EUCHARISTIC PERSPECTIVE OF THE
CHURCH' S MISSION TODAY AND TOMORROW.
6 (1996), pp.111-30)I.
is indeed a great honour and a privilege for me to be invited to address this
major Inter-Orthodox theological gathering on the very significant and at the
same time very challenging topic: "The mission of the Church today and
tomorrow". Significant, because it concentrates on the most important (and yet
somehow neglected in our tradition) aspect of the Church's life: its mission;
but also challenging,
because - contrary to our recent practice - the focus is not on the past, on our
invaluable and most precious tradition, but on the future.
this knew and very promising development in the theological deliberations of our
Orthodox academic institutions, the first in modern history which takes place
outside the realm of Greek Orthodoxy, cannot but somehow take into consideration
some of the previous achievements in the series of Conferences of the modern
Orthodox Theological Schools. Thus, one cannot ignore
that: (a) the 1st Congress, held in Athens in 1936, was
marked by the historic appeal for a return to the Fathers, not as a move towards the past, but as a liberating reaction to the scholastic
inclination of our previous theological endeavours; (b) in the final communiqué of the 2nd Congress, also held in Athens in 1976, "evident to all members...
were the importance of...fellowship, the need to understand one another... a deep interest in ecclesiology, particularly in
ecumenical research and activity."
Finally, (c) in the last 3rd Congress, which was held in Boston at the premises
of the Greek-Orthodox Theological School of the Holy Cross in 1987, a very bold
but undoubtedly pragmatic view was openly expressed at the keynote address, when
it was stated with bitterness that our modern Orthodox theology has in fact
failed "to open any real dialogue with current theological thinking and
with world ideologies at the level of a commonly accepted vocabulary."
one can sum up the major developments of the past three conferences, this is a
missionary concern how to adjust our legacy with the present reality, the main
focus being ecclesiology and its consequences, i.e. the new ecumenical reality.
Indeed, this present Congress finds our Church - and our theology as the
prophetic conscience of the Church - at the threshold of a new, unprecedented
and very challenging situation, amidst a fast moving world, a world which is
marked by divisions, growing social inequality, serious ecological crisis, and
above all by the still persisting scandalous disunity among christians who
confess, and believe in, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the
one body of Christ, our only
hope (1 Ti 1:1), the communion of the Holy Spirit, who "constitutes the
whole institution of the
"has called all in unity";
in other words, a world that desperately needs our authentic Orthodox
his book Transforming Mission. Paradigm Shifts in Theology of
Mission, concludes his chapter
on the mission paradigm of our Eastern Orthodox Church with the following
adapted to the existing world order, resulting in Church and Society penetrating
and permeating each other. The role of religion - any religion - in society is
that of both stabilizer and emancipator; it is both mythical and messianic. In
the Eastern tradition the church tended to express the former of each of these
pairs rather than the latter. The emphasis was on conservation and restoration, rather than on
embarking on a journey into the unknown. The key words were 'tradition', 'orthodoxy', and the 'Fathers'
(Küng), and the church became the bulwark of
right doctrine. Orthodox churches tended to become ingrown, excessively
nationalistic, and without a concern for those outside (Anastasios Yannoulatos).
particular, Platonic categories of thought all but destroyed primitive Christian
eschatology (Beker). The church established itself in the world as an institute
of almost exclusively other-worldly salvation".
assessment of the Orthodox Church was actually reinforced by the first Orthodox,
mostly immigrants from the pre-revolution Russia, who came in contact after a
long period of separation with the West, and in their desperate attempt to
preserve their Orthodox identity in a quite alien to them world and present it
to their fellow christians in the West, underlined the mystical aspect of the Orthodox theology.
This is notably the case with V. Lossky, who in his monumental work under the
title The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church
determined the character of the Orthodox understanding of mission in the
Today this one-sided (i.e. mystical) presentation is been questioned by various
quarters, the latest being by Ion Bria, who rejoices the existence of a variety
of trends - sometimes even contradictory -
within modern orthodox theology.
With regard to the orthodox understanding of mission Bria himself underlined the
trinitarian dimension of mission:
theology points to the fact that God is in God's own self a life of communion
and that God's involvement in history aims at drawing humanity and creation in
general into this communion with God's very life. The implications of this
assertion for understanding mission are very important: mission does not aim
primarily at the propagation or transmission of intellectual convictions,
doctrines, moral commands, etc., but at the transmission of the life of
communion, that exists in God".
trinitarian approach seems to be the prevailing among almost all Orthodox in
One of the most serious contributions of modern Orthodox theology to the world
theology was the reintroduction into current theological thinking of the
importance for all aspects theology of the trinitarian dogma of the undivided
Church. The Preparatory Committee's suggestion, therefore, that the main papers
should have as a starting point the trinitarian theology is absolutely
legitimate. Without undermining this suggestion, and despite the fact that the
trinitarian approach is widely recognized, and more and more applied even by non
in dealing with current theological issues, I decided to approach the main theme
of the conference from the eucharistic perspective. I came to this
decision not so much in order to avoid a strictly contextual approach; It is purely for methodological reasons that I consider it not only
as much more appropriate for us orthodox, but also as more logical.
is time, I think, to distance
ourselves as much as possible from the dominant to modern scholarship syndrome
of the priority of the texts over the experience, of theology over ecclesiology.
There are many scholars who cling to the dogma, imposed by the post-Enlightenment and
post-Reformation hegemony over all scholarly theological
outlook (and not only in the field of biblical scholarship or of western and in
particular Protestant theology), which can be summarized as follows: what
constitutes the core of our christian faith, of our Orthodox Tradition if you
like, cannot be extracted but from the expressed theological views, from a
certain depositum fidei, be
it the Bible, the writings of the Fathers, the canons and certain decisions of
the Councils; very rarely is there any serious reference to the eucharistic
communion event that has been responsible and produced these views.
