Tag Archives: John Zizioulas

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

church

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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The Church without the Eucharist Is No Longer the Church
A (telephone) conversation with Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas (March 23, 2020)

ελληνικά | ру́сский | српски

We wish to hear your views on the current situation, since your theology plays a great role in the present circumstances.

Metropolitan John: My theology, unfortunately, cannot be applied. In Greece they have already closed the churches, and the Divine Liturgy is not being served. Is it served in Serbia?

Taking into consideration the decision of the government that the number of people in one place be limited, as well as the issue of getting around and social distancing, the Patriarch Irinej’s newest decision is that services be held in churches but without more than five people.

Metropolitan John: That’s acceptable.

In America it was decided that the priest, chanter and altar server be present, in order for the Liturgy to be served, so that they might have the holy mysteries in order to commune the people. What do you think about that?

Metropolitan John: For me, the Church without the holy Eucharist is no longer the Church. On the other hand, the danger of transmitting this virus to others imposes on us the need of doing whatever is necessary, even if that means closing the Church. The Greek government has taken drastic measures due to the very serious matter at play.

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Taking off the Mask: Love, Truth, and Communion

by Aristotle Papanikolaou

When we first meet someone, we do not immediately expose to them our deepest secrets, the events in our lives that we are most afraid to reveal, which could include our own actions, something that has been done to us, or something that has happened to which we are indirectly related. We would not reveal to them certain truths, such as if we had killed someone in a car accident, regardless of who was at fault; or if we had been raped; or if we had an alcoholic uncle.  Although we may reveal some truthful aspects of our lives, such as our names, where we live, or where we work, for the most part we are always presenting ourselves to strangers, to our family members, to our friends, and even to our self, with masks on. The mask protects us from the penetrating objectifying gaze of the other; it keeps the other from knowing who we are; it allows us to control the image that we hope to project onto the world, and to ourselves.

In the fallen world, life is one big masquerade party where we parade ourselves in “garments of skin.” And, yet, the mask cannot always protect us from the projections that others place upon us, or that we place on ourselves. Continue reading