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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

( published in Synaxi magazine, 78 (2001), pages 57-88)

The Church carries out its salvific work not through what it usually does or says, but, mainly, through what it is. This "is", in other words this identity and self-consciousness of the Church, is nothing more than the vision of a new world different from the mortal and conventional one we are experiencing; the vision, that is, of the expected Kingdom of God. This vision, apart from a transcendental and expected entity in the eschata, also constitutes a tangible historical reality, an alternative proposal of life, a transcendence of daily life and mortality expressed by conventional life.

The Church is obliged to authentically express this alternative proposal of Life within its internal space, that is worshipping and administration, but it is also obliged to bequeath it to the outside world, to introduce it, in other words, as live "witness" (in Greek, martyria) to the world. Church without this holy "mission", very simply, is not a Church. Although this may seem strange to some people, the Church does not exist for itself but for the world. In the past the "mission" of the Church was divided into internal and external; this distinction was of course very useful for us the Orthodox Christians at least, since it was the reason to remember again our duty for external mission, took us out of our missionary laziness, forced us to join our forces with the other Christians in order to evangelise the world, it reminded us of our obligation to preach the message of the salvation in Christ to the world in accordance with the dictate of the risen Christ "go ye therefore and teach all nations…" (Matthew 28:19). Such a distinction nowadays is considered obsolete. This is why the Orthodox Church joins its forces officially with "any man of good will", as it is always underlined in the messages of the primates of the Orthodox Churches, both here as well as abroad, in order to transcend the evil in the world which has become a big village with the use of modern technology.

The century that has just finished was the era during which mankind experienced for the first time perhaps to such an extent the creation and further development of secular society, a society, that is, without God. Some decades ago, many scientists and intellectuals predicted with almost absolute certainty a strict and exclusive secular structure of the society and the abolition of traditional religion at least in the western world. In 1965, Harvey Cox published in the USA The Secular City , the most widely read and perhaps the most popular book in its kind, where he announces the collapse of traditional religion and the complete secularisation [1] of modern society. While Cox, [2] as most of the intellectuals, by following the famous contemporary sociologists [3], saw humanitarian and liberating elements in this development, others characterised the phenomenon of the increased secularisation of the society as a nightmare and a revelation. The examples of Auschwitz and Hiroshima are not very far away [4] and there is still the constant threat for a nuclear holocaust and ecological disaster. However, both of them were absolutely convinced that the end of the 20 th century would bring forward a higher degree of secularisation with mathematical accuracy [5].

Nowadays, at the end of the 20 th century, this theory of secularisation and the arising marginalisation of religion is so repulsive for a big percentage of the world intellectuals as popular and self-evident it was thirty years ago. [6] An indication is the organisation of many interdisciplinary conferences on religion and politics (in the wider sense of the term) at academic centers such as Harvard or South Florida, something which was completely unthinkable twenty or thirty years ago. The publication of collective volumes that interdisciplinary deal with this social phenomenon of restoring religion, and the religious phenomenon in general, in the social life of peoples is quite usual [7]. Furthermore, Cox himself recognises the radical change brought upon in human spirituality and confesses the unexpected restoration of religion at a global level; in some cases the aim of this restoration is to influence again public life, even politics [8]. Everybody believes that, at least at a clearly scientific level, this development coincides with the social-historical and intellectual movement which is called postmodernity.


The term postmodernity is a rather controversial term which is used, on the one hand, to determine a historical transition to the contemporary history of modern civilisation and, on the other, a specific historical period. In order to define the mission of the Church and the role of Orthodoxy in the specific circumstances, we must, first of all, analyse this phenomenon. At an interdisciplinary level, there is usually reference to the dialectic controversy and successive transition from premodern to modern and hence to postmodern; more specifically, to the alternation of the relationships between religion and public knowledge during the history of civilisation.

During premodernity, the era, that is, that precedes the century of the enlightenment ( siecle des lumieres ), the cosmological stories of the holy texts, irrespective of the religion, constituted –each one for its own cultural environment- the single and exclusively certain public knowledge which people believed they had on global reality.

