Lord's Voice | Diakonia | Links | Baptism | Multimedia


Universal Mission and Orthodoxy

Mission, Proselytism and the Ecumenical Movement

Beyond Christian Universalism: The Church's Witness in a Multicultural Society

Reconciliation and Tolerance from an Orthodox Perspective

Eschatology and the Mission of the Church: An Homage to
Dumitru Staniloae

The Eucharistic Perspective of the Church's Mission
Today and Tomorrow

Towards a Eucharistic Understanding of Mission. Russia
Facing Evangelicals

The mission of the Church during postmodernity

Eschatology AnD the MISSION of the Church: AN HOMAGE TO DUMITRU STANILOAE  

Theology is first and foremost the prophetic conciousness of a living community, the Church. As a discriptive discipline, however, of what this living community experiences in her gathering  epi to auto, theology is in a second place a communal enterprize, the collective reflection of human beings to comprehend with their limited resources the divine and cosmic realities. Dumitru Staniloae, having served theology in both these two capacities, i.e. as a priest and as scholar, as an experiencing member of the Orthodox Christian community and as one of the  most successful interprerters of her theology, has left a legacy to all of us with his loving humility, his "ontological optimism",[1] and his "creative vision".[2] A legacy to overcome our shortcomings and egoistic auseinandersetzunge;[3] to distance ourselves from scholastic thinking;[4] to view and treat Dogmatics (and Christian Theology in general) not as an oppressive entity, but as a "liberating celebration of love".[5] I recall with great gratitude my first encounter with him almost twenty years ago here in Bucharest, when we both participated in an Orthodox Advisory Group to the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism of the World Council of Churches.

My modest contribution to this festive symposium to honour Dumitru Staniloae, one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century, is meant to build upon some of his (and of others') theological views, to add a small brick to our theology and to take it a small step forward. More precisely: (a) I will first present the eschatological dimension of Orthodoxy; I will then (b) proceed to the christological foundation of Christian eschatology; I will (c) move to the eucharistic application of eschatology and its relevance for mission; and finally (d) I will present more critically the less (or for some non) eschatological realities of today' s Orthodoxy, and the imperative of rediscovering the authentic eschatological vision.

1. The eschatological dimension of Orthodoxy

According to her most serious interpreters Orthodoxy, among whom the late D. Staniloae has gained a privileged position, means the wholeness of the people of God who share the right conviction (orthe doxa = right opinion) concerning the event of God's salvation in Christ and his Church, and the right expression (orthopraxia) of this faith.[6] The term, as Nikos Nissiotis pointed out, "is given  to the One, (Holy, Catholic and) Apostolic Church...(and) is exclusive for all those, who willingly fall away from the historical stream of life of the One Church but it is inclusive for those who profess their spiritual belonging to that stream".[7] Hence, the notion of sobornicitatea (open catholicity) advanced by Staniloae.[8]  

This interpretation of the essence of Orthodoxy, is in fact coupled by the paramaount importance of its liturgical tradition. D.Staniloae has devoted numerous works on the importance of Liturgy.[9] In a historic statement to the world Christian community another prominent Orthodox theologian, George Florovsky, declared that "the Church is first of all a worshipping community. Worship comes first, doctrine and discipline second. The lex orandi has a  privileged priority in the life of the Christian Church. The lex credendi  depends on the devotional experience and vision of the Church".[10] It is widely held that the liturgical dimension is perhaps the only safe criterion, in ascertaining the specificity of Orthodoxy.[11]

It is my firm conviction that out of the three main characteristics that generally constitute the 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 marks a decisive development in eastern Christian theology and spirituality after the final Schism between East and West, a development that has determined, together with other factors, the mission of the Orthodox 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 culture; it was, nevertheless, only because of the eucharistic experience, the matrix of all theology and spirituality of Christianity, that all theological and spiritual climaxes in our Church have been actually achieved.[12]

The Eucharist, heart and center of Christian Liturgy, is always understood in its authentic perception as a proleptic manifestation of the Kingdom of God, as symbol and image of an alternative reality, which was conceived before all creation by God the Father in his mystical plan (the mysterion  in the biblical sense), was inaugurated by our Lord, and is permanently sustained by the Holy Spirit. What is, nevertheless of paramount and undisputed importance, is that this Kingdom is expected to be culminated at the eschata. This, in fact, brings us to another equally important characteristic of Orthodoxy, i.e. her eschatological reality. The entire authentic Orthodox  tradition stresses, in one way or another, the eschatological and not the historical (and therefore hierarchical) dimension of the Church.

