6. Ministry and Communion
I. The Theological Perspective
Discussions about ministry and ordination have usually been dominated by a certain problematic inherent in scholastic theology. Some of the characteristics of this theology440 are worthy to be mentioned, for they form basic components of the theological perspective in which the ministry is usually placed. In the first place, both ministry and ordination are approached as autonomous subjects; they are treated quite apart from Christology or Trinitarian theology. Secondly, Christology itself is treated as an autonomous subject and not as an integral part of both Trinitarian theology and ecclesiology. This gives rise both to Christomonistic tendencies in understanding the person and ministry of Christ, and – what is more significant for us here – to great difficulties in relating the Church’s ministry to that of Christ. Finally, and because of all this, ministry and ordination are not basically approached from the angle of the concrete ecclesial community but of the individual person (his “ontology” or his “function”).
The theological perspective in which the Church at the time of the Greek Fathers would place her ministry does not leave any room for approaching it as an autonomous subject. This is to be seen in the way this ministry is to be related to the ministry and person of Christ. Here the following principles, typical of the Greek patristic tradition, may be mentioned briefly:
(a) There is no ministry in the Church other than Christ’s ministry. This assertion, which seems to go back to the New Testament Church,441 is understood by the Fathers so realistically that not only the dilemma of choosing between an opus operantis and an ex opere operato is avoided but also any other question implying a distance between the Church’s and Christ’s ministry becomes irrelevant and misleading. This identification of the Church’s ministry with that of Christ has gone beyond the theology of the Fathers and entered the liturgical life of the ancient Church in a decisive way: in the eucharist, Christ is not only the one who is offered and who receives but also the one who offers.442 This identification lends itself to “mystical-monophysitic” interpretations, but the fact that it is to be found in theologians such as St John Chrysostom, who shares the Antiochene “down-to-earth” mentality, indicates that it is along lines other than those of monophysitic mysticism that we should try to understand its meaning.443
(b) The identification of the Church’s ministry with that of Christ is possible only if we let our Chrisiology be conditioned pneumatologically.444 This can happen if we see the mystery of Christ as being initiated by the Father who actually sends the Son in order to fulfill and realize the eternal design of the Holy Trinity to draw man and creation to participation in God’s very life. In this understanding of Christology, Christ cannot be isolated from the Holy Spirit in whom he was born of the Virgin;445 in whom he became able to minister on earth,446 in whom finally, and most significantly for our subject, he can now minister to this pre-eternal plan of God for creation in or rather as the Church. What, therefore, the Spirit does through the ministry is to constitute the Body of Christ here and now by realizing Christ’s ministry as the Church’s ministry.
The implications of this include the following: (i) the ministry of the Church does not represent an “interim” period in the stages of Heilsgeschichte, but it exists as an expression of the totality of the Economy. We cannot, therefore, understand the nature of the ministry by seeing it simply in terms of a past (Christ’s ministry in Palestine) or a present (ministry as service to the needs of today) but of the future as well,447 namely as sustaining for creation the hope of the eschata, of sharing God’s very life, by offering a taste of that here and now; (ii) the identification of the Church’s ministry with that of Christ is to be seen in existential soteriological terms which have profound anthropological and cosmological implications. If soteriology means, as it was the case in the patristic period, not so much a juridical reality by means of which forgiveness is granted for an act of disobedience, but rather a realization of theosis, as communion of man – and through him of creation – in the very life of the Trinity, then this identification acquires existential importance: the Church’s ministry realizes here and now the very saving work of Christ, which involves the very personal life and presence of the one who saves.448
(c) But by establishing this approach to the relation between the ministry of Christ and that of the Church we have done something fundamental to our Pneumatological understanding of the ministry: instead of first establishing in our minds the scheme “Christ – ministry” and then trying to fill this with the work of the Holy Spirit, we have made the Spirit constitutive of the very relation between Christ and the ministry. The implications of this for our theology of the ministry are of paramount importance, as will be seen throughout this study. At the moment, as we try to set the general theological perspective, this means that there is a fundamental interdependence between the ministry and the concrete community of the Church as the latter is brought about by the koinonia of the Spirit. Methodologically, this means that we possess no other way of knowing what the nature of the ministry is apart from the concrete community and that, equally, we cannot establish first our idea of the concrete community and then look at the ministry. The paradox which emerges from an attentive study of I Corinthians 12 is precisely that Paul there offers a “definition” of the Body of Christ, the Church, only in terms of ministry (membership of the Body equals charismata and vice-versa). Our understanding of the ministry, therefore, can only depart from the community created by the Spirit.
If we bear this in mind, we can understand better certain liturgical and practical elements in ordination, which theologians tend to bypass in constructing their views on the ministry. Thus, according to the ancient tradition common to both East and West, (i) all ordinations must be related to a concrete community,449 and (ii) all ordinations must take place within the context of the eucharistic assembly.450 Both of this, to which other similar cases may be added,451 point to the close relation between ministry and community. But it is mainly the second of these two that is extremely revealing from the point of view of the theology of the ministry. Why the eucharistic community and not any other assembly of the local Church is made the exclusive context of ordination? No theologian, especially of the patristic tradition, can bypass this question without making it decisive for his views on the ministry.452 In the following paragraphs of this study, this question will always play implicitly a basic role. As far as the general theological perspective is concerned, it must be observed that, in fact, no community except the eucharistic one realizes and portrays simultaneously all the principles of the theological perspective we have just outlined. It is in the eucharist, understood properly as a community and not as a “thing,”453 that Christ is present here and now as the one who realizes God’s self-communication to creation as communion with His life, and in the existential form of a concrete community created by the Spirit. Thus the eucharistic assembly becomes, theologically speaking, the natural milieu for the birth of ministry understood in this broader soteriological perspective. We shall now try to see what this means with regard to specific apects of ministry and ordination.
II. The Relational Character of the Ministry
In discussions on the subject of the ministry, the questions very often raised have to do with the way the ministry originates and is transmitted in the Church. These questions imply an understanding of ordination as a transmission of potestas either with or without a transmission or bestowal of a certain charisma or grace. In the former case, grace is again objectified and understood as something that can be possessed by an individual and transmitted.454
The response to which such questions may lead theology are inevitably characterized by the notion of causality. Traditionally, theology has been divided mainly into the following two lines which form two options of a dilemma also lying behind contemporary theological discussions. The dilemma consists in the choice between (i) a transmission of the ministerial potestas or grace through the ordaining minister as part of the linear historical line of apostolic succession, and (ii) an understanding of the community as possessing and transmitting the charismatic life, or delegating authority, to the ordained person. Historically the first option represents the line usually taken by the so-called “catholic” theology of the ministry, whereas the second one is related to the idea of the “priesthood of all believers” as it is traditionally understood in Protestantism. The revival of Biblical studies in our days, with its critical approach to the sources and its stress on the absence of the “bishop” from the writings of the New Testament, has inevitably pushed theology towards the choice of the second option of this dilemma.455 But the sources give answers only to questions we put to them, and this makes it imperative to check whether the dilemma we impose on these sources is as inevitable as traditionally theology has made us believe.
Whichever pole of the above mentioned dilemma we may choose, we still work in it with the notion of causality, and it is this very notion that becomes questionable in the light of the theological perspective of the present study. Thus the question to be raised fundamentally is this: is there anything that may be understood as preceding and causing ordination in the Church? Is there a depository or a source of ministry? Is there a generic principle of the ministry (be it the power of the ordaining bishop or a “priestly” nature of the community)? How does the ministry come about?
(a) In the first place, it must be stated emphatically, that there is no such a thing as “non-ordained” persons in the Church. Baptism and especially confirmation (or chrismation) as an unseparable aspect of the mystery of Christian initiation involves a “laying on of hands” (“chrismation” in this respect is another form of the same thing). The East has kept these two aspects (baptism – confirmation) not only inseparably linked with one another but also with what follows, namely the eucharist. The theological significance of this456 lies in the fact that it reveals the nature of baptism and confirmation as being essentially an ordination, while it helps us understand better what ordination itself means. As we can see already in Hippolytus’ Apostolic Tradition,457 the immediate and inevitable result of baptism and confirmation was that the newly baptized would take his particular “place” in the eucharistic assembly, i.e, that he would become a layman. That this implies ordination is clear from the fact that the baptized person does not simply become a “Christian,” as we tend to think, but he becomes a member of a particular “ordo” in the eucharistic community. Once this is forgotten, it is easy to speak of the laity as “non-ordained” and thus arrive at the possibility – witnessed to by the history of the Church in a dramatic way – of either making the layman an unneccessary element in the eucharistic community (hence the “private mass” and the entire issue of clericalism) or of making him the basis of all “orders,” as if he were not himself a specifically defined order458 but a generic source or principle (hence the prevailing view of “the priesthood of all believers” in all its variations).
