdictionis, the fact that the community is mentioned in the prayer of ordination means that the community forms part of the ontology of episcopacy: there is no bishop, not even for a moment or theoretically, who is not conditioned by some community. The “many” condition ontologically the “one.”
But again this is not the whole story. The opposite is also true, namely that the “many” cannot exist without the “one.” This in concrete terms is expressed in the following ways: (a) There is no baptism, which is the constitutive act of the community, i.e. the ontological basis of the laity, without the bishop. The “many” cannot be “many” without the “one.” (b) There is no ordination of any kind without the presence of the bishop; the bishop is a condition for the existence of the community and its charismatic life.
4. The “iconic” character of the ecclesial institutions. This mutual interdependence between the “one” and the “many,” this twofold structure of the Church is placed under one further condition for its existence: both the ordination of the bishop, which requires the community, and the ordination of the laity (baptism) or of any other minister, which requires the presence of the bishop, both of these have to be attached to the eucharist. This seems to me to imply that it is not enough to place the ecclesial institutions in the context of the proper synthesis between the “one” and the “many.” This is only one of the components of Pneumatology. The other one, which has been mentioned earlier, is eschatology, and to my mind this aspect is expressed through the fact that both baptism and ordination have to take place in the context of the eucharist. The eucharist, in the Orthodox understanding at least, is an eschatological event. In it, not only the “one” and the “many” co-exist and condition each other, but something more is indicated: the ecclesial institutions are reflections of the Kingdom. First, they are reflections: the nature of the ecclesial institutions is “iconic,” i.e. their ontology does not lie in the institution itself, but only in relation to something else, to God or Christ. Secondly they are reflections of the Kingdom: all ecclesial institutions must have some justification by reference to something ultimate and not simply to historical expedience. There are, to be sure, ministries which are meant to serve temporal historical needs. But these cannot claim ecclesial status in a fundamental structural sense. History is never a sufficient justification for the existence of a certain ecclesial institution, be it with reference to tradition, apostolic succession, scriptural foundation or actual historical needs. The Holy Spirit points beyond history – not, of course, against it, though it can and must often point against history as it actually is, through a prophetic function of the ministry. The ecclesial institutions by being eschatologically conditioned become sacramental in the sense of being placed in the dialectic between history and eschatology, between the already and the not yet. They lose therefore their self-sufficiency, their individualistic ontology, and exist epicletically, i.e. they depend for their efficacy constantly on prayer, the prayer of the community. It is not in history that the ecclesial institutions find their certainty (their validity) but in constant dependence on the Holy Spirit. This is what makes them “sacramental,” which in the language of Orthodox theology may be called “iconic.”
Let me now conclude by summarizing the main points which I have tried to make and by placing what I have said in the light of the actual situation of Orthodoxy in our time. I have been discussing Christology, Pneumatology and ecclesial institutions in Orthodox theology – not in Orthodox practice. What I have said however, is not just theory; it derives from historical experience, even if this historical experience tends to be a somewhat remote memory from the past. My points have been the following:
1. Orthodox theology has not yet worked out the proper synthesis between Christology and Pneumatology. Without this synthesis it is impossible to understand the Orthodox tradition itself or to be of any real help in the ecumenical discussion of our time.
2. The important thing about this synthesis is that Pneumatology must be made constitutive of Christology and ecclesiology, i.e. condition the very being of Christ and the Church, and that this can happen only if two particular ingredients of Pneumatology are introduced into the ontology of Christ and the Church. These ingredients are: eschatology and communion.
3. If the Church is constituted through these two aspects of Pneumatology, all pyramidal notions disappear in ecclesiology: the “one” and the “many” co-exist as two aspects of the same being. On the universal level this means that the local Churches constitute one Church through a ministry or an institution which composes simultaneously a primus and a synod of which he is a primus. On the local level, this means that the head of the local Church, the bishop, is conditioned by the existence of his community and the rest of the ministries, particularly the presbyterium. There is no ministry which does not need the other ministries; no ministry possesses the fullness, the plentitude of grace and power without a relationship with the other ministries.
Equally, a pneumatological conditioning of the being of the Church is important for the opening-up of ecclesial institutions to their eschatological perspective. Too much historicity is often attached to the ecclesial institutions. Orthodoxy often suffers from meta-historicism; the West usually suffers from a historization of its ecclesial institutions. The liturgical ethos of Orthodoxy will probably never make it possible for her to be fully involved in history, although it has not prevented such eruptions of liberation movements as those of the Greek war of independence in the last century. But the justification of any permanent ecclesial institution certainly needs an eschatological perspective; history is not enough.