It is my firm conviction that out of the
three main characteristics of what is generally known as Orthodox theology,
namely its eucharistic, trinitarian, and hesyhastic dimension, only the first
one can bear a universal and ecumenical significance. If the last dimension and
important feature (i.e. our hesychastic tradition)
marks a decisive development in eastern christian theology and spirituality
after the eventual Schism between East and West, a development that has
determined, together with other factors, the mission of our Church in recent
history; and if the trinitarian dimension constitutes the supreme expression of
christian theology, ever produced by human thought in its attempt to grasp the
mystery of God, after christianity's dynamic encounter with the Greek
it was, nevertheless, only because of the eucharistic experience, the matrix of
all theology and spirituality of our Church, that all theological and spiritual
climaxes in our Church have been actually achieved.
is almost an assured result of modern theological scholarship (biblical and
liturgical) that the Eucharist was "lived" in the early Christian community not
as a Mystery cult, but as a foretaste of the coming Kingdom of God, a proleptic
manifestation within the tragic realities of history of an authentic life of
communion, unity, justice and equality, with no practical differentiation (soteriological and
beyond) between Jews and gentiles, slaves and freemen, men
and women (cf. Gal 3:28). This was, after all, the real meaning of the johannine term
«αρξιοχ ϊφάΘ (eternal life), and St. Ignatius' expression «φάρμακον υαξασέαχΘ
(medicine of immortality). According to some historians, the Church was able a
few generations later, with the important contribution of the Greek Fathers of
the golden age, to come up with the doctrine of trinity, and much later to
further develop the important distinction between substance and energies, only
because of the eschatological experience of koinonia in the Eucharist (both vertical with its
head, and horizontal among the people of God, and by
extension with the entire humanity) of the early christian community, an
experience which ever since continues to constitute the only expression of the
Church's self-consciousness, its Mystery par excellence.
sum, if one wants to approach any specific issue, like the theme of the present
conference, which is the Church and its mission today and tomorrow, one should avoid the temptation to
ignore the primary experience, i.e. the ecclesia and its eucharistic
eschatological experience, the matrix of all theology, or to use a socio-(cultural-) anthropological description the wider "social
produced all theological interpretations of this experience; but on the other
hand, it would be a methodological fallacy to project later theological
interpretations into this primary eschatological
understanding of mission has undoubtedly to be determined by the teaching, life
and work of Christ. His teaching, however, and especially his life and work,
cannot be properly understood without reference to the eschatological
expectations of Judaism. Without entering the complexities of Jewish eschatology, we could say very briefly that it was interwoven with the
expectation of the coming of the Messiah. In the "last days" of history
("the Eschaton") he would establish his kingdom by calling the dispersed and afflicted
people of God into one place to become one body united around him. The statement
in Jn 11:51-52 about the Messiah's role is extremely important. There the writer
interprets the words of the Jewish High priest by affirming that "he prophesied that Jesus should die...not
for the nation only but to gather into one the children of God who are
scattered abroad." (RSV)
the Gospels Christ identifies himself with this Messiah. We see this in the
various Messianic titles he chose for himself, or at least as witnessed by the
most primitive Christian tradition ("Son of man", "Son of God", etc., most of which had a
collective meaning, whence the christology of "corporate personality"). We see
it as well in the parables of the kingdom, which summarize his teaching, proclaiming that his coming initiates
the new world of the kingdom of God, in the Lord's
Prayer, but also in his conscious acts (e.g. the selection
of the twelve, etc.). In short, Christ identified himself with the Messiah of the Eschaton who would be
the center of the gathering of the dispersed people of God.
was on this radical eschatological teaching of the Historical Jesus about the
Kingdom of God (which as modern biblical research has shown moves dialectically
between the "already" and the "not yet"; in other words, begins already in the
present but will be completed in its final authentic form in the eschaton) that
the early Church has developed its ecclesiology, on which its missionary
practice was based. From the writings of Paul, John, and Luke, in addition to
other works, we see this teaching reflected in images of the Church as the Body
of Christ, as Vine, and especially as unity. The apostle Paul in particular was
absolutely convinced that all who have believed in Christ have been incorporated
into His body through Baptism, completing with the Eucharist their incorporation
into the one people of God. The 4th Gospel develops this radical eschatological
teaching even further in regard to the unity of the people of God around Christ
and their incorporation into Christ's body through the Eucharist above all.
contribution, which the primitive christian theology has made to the development
of this messianic eschatology, was the common belief of almost all theologians
of the early Church, emphasized and
underlined most sharply by St. Luke, that with Christ's Resurrection and
especially with Pentecost, the Eschaton had already entered history, and that
the messianic eschatological community becomes a reality each time the Church,
the new Israel, the dispersed people of God, gathers "επί
(in one place), especially when it gathers to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. This
development is undoubtedly the starting point of christian mission, the
springboard of the Church's witnessing Exodus to the world, which in fact
interpreted the imminent expectation of the Parousia in a dynamic and radical
missiological imperatives of the early Church stem exactly from this awareness
of the Church as an eschatological, dynamic, radical, and corporate reality,
commissioned to witness
the Kingdom of God "on earth as it is in heaven" (Mt 6:10 par).
The apostles were commissioned to proclaim not a set of given religious
convictions, doctrines, moral commands etc., but the coming Kingdom, the Good
news of a new eschatological reality, which had as its center the crucified and
resurrected Christ, the incarnation of God the Logos and His dwelling among us
human beings, and His continuous presence through the Holy Spirit, in a life of
communion, experienced in their
"eucharistic" (in the wider sense) life. That is why they are called ±ηιοι
(holy); because they belonged to
that chosen race of the people of God. That is why they were considered βασέμειοξ "εςΐτεωνα (royal
because all of them, without exception (not just some special cast such as the
priests or levites) have priestly and spiritual authority to practice in the diaspora the work of
the priestly class, reminded at the same time to be worthy of their election
though their exemplary life and works.
That is why they were called to walk towards unity ("so that they may become
perfectly one", Jn 17:23), to
abandon all deeds of darkness; because the one who called them out of darkness
into light, "from non existence into being", who took them as non-members of the
people of God and made them into genuine members of the new eschatological community is holy and perfect.
The writings of John are particularly replete with evidence of the understanding
that with the entrance of the eschaton into history all of the characteristic
elements of the end - judgment, resurrection, kingdom, and consequently
sinlessness, purity - begin to act mystically in the world.
doubt, this initial horizontal historical eschatology, - which identifies
the Church not by what it is in the present, but by what it will become in the
Eschaton, and at the same time suggests that the Church's mission is the dynamic
journey of the people of God as a whole towards the Eschaton, with the Eucharist
as the point of departure - became interwoven from the very first days of the
Church's life with a vertical one, which put the emphasis on a more personal understanding of
salvation. From the time of the St. Paul the apostle e.g. this personalization
is quite evident in his justification by faith theology, but this "paradigm
shift" has also affected the understanding of the Eucharist, the primary act of
self-consciousness of community as a koinonia of the eschata and as a proleptic
manifestation of the coming kingdom of God. No matter for what reasons,
from the time of St. Paul there has been a shift of the center of gravity from
the (eucharistic) experience to the (christian) message, from eschatology to christology (and further and consequently to
soteriology), from the
event (the Kingdom of
God), to the bearer and center of this event ((Christ, and more precisely his sacrifice on the
However, the Eucharist (the theia koinonia) always remained the sole
expression of the Church's identity.