The theological implication of all this is that ordination, i.e. assignment to a particular “ordo” in the community, appears to be paradoxically enough not something that follows a pre-existing community but an act constitutive of the community. Being used to individualism in ontology, we find it hard to think of a community which does not first exist itself and then produce or sustain or possess ministry.459 In this way of thinking, we find it natural to speak of the community first as a unity and then as a diversity of ministries. But in a pneumatologically conditioned ontology the fact is that the Holy Spirit unites only by dividing (I Cor. 12:11). The conclusion of this is that ordination, as it is seen in the case of baptism, is the act that creates the community which thus becomes understood as the existential “locus” of the convergence of the charismata (I Cor. 12).460
(b) Following these remarks, which illustrate how in a pneumatologically understood ecclesiology ordination does not represent an act of progression and causality, we can understand better the “one-sided” and almost “monophysitic” view expressed for example in the writings attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite, that in ordination the bishop ordains “not by his own movement (gesture) but by the divine movement…”461 This view has nothing to do with monophysitic tendencies usually attributed to this writer by scholars, but it is simply typical of the epicletic approach of the Greek Fathers. The liturgical formula of ordination itself reveals the same approach in (i) making God the subject of the verb “ordain” (“The divine grace… ordains”), and (iі) requiring that the eucharistic assembly sing the “Kyrie eleison” during the moment of ordination. The meaning of all this is that ordination depends essentially on prayer and not simply on an objective transmission of grace. This is to be conceived not in the usual understanding of prayer as assisting us in something we do, but as attributing the very action to God Himself.462
In the light of these remarks, we can understand the proper meaning of two other parts of the procedure of ordination, namely election by the people and acclamation of approval (in the East by crying “axios”) by the congregation. The fact that the early Church could dispense with the part of the election by the laymen463 (a practice which was perhaps not to be found in all regions, anyway) shows that in spite of its importance this part could not be made a condition for ordination, as if the charisma depended on the decision of the people outside the eucharistic community. The case, however, was different with the approval of the people within the eucharistic assembly. The “axios,” as another form of the liturgical “amen”464 of the congregation, signified the participation of the entire community in ordination, just like the singing of the “Kyrie eleision” to which we have already referred. To be sure, this is not a satisfactory interpreation for those who are looking for a “democratic” view of the Church. But a “democracy” which makes the community a condition for divine action conditions the very charismatic nature of the ministry.
This immediacy of divine action in ordination is what safeguards the charismatic nature of the ministry. The same immediacy expresses also the identification of the Church’s ministry with that of Christ – a basic theological component of the perspective we discussed in the first part of this study. All this could have become sheer monophysitism had it not been for the fact that it is all expressed in a “eucharistic” way, i.e. in and through the concrete local community, which, however, is to be understood as something constituted by the very event it constitutes. The organic link of ordination with this community is thus a key for all theology of the ministry: it points to divine action, fully incarnating itself in creation yet without depending ontologically on it.465 Without the community, or rather the eucharistic community, creaturely being (be it man or nature or even community of men) tends to become a condition for divine grace. In the eucharistic community, creaturely being achieves its full affiliation, not by becoming a condition for God’s grace but by being deified in giving itself up to God’s love. It is this that makes the ministry belong to the new, and not to the old, creation, i.e. to a creaturely being which affirms itself not by becoming a condition for God’s love (this is the “old” sinful being) but by ceasing to be such a condition.466 And it is this that makes the Church differ essentially from a human “democracy.”
If ordination is approached in this way, ministry ceases to be understood in terms of what it gives to the ordained and becomes describable only in terms of the particular relationship into which it places the ordained. If ordination is understood as constitutive of the community and if the community being the koinonia of the Spirit is by its nature a relational entity, ministry as a whole can be describable as a complexity of relationships within the Church and in its relation to the world. In fact, without the notion of “relationship” the ministry loses its character both as a charisma of the Spirit, i.e. part of His koinonia, and as service (diakonia).
In employing the term “relationship” in order to describe the nature of the ministry, we do not take it in the sense of an abstract and logical relatio467 but as having a deeply ontological and soteriological meaning. In Greek patristic tradition, this would include two aspects with regard to the ministry: (i) A relational reality which unites the community itself in and by dividing it into ministries. St Maximus the Confessor coins the remarkable term “со-divided” (συνδιαιρουμένη) in order to indicate this character of ordination.468 And (ii) an act by which the Church and, through her, mankind and creation are brought into the reconciling and saving relationship with God which has been realized in Christ. In this sense, ministry is understood as “ambassadorship” (πρεσβεία) mainly in the tradition of the Antiochene Fathers.469
Thus it is the ministry that more than anything else renders the Church a relational reality, i.e. a mystery of love, reflecting here and now the very life of the trinitarian God. Because this reality is realized within the world and historical existence which still bears the Cross in its heart and has to contend with the presence and work of the Devil, this relational nature of the Church is constantly revealed by way of a double movement: (i) as a baptismal movement which renders the Church a community existentially “dead to the world” and hence separated from it, and (ii) as a eucharistic movement which relates the world to God by “referring” it to God as anaphora470 and by bringing to it the blessings of God’s life and the taste of the Kingdom to come. It is this double movement of the Church’s relational nature that makes the ministry realize its relational character as a movement of the Church both ad intra and ad extra.
If we look at the history of the birth and establishment of the various orders and ministries we shall see how quickly the Church concentrated ordination almost exclusively on her ministries ad intra. This development begins so early – certainly it is already there with St Ignatius of Antioch471 – and it is to be evaluated in a positive and not in a negative way. For the main theological implication of this is connected with the fact that ordination is related to the eucharistic community, and for this reason the ministries or “orders” that are suggested by the structure of this community become the decisive ones for all ministries. By reserving ordination to these ministries, the Church has at least preserved the correct visible point of reference for its ministry.
Thus the particular ministries of (i) the laity, (ii) the deacons, (iii) the presbyters and (iv) the bishop, clearly evidenced with St Ignatius, became the indispensable ministries of the Church in her relation ad intra during the entire history of the Church until and perhaps including the Reformation.472 The tragedy with regard to this development lies in the fact that theology rather soon lost the proper perspective which is suggested by the organic link of these ministries with the structure of the eucharistic assembly, and thus, given other historical473 and theological474 factors, the view of these orders as relational realities making sense only in their interdependence in the community was replaced by an approach to them as individual offices, with all the well-known consequences for the history of the Church and of theology.
If the relational character of these orders is recaptured in the light of the eucharistic community to which they naturally belong, perhaps many of the existing problems will disappear. This will affect mainly two areas in the theology of the ministry:
(a) The area of the ecclesiological justification of each one of the basic orders. By regarding them as parts of a relational whole we can affirm and justify their distinctiveness and specificity, and hence their indispensability. The laity will thus become the laos who is gathered from the world to realize in the community of the Church the eschatological unity and salvation of the world in Christ. The deacons, whose existence causes so much embarrassment to the theology of the ministry475 precisely because their eucharistic role has been lost, will regain their profound significance as bearers of the world (in the form of the gifts and petitions of the faithful) to the head of the eucharistic community in order to bring them back again to the world (in the form of the Holy Communion) as a sign of the new creation which is realized in the communion with God’s life. The presbyters will become again the synedrion of the community portraying in liturgical as well as in actual terms the important and lost dimension of judgement with which the Church relates both ad intra and with the world. Finally, the bishop will cease to be everything and become the head of the community that unites it in itself and with the other communities in time and space – a prerogative important enough to give him the place of the unique ordainer and all the high honor it implies, yet always and only because of his relation to the community and in interdependance with the rest of the orders.
(b) With regard to the authority which is implied in the ministry, a recovery of the relational nature of the ministry in the light of the eucharistic community will prove pointless the fight against “institution” – an issue about which one hears so much today – since it will make ‘institution” not only meaningful but also relational. Authority being tied up with a ministry understood as an objectified office and as potestas naturally becomes oppressive and provokes revolutionary reactions.476 On the other hand, in a relational view of the ministry, authority establishes itself as a demand of the relationship itself. Thus the Church becomes hierarchical in the sense in which the Holy Trinity itself is hierarchical: by reason of the specificity of relationships.477 The ministry, viewed in this way, creates degree478 of honor, respect and true authority precisely in the way we see this in trinitarian theology. Being a reflection of the very love of God in the world, the Church reflects precisely this kind of authority through and in her ministry. Hierarchy and authority are thus born out of relationship and not of power (auctoritas or potestas) – be it an “ontological” or a “moral” kind of power.
This leads us to a consideration of the Church’s ministry ad extra. In a relational notion of the ministry, such as it is revealed in the light of the eucharistic community, the Church’s “ontology” becomes conditioned existentially through her ministry. This happens precisely in the Church’s missionary existence in the world, and it means more specifically the following things:
(a) The ministry relates the Church to the world in an existential way, so that any separation between the Church and the world in the form of a dichotomy becomes impossible. As it is revealed in the eucharistic nature of the Church, the world is assumed by the community and referred back to the Creator.479 In a eucharistic approach it is by being assumed that the world is judged, and not otherwise.
(b) The mission of the Church in the world is, therefore, inconceivable in terms of an attitude vis-à-vis the world.480 The relational character of the ministry implies that the only acceptable method of mission for the Church is the incarnational one: the Church relates to the world through and in her ministry by being involved existentially in the world. The nature of mission is not to be found in the Church’s addressing the world but in its being fully in com-passion with it.481
(c) But precisely all this shows that the ministry of the Church ad extra must be an organic part of the concrete local community and not of a vague “mission” of the “Church” in general. The significance of this for our understanding of the ad extra ministry is fundamental: no form of such a ministry can exist without being organically related to the concrete eucharistic community. It is, therefore, precisely this relational nature of the Church that makes it imperative that all ministries ad extra spring from the eucharistic community and thus go necessarily through the hands of its president (bishop). They thus become themselves eucharistic or para-eucharistic forms of ministry.
(d) Finally, all this means that the Church must always have a variety of such ministries ad extra, according to the needs of the time and the place in which she exists. Such ministries will always be necessary to a Church that has not become unrelated to the world, but they cannot acquire permanent forms, being always dependent upon the needs of the particular place and time in which the Church finds herself. From this point of view the ministries ad extra differ from those ad intra, in that the latter are essentially permanent,482 dictated by the Church’s eucharistic structure as the community gathers together in its baptismal distinctiveness from the world.