5. Finally, if Pneumatology is made constitutive of ecclesiology, the notion of institution itself will be deeply affected. In a christological perspective alone we can speak of the Church as in-stituted (by Christ), but in a pneumatological perspective we have to speak of it as con-stituted (by the Spirit). Christ in-stitutes and the Spirit con-stitutes. The difference between these two prepositions: in- and con- can be enormous ecclesiologically. The “institution” is something presented to us as a fact, more or less a fait-accomplit. As such, it is a provocation to our freedom. The “con-stitution” is something that involves us in its very being, something we accept freely, because we take part in its very emergence. Authority in the first case is something imposed on us, whereas in the latter it is something that springs from amongst us. If Pneumatology is assigned a constitutive role in ecclesiology, the entire issue of Amt und Geist, or of “institutionalism,” is affected. The notion of communion must be made to apply to the very ontology of the ecclesial institutions, not to their dynamism and efficacy alone.
And now, how about the present, actual situation: how much of this in fact exists, and how much of it can still exist or be made to exist? The fact that Orthodoxy has not experienced situations similar to those of the Western Churches, such as the problem of clericalism, anti-institutionalism, Pentecostalism, etc. may be taken as an indication that for the most part Pneumatology has saved the life of Orthodoxy up to now. There is no sign of anti-establishment tendencies in the Orthodox Church, although in Greece at the moment such signs can be observed here and there. But the actual situation in Orthodoxy both theologically and canonically no longer does full justice to the tradition of which my exposé has been a reflection. The synodical institutions no longer reflect the true balance between the “one” and the “many,” sometimes because the “one” does not operate or even exist, and sometimes because the “one” or the “ones” ignore the “many.” The same is true about local Church life: the community has almost disappeared and the number of titular bishops is increasing rapidly. The only level on which the proper balance between the “one” and the “many” is still maintained is the liturgical: is it the liturgy that still saves Orthodoxy? Perhaps this is the case. But for how long? As Orthodoxy shares Western culture more and more, it will eventually share the problems of the Western Churches too. The problem of ecclesial institutions will thus soon become, existentially speaking, an ecumenical problem.
But what can be done? Vatican II has given hope and promise to many people that something can be done. I am not an expert on the theology of the council, but I feel that one of the directions in which it has pointed can be particularly important, namely the introduction of the notion of communion into ecclesiology. This, combined with the rediscovery of the importance of the λαὸς of God and the local Church, can help even the Orthodox themselves to be faithful to their identity. But much more needs to be done, for Vatican II has not completed its work. What an Orthodox sharing the views of this exposé would like to be done – perhaps by a “Vatican III” – is to push the notion of communion to its ontological conclusions. We need an ontology of communion. We need to make communion condition the very being of the Church, not the well-being but the being of it. On the theological level this would mean assigning a constitutive role to Pneumatology, not one dependent on Christology. This Vatican II has not done, but its notion of communion can do. Perhaps this will transform the ecclesial institutions automatically. It will remove any pyramidal structure that may still remain in the Church. And it may even place the stumbling block of ecclesial unity, the ministry of the Pope, in a more positive light. So much and perhaps much more depends on the proper synthesis between Christology and Pneumatology in ecclesiology.
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Y. Congar, “Actualité d’une pneumatologie” in Proche-Orient Chrétien 23 (1973), pp. 121 – 132 (121).
A. S. Khomiakoff, L’Eglise Latine et le Protestantisme au point de vue de l’Eglise d’Orient, 1872; W. I. Birkbeck (ed.), Russia and the English Church during the Last Fifty Years, I, 1895; G. Florovsky, “Sobornost: The Catholicity of the Church” in The Church of God. An Anglo-Russian Symposium, 1934; A. Gratieux, A. S. Khomiakov et le Movement Slavophile, I – II, 1939; E. Lanne, “Le mystère de 1'Eglise dans la perspective de la théologie orthodoxe,” in Irénikon 35 (1962) pp. 171– 212; esp. E. Suttner, Offenbarung, Gnade und Kirche bei A. S. Chomiakov, 1967; and recently, P. O’Leary, The Triune Church. A Study in the Ecclesiology of A. S. Komiakov, 1982.
J. A. Möhler, Die Einheit in der Kirche, oder das Prinzip des Katholizismus, 1825. Cf. Y. Congar, “La pensé de Möhler et l’ecclésiologie orthodoxe” in Irénikon 12 (1935), pp. 321 – 329.
G. Florovsky, “Le corps du Christ vivant,” in Le sainte Eglise universele. Confrontation oecumenique, 1948, p. 12. See also the study of J. Romanides, “Orthodox Ecclesiology according to Alexis Khomiakov” in The Greek Orthodox Theological Review 2 (1956), pp. 57 – 73.
See V. Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, 1957, esp. pp. 135ff; 156ff and I74ff.
See Ibid; also his In the Image and Likeness of God, 1974, esp. ch. 9.