theologians consider this second concept, which was mingled with the original
biblical/semitic thought, as stemming from Greek philosophers (Stoics and others), nevertheless it is more than clear that the
view was the predominant one in New Testament and in other early Christian
writings. The vertical-soteriological view was always understood within the
context of the horizontal-eschatological perspective as supplemental and
complementary. This is why the liturgical experience of the early Church is
incomprehensible without its social dimension (see Acts 2:42ff., 1 Cor 11:1ff.,
Heb 13: 10-16; Justin, 1 Apology 67;
Irenaeus, Adver. Her.
missiological perspective and experience in the early Church is also clearly
reflected within its liturgical order, which from the time of St. Ignatius of
Antioch onwards considers the eschatological people of God, gathered in one
place around Christ, as reflected in the offices of the Church: the bishop is
"in the place and as image of Christ", while the presbyters around him
re-present the apostles. Above all it is the eucharistic gathering which
authentically expresses the mystery of the Church. Here, in the gathering of the
community around the bishop, the community does not propagate its faith on the
basis of a sacramental redemption from worldly suffering, nor does it proclaim
personal perfection and individual salvation; rather it witnesses its entity as
the proleptic manifestation of the eschatological Kingdom of God.
eucharistic/liturgical understanding of the Church, considered as
an icon of the Eschaton, also resulted in an understanding of its mission as an
imperative duty to witness its identity as an authentic expression in a
particular time and place of the eschatological glory of the Kingdom of God,
with all that this could imply for social life. It is to be
noted, that a conviction began to grow among Church writers, beginning with the author of Hebrews (10:1) and more fully developed in
the writings of Maximus the Confessor, that the events of the Old Testament were
«σκιά» (shadow) of
future riches, and that present Church reality is only an «εικών» (image) of
the «αλήθεια»(truth), which is only to be revealed in the Eschaton.
This fundamental biblical and early
christian understanding of mission, based on the eucharistic/ liturgical and
eschatological understanding of the Church, by the third century AD began (under
the intense ideological pressure of christian Gnosticism and especially
Platonism) to gradually fall out of favour, or at best to coexist with concepts
promulgated by the Catechetical School of Alexandria. This type of spirituality
and christian witness did not have as its point of reference the Eschaton, the Ω
(omega), but the Creation, the A (alpha), the «αρχή»
(beginnings) of human beings, humanity's primal state of blessedness in paradise
before the Fall. The main representatives of this school, Clement of Alexandria
and Origen, gave christian ecclesiology, and by extension missiology, a new
direction which, as Metropolitan John Zizioulas emphatically put, was "not
merely a change (τροπή), but a complete reversal (ανατροπή)."
The Church ceases to be the icon of the Eschaton, and becomes instead the icon
of the origin of beings, of Creation. Christ being primarily considered as the
source of man's union with God and as the recapitulation, in some sense, of
man's fallen nature. But if "recapitulation" was understood biblically earlier
in the Church's life,
with the Alexandrians the concept is torn completely from its biblical roots in
eschatology. The Eschaton is no longer the focal point and apex of the Divine
Economy. The direction of interest has been reversed, and now the focus is
on Creation. Thus we have a
cosmological approach to the Church and to its mission, and not a historical
one, as in the Holy Scriptures. The Church is now understood, completely apart
from the historical community, as a perfect and eternal Idea.
therefore, interest in mission and the historical process has diminished,
together with interest in the institutional reality of the Church, whose purpose
is now characterized, at best, as «θεραπευτήριον των
(sanatorium of souls). The Church's mission is now directed not in bringing
about synergicly and prolepticly the Kingdom of God, but toward the
salvation of the souls of every individual christian. Historically this new
development in the Church's missiological attitude is connected with the origins
Without ignoring the communal and eschatological character of the authentic
the fact remains that the central core of Alexandrian theology, with which
monasticism was historically connected, was a departure from the initial radical
and dynamic horizontal eschatology of the New Testament and of the early
post-apostolic christian tradition, in some cases even in direct opposition to
consequences for christian spirituality, and more particularly for mission, of
this theology and ecclesiology were immense. The Church's common worship, its
offices and institutions lost virtually all meaning as icons of the
What now became the priority was the union of human beings with the pre-eternal
Logos, the return of the soul to its bliss in Paradise before the Fall. It was
not accidental that during the first stage of the development of christian
monasticism the monks cut themselves off from common worship to devote
themselves to continuous private prayer. Of course the notion of continuous
was not new (cf. 1 Thes 5:17); what was new, was its interpretation. Whereas the
early Christians considered that every act or expression could be regarded as
prayer, now in some monastic circles private prayer as such has in fact replaced
everything else, most notably mission.
defection from the original spirituality of the early Church resulted in the
creation of new forms and concepts of worship, which we see especially in the
formation of what later came to be known as the "monastic typikon". Within this
important spiritual movement worship no longer takes its meaning from the
eschatological perspective of the Eucharist, but is designed instead to be used
primarily as a tool to carve deeply within the mind of the monastics the
principle of continuous individual prayer.
peculiar mysticism, salvation is no longer connected to the coming Kingdom, of the anticipation of a new
eschatological community with a more authentic structure. Now, salvation is
identified with the soul's union with the Logos, and therefore, with the
catharsis, the purification from all that prohibits union with the primal
Logos, including all that is material, tangible (αισθητά),
historical. The «μαραναθα»
of the pauline communities and the «έρχου
(come Lord) of the seer/prophet of the Apocalypse are replaced by continuous
prayer and the struggle against the demons and the flesh.
contrast, therefore, to the eucharistic/liturgical understanding of the
christian witness, this therapeutic/ cathartic one, which focuses
on a perception of the Church not as an icon of the Eschaton, but as an icon of
the origin of beings and their union with the pre-existing Logos,
consists on an effort towards the catharsis (purification) of the soul from
passions, and towards therapy (healing) of the fallen nature of the human beings (men/women). In other
words, the reference point is not the eschatological glory of the Kingdom of
God, but the state of blessedness in Paradise before the Fall. Naturally then
the Church's mission can hardly be seen in terms of the kingdom-theology, i.e.