Hence the episcopocentric structure of the Church, as an essential part of that vision, in Orthodox theology is always understood eschatologically. The bishop e.g. as primus inter pares presiding in love over the eucharistic community, was never understood (except under the heavy influence of the West) as a vicar or representative, or ambassador of Christ,  but  an image of Christ. So with the  rest of the ministries of the Church: they are not parallel to, or given by, but identical with those of, Christ.[13] That is also why the whole Orthodox theology and life, especially as this latter is expressed in Sunday's liturgical offices, are centered around the resurrection. The Church exists not because Christ died on the cross, but because he is risen from the dead, thus becoming the aparche of all humanity.

 We can, therefore, safely argue that eschatology constitutes the central and primary aspect of Orthodoxy, the beginning of the Church, that which gives her identity, sustains  and inspires her in her existence. Hence the priority of the Kingdom of God in all ecclesiological considerations. In the Orthodox Church everything  belongs to the Kingdom. The Church in her institutional expression does not administer all reality; she only prepares the way to the Kingdom, in the sense that she is an image if it. That is why, although to the eyes of the historian and the sociologist is yet another human institution, to the Orthodox it is primarily a mystery, and they  very  often call  her an icon  of  the  Kingdom to come.

It is to the merits of modern Orthodox theologians, among whom certainly the late Fr Dumitru Staniloae, who reaffirmed the paramount importance of eschatology not only for Christian theology, but also for the Church' s mission. From my limited, and I must confess not profound, knowledge of Staniloae's thought, I recall his strong criticism to the trend in contemporary Orthodoxy to identify the Orthodox spirituality with a disregard to the every day life, a phenomenon described in Staniloae's own words as "a premature eschatologism."[14] With all these in mind, we may argue that Christian theology is about the right balance between history and eschatology.[15] The mission of the Church, on the other hand, is but a struggle to witness and to apply this eschatological vision of the Church to the historical realities and to the world at large. We should never forget that theology and the Church exist not for themselves but for the world. The tension, therefore, between eschatology and history, or to put it more sharply the relationship between the ecclesial community and the society at large, is one of the most important chapters in the Church's mission in today' s world, especially in view of the tragic developments that have taken place for the last ten years in Eastern Europe, that have shadowed the image of the Orthodox Church in the eyes of the world community.

2. The Christological basis of Christian eschatology.

Christian theology and spirituality are based on, and determined by, the teaching, life and work of Christ, the theandric person who is "restoration of human beings", to recall the famous work of Staniloae[16]. His teaching, however, and especially his life and work, cannot be properly understood without a clear reference to the eschatological expectations of Judaism. Without entering into the complexities of Jewish eschatology, we can very briefly say, that at the time of Jesus of Nazareth the core of these  expectations was the idea of the coming of a Messiah, who in the "last days" of history ("the Eschaton") would establish his kingdom by calling all the dispersed and afflicted people of God into one place to become one body united around him. As it was expressed in the prophetic tradition of the Judaism (Joel 3:1; Is 2:2, 59:21; Ez 36:24 etc.), the start of the eschatological period will be sound by the gathering of all the nations, and by the descent  of God's Spirit upon the sons and daughters of God. A statement in the Gospel of John - generally overlooked in modern biblical scholarship - about the role of the Messiah is extremely important. In that statement the author of the 4th Gospel 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." (11:51-52).[17]

Throughout the Gospel writings (synoptic and johannine alike) Christ clearly identifies himself with this Messiah. One can 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", "Servant of God" etc., most of which had a collective meaning, hence the Christology of "corporate personality"). We see it as well in the parables of the Kingdom, which summarize his teaching: i.e. that his coming inaugurated a new world order, the world of the Kingdom of God; we also see this idea in the Lord's Prayer, and above all in his conscious acts, and most significantly in the selection of twelve disciples, signifying the establishment of a new eschatological dodekaphylon  (twelve tribes)  of the New Israel. 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.