With the appearance, though, of the Enlightenment, secular science replaced religion as regards the certain public knowledge and, as a result, holy stories fell to the level of uncertain knowledge and religion became the affair of the individual. This is why one of the primary ideals of modernity was the complete separation of the state and the Church as well as the expulsion of religion to the private sector of human activities and the declaration of the public sector as a secular one deprived of any religious influence –this is the meaning of "secularisation" anyway. We have to accept the fact that this development was not only the fruit of opposite forces, but, in a way, the consequence of religious wars between the Protestants and the Roman-Catholics which shocked Europe in the 17 th century. The treaty of Westphalia in 1648, which essentially signalled the end of "Christendom" as a political factor in the public arena of Europe, was nothing more than an attempt to exclude the possibility of religion being transformed into a cause of war in the future. This was the reason that the global community was irremovable as regards the repression of any conflict of religious character in the sensitive Balkan region. All these resulted in the gradual compromise of Christianity –willing or not- with individualism and in the attempt to find a way out and a field of action in missionary work.

Although postmodernity is a phenomenon of the last decades mainly, it stems from the appearance of social sciences. These sciences, upon studying the societies of various cultural differences during premodernity, discovered completely different descriptions of nature and natural order which in rare cases were monolithic (sacredotalist). This resulted in the belief that mankind never lived in the boundaries of "nature", of churchiness (in the shadow of religion), but always in the framework of "civilisation" which, as it is known, is a product of language and, in general, of human creativity.

This finding, but, mainly, the application of the same methods of sociological and historical criticism, which were used in religion during modernity, in science as well (including social sciences) during the last quarter of the 20 th century dramatically contributed to the discovery of the relativity of science, of right reason, of historical criticism and, in general, of every ideological system and not exclusively of the religious one. According to Darrell Fasching, this discovery was more overwhelming in the contemporary scientific world than the one that the earth is not the center of the universe, [9] since no view can automatically be considered "objective".

Scientific knowledge, therefore, which questioned the traditional religious knowledge based on faith in the name of pure reason and scientific criticism is as relative in significant fields as any religious knowledge. It offers in other words not an exact and indisputable interpretation of the world but an interpretation similar to the one during the premodern era. Regardless of the fact that top intellectuals, as for example J. Habermas, insist that the cycle of modernity has not been completed yet and they are still waiting for its completion [10]. Regardless of how much important theorists of postmodernity, such as for example Jean-Francois Lyotard, tried to claim that "the postmodern signifies not the end of modernism, but another relation to it," [11] or that the postmodern approach is not a negation of Enlightenment, but it must be seen as an "analytical-reference discourse" with it, [12] or, finally, that "the postmodern is the development of a new theory, a new "postecumenical" reason, in order to restore the classical function of reason," [13] contemporary reality has undoubtedly shown that at least the certainty of secularisation as a transcendence of the sacred, the certainty of individualism and, above all, the certainty of absolute knowledge on the basis of pure reason, in other words the discovery of the truth through critical and historical research, is a refined illusion [14].

The recent crisis of the Greek society is nothing more than a miniature (with a Mediterranean temperament of course) of the intense discourse taking place at an international level on the role played by religion in the postmodern era. There are two main proposals put forward on the discourse table. The first one accepts the relativity of human societies and considers the evolution of societies self-evident, so that, with the help of moral religious values, all human beings can experience the good of freedom, equal and more just treatment and can have the possibility of unhindered development according to their personalities. On the contrary, the second one rejects the relativisation of human societies, attributes to them a metaphysical hypostasis and insists on their return to the sacred order and tradition which were abandoned. The former constitutes a transcendence of modernity accepting its positive elements but bringing religion back to public life. [15] The latter, on the contrary, constitutes a rejection of modernity insisting on the ideals of premodernity. These two proposals have something in common: they reject the basic condition of modernity according to which religion ought to remain a personal affair of the consciousness exclusively restricted to the private sphere away from the public one. [16] Both of them accept that religion can contribute to the transformation of modern society and deem that it is fair for the religious vision to play some kind of role –why not a significant one as well- towards this direction. Taking into consideration the dangerous progression of globalization, the inability of politics to control the autonomous and uncontrollable progress of economy, many people consider it something not only feasible [17] but desirable as well, perhaps even imperative, at least to the degree that the so-called "citizens' movements" are encouraged. Anyway, religion is now gradually recognised as an especially important element of the human being to be excluded from public dialogue and the public moral, social, cultural, even political and economic conflicts [18] .