III. The “Sacramental” Character of the Ministry
Discussions about the ministry have for many centuries centered on the question whether ordination confers upon the ordained person something “ontological” or simply “functional.” In the broader context of a sacramental theology understood mainly in terms of “natural” versus “supernatural” and of grace as something “given,” “transmitted,” and “possessed,”483 the question was what ordination does to the ordained individual. Here again the same ontology of objectification is implied: man is defined as an individual; he either “possesses” something or he does not – in the latter case, he simply functions or serves.
If, however, we bear in mind the relational character of the ministry which we discussed in the previous part of this study, our understanding of ordination will be also affected from the anthropological point of view. Just as the Church becomes through the ministry a relational entity both in itself and in its relation to the world, so also the ordained man becomes, through his ordination, a relational entity. In this context, looking at the ordained person as an individual defeats the very end of ordination. For ordination, to use a most valuable distinction offered by modern philosophy,484 aims precisely at making man not an individual but a person, i.е. an ek-static being, that can be looked upon not from the angle of his “limits” but of his overcoming his “selfhood” and becoming a related being. This shows that the very question of whether ordination is to be understood in “ontological”, or in “functional” terms485 is not only misleading but absolutely impossible to raise in the context of our theological perspective in this study. In the light of the koinonia of the Holy Spirit, ordination relates the ordained man so profoundly and so existentially to the community that in his new state after ordination he cannot be any longer, as a minister, conceived in himself. In this state, existence is determined by communion which qualifies and defines both “ontology” and “function.” Thus it becomes impossible in this state to say that one simply “functions” without implying that his being is deeply and decisively affected by what he does. In the same way, it becomes impossible to imply in this state that one “possesses” anything as an individual. Could one ever isolate and objectify the state created by love and speak of something given by it? Or could one say that in a state of love one simply “functions”?486 Ordination and ministry as communion are precisely and only describable in terms of love. This is what St Paul seems to do when he is faced with an impasse in trying to explain the mystery of the Church’s charismatic nature.487
If we free ourselves from the dilemma “ontological” versus “functional,” what categories can we use to indicate the new state into which ordination brings the ordained person? In view of what we have said earlier, any categories we may employ must belong to the type of relational language, i.e. they must allow for the ordained individual to be conceived and spoken of not in himself but as a relational being. The categories used by the Greek Fathers seem to be precisely of this kind. We may look at them briefly.488
(a) We have already mentioned the Antiochene understanding of the ministry in terms of “ambassadorship” (πρεσβεία).489 This term points clearly beyond any objectification of the charisma of ordination. As Theodore of Mopsuestia puts it, the grace received by the minister in his ordination is “for those who need it,”490 i.e. as a gift for the others. This does not imply that the minister himself is not in need of this grace. The point is that he needs it precisely because he does not “possess” it but gets it himself as a member of the community. This category of “ambassadorship,” a favorite term of St John Chrysostom especially,491 is so loaded with soteriological and existential connotations that leaves no room either for objectification of the charisma or for its reduction to the level of mere “function.”
(b) Another kind of language which may be easily misunderstood in an “ontologistic” way is that used mainly by theologians of the Cappadocian and the Alexandrian traditions. Thus Gregory of Nyssa speaks of ordination as “transfiguration” (μεταμόρϕωσις)492 and Cyril of Alexandria as “transmutation” (μεταστοιχείωσις)493 of the ordained. Yet in both of these cases these terms are used in the sense always of participation: the priest receives the grace “as part of” the eucharistic community494 and the change that takes place is described in terms of honor, glory, dignity etc.,495 i.e. in terms of anthropology of theosis, typical to the Alexandrian tradition, which implies no “natural” change although it affects man in his being.496 As St Maximus the Confessor, in his remarkable perception of the dynamism of being, puts it, ordination to the ministry is to be seen as part of the broader christological movement between the Creator and creation – a movement which affects being, yet not statically but precisely as a movement and in the framework of a “cosmic liturgy.”497
(c) Another kind of language used in early patristic literature in connection with the ministry is what we may call a typological one. This language is again significantly pointing in the same direction of a relational understanding of the minister. We encounter this kind of language as early as St Ignatius of Antioch in his way of speaking of the various orders in the Church in terms of typos or topos: e.g. the bishop is the “type” or “in the place” of God, etc. It is significant to note that this kind of language becomes possible only when one has in view the concrete eucharistic community.498 Ordination thus becomes what we tried to describe in the previous part of this paper, an assignment to a particular place in the community, and the ordained is defined after his ordination precisely by his “place” in the community which in its eucharistic nature portrays the very Kingdom of God here and now.499 It is for this reason that this typological language of Ignatius could find its way so easily into the early liturgical documents such as the Syriac Didascalia Apostolorum and the Apostolic Constitutions.500
In order to understand this better, we must combine it with the more obviously soteriological notion of ἀντὶ (= in the place of) used for the relation between, e.g., bishops or priests and Christ by Chrysostom.501 This way of speaking lends itself unfortunately to the idea of “vicar” in a juridical sense, i.е, as a representation of someone who is absent. But its correct meaning is to be found only in the idea of representation by participation, as implied in the Biblical image of the “corporate personality”502 (e.g. in the “Servant of God” or the “Son of Man”) and used so significantly in the narratives of the Lord’s Supper in the Gospels.503 Thus the ordained person becomes a “mediator” between man and God not by presupposing or establishing a distance between these two but by relating himself to both in the context of the community of which he himself is part. It is in this way that the gradual application of the term priest was extended from the person of Christ, for whom alone it is used in the New Testament,504 to the bishop, for whom again alone it was used until about the fourth century. In being the head of the eucharistic community and offering in his hands the eucharist – a task of the episcopate par excellence in the first four centuries505 – the bishop, and later on the presbyter precisely and significantly enough when he started offering the eucharist himself, acquired the title of priest. But, as the history of the extention of the term “priest” to the presbyter shows,506 it is the particular place in the eucharistic community and no other reason that accounted for the use of the term “priest” in both cases. The fundamental implication of this is that there is no priesthood as a general and vague term, as it was to become later on in theology under the name of sacerdotium – a term which acquired almost the meaning of a generic principle pre-existing and transmitted in ordination from the ordainer to the ordained or from “all believers” to a particular one. The true and historically original meaning of the term is this: as Christ (the only priest) becomes in the Holy Spirit a community (His body, the Church), His priesthood is realised and portrayed in historical existence here and now as a eucharistic community in which His “image” is the head of this community507 offering with and on behalf of the community the eucharistic gifts. Thus the community itself becomes priestly in the sense of I Peter 2:5, 9, yet – and this must be stressed in view of what we said in the previous part of this paper – neither in the sense that the priestly character of the community precedes the ordained sacerdos, nor in the sense that it derives from him, but of the togetherness and simultaneous gathering ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ of all the orders of the community. By understanding priesthood in this way we can see both how the order of the priest becomes relational (= a place in the community) and at the same time strictly specific and personal (no eucharistic community without this particular order and no confusion of orders).508
In stressing the relational character of the minister we must in no way imply that ordination means nothing for the ordained person himself. Of course – and this is basic in the perspective of this study – any isolation of the ordained person from the rest of the members of the Body amounts to his death: so fundamental is the relational character of Church membership, that individuals disappear as such and become sharers of the eternal and true life only as members one of another. The eschatological fate, therefore, of any Christian is deeply dependent on his relational existence in the community of the saints. And if the resurrection of the Christians is not the resurrection of individuals but of a community, a body (I Thess. 4), the same is true about the eschatological fate of the charismata: they will all be in the end determined by love, i.e. by their relational existence in the Body of Christ (I Cor. 12 – 13). If, therefore, it is at all possible to speak of the ordained person in himself, it is again only in the light of his position in the Body that we can do so.
The question whether the ministry is only of the “cultus praesentis ecclesiae”509 or not, was never raised in the East. This was so precisely because of the relational and the ‘typological” approach we discussed earlier here: what happens in the community of the Church, especially in its eucharistic structure, has no meaning in itself apart from its being a reflection – not in a Platonic but a real sence510 – of the community of the Kingdom of God. This mentality is so fundamental that there is no room for the slightest distinction between the worshipping eucharistic community on earth and the actual worship in front of God’s throne.511 What does this imply for the ordained person himself? The answer to this question involves two extremely delicate observations which, due to our being philosophically conditioned by an ontology of objectification, become very difficult to express without the risk of being misunderstood.
The first remark to be made is that because of the relational nature of ordination, no ordained person realizes his ordo in himself but in the community. Thus if he is isolated from the community he ceases to be an ordained person (no anathematized or excommunicated512 minister can be regarded as a minister).513 The fact that in the case of his rehabilitation this person is not re-ordained does not imply a recognition that he was still a minister during his excommunication514 – such an ontologism would be inconceivable, as the case of an anathematized person would clearly show. The practice of avoiding re-ordination is rather to be seen from the angle of the community again and not the individual: the community having once ordained someone recognizes his position in re-admitting him, and thus does not repeat the service of ordination. That avoiding re-ordination is not to be regarded as a matter of ontological “possession” of the charisma (but?) is to be seen in the fact that the Church may degrade a rehabilitated minister, as was the case in the early Church515 – something that would be unacceptable to a theology that looks at the minister as an individual regardless of his place in the community.