It 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, it begins already in the present, but will be completed in its final, authentic and glorious form in the eschaton) that the early Church developed her theology, her ecclesiology, her spirituality, but also her mission.

 From the writings of Paul, John, and Luke, in addition to other early Christian literature, we see this teaching reflected in images of the Church as the Body of Christ, as Vine, and especially as Unity. St. Paul the apostle, in particular, was absolutely convinced that all who have believed in Christ have been incorporated into His body through Baptism. Obviously their incorporation into the one people of God was completed with the Eucharist, a significant identity act which was seen not as a mystery cult but as a manifestation (more precisely a foretaste) of the expected eschatological Kingdom. The 4th Gospel developed even further this radical eschatological teaching in regard to the unity of the people of God around Christ and their incorporation into Christ's body through the Eucharist above all - and by "radical" I mean, among other things, a clear rejection of the ethnocentric, i.e. judeocentric, dimension of eschatology.

3. The eucharistic application of eschatology and its relevance for mission.

The main contribution of almost all theologians of the early Church, emphasized and underlined most sharply by St. Luke, was that with Christ's Resurrection and especially with Pentecost, the Eschaton had already entered history. In other words, the early Christians were convinced that this expected messianic eschatological community becomes a reality each time the Church, the new Israel, the dispersed people of God, gathers epi to auto  (in one place), especially when they celebrated the  Eucharist. The relationship between history and eschatology, and above all between liturgy and social responsibility - as Staniloae refers to in his article "Legatura între Euharistie şi Jubirea creştină[18] - is very clearly expressed in the famous summaria of the early chapters of Acts (2:42-47; 4:32-35).

In addition to this synthesis of history and eschatology, another conviction began to grow among Church writers, beginning with the author of Hebrews (cf. 10:1  "...the law has but a shadow  of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities..") and more fully developed in the writings of St. Maximus the Confessor, that the events of the Old Testament were "shadow" of future riches, and that present Church reality is only an "image" (icon) of the "truth", which is to be revealed only in the Eschaton. In other words, "truth" is no longer connected with past, as in the Greek philosophy (cf. truth = a-lethia = no forgetfulness), but with the future, with the eschaton (the Kingdom of God as the perfect "truth").[19]

This developments were 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 way. The missiological imperatives of the early Church, in other words her attitude to social life, to the world, stem exactly from this awareness of the Church as an eschatological, dynamic, radical, and corporate reality,  commissioned to witness to the Kingdom of God, and of course struggling to manifest it "on earth as it is in heaven" (Mt 6:10 par).[20]

The Holy Apostles, and all Christians thereafter, were in fact commissioned to proclaim not a set of given religious convictions, doctrines, moral commands etc., but the coming Kingdom, the Good News (evaggelion) 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.

The historical dimension, therefore, of eschatology through its eucharistic application is an inseparable part of the Christian faith. Even what we call Holy Tradition is, according to John Meyendorff, "the history of the right choices made by human beings confronted by the prophetic word of God, responding correctly in the concrete historical circumstances of their time."[21] Even the ascetic dimension, so important an element in Staniloae's theological work, is a moral and theological principle closely related to the eucharistic experience of the Church as its sine qua non, and the guiding principle of each faithful towards the others (i.e. the world) and the ultimate Other (i.e. God), certainly not an individualistic virtue.

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, has had a certain bearing upon the social life of the Church: her mission was seen as the dynamic journey of the people of God as a whole towards the Eschaton, with the Eucharist as the point of departure. Here we had a perfect synthesis and a dialectical presence of "history" and "eschatology". Indeed, the Church has always believed that the "New Jerusalem," the Kingdom to come, was not only a gift of God, but also a seal and a fulfillment of all the positive, creative efforts of humankind to "cooperate" (synergy) with the Creator throughout the entire process of history. This is why, when the Roman state accepted Christianity, the Church welcomed the opportunity and the responsibility that fell to her, in spite of all the risks and temptations it entailed.[22]