The ability, though, of religion and, more specifically, of the Christian Church to apply its charitable dynamic in the society "so as to secure freedom, the uniqueness of the human being and the integrity of God's creation" [19] lies in the way with which the Church chooses to put forward its witness; the way that it applies its mission both in the so-called field of its "regular competence" (internal mission) as well as globally (external mission or, more correctly, "common Christian witness").


This study does not aim at solving this serious problem. It will be restricted to the theological concern about the mission of the Church which was developed at a global level from the beginning of modernity until the dawn of postmodernity, underlying the contribution –sometimes a catalytic one- of the Orthodox theology.

At a global level, the beginning of Christian mission goes back to the gradual breach between Christianity (of course at its institutional ecclesiastical expression) and the western-European civilisation, which was the natural result of the doctrine of secularisation and the compulsory expulsion of religion to the individual sphere at the European area [20]. During almost the whole period of modernity, and, mainly, during its first phase, the global Christian mission tried essentially to restore the old static view of a Christian world, a Christian order, inciting in many cases the institutional contrast between the Church and the world. The prevailing missionary terminology was: Christianisation, proselytisation, evangelisation.

Despite the qualitative success of the autonomous and independent missions (even in the Roman-Catholic world), this attempt was proven unfruitful for two reasons mainly: (a) first of all, due to the multiple fragmentation of the Christian world which of course pre-existed but it continuously grew bigger and (b) secondly, due to the extremely fast and more successful charge of secularisation in the discovered and later conquered (if not enslaved) world.


Undoubtedly, a point of reference for the mission of the Church at that phase was the concept of universalism [21]. The classic premodern theocratic expression of this concept led to the idea of a global church, as well as of a global empire: one God – one emperor – one church – one empire. The way, though, that the urban society developed after the industrialisation of Europe and America, while colonialism prevailed as a lever of expansion of the western civilisation, this Constantine model –I would call it the ‘Charlemagnean' one as the ancient Roman/ Byzantine model was transferred to the West by Charlemagne without, however, the necessary antibodies of the Orthodox eastern spirituality – led the Christian mission gradually to the belief that the duty of the Christians was to transfer the blessings of the Western (that is, urban) Christian civilisation to the rest of mankind. They gave, thus, the impression that the authentic missionary motives were inextricably connected with cultural and social motives [22]. The first initiatives towards the direction of dialogue and cooperation between the Churches were taken within this climate of liberal internationalisation at the end of the 19 th century, on the basis of the belief that there is a spiritual unity in Christianity and a catholic unity in Christian culture. Furthermore, the motto of the 1 st World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1910, was "evangelisation of the world in this generation" [23].

The gradual expansion of the Western civilisation all over the world, with its structural elements of secularisation and individualism, created the illusion of the gradual abolition of the ancient pre-Christian religions and, consequently, the possibility of Christianisation of the world [24]. This illusion deterministically led to a new understanding of the mission of the Church. Social change –in other words the ideals of modernity- ceased to be thought of as the breach or revolution against the divine order, but as the result of the action of God so that this change could be brought forward [25]. God Himself is now recognised as the creator of the historical change. The world of history, in which the work of God is carried out, appears now in the place of a theocratically structured world. The focal point of this development is the recognition of the event Christ which is of global significance, as well as of the idea of the proprietorship of Christ over the world and the church . During this phase the old paradigm of theocratic universalism was replaced by the new Christocentric universalism [26]. It must be underlined here that both the Christocentric universalism as well as the theology of history, as a tool and as a theological background of the missionary call of the Church, were developed as an answer to – and a change of policy against- the phenomenon of secularisation.

The positive points of this phase of contemporary history in global mission – during which, it must be noted, the awakening of the missionary self-consciousness of Orthodoxy started (unquestionably we have to mention here the names of Germanos of Thyatira, the great theologians of the Russian Diaspora, Anastasios Yannoulatos and others) – were first of all the abandonment of the idea that the mission concerns only isolated Christians (or missionary groups) and the recognition of the missionary responsibility of the Church as a whole. More important, though, than the transition from missio christianorum to missio ecclesiae, was a little later the recognition that the real subject of the mission is not the Church as an institution and organisation but God Himself [27] . It was the time of transition from missio ecclesiae to missio Dei, which was, though, restricted in the beginning to mission of Christ (missio Christi) by the Western Christianity.