as the implementation in this world of the prolepticly experienced in the
Eucharist and constantly confessed in the Lord's prayer, but in terms of the individual
basic understandings of ecclesiology, spirituality and mission remained as
parallel forces, sometimes meeting together and forming a creative unity, and
some other times moving apart creating dilemmas and conflicts. Where should one
search for the starting point of the Church's mission to the world and in fact
to the entire kosmos? where can one find personal wholeness and salvation? In
the eucharistic gathering around the bishop, where one could overcome creatively
all schizophrenic dichotomies (spirit/matter, transcendence/immanence, coming
together/ going forth etc.) and social polarities? Or in the desert, the
hermitage, the monastery, where presumably the effort of catharsis and healing
of passions through ascetic discipline of the individual is more effective? This
was, and remains, a critical dilemma in the life of the Church, especially in
doubt the center of the Church's mission and spirituality, with few exceptions,
has always remained the Eucharist, the sole place where the Church becomes what
it actually is: the people of God, the Body of Christ, the
communion of the Holy Spirit; a glimpse and a foretaste of the coming
Kingdom of God. However, this begs the question: how is one to understand this
unique (and not one among many) sacrament and mystery of the Church? 
decisive turning point in the development of Orthodox understanding of the
Church's mission came when the high theology spirituality of the corpus
areopagiticus has affected liturgy. Pseudo-Dionysius was undoubtedly the
catalyst in the development of the Church's liturgy and mission. His theological
analyses and reflections made a tremendous impact not only on the shaping of
subsequent theology and monastic spirituality; it also affected the very heart
of biblical radical eschatology, as expressed in the eucharistic liturgy, with
significant consequences for the Church's mission.
anagogic method Ps-Dionysius interpreted the liturgical rites of the Church by
raising them from the letter to the spirit, from the visible acts of the
sacraments to the one mystery of the invisible God.
Even the bishop's movements within the Church are considered as a divine return
to the origin of beings. With this method, however, the eschatological view of
the Eucharist finally disappears. The sole function of worship is now to assist
the soul mystically return to the spiritual realities of the unseen
According to the late John Meyendorff, those who followed dionysian symbolism
approached the Eucharist in the context of a hellenistic hierarchical cosmos,
and understood it as the center of salvific action through mystical
That is why there is no mention here at all of Christ's self-sacrifice, nor of
his mediatory and high-priestly role;
mediation in the dionysian system is the work of the earthly hierarchy and the
rites which it (and not the community as a whole) performs.
dionysian system reaches its most extreme, however, is in overturning the
eschatological and historical dimensions of the Eucharist. There is not a single
reference to the fundamental Pauline interpretation of the Eucharist, according
to which at every eucharistic gathering "we proclaim Christ's death until he
comes"; 1 Cor 11:26). Even communion, the most important act of the Eucharist,
is no more than a symbol of the believer's union with the God.
In other words, we have moved from the earlier understanding of the communion
of the body of Christ (the incarnate Word) and in the body of
Christ (the Church), to a communion simply with the pre-existing Logos.
mid-Byzantine period onward the understanding of Eucharist as a springboard for
mission, as the mystery par excellence of the Church, the feast of the
the gathering «επί
of the eschatological people of God,
the expression of fellowship among people,
the participation in the word and the supper of the Lord,
are no longer on the front line. Once a realistic expression of the Body of
Christ and a communion of the Holy
Spirit, it now became a place of theophany, a sign and point of meeting with the
mystery of the Divine. Active
participation in the Divine Liturgy no longer means participation in the
processions, in the singing, in listening and understanding of the readings and
the sermons, not even in receiving the communion. Now, the main point of all
liturgical life is the uplifting of the individual believers, their transfer
through faith from history to theoria, from visible symbols and
actions to the transcendent reality which they depict. In this way, little by
little, for the great mass of people, but also for the clerical vanguard of the
Church, including most theologians, the Eucharist, the Church's
lei-tourgia (the people's work), lost its fundamental ecclesial
dimension, and with it all its missionary significance and power.
paradoxically the liturgical (corporate/historical/eschatological) spirituality
was preserved to some extent within the consciousness of the Orthodox. But this
was predominantly outside the actual life of worship, in the daily life of a
largely enslaved Orthodoxy, in the secular communities and guilds. The source of
this unexpected and happy ending is that the main core of the Sunday eucharistic
liturgy, in spite of all the exaggerated symbolism and some unnecessary
additions, remained untouched in its communal dimension (eschatological, but
vigorously historical and in many ways anti-pietistic) and continued to reflect
the understanding of the Eucharist primarily as a corporate act of mission
that embraces the entire society
and the whole created world.
It is a real wonder how the four main
processional sections of our Eastern liturgy survived into the present, even
with many deviations along the way.
Thus (a) the solemn entrance of the whole worshipping community into the church
building was reduced to the Little Entrance with the Gospel, without the
people's participation. The laos simply view the performance. (b) The same thing happens with the
Great Entrance: No longer do the people participate directly in offering
the gifts of creation in order that the presiding of the community "refers" them
to the Creator. Instead, the people now "offer" the gifts as "prosphora" (liturgical bread) outside the eucharistic liturgy during the "proskomede", a
rite which derives from this period and which was transferred as a preparation
of the holy gifts before the eucharistic liturgy proper. (c) The Kiss of
peace ("let us love one another"), this dynamic act of community
reconciliation, and therefore the sole precondition for participation in true
worship (Mt 5:23 ff.) is limited now exclusively to the clergy. Finally, (d) the communion, the culminating and most important act of the eucharistic rite
is shifted and completely transformed from a corporate act that anticipates the
eschatological Kingdom, into an act of individual piety. What, however, is even
more tragic, is that the participation of the entire people in the Sacrament of the Church (i.e. in
receiving communion) was completely abandoned. But without catholic communion
the Divine Liturgy becomes at best a symbolic reality for spiritual
contemplation, and at worst a sterile ritualism.
far underlined the significance of the reinforcement of the eucharistic
criterion in determining our Church's witness, it became I suppose clear that
the basic presuppositions of today's mission of the Church, should necessarily
start from the very heart of our (Orthodox) christian identity: the Eucharist,
as the only expression of the being of the Church. All other missiological
imperatives are bound to be incomplete and ineffective - not to mention that
they beg the question - as long as the very being of the Church in its
ontological and massive expression remains far from a living expression of
unity, communion, equality, fellowship, sharing and self-sacrifice; as long as
our eucharistic gatherings remains exclusively in a status of a sacramentalistic
(quasi magic) cultic act, and not a proleptic manifestation of the Kingdom of
God, a proleptic transcendence of the corruptibility, disintegration, disunity
and mortality of the human historical reality, or in more theological terms as
an "icon" of (the expected to be fully manifested at the eschaton) "truth".
because of lack - for centuries now - of a healthy theological concern (equal to
that of the great Fathers of our Church), the present sacramental reality of the
Church was considered as almost unequivocal, with a tragic effect to its
authentic witness. The late Fr. A. Schmemann has been instrumental during his
lifetime to implement in our Orthodox Church a liturgical renewal; but he
insisted only on the necessity of a theological interpretation of our liturgical
tradition, thus coming short to a radical rediscovery and reinforcement of the
authentic liturgical/eucharistic identity of our Church's witness.