No doubt, from the very first days of the Church's life this horizontal-historical eschatology was interwoven  with a vertical one, which put the emphasis on a more personal understanding of salvation, which of course had a bearing upon social life and responsibility. From the time of the St. Paul the apostle e.g. this personalization became quite evident in his justification by faith theology. No matter for what reasons,[23] 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 cross).[24] However, the Eucharist (the theia koinonia)  always remained the sole expression of the Church's identity. However, this 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 was incomprehensible without its social dimension (see Acts 2:42ff., 1 Cor 11:1ff., Heb 13: 10-16; Justin, 1 Apology  67;  Irenaeus, Adver. Her. 18:1, etc.).

To sum up: It is mainly in the Eucharist where the Church clearly foreshadows the coming Kingdom of God. There, as well as in the icons, the monastic life, and all expressions of Orthodox spirituality, an interaction of past, present and future is manifested, and an anticipation by this world of the world to come is clearly presented. From there the mission of the Church starts.

4. The imperative of rediscovering the Eschatological vision.

This eschatological dimension in today' s world is somewhat distorted. And it is not only Western Christianity, but Eastern Orthodoxy as well, that gradually lost the proper and authentic understanding of eschatology.[25] With the acceptance and incorporation of Christianity within the Roman empire in the fourth century it was inevitable that the entire eschatological vision of the Church was somewhat obscured, and throughout the medieval and post medieval periods there was a further detachment from the original Christian eschatology. It was only  in the liturgy, and more particularly its eucharistic tradition of Christianity, and especially and much more clearly in Eastern Orthodoxy, where it never disappeared completely. Inevitably, therefore, the right balance of history and eschatology, and consequently a real concern for history and the historical development has been almost lost in the Orthodox world.

It was not accidental, therefore, that Orthodoxy was the most reluctant to discuss such issues as the legitimacy of worldwide social concern, human rights, knowledge of history, even the use of historical methods in research as the essential tool for separating truth from legend, content from form, essential from futility, Holy Tradition from human traditions etc.

Orthodoxy became attractive to the West among other things by her rich ritual. And because for centuries the liturgical rites in the East remained practically intact and unchanged, the Orthodox liturgy was largely appreciated and valued accordingly. After all, the once-and-for-all revealed in Christ event of salvation is not a finished process, but continues to the end of time through the presence of the Holy Spirit. And this continuous revelation does not takes place in a vacuum, nor at an abstract ideological level, but in the liturgical life of the community, the relational ecclesial identity.[26] For as Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas has recently pointed out, all the Church' s expressions (structure, authority, mission etc.) are in fact relational.[27] 

The importance of liturgy and ritual for the identity of all religious systems and societies, was actually reinforced by the social sciences, and especially by cultural anthropology. One of the most imaginative insights of modern cultural anthropologists is their conviction that ritual, and the liturgical life in general, is a form of communication, a "performative" kind of speech, instrumental in creating the essential categories of human thought.[28] They communicate the fundamental beliefs and values of a community, outlining in this way its "world view" and its "ethos".[29] The rituals do not only transmit culture, but they also "create a reality which would be nothing without them. It is not too much to say that ritual is more to society than words are to thought. For it is very possible to know something and then find words for it. But it is impossible to have social relations without symbolic acts".[30] Even the texts, as A. Destro and M. Pesce have pointed out, "are not just writing, literature, or communication, but above and beyond all this, especially in the religious field, part and instrument of a performance".[31]

There are two major understandings of Liturgy.[32] According to the first one, Liturgy was treated as a private act, functioning as a means to meet some particular religious needs: i.e. both the need of the community to exercise its power and supervision on the members, and the need of the individual for personal "sanctification". We name this understanding of the liturgical act juridical. According to a second understanding, however, the Liturgy functions as a means for the up building of the religious community, which is no longer viewed in institutional terms or as a cultic organization, but as a communion and as a way of living. This is what we call communal understanding of Liturgy.