The second remark to be made is a more positive one. Precisely because of the identification of the eucharistic community, into which one is ordained, with the worshipping community before the throne of God, ordination is not something of a temporal nature but of eschatological decisiveness. The eschatological character of ordination is expressed in the Greek patristic tradition with the term “perfection” (τελείωσις).516 This has again nothing to do with a “natural” or moral perfection as such. It is to be understood rather in the light of the “typological” language of St Ignatius, which we have already mentioned, and especially that of “term” or “end” (πέρας) used by St Maximus the Confessor in connection with ordination. In the understanding of St Maximus, the Ignatian liturgical typology becomes, as it is usual with this Church Father, dynamic: ordination (baptism being included) realizes the movement of creation towards its eschatological end; the eucharistic altar expresses here and now the eschatological nature, the πέρας, of the community and, through and in it, of creation.517
It is this sense of eschatological significance and decisiveness that allows for the application of the term “seal” (σϕραγὶς) to ordination. Did the East use this term in the same sense as St Augustin518 did? It is difficult to answer this question, especially in view of the fact that a whole sacerdotal ontologism in the West based itself on St Augustine’s notion of “seal.” What seems to be true about the Greek Fathers is that they certainly used this term to indicate chrismation as ordination in an eschatological sense: the baptized person, after his baptism in the water, is “sealed with the Holy Spirit,”519 “for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). This eschatological finality makes this а σϕραγὶς ἀκατάλυτος520 or ἀνεπιχείρητος521 in this sense very much like the Augustinian notion of a sign by which God will recognize His own in the last days.522 But the term σϕραγὶς would never acquire in the Greek Fathers a strictly ontological meaning in the sense of πρᾱγμα; it would be understood rather as σχέσις, which is usually contrasted by them with πρᾱγμα. If, for example, we study carefully the application of σϕραγὶς or character to the person of Christ (cf. Heb. 1:3) by the Greek Fathers, we shall notice clearly this distinction: e.g. for St Basil, the Son in the “character” and σϕραγὶς of the Father,523 but the names “Father” and “Son,” at least for Cappadocian theology, are not names of πρᾱγμα but of σχέσις.524 It would take us very far to explain here what σχέσις means for the Greek Fathers. In order to avoid misunderstanding, however, it should be stated that this notion is not to be taken in the sense of a logical abstraction, but means a particular existential state of being (a “mode of existence”) in which being both is itself and at the same time cannot be spoken of in itself, but only as it “relates to.” If we apply this to ministry, the σϕραγὶς of ordination becomes a matter of σχέσις, yet not without significance for the being of the ordained person. In this sense no ordained person can appear before God in the last days pretending, as it were, that he had never been ordained. If love will survive as the eschatological quintessense of the charismata (I Cor. 13), ordination will emerge even more clear and decisive, precisely because it is relational.525
IV. Ministry and Unity
The ministry is what makes the ecclesial community and the ordained person relational not only to each other and the world but also with regard to the other communities that exist or have existed in the world. The sin of individualism which is overcome in the koinonia of the Spirit is not less serious if applied to a community than it is when applied to individual christians. Just as unus christianus nullus christianus, to remember an old Latin saying, in the same way a eucharistic community which deliberately lives in isolation from the rest of the communities is not an ecclesial community. This is what renders the Church “catholic” not only on the level of “here and now” but also on that of “everywhere and always.”526 The ministry of the Church must reflect this catholicity by being a unifying ministry both in time and in space. The eucharistic nature of the ecclesial community points inevitably in this direction by opening up a particular community so that it relates to all other communities in spite of divisions caused by space and time. Thus the eucharist is offered not just on earth but before the very throne of God and with the company of all the saints, living and departed, as well as in the name of “the catholic Church in the world.”527
Now, the realization of this relation and unity in time and space must take place in such a way as to not destroy the unity of the local community. The reason for this is that once this unity is destroyed individualism makes again its appearance. Thus, if we say for example that the various communities in the world can simply unite through the love or faith of their individual members, we not only make unity an abstract matter on the level of subjective emotion or belief, but – what is more important – we allow for the Christian to be conceived in himself and not as part of his existential milieu here and now, i.e. as part of the local eucharistic community. It is precisely for this profound reason that the eucharistic community must both always be local and always have the priority over against a universal unity in our ecclesiological thinking.528
If we admit that the ek-static and relational nature of the local community must be realized while this community retains its unity and not through its individual members independently and directly, this leads us inevitably to the special importance of the head of each local community, the bishop.529 The role of the bishop as the visible center of the unity of the eucharistic community is precisely what has made him so vital for the unity of the Churches both in space and time. This has happened under two forms: apostolic succession and conciliarity.
Apostolic succession has again become a problem in theology because of an approach to the ministry in terms of causality and objectified ontology. The bishop having acquired the status of an office, regardless of his position in the community, became in the theology of apostolic succession an individual who is linked with the apostles through a chain of individual ordinations, and who is thus transmitting to the other ministers below him grace and authority out of what he has received and possesses. This view was found by the Reformation tradition to involve a formalization and institutionalization of the ministry which was incompatible with the freedom of the Spirit. Thus either the “baby was thrown away with the bath-water” and the issue became one of “having” or “not having” apostolic succession, or else it was given meaning by making apostolic succession a matter of faithfulness to the truth.530
In the light of the Greek Fathers and of the perspective of this study, our approach to this issue must be again through the local community and the relational character of the ministry. On this basis the following observations could be made:
(a) The bishop succeeds the apostles not in himself, i.e. as. an individual, but as the head of his community. That this is the understanding of the early Church is to be seen in the following facts: (i) Every episcopal ordination was conditioned by the naming of the community to which the bishop was assigned, and could not be in absoluto. The important thing is that this naming of the community appears in the very prayer of ordination,531 which means that the bishop is not first made a bishop in a general sense and then assigned to a community, but that this assignment is inherent in the ordination itself. It is for this reason that the East could never distinguish the right of administration or jurisdiction from ordination itself.532 (iі) Apostolic succession was from the beginning related to attempts at reconstructing episcopal lists. The fact that these lists were exclusively episcopal and never, for example, presbyteral is significant in that they point to the bishop’s capacity as the head of his community and not as depositum of truth in himself. It is interesting to note that for the first three centuries, when these lists were diligently composed, the presbyters were regarded as the teachers of the people533 while the bishop could even be a “silent” person in the community.534 It is of course true that from the middle of the second century onwards the emphasis on the didactic function of the bishop becomes stronger,535 but it was nevertheless felt always deeply that the Church is not a “school”536 and that the successors of the apostles were not perpetuators of ideas like the heads of philosophical schools nor teachers in the same sense that the presbyters were. Being ordained to be the heads of their eucharistic communities, they were successors of the apostles precisely as spokesmen of these communities.
All this means that apostolic succession is essentially a matter of charismatic identification of the various communities in time. The restrospective dimension which is inevitably implied in this (= identity with the original apostolic Church) is not, therefore, to be isolated either from the existential (= the community here and now) or from the prospective one (= the future communities and the “last days” themselves). Linear historicism, like objectified ontology, becomes conditioned by the Spirit. The anamnetic faculty of the eucharistic community involves precisely a “remembrance” not only of the past but also of the future in the present.537
Similar observations must be made with regard to conciliarity, i.e. the unity of the Church in space. Here again our starting point is the local community, for the same existentially significant ecclesiological reasons. As we tried to show on another occasion,538 the phenomenon of the “councils” cannot be historically understood apart from a primitive conciliarity which existed on the local level and which was not unrelated to the eucharistic community. Most of the early councils, if not all of them, were concerned with eucharistic communion, mainly in the form of the problem of admitting persons excommunicated by one Church to communion in another539 or with the restoration of a broken eucharistic fellowship.540 All this shows that no local Church could be a Church unless it was open to communion with the rest of the Churches. Schism between two or more Churches was as intolerable as divisions within one community, and conciliarity was concerned with that more than anything else.541
The fact that in this case again it was the bishop that became essentially the sole participant in the councils should be seen in the light of his position in the community and not in terms of individual authority. That this was so is to be seen in the following significant facts: (i) A tradition that survives up to now in the Eastern Orthodox Church – though unconsciously as to its rationale – provides that only the diocesan bishops are allowed to vote in a synod. This condition speaks loudly for the fact that a bishop is not a member of a council in himself but as the head of a community. To deprive of this right someone who is in all respects a “bishop” except in not heading a community,542 would be absurd had it not been for the interpretation we are giving here, namely that a bishop participates in a council only as the head of his community. (iі) No decision of a council is authoritative in itself unless it is received by the communities. The question of “reception” of a council is extremely broad and complicated and it would fall beyond our present scope to discuss it here in detail.543 It must be noted, however, that in an “individualistic” understanding of apostolic succession and the episcopate in general, “reception” as a condition for conciliarity can make no logical sense: if the bishops decide on the grounds that they possess this authority as individuals then their decisions do not in any sense depend on reception by the people, unless that is to say, the other extreme is followed and the theory is adopted that the bishops in council have an authority delegated by their flocks and are therefore accountable to them. In this latter case ordination as a charismatic thing (Irenaeus’ charisma veritatis) would have nothing to do with conciliarity. Reception, on the other hand, organically related to conciliarity is inevitable when we think in terms of conciliarity as identity of the communities expressed in charismatic terms. It is thus not a juridical thing but a matter of charismatic recognition. It is for this reason that a true council becomes such only a posteriori; it is not an institution but an event in which the entire community participates and which shows whether or not its bishop has acted according to his charisma veritatis. From the point of view of the ministry of episcopate, this shows again how relational remains always what is given or rather realized in ordination.544
V. The “Validity” of the Ministry
All that has been said so far leads to the question whether it is at all proper to speak of the “validity” of a certain ministry. “Validity” is basically a juridical term, and it implies that the ministry can be isolated from the rest of ecclesiology and be judged in itself. This notion implies, furthermore, that there can be objective criteria, such as “faith” or “historical apostolic succession” etc., that can form the norms for such a judgment. Such an approach would tend to undermine the fact that all these “criteria” originally formed an integral and organic part of the concrete community, especially in its eucharistic form. Their meaning, therefore, depends constantly on their natural context, which is the community. We have seen, for example, how this is the case with apostolic succession. The same must be remembered with regard to “faith”: the “symbols” or “confessions” of faith were not in the early Church autonomous statements, as they are today in dogmatic manuals, but integral parts of the life and especially the worship of the community; they started as baptismal creeds and were adopted and used again as confessions for baptismal and eucharistic use. The great methodological error in the classical theories of “validity” therefore is that they tend to go to the unity of the community via these criteria, as if the latter could be conceived before and regardless of the community itself.