In order that a renewal in christian
witness can take place in our Orthodox Church, it is necessary as a basic
presupposition to turn our attention first to its eucharistic expression, the
heart and center of its ontological identity. In the remaining time I will very
briefly refer to the absolutely necessary re-adjustments (not reforms) of our
eucharistic liturgical praxis, in order that our local eucharistic communities
regain their authentic "Orthodox" outlook.
Only then can one hope that our Church's witness to a crying world can be
both "orthodox" and effective. And these are:
The restoration of the catholic participation in the eschatological table
of the Kingdom; this means participation of the entire community to the holy
communion (not just frequent communion) without either certain
preconditions (such as worthiness, or preparation of the individual faithful),
or any connection of the sacrament par excellence of the Church
(Eucharist) to other sacraments (repentance, priesthood etc., certainly of
lesser importance from the point of view of the Orthodox theology), should
determine the primary expression of the Church's identity.
Return to the early christian status of full and inclusive participation
of the entire people of God (special/ordained and general/lay priesthood,
men and women) to the actions, processions and singing of the λει-τουργία (=act of the people),
and if possible rehabilitation of the cathedral office.
Step by step replacement of the normal choir, (at least of the solitary church
singer, the «ιεροψάλτης»), by the entire laos (as the original and
authentic orthodox tradition, according to all liturgical rubrics demands),
until all these intermediary and by
all means assisting factors of our liturgical life are done away, or better
become leading figures rather than substitutes of the participating in the
eucharistic drama community.
care that the Eucharist, as well as all other connected to it liturgical
services (both those of the Divine
Office, and the sacramental ones, i.e. the Holy Mysteries), are celebrated in a
form (symbolic, linguistic, dramatic etc.) profitable to the grass root faithful and understood
by the entire community, the natural co-celebrants of the Holy Mysteries
of the Church.
Complete abolishment of the all secretly read by the presiding celebrant
common prayers, especially those of the anaphora to its entirety, as well
as of all other later developed liturgical acts, such as e.g. the restriction
only to the higher priestly orders of the kiss of love, (let us love one
another), this dynamic act of reconciliation of the community and sole
precondition to the true, logical and reasonable (λογική λατρεία) worship (cf.
Return of the Orthodox Church Building technique (ναοδομία) to its original
form, by underlining all those elements which characterize the pioneer and
revolutionary byzantine Church Building technique of Agia Sophia, such as: (i)
the illumination of the space, in contrast to the later dim and dull technical
style (a result of later and not always theologically healthy, as we pointed out
above, influence), which instead of directing the community toward the light and
joy of the Kingdom, unconsciously contributes to a rather individualization of
the salvation event; (ii) the abolishment of all later (and certainly of western
influence) pews and chairs of all kinds in the nave, that transform the
worshipping peoples from active co-celebrants to passive attendants of the
Emphasis on all processional, liturgical and participatory elements of our
Orthodox Liturgy, starting with (i) the re-establishment of the
ambo, and transferaround it, i.e. outside the sanctuary, of all related parts of our
liturgical praxis, such as the "Sacrament of the Word" at the Divine Liturgy,
and the non-eucharistic services (vespers, matins etc.), according to our
ancient canonical order (which is fortunately preserved even today, but only
during the hierarchical services, in which the bishop «χοροστατεί» (stands by the choir, i.e.
by the community); (ii) the return of the Great Entrance to its original
form, i.e. with a symbolic participation of the entire community at the
transfer of the gifts of creation (represented by the deacons alone, this
intermediate order between the lay people and the ordained ministry), so that
the presiding celebrant simply receives and not himself transfers the offerings
of the community (cf. again the
traditional order of the eucharistic celebration with a presiding bishop), and
of course return of the rite of the proskomide back to its original
place, i.e. immediately before the Great Entrance.
Abolishment of the later structure of the iconostasis, a development that
has had an unfortunate effect and has further intensified the existing barrier
between the clergy and the rest of the people of God. In my view, it would be
extremely beneficial for both pastoral and missionary purposes to return to the
architectural status immediately after the triumph of the icons, with the only
dividing elements between the sanctuary and the nave being high columns
and short θωράκεια, on top of which small portable icons will be placed, in the
place of the gigantic ones. Finally,
Underlining of the exclusively eschatological character of the Sunday
Eucharist (as the
mystery/sacrament of the Kingdom, and not as one religious rite among others,
and of the eucharistic gathering as a glimpse and manifestation of the eight
day) by the return to the sabbaitic typikon, i.e. attaching the Sunday matins to
practical proposals for our eucharistic services, may sound as of secondary
importance, or only of pastoral and scarcely of a missionary character, in other
words simplistic and naive, or even of not theological importance, as
theologia secunda and not theologia prima. But here we are dealing
with the being and the identity of the Church, without the authentic expression
of which christianity may well slip (because of external factors and of social
dynamics) to an authoritarian and oppressive religious system. Without the
prophetic voice of theology, the leitourgia, the primary expression of
the Church, and the Eucharist as its center and climax, can easily become at
best a useless typolatry, and at worst a sacramentalistic (for some even
demonic) ritual, which instead of directing the christian community towards the
vision of the coming Kingdom, it leads it to individualistic and mystical paths.
And this is something which eventually distances the members of the community
from the "other" (and therefore from God, the real "Other"), leading them to
death, to hell.
of the Church's witness, i.e. the problem of overcoming the evil in the world,
is not basically a moral issue. It is primarily and even exclusively ecclesial.
The moral and social responsibility of the Church (both as an institution and
also of its individual members), as the primary witnessing acts of the body of
Christ, is the logical consequence of their ecclesial self-consciousness. It is,
therefore, only by a massive reaffirmation of the eucharistic identity of the
Church through a radical liturgical renewal that our Orthodox Church can
bear witness to its fundamental characteristics of unity and
catholicity. Only then can
we hope that today's "exclusivity" will naturally give its place to the priority
of the "communion" with the "others". And only then will our Church definitely
and once and for all overcome all kinds of nationalistic and phyletistic
behaviour, the worse heresy of our time, thus not only promoting Orthodox unity,
but also actively contributing to the quest both of the visible unity of the
Church and at the same time to the struggle for the unity of humankind.