 The juridical  understanding of Liturgy encourages and in effect promotes a sharp distinction between the various segments of the religious society (clergy and laity, etc.), thus underlining the dimensions of super- and sub-ordination within the ritual, and contributing to the maintenance of the social structure not only within the religious community itself, but also by extension within the wider social life. This juridical understanding of Liturgy, in addition, develops separation and certain barriers, sometimes even hostility, between members of different religious systems, thus intensifying phenomena of intolerance and fanaticism. There is no real concern for history and social life under such an understanding of Liturgy

 At the other end, the communal understanding of Liturgy discourages all distinctions between the various segments not only within the religious communities themselves, but also by extension within the wider social life. This understanding of Liturgy dissolves barriers between members of different religious systems, thus promoting religious tolerance and peace. In modern Orthodox contexts both these attitudes have been experienced and expressed. And this phenomenon has puzzled Church historians, when they tried to evaluate the real contribution of Orthodoxy.

John Meyendorff  is used to distinguish three types of eschatology in Church life, which are directly relevant for the Christian attitude toward the world and which qualify all aspects of Christian ethics. The first two are distorted versions of the authentic traditional eschatology, although they too have some point of reference in Church history.[33]

First the apocalyptic version of eschatology.  According to this version the Kingdom of God is coming soon, and therefore there isn't  anything to expect from history. Christians can do nothing to improve human reality. No real mission or social responsibility or culture is possible or even desirable. God is seen alone as the Lord of history, acting without any cooperation or synergy  (cf. 1 Cor 3:9). The New Jerusalem is expected to come from heaven all prepared (Rev 21:2), and we have nothing to contribute to it. A view  rejected by the ancient Church, allows only repentance,  ascetic life to combat the passions.

The second version, which stands in opposition to the first, is the humanistic or optimistic eschatology. This eschatology has an optimistic understanding of history, and has been dominant in Western society since the time of the Enlightenment.  In the twentieth century in its Marxist form it has also spread to the East and even the far East, to China. In the Orthodox realm this kind of eschatology has taken the form of a revival of the old paradigm of the Byzantine synthesis, this time in the narrow limits of nationalistic religious entities: Holy Russia, Great Serbia, the chosen Greek Orthodoxy etc. are some expressions, which taken even further envisage a dangerous development of an Orthodox axis, which will conquer the  faithless, or even heretic, West![34]

The third type of eschatology he called conditional or prophetic eschatology. It is the only acceptable type of eschatology, and it is based on the biblical concept of prophecy, which in both the Old and the New Testaments does not simply forecast the future or announce the inevitable, but also places humans before an option, a choice between two types of personal or social behavior. The people of God are free to choose, but the prophet has informed them of the consequences.

With the exception of some diaspora (or better "western") and newly established missionary communities - modern Orthodoxy in its historical expression is found herself in a rather strange situation. Our metropolitan "mother" Churches are in fact struggling between two poles, quite opposite or at least unrelated to each other: on the one hand, the ideal of the later hesyhastic movement - of course wrongly interpreted and applied - has given rise to an individualistic understanding of salvation, which only partially takes history seriously into account; on the other hand, a completely secularized approach is adopted in dealing with the historical developments.  As in the Old Testament, in later and even recent Judaism, the splendor of the Davidic Kingdom usually overshadowed the more authentic desert and prophetic vision of a wandering people of God, so with modern Orthodoxy the famous "Byzantine synthesis" seems to be the only model - again unsuccessfully applied - which almost all modern national autocephali Orthodox Churches constantly refer to.

It is not a surprise, therefore, that in contemporary Orthodoxy the creative tension between history and the eschaton has almost disappeared. None preaches about the reality of the Kingdom drastically entering into our social reality. Even our modern Church buildings have ceased to reflect the Kingdom reality, having rather become immitations, and sometimes even caricatures, of the traditional (but meaningful) edifices. Only in the Orthodox eucharistic liturgy is there something to remind us, that when we offer our "reasonable worship" we offer it "for the life of the world", remembering not only past events, but also future realities, in fact the (eschatological) reality par excellence: Christ's "second and glorious Coming".[35] Naturally, then, only those Orthodox communities, which have undergone a liturgical and eucharistic renewal, were able to rediscover a proper understanding of eschatology.  The rest can hope to overcome today's real challenges of globalization and of the imposition (forcibly and eclectically) of the so-called "western values", either through secularization, or through a retreat to the glorious past, thus becoming vulnerable at best to a kind of traditionalism and at worst to anti-ecumenical, nationalist, and intolerant fundamentalism, attitudes totally alien and unacceptable to the Orthodox ethos.