If, as we have insisted in this paper, we do not isolate the ministry from the reality of the community created by the koinonia of the Holy Spirit, what “validates” a certain ministry is to be found not in isolated and objectified “norms” but in the community to which this ministry belongs. It may be argued that the community is something we cannot grasp and deal with and we shall therefore sooner or later arrive at the procedure of “criteria.” But to arrive at a certain judgment by considering the community first is essentially different from looking at the community through the spectacles of isolated “criteria.”
The first and fundamental consequens of the method of looking at the community first and then at the criteria is that the recognition of ministries becomes in fact a recognition of communities in an existential sense. Thus one’s primary question in facing another ministry would be a question concerning the entire structure of the community to which it belongs. When we say “structure” we do not mean a certain institution as such but the way in which a community relates itself to God, to the world and to the other communities. Baptism, for example, is to be seen as a prerequisite for recognition of a ministry because it determines the entire structure of the community and the way it relates both to God and the world. Thus it is obvious, at least from the point of view of the theological perspective we are using in this study, that a fundamentally different way of a community’s relating to God and the world amounts to making this community “unrecognizable” by other communities, not juridically but existentially. This is due to the fact that Church structure and the ministry are not simply matters of convenient and efficient arrangements, but “modes of being,” ways of relating between God, the Church and the world. The various forms of ministry may differ at times and at places provided that they do not introduce or imply a fundamentally different way of the Church’s relating herself to God and the world. This means that a difference in ministerial form as such cannot determine the recognition of a ministry: the history of the Church has plenty of such examples to offer. At the same time, however, this means that not every form of ministry would do for the expression of the Church’s right relation with God and the world. Plurality and diversity of ministerial forms cannot be made a necessary implication of the existential and eschatological conditioning of the past structures,545 a conditioning on which we have insisted in this study. Just as the baptismal structure of the community is not basically changed by this conditioning, so in the same way the eucharistic structure must be understood as implying something permanent, its permanence being dictated precisely by its existential and eschatological nature. Similarly, it is not possible to avoid structures that express in a relational existential and eschatological way the identity of each community with those of the past, especially with the original apostolic communities, and with those of the present, implying a constant openness to the future.546 To take an example, the real issue between the episcopally and the non-episcopally structured communities of today would become in this approach whether or not episcopacy is essential to the Church’s proper relation with God and the world, i.e. whether or not a community with episcopacy can feel an existential identity with a community which has no episcopacy.547 It is in this sense that recognizing a ministry is a matter of recognizing a community.
If we follow this line, it is evident that the issue of “validity” of orders cannot be approached from the angle of “economy” (οἰκονομία), as it has often been done by Orthodox theologians. The entire idea of “economy” is itself extremely obscure548 and its actual application in history so complex549 that it becomes extremely difficult to use it as a principle in deciding for the “validity” of orders. But more important than that is the fact that “validity” is not something to be graciously, as it were, granted by one who “has” to one who “has not.” Such an approach to the ministry will make it again an objectified thing and would imply the unacceptable principle that the Church may recognize a sacramental reality which does not in fact exist.550 If, according to our approach in this study, recognition is not a juridical but an existential matter, and if the ministry is not a matter of “arrangement” but of the fundamental relational nature of the Church, then recognizing a ministry falls outside the scope of any dispensational approach. “Economy” is indeed a vital tool in pastoral care, especially for a Church such as the Orthodox that has to deal with canons of a past age, not adjusted to the present. But the recognition of orders is a matter not of strict canonical arrangements but of ecclesiology in its fullest sense.
It is not our purpose in this study to offer practical suggestions as to how the problem of “validity” of orders can be solved. Others might draw better than we could any practical implications that may exist in the approach to the ministry we have tried to establish here.551 What is sufficient for the object of this study is to indicate where the problem should be placed and what theological issues it involves. From this point of view our inquiry in this study shows that a reconsideration of the approach to the problem of the ministry may be necessary. Instead of trying to recognize each other’s “orders” as such, the divided communities of our time should rather try to recognize each other as ecclesial communties relating to God and the world through their ministries in the way that is implied in the mystery of Christ and the Spirit This is not a matter of “confessional” agreements, but of a more existential rapprochement to which divided Christendom is called.
* * *
For an examination of these characteristics see Y. Congar, L’Eglise de s. Augustin à l’époque moderne (Histoire des Dogmes III/3, 1970), especially pp. 173 ff.
There is hardly any ministerial title in the New Testament, which is not attributed to the person of Christ by the primitive Church. Thus, Christ is the “apostle” (Heb. 3:1), the “prophet” (Matt. 23:8; John 13:13), the “priest” (Heb. 5:6, 8:4, 10:21, 2:17), the “bishop” (ἐπίσκοπος: I Pet. 2:25, 5:4; Heb. 13:13), the “deacon” (Rom. 15:8; Luke 22:27, cf. Phil. 2:7) etc.
Thus in the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, prayer before the “Great Entrance”: “Thou art the offerer and the offered, the acceptor and the distributed, Christ our God.” The references to Chrysostom’s writings on this point are numerous. See, e.g., Hom. on Hebr. 12 – 14, PG 63:95 – 116; Hom. on I Cor. 8, 1, PG 61:69; Ноm. on John 86.4 PG 59:472. For other Fathers see, e.g., Gregory Naz. on Baptism, 40, 26, PG 36:396; and Ps. Dionysius Areop., Eccl. Hier. 5, 5, PG 3:513.
Monophysitism is usually attributed to Ps. Dionysius Areop. for his views on the ministry. Yet cf. the following expressions of St John Chrysostom: “οὐδὲν γἀρ ἄνθρωπος εἰς τὰ προκείμενα (i.e. sacraments) εἰσάγει ἀλλὰ τὸ πᾱν τῆς τοῡ Θεοῡ δυνάμεως ἔργον ἐστί, κἀκεῑνος ὐμᾱς ἐστιν ὁ μυσταγωγῶν.”
Christology for Eastern theology is not a self-existent and self-explained domain of theology. Cf. N. Nissiotis, “La Pneumatologie ecclésiologique au service de l’unité de l’Eglise,” Istina 12 (1967), pp. 322 – 340. The insistance on Pneumatology was so evident in Byzantine theology that Thomas Aquinas accused the Greeks that for the sake of Pneumatology they minimized the dignity of Christ. See Y. Congar, op. cit., p. 267.
Matt. 1:20; Luke 1:35.
The importance of eschatology for understanding the Church’s ministry is rightly stressed by W. Pannenberg, “Die Bedeutung der Eschatologie für das Verständnis der Apostolizität und Katholizität der Kirche,” Katholizität und Apostolizität (Beiheft zu Kergyma und Dogma 2, 1971), pp. 92 – 109. Cf. notes 545 and 546 below.
This accounts for the fact that in the East, we find neither the notion of “created grace” which was developed by medieval Western theologians nor an abstraction of Christ’s “acts” or “influence” from his person, as it developed later in Protestant theology. Cf. the criticism of the latter in D. Bonhoeffer’s “Christology” (Gesamelte Schriften, Vol. III, I960), pp. 166 – 242, especially pp. 176 ff. God’s direct personal involvement in salvation represented a basic issue in the controversies of the fourteenth century between Gregory Palamas and Barlaam, and it forms part of the Greek patristic view of grace as direct participation and communion. Cf. J. Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought (1969), pp. 85 ff.
The prohibition of ordinations in absoluto by the canons of the early Church (e.g. canon 6 of Chalcedon) should not be regarded as a mere “canonical” matter without deep ecclesiological implications.
This is clearly stated already in Hippolytus’ Apostolic Tradition, but essentially it can be traced back to the primitive association of charismatic manifestations with the eucharistic gatherings (cf. J. Zizioulas, J.M.R. Tillard, J.J. Von Allmen, L’Eucharistie (“Eglises en Dialogue” no. 12, 1970), pp. 45 ff. For the connection between ordination and the Last Supper from another viewpoint cf. the remarks of T.F.Torrance, “Consecration and ordination,” Scottish Journal of Theology 11 (1958), p. 241.
For example, the interesting resemblance between the rite of ordination and that of matrimony in the actual liturgical service of the Orthodox Church must be related to the same idea of the bond which ordination creates between the ordained and the Church.
This organic connection between eucharist and ministry is not simply a demand of theology but also of history, at least for the first three centuries, as it seems to result from a study of the sources. Cf. J. D. Zizioulas, The Unity of the Church in the Eucharist and the Bishop during the First Three Centuries (in Greek – 1965), especially pp. 29 – 148.
In Orthodox spirituality, too, the understanding of the eucharist as a “community,” a gathering ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ, tends to be overshadowed by individual pietism. The works of O. Casel and G. Dix in the West have contributed decisively to the rediscovery of this fundamental aspect of the eucharist Cf. also W. Elert, Abendmahl und Kirchengemeinschaft in der alten Kirchen hauptsächlich des Ostens (1954).