In terms of mission this will also mean a
common evangelistic witness. Beyond the biblical references (Mt 25:31ff:
here what really matters is not so much accepting, and believing in, the
abundant love of our Triune God
[confessional, religious exclusiveness], but exemplifying it to the world
through witness [ecclesial inclusiveness]), the eucharistic perspective of
mission points far beyond denominational boundaries, beyond christian
limitations, even beyond the religious sphere in the conventional sense, and
towards the manifestation of the Kingdom of God, the restoration of God's
"household" (οικος) of God, in its majestic eschatological splendour.
genuine eucharistic revival one can expect much easier to overcome the corrupted
hierarchical order both in society and in the priestly ecclesiastical order,
which is a reflection of the fallen
earthly order and not of the
kenotic divine one. This will inevitably result in the proper traditional "iconic" understanding of all priestly
ministries, but will also lead to a more authentic "conciliar" status in all
sectors of the ecclesiastical life (i.e. participation of the entire laos to the
priestly, royal and prophetic ministry of the Church), and to a genuine
community of men and women.
eucharistic revival will also help the Church to move away from a certain
"christocentric universalism" and towards a "trinitarian" understanding of the
divine reality and of the Church's mission that embraces the entire "oikoumene" as the one household of
life. Especially for mission, this means the abandonment of any effort of
not only among christians of other denominations (which is a caricature of true
evangelism), but even among peoples of other religions. Martyria/witness and dialogue
will then replace, or at least
run parallel to, the old missiological terminology.
This development, of course, will by no means imply abandoning our fundamental
christian soteriology (from the slogan "no salvation but through
overcoming the classical catholic view "extra ecclesiam salus non est", first
expressed by Cyprian of Carthage and later misinterpreted to exclusively meaning
the "institutional" [Catholic?] Church - to a novel one "no salvation but
It is rather a radical reinterpretation of christology through
through the rediscovery of the forgotten trinitarian theology
of the undivided Church, and above all through the eucharistic theology.
"Patristics and Modern Theology," in A.Alivizatos (ed.), Procès-Verbaux du
Premiere Congrès de Théologie Orthodoxe à Athenes, 1939, pp. 238-242.
(ed.), Procès-Verbaux du Deuxième Congrès de Théologie Orthodoxe, 1978,
p. 574 (italics mine).
GOTR 83 (1993) pp.
the hymns of Pentecost.
Transforming Mission. Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission, 1991,
Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, 1957.
The Sense of Ecumenical Tradition. The Ecumenical Witness and Vision of the
Orthodox, 1991, p. 2.
(ed.), Go fourth in Peace, 1986, p. 3.
e.g. the application of the trinitarian theology to the structureof the Church. By nature the Church cannot reflect the worldly image of
secular organizations, which is based on power and domination, but the kenotic
image of the Holy Trinity, which is based on love and communion. If one takes a
little further this trinitarian approach and takes into consideration the
distinction of the hypostases (persons) within the Holy Trinity, one can come to
the conclusion that the Church is a Church of "God" (the father) before it
becomes a Church of "Christ" and of a certain place. In Orthodox Liturgy all the
proper eucharistic prayers are addressed to God. This theology has revealing
implications also on a number of issues ranging from the profound meaning of
episcopacy (Bishop image of "Christ") to the dialectics between Christ - Church,
divine - human, unity of man and woman, etc.
latest book Ecumenism in Transition. A Paradigm Shift in the Ecumenical
Movement, 1991 (translated with modifications from the German original
Ökumene im Übergang, 1989, and now also in Greek translation) is a
perfect example of a well documented argumentation for the necessity, and to our
view also for the right use, of the trinitarian theology in modern scholarship.
Cf. also sister Elizabeth A. Johnson's She Who Is: The Mystery of God in
Feminist Theological Discourse, 1992, especially ch. 10 under the title "Triune God:
Mystery of Revelation", pp.191ff.
serious attempt to approach the problem of contextual theology has been
undertaken by my faculty (Department of Theology of the Aristotle University of
Thessaloniki, Greece), which organized in Thessaloniki (2-3 October 1992)
jointly with the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey a theological symposium on the
theme: "Classical and Contextual Theology. The Task of Orthodox Theology in the
Post-Camberra Ecumenical Movement". The papers in Greek translation have been
published in the journal Kath' Odon 4 (1993) pp.3ff. My keynote paper in
a shortened form appeared also in Ökuminishe Rundschau 41 (1993) 452-460; for its original
form ("Oρθοδοξία και θεολογία της συνάφειας") see also in my Lex Orandi.
Studies of Liturgical Theology, 1994, pp. 139-156.
M.Begzos, "Orthodox Theology and the Future of its Past,", Eκκλησιαστικός
Kήρυκας 3 (1991) 138-170, pp. 146εξ (in Greek).
και εμείς στη σύγχρονη θεολογική σκέψη γενικά και στην Oρθοδοξία
τα πρόσωπα της Tριάδας
να δώσουν βάση για περσοναλιστικές απόψεις περί του ανθρώπου; Σχόλια σε κάποιες
θεολογικές προσπάθειες», Σύναξη
33 1990, 67-78; Metr.
είναι του Θεού και το είναι του ανθρώπου. Aπόπειρα
θεολογικού διαλόγου», Σύναξη 37 (1991) 11-35.
similar reason, and with all due respect to the proposed scheme, i.e. the
Preparatory Committee's suggestion to elaborate the theme from the Greek
Orthodox perspective - which is absolutely legitimate for practical reasons
- I propose not to contribute
(indirectly of course) to the subconsciously existing dividing lines within
Orthodoxy, and expound a strictly "regional" (i.e. Greek Orthodox) point of
view, but rather a "theological" and "ecumenically Orthodox" (i.e. critical, and sometimes even
self-critical) one. After all, in my Greek Orthodox constituency for some
decades now the prevailing "theological paradigm" is being determined by the
hesyhastic rather than the eucharistic tradition of our Church. In other words,
I will try to expound what I consider, out of my ecclesial (i.e. liturgical)
experience, the understanding of mission of the "one, holy, catholic and
apostolic Church" should be.
also Is 66:18; Mt 25:32; Rom 12:16; Didache 9:4b; Mart. Polyc. 22:3b; Clemens of
Rome, I Cor., 12:6 etc.