It was mainly for this reason that many of us are in search of a synthesis between eastern and western spirituality, believing that the authentic catholicity of the Church (in terms not so much of ecclesiology, but of spirituality) must include both East and West. It is not only that a dynamic encounter will enrich both traditions. It is mainly because it can also help the solution of the problem concerning the relationship between history and eschaton. Even if Western theology stresses the historical element in theology, ethics and ecclesiology, it is our constant reminder of the Church's responsibility to the world. At the other end, our Orthodox theology, even if it shows a tendency to disincarnate the Church from history, it is nevertheless the only ecclesial entity, which always reminds us of the eschatological dimension of Christianity.


[1] Cf. J. Meyendorff' s foreward to D. Stăniloae, Theology and the Church, SVS Press Crestwood 1980, pp. 7ff.

[2] Cf. Ion Bria, "The Creative Vision of of D.Staniloae. Introduction to his Theological Thought," Ecumenical Review 33 (1981), pp.53-59.

[3] It is obvious that I share neither the views nor the perspective from which some of his pupils tried to interpret Staniloae's theological opinions, as being in constant auseinandersetzung with other contemporary Orthodox and western theologians, especially with those associated with the "eucharistic theology" (cf. e.g. G.Holbea's recent doctoral dissertation The Theology of Fr. Dumitru Staniloae in its Relationship with the Contemporary Eastern and Western Theology, Thessaloniki 1999). For a more balanced presentation of Staniloae's views in Greece, though from a limited (i.e. liturgical) perspective see K. Karaisaridis, Fr. Dumitru Staniloae's Contribution to the Study of Liturgical Themes,  Athens 1997. Also the introduction by N. Matsoukas to Staniloae's thought in the Greek translation of D. Staniloae's  Dieu est Amour, Geneva 1980 under the title Ο Θεός είναι αγάπη, Thessaloniki 1983. Cf. in addition the translation into Greek of the first chapters of his Dogmatics: O Θεός o κόσμος και oάνθρωπος Εισαγωγή στην Ορθόδοξη Δογματική Θεολογία, Athens 1990.

[4] Cf. (Metr. Of Diokleia) Kallistos Ware foreward to D.Staniloae, The Experience of God, Holy Cross Press, Boston 1994.

[5] (Metr. Of Moldavia) Daniel Chibotea, "Une dogmatique pour l'homme d' aujourd' hui", Irenikon  54 (1981), pp. 472-484.

[6] Cf. - among his many books - Staniloae's old (1947), but in many successive editions (21981, 31992, 41993 Alba Iulia, 51993 Cluj), work Ascetica si mistica orthodoxa.

[7] N. Nissiotis, "Interpreting Orthodoxy," ER 14 (1961)  1-27, p.26.

[8] Cf. N.Mosoiu, Taina prezenţei lui Dumnezeu în viaţa umană. Viziunea creatoare a Părintelui Profesor Dumitru Stăniloae, Pitesti/Braşov/Cluj-Napoca 2000, pp. 246ff. John Meyendorff, underlining Staniloae's "rootedness" to the Orthodox tradition, but at the same time his "openness" to the others, has rightly pointed out that "there cannot be any tradition without continuity, consistency and also ‘catholic' awareness of spiritual unity with those who are ‘doing theology' in situations different from our own" (his foreward to Theology and the Church, p. 7).

[9] From his "Sfânta Euharistie la cele trei confesiuni," Ortodoxia 5 (1953) pp. 46-115 and up to his opus magnum: Teologia Dogmatică Ortodoxă, Bucarest 1978, the liturgy of the Orthodox Church occupies a prominent place; More in K.Karaisaridis, Fr. Dumitru Staniloae's  Contribution (n.2 above).

[10] G. Florovsky, "The Elements of Liturgy,", in G. Patelos (ed.), The Orthodox Church in the Ecumenical Movement, Geneva 1978, 172-182, p.172.

