Holy and Great Council

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…

Orthodox Theology and Economic Morality

by Dylan Pahman

While a leader in environmental theology, the Orthodox Tradition lags behind others when it comes to modern social and economic thought. Economic science has been by and large ignored, if not dismissed, in official and unofficial statements, revealing a troubling disregard for the dignity of this science and a troubling willingness to speak about important issues of social justice without making an effort to gain the necessary preliminary competence needed to do so intelligently and effectively. It betrays a disappointingly unscientific posture toward questions of social morality and a closed stance toward economic insights in particular.

By way of example, the Council document “The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World” begins with the following admirable conviction: Continue Reading…

Defending Human Dignity

A Response to the Pre-Conciliar Document, “The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World”

by Fr. Robert M. AridaSusan Ashbrook Harvey, David Dunn, Maria McDowellTeva Regule, and  Bryce E. Rich

The authors of ‘The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World’ are to be commended for framing our shared ecclesial mission as one of making present the eschatological hope of the new creation in which “race, gender, age, social, or any other condition” are no bar to shared eucharistic celebration. The document rightly reminds us that “the purpose of the incarnation … is the deification of the human person” which establishes the dignity of all persons, and demands its protection. As co-workers with God, the church and its members enter into “common service together with all people of good will,” seeking to establish peace, justice (3, 6), and social solidarity (6.4, 6.5, 6.6), gifts of the Holy Spirit which come from God (3.2) but “also depend on human synergy” (3.3). These gifts, and this work, is required for the flourishing of human dignity. Continue Reading…