Tag Archives: John Zizioulas

John Zizioulas: An Ecumenical Appreciation

by Rowan Williams | Русский

It was the Cambridge philosopher of religion Donald MacKinnon who first introduced me to John Zizioulas’s work, passing to me (some time around 1978) a couple of French offprints. Donald was not someone who handed out praise readily, but he was obviously intrigued and impressed—I suspect because these essays on the eucharist and the bishop reflected an ecclesiology as far removed as you could imagine from the anxious policing of boundaries and the institutional self-inflation and self-deceit that Donald found in so much writing about the Church in the Western theology of the mid-century, both conservative and supposedly radical. If conservative theologies of the Church exalted the coercive power of hierarchs and treated the Church as a kind of political unit with ruled and rulers, liberal and radical theologies of the mid-century equally reduced the Church to an association of enthusiastic social reformers hurrying to keep up with a culture in flux. Neither exhibited much sense of what it might be for the Church to be what it claimed to be, the assembly of those transfigured by the Spirit into full (Christlike) humanity and thus into a condition of authentic communion; neither really understood that the Church’s sacramental character meant that the Church’s visible manifestation in the Eucharistic community was quite simply the embodied anticipation of creation coming into that eschatological mutuality and non-separation which it was made for. For a somewhat unconventional Anglo-Catholic like MacKinnon, this represented as strand in Anglican thinking that was already somewhat occluded by the 1970’s – the strong eschatological emphasis of the great Dom Gregory Dix in his classic Shape of the Liturgy, along with the eloquent critique of consumerized, homogenized “market man” that arose from this Eucharistic focus.

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The “Kairos” of the Late Metropolitan of Pergamon John D. Zizioulas

by Pantelis Kalaitzidis | Русский

Originally published in Greek at Polymeros kai Polytropos, a publication of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies

Chronos (chronological or sequential time) is imbued with meaning by kairos (the opportune time), and kairos is nothing more than a stop, a way station, from which we can survey the past and look out onto the future. Without kairos, time (chronos) flows on without meaning, sunk in death, and nothing that happens within it survives. In all of creation, only the human being can change time into kairos. The prerogative and responsibility of the freedom given to him or to her by the Creator is to enter through time, even if only briefly (as happens in the Divine Liturgy), into the presence and foretaste of the Eschaton, that which will not be lost together with all the useless things we carry around with us in this life.”

With these words, the late Elder Metropolitan of Pergamon John D. Zizioulas began his response to the Academic Laudatio and the honors bestowed to him during his reception as Fellow and Honorary Member of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies, on October 28-30, 2011. With these words, which remind us of the importance of “Kairos” and how it gives meaning to time, allow me to begin, in my turn, on behalf of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies, the present essay of honor, respect and love to the late hierarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the greatest of Orthodox theologians of our time, according to many authoritative opinions.

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Falling into the Future: The Respite of Eschatological Awareness

by Very Rev. Dr. Isaac Skidmore

taking cake from oven
Image credit: iStock.com/Yaroslav_Astakhov

In his 1985 Being as Communion, Metropolitan John Zizioulas described two distinct, yet complementary notions of the Church’s Apostolic identity. The first pertains to the unbroken historical succession of bishops from the time of Christ—in other words the preservation of the Church’s identity through the faithful handing over of what was received in the past, which is what the word tradition (traditio in Latin, or paradosis in Greek) means. The second relates to the way the Apostles serve as an icon of what is yet to come—the ordering of the kingdom of God according to the pattern of the Twelve. From this perspective, the focus is not on the apostles as the historical figures per se, but on the image they convey to us of the ever-approaching eternal kingdom, that suggests itself to us in a variety of particular historical events, in a manner similar to how rough drafts foretell a final manuscript, or a sketch foretells a completed painting. This latter way of the Church identifying her apostolic identity can be called eschatological, in that it pertains to the nature of final things—where it is that all of creation is headed. To the extent Christ’s initial choosing of the apostles partakes of what is most-deeply real, it expresses something of the nature of eternity; thus, it is a reflection of what will become more and more evident as we approach the eschatological horizon, entering into the never-ending day of the kingdom. This perspective makes sense out of why the icon of Pentecost does not constrain itself to accurate historical depiction, including the Apostle Paul (who was not present at the historical event of Pentecost) as the twelfth apostle, rather than Matthias, who, according to Acts 1:16-26, would be historically warranted. The icon is governed by a theological purpose, and subordinates historical details to this end.

An analogy from television cooking shows might help us understand these two perspectives. The first part of the show, in which the chef demonstrates the preparation and mixing of the ingredients, corresponds with the approach in which identity is derived from history. The recipe depends on the initial ingredients, in proper proportion and handled in the proper way. If the ingredients or preparation are incorrect, the item being cooked will not be what it is supposed to be. Often, though, after demonstrating these first steps, the chef will pull out from the oven an example of the recipe that has already been completed. Seeing the completed product gives us a vision of our destiny, and informs and inspires our yielding to the process that brings us to this end. Someone who had never seen a completed cake may follow a recipe and procedure with commendable accuracy, yet produce something that looks quite different from a cake. On the other hand, someone who is familiar with what a cake looks like can, at some point, rely less on the directions for the recipe or procedure and aim their efforts towards what they know the final product is supposed to be.

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The Unity of God’s Church and the Orthodox Church

by Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Clapsis | български | Русский | Ελληνικά | Српски


Today, the Orthodox Church maintains cordial relations with other Christian churches and communities and participates in joint efforts with them to recover the visible unity of all God’s people. While most of the Orthodox faithful perceive the Church’s involvement in this joint quest for unity to be guided by the Holy Spirit, others express fear that the faith of the Church is somehow compromised for the sake of a unity not always grounded in truth. Why has the Orthodox Church decided to be involved in the ecumenical movement? How does this involvement relate to her claim to be the embodiment of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church?

In an encyclical addressed to all Orthodox churches in 1902, the Ecumenical Patriarchate invited the Orthodox churches to move towards more dynamic inner communion, conciliarity, and cooperation to work with other Christian churches and communities towards visible unity. In 1920, the Ecumenical Patriarchate issued a second encyclical addressed to all Christian churches suggesting the formation of a “league of churches” for common witness and action. It stated that the Orthodox Church “holds that rapprochement (προσέγγισις) between the various Christian churches and fellowship (κοινωνία) between them is not excluded by the doctrinal differences which exist between them.”  The Ecumenical Patriarchate had hoped that the churches could move towards greater unity if they could overcome their mutual mistrust and bitterness by rekindling and strengthening the evangelical love. This could lead them to see one another not as strangers and foreigners, but as being part of the household of Christ, “fellow heirs, members of the same body and partakers of the promise of God in Christ” (Eph. 3:6). In 1986 the Third Preconciliar Pan-Orthodox conference unequivocally stated that the “Orthodox participation in the ecumenical movement does not run counter to the Orthodox Church’s nature and history. It constitutes the consistent expression of the Apostolic faith within new historical conditions.”

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