This objectification of grace may be traced back to the Augustinian distinction between grace as such and its efficacy or fruits, the former being something that can be “possessed” and “transmitted” regardless of the latter (e.g. Ep. 98, PL 33:363. Cf. note 467 below). In the Middle Ages and the Council of Trent the sacraments were understood as “instrumental causes,” “containing” grace and representing an “instrumental production” of grace. See R. Schulte, “Sacraments: I. The Sacraments in general,” in Sacramentum Mundi, V (1970), pp. 379 f. After Vatican II, the theology of the sacraments is placed in the context of “life” in general or the Church as sacrament. See ibid. pp. 380 ff. In the writings of K. Rahner the notion of causality, although maintained and used, is removed from the Aristotelian idea of cause and effect with the help of a theology of symbolism. (See his The Church and the Sacraments , especially pp. 34 f. 38 and 96.) This approach resembles very much the theology of symbolism of the Greek Fathers (e.g. Cyril of Jerusalem, Ps. Dionysius Areop. and Maximus the Confessor) provided that it is put in the context of Pneumatology which would protect us from turning an “intrinsic symbolism” into a law operating almost by necessity. It is for this reason that the notion of causality, being, in some way or another, always connected with the idea of necessity, becomes difficult to apply to a pneumatologically conditioned ecclesiology. With regard to the idea of potestas, it seems that this has disappeared from the new rite of ordinations of the Roman Catholic Church, according to A. Houssiau, “La signification théologique du nouveau rituel des ordinations,” in Mélanges G. Philips (1970), pp. 271, 279.
We have in mind works such as H. Küng, The Church (1968), and reactions to that work by Y. Congar, in Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques 53 (1969), pp. 693 – 706 (Cf. the response by H. Küng, ibid. 55 (1971) 193 ff.); E. Cothenet, in Esprit et Vie, 24 июля 1969, pp. 490 – 496; P. Grelot, “La structure ministérielle de l’Eglise d’après S. Paul,” in Istina 15 (1970), pp. 389 – 424. On the whole discussion see H. Härling – J. Nolte, Diskussion um Hans Küng “Die Kirche” (1971).
For details cf. J. D. Zizloulas, “Some Reflections on Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist,” in Sobornost 5 (1969), pp. 644 – 652.
Apost. Trad. 21 (ed. Botte, p. 54).
Cf. I. Clem. 40.3 – 41.7: no confusion of “orders” or transgression from one “order” to another is permissible. This implies that the “layman” is also an “order” (τάγμα or τάξις).
Thus the expression: “the ministry of the Church” is not to be understood in the sense of a possessive genitive. The being of the Church does not precede her actions or ministries. Charismatic life (i.e. concrete ministries) is constitutive of and not derivative from the Church’s being. The question whether “essence” precedes “existence” or not should not be introduced into ecclesiology; it is rather along the lines of a simultaneity of the two that we must understand the Church. Cf. K. Rahner’s view that “the Church is the visible outward expression of grace not in the sense that she subsequently announces as it were the presence of something already there…” (our underlining); also his insistence that the Church as a local event is not to be understood as something subsequent to the universal Church (Episcopat und Primat , p. 26 and 34). Yet in spite of this Rahner seems to hold the idea of an “essence” or “potentiality” of the Church leading to an “actuality” or “event” and hence to the subordination of the local to the universal Church (ibid.). Cf. Part IV and note 544 below.
This stress on the existential and charismatic nature of the Church should not be taken to imply an undermining of the historical nature of the Church. But the acceptance on the other hand of the historical nature of the Church should not imply an ecclesiological ontologism according to which the Church’s being is presupposed as the intrinsic source of her actions. Such an implication results from the view that the Church’s historical existence (e.g. apostolic succession) is something else than her constant charismatic reconstitution. On the contrary, the view we are presenting here is that the two, i.e. historical existence (succession, etc.) and charismatic event, coincide with each other. It is in this sense that we should try to understand, for example, apostolic succession (see Part IѴ below). In this way the existential-charistmatic approach to ecclesiology does not threaten the historical basis of the Church, but implies it.
Eccl. Hier. 5, 5, PG 3: 513: “τὸν θεῑον ίεράρχην οὐκ αὐτοκινήτως χρὴ τὰς ίερατικὰς ποιεῑσθαι τελεσιουργίας, ἀλλ’ ὑπὸ κινοῡτι ταὑτας.”
Cf. from a reformed point of view the remarks of T. F. Torrance, op. cit. p. 251. For Eastern theology, this “epicletic” approach is a fundamental consequence of the pneumatological conditioning of Christology and ecclesiology. Cf. the meaning of the “epiclesis” in the eucharist.
See e.g. canon 13 of Laodicea.
The liturgical “amen” as a sign of the indispensability of the order of the layman for the eucharist is very important. Cf. P. Rouget, Amen: Acclamation du peuple sacerdotal (1947), and G. H. Williams, “The role of the layman in the Ancient Church,” in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 1 (1958), pp. 9 – 42.
Cf. K. Rahner’s speaking of “an incarnational tendency” of grace (“Personal and Sacramental Piety,” in Theological Investigations II , p. 119).
A basic theological implication in what is said here is that in allowing for a creaturely “being” we must in no way make it a condition for God’s life and love. Adam’s sin consists in man’s self-affirmation independently of God. An understanding of human nature in itself, i.e. apart from its communion with God, makes man a “partner” of God on equal terms and as such it sanctions his fallen state, by transforming him into a necessary condition in God’s exercise of His grace. The sacraments and the ministry in particular represent theological areas in which this problem reveals itself in a crucial way.
It must be made clear that our view of “relationship,” on which we base our approach here, is not to be reduced to something that has no ontological content, like e.g. in the scholastic oppositio relationis. For St Augustine, too, relational context is indispensable for the sacramental grace. Grace according to him appears only in caritas and unitas (cf. Y. Congar, op. cit. pp. 11 – 24), though with the help of a distinction, unfamiliar to the Eastern tradition, he would restrict this condition to the fruits of grace and not to the grace itself. Cf. note 454 above.
Myst., 2, PG 91:668C – 669A.
E.g. John Chrysostom, Hom. on II Cor. 11, PG 61:477 – 478; On the Priest 4, 4, PG 48:680.
This “anaphoric” quality of the Church, expressed par excellence in the eucharist, is the main manifestation of the priestly character of the Church and her ministry. Thus the latter must be related to the eucharist in order to find its fulfilment.
Tral. 3, 1: “χωρὶς τούτων (i.e. bishop, presbyters, deacons) ἐκκλησία οὐ καλεῑται.
Cf. J.-J. Von Allmen, Le saint ministère seton la conviction et la volonté des Réformés du XVie siècle (1968), especially pp. 213 ff. The issue is not whether we have the name of “bishop” but the reality of his office. For an application of this principle to the problem of the ministry in the primitive Church, see G. Konidaris, “Warum die Urkirche von Antiochia den proestota presbyteron als ho Episkopos bezeichnete,” Münchener theologische Zeitschrift, 1961, pp. 269 – 284.
The most important historical factor is the appearance of the parish as a eucharistic gathering distinct from the episcopal eucharistic assembly. This development led to the dissociation of the presbyter from the bishop as well as to the disintegration of the originally collegial presbyterium, itself, and hence to the idea that a eucharistic community does not necessarily involve all orders. Cf. J. D. Zizioulas, The Unity… pp. 151 – 188 and ch. VIII(?) below.
Such theological factors are to be found, for example, in the development of an individualistic approach to the eucharist, the association of the ministry with an individually possessed potestas, etc.
For the difficulties in defining the proper meaning of the office of the deacon in the Church, cf. E. Lanne, “L’Eglise locale et l’Eglise universelle,” Irénikon 43 (1970), p. 489.
The opposition between Amt and Geist with which theology has been operating since Harnack and Hatch (cf. a similar assumption in our days: E. Käsemann, Exegetische Versuche, I, p. 128 f.: ordination implies “monopolizing” the Spirit by an individual) is based on the conception of office and institution as objectified things. Things change, however, if the office or institution is placed in the context of Pneumatology and is understood in relational terms.
The notion of “specificity” is fundamental in trinitarian theology: the Son has everything in common with the Father and the Spirit except being Father or Spirit and the Spirit possesses everything the Father and the Son possess except being Father or Son (Gregory of Nazianzos, Or. 34, 10, PG 36:252 A).
The notion of ϐαθμὸς (degree) is applied to the ministry by the canonical and patristic writings (e.g. Can. Apost. 82; Basil, Ep. 188, canon 1 etc.), but it is not meant to introduce a classification into the ministry. Cf. note 493 below. In Ps. Dion. Areop. (Eccl. Hier. 5, PG 3:500 – 516) the terms τάξις and τάγμα are preferred.
Cf. note 470 above.
Cf. the view that “the Church is in the world” expressed in the constitution Gaudium et spes. That such a view excludes the conception of the Church as a society vis-à-vis other societies in the world is stressed by G. Thils, Une “Loi fondamentale de l’Eglise”? (1971), p. 15.
Thus the so-called “ministry of the word” is not to be understood in terms of the Church’s “addressing” the world, but in terms of her being involved in the world with com-passion, since the Word of God is not to be isolated from his incarnation. This means that, for example, preaching as such cannot be understood as a ministry in itself. The Word of God permeates the entire ministry: every minister in some way or other proclaims (cf. Paul’s understanding of the eucharist as “proclamation” in I Cor. 11:26, and Ignatius in Eph. 19, 1); equally, however, the Word of God itself is permeated by the ministry. This is the result of the fact that for the Church the Word of God is no longer simply a prophetic utterance, as it was in the Old Testament, but “flesh” (John 1:14).
In this particular sense the distinction between “permanent” and “movable” ministers can be a valid one. But it would be a mistake to call only the “moving” ministers “charismatic,” as it was done by Harnack and many historians after him. A ministry, whether “permanent” or not, which is not charismatic is not a ministry of the Church. Cf. note 476 above.
Cf. note 454 above.