It was soon, however, realised that although there was no return to the model of Christianity with the holy theocratic structures of premodernity at a global level, Christian-centric universalism, the traditional way that is of understanding and interpreting the Christology of incarnation in the West, contributed to the subtle transformation of Christocentrism into Christomonism [28]. At this critical point for the future of global mission, the presence of Orthodox theology was felt. "The dynamic encounter," confesses K. Raiser, "with the orthodox traditions in the field of theology and spirituality made us realise the deeply rooted pneumatological forgetfulness (Walter Kasper) in Western Christianity both in the Catholic as well as in the Protestant form." [29] Furthermore, seeing the history of salvation and historical change as central categories of thought led to an abandonment of human responsibility against the so-called autonomous laws of nature. It was, moreover, underlined –and not only by the Orthodox Christians- that the history of salvation, the divine economy, can lie in human history, but it is never exhausted within it [30] .

Taking for granted that "the Trinitarian theology states that the essence of the deity is a life of communion and that God's intervention in history aims at leading humanity and creation in general to this communion with God's existence," Orthodox Christians insisted that the Christian "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 the deity." [31] The abandonment of Christocentric universalism and the foundation of Christian mission on the Trinity doctrine in a more stable way had as result the abandonment of the imperialistic and expansionist tactics of the Christian mission of the 19 th century, as well as of the early 20 th century, and the adoption of a more inclusive and holistic behaviour of the Christian witness [32]. This practically meant condemnation of proselytisation carried out not only between Christians of different doctrines but towards the faithful of the other living religions as well [33]. The missionary terms witness and inter-religious discourse are used in parallel and in many cases instead of the classical missionary terminology. This, of course, does not mean abandonment of the contemporary mission of the salvific importance of Christology but a dynamic re-interpretation of Christology through pneumatology. [34]

The second point of the essential contribution of Orthodoxy in the fight of the "common Christian witness" was the Trinitarian dimension and the consequent eschatological perspective of the world mission. The eschatological gift of the new life in the Holy Spirit inaugurates a new creation, the regenerated history of all living organisms. With the increased participation of the Orthodox Christians in the theological laboratories and ecumenical fora of missionary concern, it was realised that wherever the eschatological tension between the history of salvation and secular history is lifted, then the history of salvation is deterministically relativised and as a result, theology loses its ability to act as prophetic criticism of the specific history of human action [35]. The Church, in other words, not only must not act as an institution of this world, but face the institutions of this world critically and denounce its unfair structures prophetically.

The third point of the contribution of the Orthodox theology to the development of theological documentation of the common Christian witness was the re-discovery of the Eucharistic theology of the ancient Church [36]. Not only did it justify the use of the concept of communion in theological quests but it also contributed to the development of the theology of the "house of God" (oikos Theou) that essentially complements, if not exceeds, the theology of the " Kingdom of God" as a tool in missionary quests. While the model of the Kingdom of God in the field of Christian mission transferred –erroneously of course- the belief of dominance with all the possible consequences, the model of the " house of God" offered the concept of relationships, familiarity and the warmth of the family to the missionary analyses. The Father of this family is God who, unceasingly, seeks to warmly " gather (His) children together, as a hen [doth gather] her brood under [her] wings", as the hen gathers the hatches under her wings (Matthew 23:37 = Luke 13:34 ). [37]

In the field of global mission nowadays, they use the phrase "the world to come" according to the terminology of the epistle to the Hebrews (2:5 see 13,14 ff), which is, though, described in accordance with the narration of the Revelation (chapter 21 and 22) as an open state in which this global discourse of cultures can take place. The global community can and must be a single house (oikos) where everybody opens up to the other and where everybody can share a common life despite their inner diversity. The term ecumene (world- universe) and its derivatives (ecumenism etc) are not only a description of a given situation. When we say ecumene we do not refer to an abstract universalism, such as the entire world or the entire human race or even a united global church. What we mean is the essential –and, at the same time, threatened relationships between churches, cultures, people and human societies as well as between mankind and the rest of the creation.

