Category Archives: Ecclesiology

Liberating Ecumenism Considering the Charismatic and Counter-hegemonic Contribution of Orthodox Ecclesiology

by Graham McGeoch  |  ελληνικά  |  ру́сский

Fr. Georges Florovsky (right) at a meeting of the Provisional Committee for the World Council of Churches

Conciliar Ecumenism reflects the institutional models of its formative period. Conciliar Ecumenism has been interpreted by the World Council of Churches as the coming together of Christians – locally, regionally or globally – for common prayer, counsel and decision. In addition, the search for unity is envisaged as a conciliar fellowship, with each local church possessing the fulness of catholicity and apostolicity. Like other movements, the ecumenical movement followed the patterns emerging around the Bretton Woods consensus and the UN system at the end of World War II and established its own international institutions as a contribution to conflict resolution, peace and reconciliation.

Within Conciliar Ecumenism, Protestants have read the Ecumenical Patriarch’s encyclical of January 1920, which called for a league of churches, similar to the League of Nations, as a major stimulus to Orthodox participation in ecumenical institutions. Less well known is a 1933 essay by Georges Florovsky which sets out a ‘canonical’ and ‘charismatic’ Orthodox ecclesiology. Continue Reading…

Bishops in Council: Are They Representative?

by Peter Bouteneff

It is commonly understood in the Orthodox Church that the bishop represents the Church, particularly within its conciliar life. But can he truly represent the Church, in its diversity, in every way and context?

The bishop represents the Church in at least two ways: (1) He distinguishes the local manifestation of the Universal Church from any random gathering of like-minded individuals. (Ignatius’s second-century epistles testify to this episcopal function with reference to the person of Christ.) (2) He carries the duty to maintain continuity with the apostolic faith, the traditio of right doctrine. The early church established a clear succession: Christ → Apostles → Bishops. Continue Reading…

On Ecumenoclasm: What Is Church?

by Paul Ladouceur

On April 22, 2016, the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church issued a decision containing its objections to the draft document of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church on “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World.” The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece took a similar decision on May 26, 2016. The brief decision of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, which contains no theological justification for its positions, rejects the use of the appellation “Church” to refer to non-Orthodox Christian denominations; it objects to the inference that Christian unity has been “lost”; and it deplores the absence of affirmation that the only way to Christian unity is the return of “heretics and schismatics” to the Orthodox Church. Neither the Bulgarian nor the Greek decision go as far as an earlier declaration of Bulgarian clergy and monastics which postulates that “heretics are outside the ship of the Church and as a consequence, beyond salvation” – but the practical conclusion is the same.    Continue Reading…

Ten Days, Fourteen Delegations: Some Thoughts on the Format of the Upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council

by Andrey Shishkov

The forthcoming Pan-Orthodox council is conceived as a council of delegations of all universally recognized autocephalous churches, which are headed by their primates. In reality, the difference between the Pan-Orthodox council and the synaxis of primates is insignificant. The Pan-Orthodox council format assumes that one delegation has one vote and decisions are made by consensus. The number of votes in the conciliar decision-making process coincides with the synaxis – fourteen votes.

But is this format enough to identify risks and issues and to find solutions? Is it representative of the Orthodox Church? Continue Reading…