[11] More in J. Zizioulas, Being as Communion. Studies in Personhood and the Church, New York 1985.

[12] Cf. my "The Eucharistic Perspective of the Church's Mission," Eucharist and Witness. Orthodox Perspectives on  the Unity  and Mission of the Church, WCC/Holy Cross Orthodox Press, Geneva/Boston 1998, pp. 49-66, p. 50.

[13] J. Zizioulas, Being as Communion;  also id., "The Mystery of the Church in Orthodox Tradition", One in Christ 24 (1988) 294-303,.

[14] D. Stăniloae, Ascetica si mistica orthodoxa, Alba Iulia 1993, p. 28.

[15] Cf. D. Stăniloae, Teologia Dogmatică Ortodoxă,  vol. 3 Bucharest 1997, pp. 247ff.

[16] D. Stăniloae, Iisus Hristos sau restaurarea omului,  Craiova 21993 (first published in Sibiu 1942).

[17] The idea of "gathering into one place the scattered people of God" is also to be found in Is 66:18; Mt 25:32; Rom 12:16; Didache 9:4b; Mart. Polyc. 22:3b; Clement of Rome, I Cor., 12:6 etc.

[18] Studii Teologice 1-2 (1965), pp.  3-32.

[19] It is quite characteristic that in the Byzantine Liturgies of both St. Basil and St. Chrysostom, just before the epiclesis, the faithful "remember" not only the past events of the divine economy ("those things which have come to pass for us: the Cross, the Tomb, the Resurrection on the third day, the Ascension into heaven, the Sitting at the right hand"), but in addition future eschatological realities (Christ's "second and glorious Coming").

[20] Cf. St. 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".(Homily 19 on Matthew, PG  57  col.. 280).

[21] J.  Meyendorff, "Does Christian Tradition Have a Future," SVTQ 26 (1982) pp. 139-154.

[22] Ibid.

[23] D. Passakos, in his doctoral dissertation Eucharist and Mission.The Sociological Presuppositions of the Pauline Theology, Athens 1997, tried to analyze this "paradigm shift" at that crucial moment of early Christianity. He found out that  "the Eucharist in Paul 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....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).

[24] Cf. my Cross and Salvation, 1983 (in Greek), an English summary of which can be found in article "Stauros: Centre of the Pauline Soteriology and Apostolic Ministry", in A. Vanhoye (ed.), L'Apôtre Paul. Personnalité, Style et Conception du Ministère, Leuven 1986, pp. 246-253.

[25] Cf. Stăniloae's remark (n. my "Eucharistic and Therapeutic Spirituality," GOTR  42 (1997), pp. 1-23.

[26] According to Staniloae, "Orthodox theology is a theology of spirituality and of communion" (Theology and the Church, p. 218).

[27] Cf. J. Zizioulas' address to the 5th World Conference of Faith and Order "The Church as Communion," in T. F. Best-G. Gassmann (eds.), On the Way to Fuller Koinonia, WCC Geneva 1994, 103-111, esp. pp. 105ff.

[28] E. Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (transl. by J. W. Swain, New York: Free Press, 1965, reprint), p. 22.   

[29] P. L. Berger and Th. Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (New York: Doubleday, 1966). C. Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures. Selected Essays (New York: Basic Books, 1973), pp. 126-141.

[30] M. Douglas, Purity and Danger. An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (London: Routledge and Keegan Paul, 1966), p. 62.

[31] A. Destro - M. Pesce, "Anthropological Reading of Early Christian Texts" (from the Engl. transl. of the enlarged edition of their book Antropologia delle origini cristiane, Editori Laterza, Bari-Roma 1995, pp. 1ff).

[32] From my  forthcoming book Bible-Church-Eucharist, to be published in 2001.

[33] What follows comes from J. Meyendorff, "Does Christian Tradition Have a Future," pp. 140ff.

[34] It is quite interesting that from all the major Orthodox countries only Romania seems to have escaped from this peculiar religio-nationalistic vision!

[35] Cf. n. 19 above.

For receiving news, offerings and in general any actions regarding the Organization please fill in the next fields. For protection of data see here.

{ technical support        contact