See N. Nissiotis, “The Importance of the Doctrine of the Trinity for Church Life and Theology” in A. J. Philippou (ed.), The Orthodox Ethos, 1964, esp. p. 62f; Id., “Pneumatologie orthodoxe” in F. J. Leenhard et al., Le Saint-Esprit, 1963; B. Bobrinskoy, “Le Saint-Esprit dans la liturgie,” in Studia Liturgia 1 (1962), pp. 47 – 60; Id. “Presence réеlle et communion eucharistique,” in Revue des Sciences philosophiques et théologiques 53 (1969), pp. 402 – 420.
Y. Congar, “Pneumatologie ou ‘Christomonisme’ dans la tradition latine” in Ecclesia a Spiritu Sancto edocta, Mélanges G. Philips, 1970, pp. 41 – 63. In his important three-volume work Je crois en l’Esprit Saint, 1980 (recently in English translation: I believe in the Holy Spirit, 1983) Father Congar shows clearly and convincingly the central place that Pneumatology has occupied in Western theology throughout the centuries. It is a work of particular significance and deserves special attention at the present time when the theological dialogue between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches is taking place. Another important recent study showing the place of Pneumatology in Western thought is that of Father Louis Bouyer, Le Consolateur, 1980. The importance of the problem of Pneumatology is made explicit also in an article by the Roman Catholic theologian, W. Kasper, “Esprit-Christ-Eglise” in L’expérience de I’Esprit, Mélanges E. Schillebeeckx, 1976, pp. 47 – 69.
For a more detailed discussion see my “Implications ecclésiologiques de deux types de Pneumatologie,” in Communio Sanctorum, Mélanges J.-J. von Allmen, 1982, pp. 141 – 154.
Cf. T. W. Manson, “Entry into Membership of the Early Church” in Journal of Theological Studies 48 (1947), pp. 25 – 33.
See G. Lampe, The Seal of the Spirit, 1951. Lampe’s controversy with G. Dix on this matter (the latter insisted that the Spirit is given in confirmation only), proves to be pointless given this variety in liturgical use. In any case, baptism and confirmation formed a liturgical unity in the early Church and for that reason the Holy Spirit was involved in the entire process of christian initiation.
The unity of divine operations ad extra is, according to the Fathers, indivisible but not undifferentiated. See J. McIntyre, “The Holy Spirit in Greek Patristic Thought” in The Scottish Journal of Theology 7 (1954), esp. pp. 357ff.
In the Fourth Gospel, for example, Pentecost is seen as the return of Jesus through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. See R. E. Brown, The Gospel according to John, 1970, p. 1139. Similarly in the Fathers, e.g. in Cyril of Alexandria, In Jo. X, 2 and XI, 2 (PG. 74, 433 – 436; 453 – 456).
Cf. H. U. von Balthasar, “Der Unbekannte penseits des Wortes” in Interpretation der Welt, Festschrift R. Guardini 1966, pp. 638 – 645.
In saying this I do not wish to undermine the importance of personal sanctification, especially as this is understood by Monasticism. Orthodox Monasticism is, in any case, tied up with eschatology so closely that it becomes in this way deeply related with ecclesiology. What I wish to underline, however, is that no “spirituality” is healthy and truly christian unless it is constantly dependent on the event of ecclesial communion. The eschatological community par excellence is to be found in the eucharist, which is thus the heart of all ecclesiology.
K. Rahner – J. Ratzinger, Episkopat und Primat, 1962, p. 26.
Cf. below ch. 5, n. 434.
See ch. 4 below.
See, for example, Basil, De Sp. S. 18, (PG 32, 194C): “The unity (of God) is in the koinonia tes theotetos.” Cf. ibid., 153A and 156A. A careful study of Basil shows that for him the meaning of homoousios is better expressed in terms such as οἰκεία καὶ συμϕυἠς καὶ ἀχώριστος κοινωνία, i.е. by the employment of the term koinonia (De Sp. S. 68; Ep. 52, 3; C. Eun. II, 12 etc.). Cf. on this A. Jevtich, “Between the ‘Niceans’ and the ‘Easterners’. The Catholic Confession of Saint Basil” in St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 24 (1980), 244. For further discussion cf. my “The Teaching of the Second Ecumenical Council on the Holy Spirit in Historical and Ecumenical Perspective” in Credo in Spiritum Sanctum (Atti del congresso teologico internationale di pneumatologia, Roma 22 – 26, marzo 1982), ed. by José Saraiva Martins, Vatican City, 1983, vol. I, pp. 29 – 54.
The text of the canon is as follows: “The bishops of every nation (region = ἒθνος) ought to know who is the first one (πρὣτον) among them, and to esteem him as their head, and not to do any great thing without his consent; but every one to manage only the affairs that belong to his own diocese and the territory subject to it. But let him (i.e. the first one) not do anything without the consent of all the other (bishops); for it is by this means that there will be unanimity, and God will be glorified through Christ in the Holy Spirit.” The original text in F. X. Funk, Didoscalia et Constitutiones apostolorum, 1905, pp. 572 – 574.
See chs. 5 and 6 below.
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