Chrysostom's comment on the
relevant petition of the Lord's Prayer: "(Christ) did not say 'Your will be
done' in me, or in us, but everywhere on earth, so that error may be destroyed,
and truth implanted, and all wickedness cast out, and virtue return, and no
difference in this respect be henceforth between heaven and earth".(PG 57 col. 280).
The Elect and the Holy, 1966, has redetermined on the part of the
Protestant biblical theology the real meaning of the term «βασίλειον "εράτευμα»,
which has so vigorously discussed since the time of Luther. Cf. R.Brown,
Priest and Bishop: Biblical Reflections, 1971.
I Pe 2:10: "Οnce
you were no people, now you are God's people".
Jn 17:19; also Mt 5:48 par.
και αναμαρτησία κατά την A΄Eπιστολήν
1958, 537-569, p.
(εσχατολογία και μυστικοπάθεια) εν τη θεολογική διδασκαλία Iωάννου
του θεολόγου» EEΘΣΘ
3 (1958) 109-156, και 4 (1959), 29-61.
in his recent doctoral dissertation under my supervision (The Eucharist in
the Pauline Mission. Sociological Approach, 1995), tried to analyze this
"paradigm shift" at that crucial moment of early christianity and claimed
that "the Eucharist in Paul was
understood not only as an icon of the eschata, but also as a missionary event
with cosmic and social consequences. The Eucharist for him was not only the
sacrament of the Church, but also the sacrament of the world. Within the pauline
communities the Eucharist had a double orientation (in contrast to the overall
eschatological and otherworldly dimension of it in earlier tradition): towards
the world as diastolic movement, and towards God as a systolic movement"(pp. 187-88). According to Passakos«the Eucharist for Paul is at
the same time an experience of the
eschata and a movement toward the eschata" (p. 189).
my Cross and Salvation, 1983 (in Greek), an English summary of which can
be found in a paper of mine delivered at the 1984 annual Leuven Colloquium
("Σταυρός: Centre of the Pauline Soteriology and Apostolic Ministry", A.Vanhoye
[ed.], L'Apôtre Paul. Personnalité, Style et Conception du Ministère,
1986, pp. 246-253).
Ignatius, Ad Eph. 13:.
Alexandrians, under the influence of the ancient Greek philosophy, particularly
Platonism, believed that the original condition of beings represents perfection
and that all subsequent history is a decline. The mystery of the incarnation
contributes almost nothing to this system of thought. On Origen's soteriology
and its minimal salvific significance of the Christ's human nature see
A.Grillmeier, Christ in
Christian Tradition, Atlanta 1975²; also R.Taft, «The Liturgy of the Great
Church: An Initial Synthesis of Structure and Interpretation on the Eve of
Iconoclasm», DOP 34-35 (1980-81) 45-75 p. 62, n. 79.
St. Irenaeus' use of «ανακεφαλαίωσις»
(recapitulation) (Adver. Her. 3) based on the pauline theology. One can
also cf. how finally St. Athanasius the Great articulated this concept more
definitively in his classic statement that «Θεός
(On Incarnation, 54: He
[God] became man so that we could become God).
the eastern, but also the western, monasteries the works of Origen were studied
with great reverence, even after his conciliar condemnation (cf. G.Manzaridis,
"Spiritual Life in Palamism", J.Raitt-B.McGinn-J.Meyendorff (eds.),Christian
Spirituality. II: High Middle Ages and Reformation, 1988 208-222, p.
this point it is essential to point out that this general trend should not be
confused with the authentic understanding of the Christian theology of
monasticism. It would be a serious mistake not to refer to the various
corrective theological interventions through which the monastic movement was
incorporated into the life of the Church (the cenobitic system of Pachomius, The
Vita Antoniae, by Athanasius the Great, the communal and ecclesiological
orientation of monasticism by Basil the Great, the eschatological meaning given
to therapeutic ecclesiology and "the bold synthesis of all previous theological
experience" by the monk Maximus the Confessor, etc.). One should not ignore the
various theological approaches which stress the eschatological dimension of
eastern monasticism, which characterize it as "a sign of the Kingdom", a "life
of repentance". The latter is clearly an eschatological concept based on Christ's words in his very
first proclamation: "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand" (Mk 1:15 and
par.) The monastic' s life is considered as an "angelic life" because , at least according to the
interpretation of Pachomius, celibacy was connected to the future Kingdom on the
basis of the Lord's words: "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are
given in marriage but are like angels in heaven" (Mt 22:30), and "there are
eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of God" (Mt
19:12 and par.)
to W. Jardine Grisbrooke, «The Formative Period-Cathedral and Monastic Offices»,
C.Jones-G.Wainwright-E.Yarnold-P.Bradshaw (eds.), The Study of Liturgy,
New York (1988¹, 1992²), 403-420, monasticism as a lay movement in its
initial stages was not only a detachment from, and rejection of, the world; it
also believed that priesthood was incompatible with the monastic order (σελ.
Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, p.160 (of the 1991 Greek
 As Grisbrooke points out, "it has nothing to do with corporate worship, but is
rather a helpful expression of individual private prayer practiced in common." ("The Formative Period-Cathedral and Monastic Offices," p. 405).
order to have a clear view of the problem one can compare the Eucharistic
prayers of the anaphoras (the earliest ones, and particularly of the Eastern Byzantine rite, all
of them composed by bishops with a cosmic and social view of salvation) with the
later hymnology expressing the
life-experience, conflicts and struggles of the monastic communities, but also
with the various mystagogical interpretations. More on the relationship between
liturgy and mystagogy, ritual and its meaning in H.-J.Schultz, The Byzantine
Liturgy. Symbolic Structure and Faith Expression, engl.trans. 1986.
the allegorical interpretation of the Alexandrians finally did not dominate
biblical hermeneutics, their mystagogical (liturgical) interpretation - "anagogic mystagogy"- does seem to
have prevailed in our liturgical and mission praxis. The alleged influence of
the neoplatonic philosophy on the Areopagitic writings is of much lesser importance than its
catalytic effect on what we call eucharistic ecclesiology of the Church and
consequently on spirituality and mission. V.Lossky insists that the orthodoxy of
the writings of the Areopagite cannot be questioned (The Vision of God,
1983, p. 99; cf. also his influential work The Mystical Theology of the
Eastern Church. 1976. On the other hand, all Orthodox theologians who are in
favor of a liturgical renewal are critical to the theology of Pseudo-Dionysius (cf. J.Meyendorff, Byzantine
Theology. Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, [1974¹] 1987² pp.