M. Buber, I and Thou (1958), p. 62, and N. Berdyaev, Solitude and Society (1938), p. 168.
Thus N. Afanasiev (“L’Eglise de Dieu dans le Christ,” in La Pensée Orthodoxe, 13 , p. 19) and N. Nissiotis (“The Importance of the Doctrine of the Trinity for Chuch Life and Theology,” in The Orthodox Ethos, ed. by A. J. Philippou , p. 64) speak of ordination in terms of “functional,” while others of “ontological” (e.g. P. Trembelas, Dogmatique, III (1968), p. 329 f.).
These are crucial questions pointing to the fact that it is quite inadequate to speak of the ministry as a choice between “ontological” or “functional,” and thus to the need of working out some new way of expressing the effect of ordination upon the ordained. This may underline the importance of the ontology of the person discussed in chapter 1 of this book.
I Cor. 13, with its famous hymn to love is usually abused and misused for homiletical purposes, as if its meaning could be understood apart from what is said by Paul in chapter 12. A right exegesis of this “hymn” demands placing it in the context of Paul’s attempt to express his theology of the charismata in the previous chapter. His reference to love in chapter 13, therefore, represents Paul’s attempt to clarify the paradox of the Church’s unity in and through the “divisions” of the charismata. The conclusion that follows such an exegetical approach is that only in terms of love can one understand the mystery of charismatic life and therefore of ministry.
A very helpful investigation of the sources is offered in J. M. Garrigues, M. J. Le Guillou and A. Riou, “Le caractère sacerdotal dans la tradition des Pères grecs,” Nouvelle revue théologique 8 (1971), pp. 801 – 820.
See note 469 above.
«The grace of the Spirit (is) conferred upon him (the priest) for this service…” Liber ad Baptizandos II, 6 (ed. and transl. by A. Mingana, Woodbrooke Studies, VI , p. 120). It must be noted that Theodore, in accordance with the extreme Antiochene tendency to keep separate the divine from the human nature, understands the priest as an “intermediary” (ibid. p. 119) between man and God. He thus seems to follow a line different from the Alexandrian tradition, and even from that of Chrysostom, who would attribute all sacramental action to Christ or to God Himself. Nevertheless it is noteworthy that Theodore, too, conceives the priesthood in strictly relational terms, as it is seen from his comments on the congregation’s reply “And unto thy spirit” to the priest’s blessing: “They (the congregation) requite him (the priest) with an identical prayer so that it may be made manifest to the priest and also to all of them that it is not only they that are in need of the benediction and the prayers of the priest, but that he also is in need of the prayer of all of them… indeed all of us are one body of Christ, our Lord, and all of us are members one of another, and the priest only fills the rôle of a member that is higher than the other members of the body, such as the eye or the tongue'’ (ibid. p. 90 f.).
See note 469 above.
In Bapt. Christi, PG 46:581D – 584A. Cf. note 488 above.
In Job. 12, 1 (ed. P.E. Pusey, vol.3, 131 f.).
Gregory of Nyssa, loc. cit.: the ordained priest is singled out of the community to become its (“leader” and “president”). It should be noted that the term “president” (πρoεστώς, cf. Justin, I Apol. 67) is a relational term.
Gregory of Nyssa (ibid.) sees this change in the priest’s becoming σεμνὸς and τίμιὸς by way of inner change πρὸς τὸ βέλτιστον. Cyril of Alex. understands this change in terms of Paul’s words: “not I, but the grace of God which is in me” (I Cor. 15: 10), which he goes on to explain in terms of “communion” in Christ’s own (divine) nature through “participation” (μετουσία) in the Holy Spirit. This amounts, for Cyril, to an elevation of the ordained to a “glory” above human nature, i.e. to the “dignity” which befits “divine nature alone” (In Job. 12, 1, ibid., pp. 132, 133 and 140).
Without a proper idea of theosis the “change” in ordination, as described e.g. by Cyril of Alexandria (see previous note), cannot be understood. In the tradition of the Greek Fathers, “deification” of human nature does not mean “divinization” in a sense of a “natural” change. It is to be understood in terms of an elevation of human nature to the glory and life of God by “participation” (μετοχῇ). Without this idea of “participation” and “communion” the language employed by the Greek Fathers in connection with the ministry can be easily misunderstood. Cf. ch. II § 5.
Maximus the Confessor, Myst.2, PG 91:669A.
Ignatius, Magn. 6, 1; 3, 1 – 2; Tral. 3, 1. There is no doubt that Ignatius had the image of the eucharistic community in mind when speaking of the bishop as being the “type” of God or sitting “in the place of God.”
This is why Ignatius would regard the local Church united around the bishop as identical with the whole or “catholic” Church united in Christ (Smyr. 8). The word ὤσπερ which connects the local with the “catholic” Church in this well-known passage, does not imply a contrast, as many scholars have taken it to imply, but an identity between the two, local and “catholic.” Ignatius sees no difference between unity in Christ and unity in the bishop. Thus Eph. 5, 1; Magn. 3, 1 – 2; cf. Polyc. inscr. Cf. ch. IV above.
Didascalia 9 (ed. and transl. R. H. Connolly , p. 86 f.). For the Const. Apost. (II, PG 1:668) the bishop is “God on earth after God,” the presbyters “a type of the apostles” etc. On this typology cf. Ignatius, Magn. 6, 1 and previous note.
E.g. In II Cor. 11, PG 61:477. Chrysostom’s understanding of the ministry as being exercised “ἀντ’ αὐτοῡ (Christ) καὶ τοῡ πατρὸς” reminds one of Ignatius (notes 498 – 500 above). That this ἀντὶ does not introduce distance but identity is explained by Chrysostom himself: “Christ Himself appeals, Christ’s Father Himself through us” (ibid., p. 478).
On this image cf. S. Pedersen, Israel: Its Life and Culture (1926); H. Wheeler Robinson, The Hebrew Conception of Corporate Personality (1936), pp. 49 ff.; A. R. Johnson, The One and the Many in the Israelite Conception of God (1942); and J. de Fraine, Adam et son lignag: Etudes sur la “personalité corporative” dans la Bible (1959).
Cf. O. Cullmann, Die Christologie des Neuen Testaments (1958), p. 63 f.
Heb. 5:6; 8:4; 10:21; 2:17.
This is evident in the prayer of ordination of the bishop in Hippolytus’ Apostolic Tradition (ch. 3, ed. Botte, p. 8) as contrasted to that of the presbyter (cf. 7, ibid. p. 20 f.) which does not mention the offering of the eucharist.
The presbyter acquires the title of “priest” in the sources only after the (orginally) one episcopo-centric eucharistic community is divided into smaller presbytero-centric units (parishes) in the fourth century. This is shown from a comparative examination of the sources. On this see my book The Unity… pp. 153 – 176.
The idea that the bishop is the “image of Christ” lasted at least until the fourth century (cf. Ps. Clem. Hom. 3, 62). Cf. O. Perler, “L’evêque, représentant du Christ…” in L’Episcopat et I’Eglise universelle (ed. Y. Congar et al., Unam Sanctam 39,1962), pp. 31 – 66.
Cf. note 458 above. An illustration of this is to be found in the issue of concelebration. With regard to this, one must distinguish carefully between (a) a concelebration which means that all orders do the same thing (this is illustrated, for example, by the practice of the common citation of the eucharistic canon); and (b) that each order participates in the eucharist in its own proper quality, i.e. by occupying its own “place.” It is in the sense of (b) that concelebration is implied in our approach in this study and not in the sense of (a), which in fact essentially contradicts (b) and represents a very late development (thirteenth century in the West[?], never so far recognized in the East. Cf. J. Hanssens, “De concelebratione eucharistica,” in Periodica 17 , 143 – 21; 22 , 219).
Thomas Aquinas IIIa pars 63.1 ad 1; 3 ad 3.
The Platonic and Philonian (cf. Philo, De opif. 16 – 19) relation between the intelligible prototype and its concrete sensible antitype presupposes that the latter exists really only in so far as it reflects the former. But for the Fathers (e.g. Ignatius of Antioch) the local Church is in itself a reality in which the “catholic” Church is fully present and real.
John Chrysostom, In Heb. 14, PG 63:111 – 112: “the Church (in its eucharistic gathering) is heavenly and nothing else but heaven.” Also, Maximus the Confessor, Myst. 1, PG 91:664D – 668C. The eucharistic liturgy actually in use in the Orthodox Church repeatedly makes this point. The same view is portrayed in the architecture and iconography of the Byzantine churches. Cf. Y. Congar, L’Eglise… , pp. 68 ff.
We use “excommunication” here not in the sense of a mere disciplinary action but in that of a real cutting off of someone from the life of the community.
It would be inconceivable in this approach to think, for example, of Arius as being still in any way a priest!
Cf. H. Alivisatos, Economy According to Canon Law of the Orthodox Church (1949 in Greek), p. 80 f. Alivisatos rejects the notion of “character.” Ch. Androutsos, Dogmatics of the Orthodox Eastern Church (1907 – in Greek) p. 314 f., rejects it too, but in fact he adopts it in another form in his Symbolics, 2nd edition, p. 381. P. Trembelas, op. cit., p. 329 f. seems to accept it. Earlier on the “Orthodox Confession” of Dositheus had clearly adopted the theory of indelible character (see ed. by J. Karmiris, II, p. 760). With regard to re-ordination it is noteworthy that Apostolic Canon 68, although forbidding it, states that this cannot apply to the rehabilitation of a heretic.
E.g. canon 8 of I Nicaea states that a rehabilitated bishop may be placed in the rank of the presbyter, and canon 10 of Neocaesaria that a deacon may become a subdeacon.
Ps. Dionysius Areop. Eccl. Hier. I – V, PG 3:372 – 513; cf. Cyril of Alexandria, In Job. 12, 1, ed. Pusey, III, p. 133.