28,202ff; G.Florovsky, "Ψευδο-Διονυσίου έργα,"l. XII. col. 473-480;
Introduction, pp. 150εξ· 232εξ· etc.; P.Meyendorff, Saint Germanus of
Constantinople οn the Divine Liturgy , 1984).
E.Boulard, «L' eucharistie d'après le Pseudo-Denys l'Aréopagite», BLE
58 (1957) 193-217 and 59 (1958)
eminent Roman Catholic liturgiologist, R. Taft., to whom eastern liturgical
scholarship is heavily indebted (cf. his The Great Entrance. A History of the
Transfer of Gifts and Other Pre-anaphoral Rites of the Liturgy of St. John
Chrysostom, [1975¹], 1978²; «How Liturgies Grow: The Evolution of the
Byzantine Divine Liturgy», OCP 43  σελ. 357ff; The Liturgy of
the Hours in the Christian East, 1988 etc), rightly maintains that in the dionysian system there is little
room for the biblical tradition; the anagogic allegory is the one that
dominates. Liturgy is nothing but an allegory of the journey of the soul from
the separation and division of sin towards divine communion, through the process
of catharsis, enlightenment and wholeness, which are prescribed in the rites.
There is very little reference to Christ's economy on earth, and nothing about
his incarnate mediation, or his death and resurrection. (R.Taft,«The Liturgy..»,
pp. 61-2. For a thorough critical consideration of the eucharistology of the
areopagites see R.Roques, L'univers dionysien. Structure hiérarchique du
monde selon le Pseudo-Denys, 1954). Therefore, in this system the need for a
mediating "hierarchy" became inevitable. This reminds us, mutatis
mutandis, of Paul's opponents at Colossae, and also marks the latent return
of a mediatory priesthood (H.Wybrew, The Orthodox Liturgy. The Development of
the Eucharisatic Liturgy in the Byzantine Rite, 1989, and the SVS press 1990
edition with a prologue by Bishop K. Ware), p. 115) in christian ecclesiology of
East and, especially, West (cf. P.- M.Gy, «Liturgy and Spirituality: II.
Sacraments and Liturgy in Latin Christianity», B.McGinn - J.Meyendorff (eds.),
Christian Spirituality I. Origins to the Twelfth Century, 1985, 365-381).
But this was something which according to the fundamental teaching of Hebrews
had been abolished εφάπαξ
(once and for all) by Christ's sacrifice on the Cross.
Theology, p. 207.
«The Liturgy of the Great Church», p.. 62.
should not, of course, concentrate all criticism only on the Alexandrian mystagogical school. The
Antiochian school, the other great school of liturgical interpretation in the
East, has also contributed, though indirectly, to the abandonment of dynamic
horizontal biblical eschatology, with all that this eschatology implies for
mission. Its attention, certainly, was turned more toward history, but not with
any strong eschatological perspective, thus interpreting the Divine Liturgy
mainly as a depiction of the Lord's presence on earth.
Schmemann, The Eucharist. Sacrament of the Kingdom, 1988; also his The
Great Lent. Journey to Pascha, 1974.
"The Church which Presides in Love".
«Liturgy and Eucharist. I East», J.Raitt-B.McGinn-J.Meyendorff
(eds.),Christian Spirituality. II, 415-426, p. 417.
in one of his latest contributions tried to address the issue of the "Symbols
and Symbolism in the Byzantine Liturgy: Liturgical Symbols and their Theological
Interpretation" (in D. Constantelos [ed.], Orthodox Theology and Diakonia,
1981, pp. 91-102; also in
T.Fisch [ed.], Liturgy and Tradition. Theological Reflections of
A.Schmemann, 1990, pp. 115-128), and he rightly pointed out that "the
Eucharistic divine liturgy opposed, at least in the essential expressions of its
form and spirit, the extremely powerful pressures of the various symbolic
interpretations and reductions" (p. 125).
Goodman, in his recent book (Mission and Conversion. Proselytizing in the
Religious History of the Roman Empire, 1994) has drawn our attention to four
different understandings of what has come to be labeled as "christian mission":
(i) The "informative mission", the aim of which was to tell people something,
rather than to change their behavior or status. (of this type was the mission of
the first evangelist women). (ii) The "educational mission", with the aim to
educate rather than to win converts (the first monastics exercised this type of
mission). (iii) The "apologetic mission", the aim of which was to request
recognition by others without expecting to devote themselves to the new religion
(the early christian apologists belonged to this type of mission). Finally, (iv)
the "proselytizing mission". According to Goodman, "information, education, and
apologetic might or might not coexist within any one religious system, but all
three can individually be distinguished from what may best be described a
proselytizing...(the aim of which was) to encourage outsiders not only to change
their way of life but also to be incorporated within their group" (pp. 3f.). No
doubt, this last type of mission, for which the terms "conversion" and
"christianization" seem to apply better, was the ideal behind the universal
proselytizing mission of modern times. The origins of this type of mission
can be traced back to St. Paul (though in scholarly circles this is still
debated), and to the dominical saying recorded in St. Matthew's Gospel
an early survey by an orthodox missiologist see (Archbishop of Albania)
Anastasios Yannoulatos, Various Christian Approaches to the Other Religions. A Historical Outline, 1971.
needs to be reminded of the variety of terms involved in current missiological
discussions, such as mission, conversion, evangelism or
evangelization, christianization, witness or martyria. Of these terms only the last two are
appropriate to our Orthodox theology and practice, and have been widely adopted
in "ecumenical" circles as the more relevant to a genuine and authentic
christian mission (cf. the most important documents and books on the issue: e.g.
Common Witness. A Joint Document of the Working Group of the Roman Catholic
Church and the WCC, 1982; the relevant to our subject document Common
Witness and Proselytism; also
I.Bria [ed.], Martyria-Mission, 1980), whereas the imperative validity of
all the other have been retained as the sine qua non of the christian
identity of those belonging to the "evangelical" stream of the christian
tradition. Cf. the tension in the recent history of the world christian mission,
which resulted in the tragic separation and the eventual formation of the
Lausanne Movement for World Evangelization.
comes from the famous passage in Acts 4:12.
the relation of mission to dialogue, as well as the repeatedly expressed concern
over "syncretism" see K.Raiser, Ecumenism in Transition, pp. 55ff;
also the partisan work from the "old paradigm" by W.A.Visser't Hooft, No
Other Name: The Choice between Syncretism and Christian Universalism,
on this in J.Zizioulas, Being as Communion, pp. 123ff.