Maximus Conf., Myst. 2, PG 91:669A – D.
Sermo ad Caes., eccl. pl. 2, PL 43:691.
Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. Myst. 3, PG 33:1088 f.
Cyril of Jerusalem, Procat. 16, PG 33:360.
Basil, Hom. (in s. Bapt.) 13, 5, PG 31:433.
On the notion of σϕραγὶς in Patristic period cf. J. Gallot, La nature du caractère sacramentel (1957), especially pp. 35 ff.
Basil, De Spir. San. 64, PG 32:185C.
Thus, Gregory Naz. Or. 29, 16, PG 36:96: “οὔτε οὐσίας ὄνομα ὁ πατὴρ οὔτε ἐνεργείας σχέσεως δέ.” Also for Maximus the Confessor σχέσις and πρᾱγμα are to be clearly distinguished (Pyr., PG 91:340D – 341A). The insistence upon the distinction between a strictly ontological (πρᾱγμα or οὐσία) and a relational (σχέσις) approach to reality characterizes Greek patristic thought in general. It would take us too far to examine here what σχέσις means for the Greek Fathers. In case, however, that this may be misunderstood as meaning a simply logical relatio, it must be noted that σχέσις does not exclude but, on the contrary, includes in itself or carries with it the notion of “being”; it is precisely, as the Cappadocians put it, a mode of being (τρόπος ὑπάρξεως), yet not in the sense of objectified “being” that can be understood in itself, but of “being” as it relates to. The implications of this distinction are of fundamental significance for theology and especially for the doctrine of grace and the ministry. The thesis of the present study, as the reader will have realized, depends very much on this. Cf. ch. I.
This means that the sacramental character of the ministry in its implications for the ordained is not to be determined by either “ontologism” or “functionalism” but by the notion of koinoia, i.e. communion and love, and by its eschatological decisiveness. Cf. J.D. Zizioulas, “Ordination et Communion” Istina 16 (1971), pp. 5 – 12.
Cf. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. 18, 23, PG 33:1044; and Vincent of Lerins, Com. 2, PL 50:640.
Cf. Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, prayer of the anaphora: “Again we offer unto Thee this reasonable service for those who have fallen asleep in the faith… for the world, for the holy, catholic and apostolic Church.”
Cf. K. Rahner, Episcopat und Primat, where it is stressed that the Church as an “event” acquires necessarily a local character. The insistence of Eastern theology on the priority of the local Church must be seen in the light of the pneumatological approach of this theology to the mystery of the Church. A pneumatological approach inevitably brings forth the existential aspect of the Church. The proper relation between the pneumatological and the christological approaches to ecclesiology seems to constitute a crucial problem in the relation between the “Eastern” and the “Western” views of the Church. The theology of the institutions of the Church will have to take into account both of these approaches, the right aim being, in our view, to establish the meaning of these institutions in the simultaneity and mutual interpenetration (cf. notes 459 and 460 above) of Christology and Pneumatology. Cf. ch. III above.
Related to this is the provision of the canons of the ancient Church that every bishop must be ordained in the presence of at least two other bishops. Cf. Hippolytus’ Apost. Trad. 2. (ed. Botte, p. 4 f.), I Nicaea, canon 4, etc. For a more detailed discussion see C. Vogel, “Unité de l’Eglise et pluralité des formes historiques…”, in L’Episcopat et l’Eglise universelle (ed. Y. Congar et al., Unam Sanctam 39, 1962), pp. 601 ff., and L. Mortari, Consacrazione episcopale e collegialitá (1969), pp. 33 ff.
For a discussion of these problems cf. the symposium of Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox theologians: Katholizität (Beiheft zu Kerygma und Dogma 2, 1971).
We should like to stress this point particularly because its implications are important in connection with note 528 above. It is noteworthy that even when the institution of the so-called “titular bishops” – who are essentially bishops without a flock – was introduced, provision was made that the name of the diocese, even from among those which no longer existed, would be mentioned in the prayer of ordination. This, of course, amounts to a contradiction between theory and practice in ecclesiology, but it nevertheless reveals that the Church has never admitted in her consciousness an episcopate which is not conditioned by a community in its very roots (prayer of ordination). If this is taken seriously into account, it becomes clear that a bishop is not first ordained as bishop of the universal Church and then “assigned” to a place within it, but he is a bishop of the universal Church only in and by becoming a bishop of a concrete community. Hence the perplexity of the Orthodox with regard to the “missio canonica.” On this point, cf. P. Duprey, “The synodical structure of the Church in Eastern Orthodox Theology,” One in Christ 7 (1971), p. 173 n. 60 and p. 176 f.
With regard to Roman Catholic theology, cf. K. Rahner, Church and Sacraments, p. 103, n. 11. A certain departure from this distinction between sacramental order and jurisdiction is indicated in the new rite of ordination of the Roman Catholic Church, according to A. Houssiau, op. cit. p. 270. On the origination of this distinction in the West see G. Alberigo, Lo Sviluppo della dottrina sui poteri nella Chiesa Universale (1964), pp. 69 ff.
See, for example, the prayer of ordination of the presbyter in Hippolytus’ Apost. Trad. 7 (ed. Botte, p. 20 f.). For more sources cf. J. D. Zizioulas in Katholizität and Apostolizität (see note 527(?) above), pp. 48 ff.
Ignatius, Philad. 1, 2. Cf. Katholizität… p. 48, n. 91. Also, H. Chadwick, “The silence of bishops in Ignatius,” The Harvard Theological Review, 43 (1950), pp. 169 – 172.
This is seen, for example, in the Martyrium Polycarpi 16, 2, in Irenaeus, etc.
Hippolytus, Philos. 9, 12, 21, PG 15:3386: the “catholic Church” is not a “school” (didaskaleion).
Cf. Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, prayer of the anaphora: “Commemorating this command of our Savior and all that was endured for our sake, the cross, the grave, the resurrection after three days, the ascension into heaven, the enthronement at the right hand of the Father, and the second and glorious coming again, thine own of thine own we offer to Thee…”
J. D. Zizioulas, “The Development of Conciliar Structures to the Time of the First Ecumenical Council,” in Councils and the Ecumenical Movement (World Council of Churches Studies 5, 1968), pp. 34 – 51.
This situation is reflected by canon 5 of I Nicaea.
Cf. the paschal controversies in the second century, as described by Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. V, 16, 10 and 28, 9, 9.
All doctrinal decisions of the ancient Church ended with anathemas, i.е. excommunications from the eucharist. Eucharistic communion was the ultimate aim of doctrine, and not doctrine itself.
The case of bishops who have been deprived of their communities by force, being in a certain sense under persecution, could not apply to this rule, which refers only to the “retired” and the so-called “titular» and “assistant” bishops.
For an Orthodox discussion of this problem, see: L. Stan “Concerning the Church’s Acceptance of the Decisions of Ecumenical Synods,” in Councils and the Ecumenical Movement (see note 535(?) above), pp. 68 – 75. Cf. W. Küppers, “Reception, Prolegomena to a Systematic Study,” Ibid. pp. 76 – 98.
We should like to emphasize the distinction between forms of ministry requiring ordination and institutions which are not based directly on ordination. Those among the Orthodox who speak of the synod as the “highest authority” in the Church must explain how there could be an authority which is not rooted in ordination. Only if we accept a distinction between Amt and Geist, or between potestas ordinis and iurisdictionis, can we speak of an authority which does not necessarily stem directly from ordination. But neither of these distinctions can be easily accepted by Eastern Orthodox theology. If there have been cases in the history of the Orthodox Church which make it difficult to avoid operating with these distinctions (see e.g. P. Duprey, op.cit., p. 176), this does not mean that we should get our theological norms from these cases or that we should not at least try to understand these particular historical cases in the light of the main stream of the tradition. A study of this tradition as a whole shows that, at least in the East, a distinction was always made between “the dignity of honor or taxis” and that of “the power of the Spirit,” i.e. of authority based on ordination. (This formulation of the distinction is made by Athanasius the Greek in a text of the year 1357 which is regarded as significant for the theology of communion by Y. Congar, L’Eglise…, p. 265). In the same spirit the Byzantine canonists interpreted the famous canon 34 of the “Apostolic Canons” (cf. P. Duprey, op. cit., p. 154 f.). This is not the place for a discussion of the proper theological significance of the synodical system. Such a significance is not to be denied, but it should be properly integrated into the theology of ordination. Needless to say that this subject is of extreme importance in the theological discussions between Roman Catholics and Orthodox.
As it seems to be the case with W. Pannenberg, op.cit., p. 106 f.
Cf. the significant remarks of W. Pannenberg, ibid., concerning the three points “on which every contemporary claim to catholicity must prove itself.”
The study of J. J. von Allmen, Le saint ministère… , passim and especially pp. 213 ff. is most illuminating on this point.
Cf. H. Alivisatos, op. cit.
Cf. K. Duchatelez, “L’économie baptismale dans l’Eglise Orthodoxe,” Istina 16 (1971), pp. 13 – 36; also “La notion d’économie et ses richesses théologiques,” in Nouvelle revue théologique 92 (1970), pp. 267 – 292.
Н. Alivisatos, op. cit., p. 77 and G. Florovsky, “The doctrine of the Church and the Ecumenical Problem,” The Ecumenical Review 2 (1950), p. 159 f.
Cf. for example, the remarks offered by Y. Congar, “Quelques problèmes touchant les ministères,” in Nouvelle revue théologiques 93 (1971), p. 795 f., and G. Tavard, “The Function of the Minister in the Eucharistic celebration,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 4 (1967), pp. 629 – 649, which appear to be of interest from the viewpoint of the present study.
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