At the era of postmodernity, the problem under discussion [38] in the global Christian mission, as a result of this enigmatic ambiguity of ecumene, is the one of globalisation ; that is of the oppressing structures of an international ecumene, which is politically administered, financially organised and scientifically planned, electronically diffused and multiplied (Internet etc) -an ecumene which obeys to the logic of power without any sensitivity for cultural characteristics with the aim of achieving complete control suppressing life and threatening the earth. In this model, the global Christian mission with the help of the Biblical term "house= oikos" puts forward the vision of another ecumene based on relationships and not on structures. The vision that is of an ecumene which is the expression of live interaction and not of autonomy of laws leading to death; the vision of an ecumene in which all people of every race and language, the world of the Orthodox Christians and the Heterodox, the Christians and the faithful of other religions, the faithful and the unfaithful, the just and the sinful are creations of the one God; the vision of an ecumene which lives with the certainty that the earth is inhabitable because God has concluded His Will with all creation; a vision guided by the hope that God Himself "lived among us" (John 1:14). The ultimate vision from the book of Revelation that sees the world to come coming down from heaven as a New Jerusalem essentially reveals the deeper meaning of Christian witness for a world (ecumene) of original communion relationships, as they are revealed in the light of the eschata, with the perspective of the coming Kingdom of God .


It must be noted that this new understanding of the Christian mission, of the "common Christian witness" eagerly promoted by the Orthodox Church and Orthodox theology, created at some point a crisis in the unity of the world missionary movement. At the end of the 60s, after all the missions of almost all the Christian doctrines and denominations followed a common way, the extreme traditional evangelicals walked out of the common effort of the World Council of Churches (in which the Roman-Catholic Church participated outside the institutional framework), in order to set up the so-called "movement of Lausanne" in 1968. The basic reason for the tragic split of the world missionary movement was, inter alias (such as for example the recede in extreme Orthodox points of view), the abandonment of the expansionist mission to the benefit of the holistic society and the all-inclusive witness of the Gospel; the mass leaving of the traditional evangelicals, who believe that the abandonment of the expansionist mission to the benefit of the holistic society and the all-inclusive witness of the Gospel is a betrayal of the Christian faith, created a crisis in the unity of world mission [39] . This new dimension created frictions even within the Roman-Catholic Church as the recent spasmodic (and we hope last) reaction of its Dogmatic committee reveals with the publication of the study entitled Dominus Iesus, where a return to the missionary theological concept and practice of the Second Vatican Council prior to the dialogue with the other religions is attempted. It is, however, the unique effective confession and witness of the believing community to postmodernity. This witness has been brought forward to the society by theology, the servant of the Church, for some years now with what is internationally called public theology [40] .

Conventionally adopting the terminology of postmodernity (as it was done by Harvey Cox, who adopted the terminology of deconstruction upon the revision of his ideas on secularisation [41] ), the new model of the Orthodox mission has to pursuit the following so that the return of the Church to the public affairs is feasible and acceptable with the aim of its effective witness "in order for the world to live":

(a) the de-privatisation of its behaviour, with a simultaneous opening to the society and social problems:

(b) the de-localisation of its action, expanding it to the West, abandoning the acquired Eastern cultural characteristics and, of course, compromising with the idea of relevant phenomena in the East aiming not at proselytising on either side, but at fertile discourse;

(c) the de-dogmatisation of its expression stressing the essential ecclesiological characteristics of its eschatological identity, its synodicality and, mainly, of its communion, the special characteristic of the liturgical and sacramental self-consciousness;

(d) the de-liverance of its propagation, without centralised models which are foreign to the original Orthodox ecclesiology; and

(e) the de- patriarchate with real increased participation in the structure as well as in its liturgical expression.

This is the reason that the prelates of the ecumenical Orthodoxy re-confirmed its devotion to discourse during the recent Eucharistic Meeting in Nicaea, Bithynia (26/12/2000); a discourse not only with the other Christian Churches and denominations aiming at pursuing the visible unity but with "every person of good will" (irrespective, that is, of religion). In other words, discourse with the society with the aim of peace, atonement and the unity of mankind as well as the viability and integrity of creation.

[1] The term "secularisation" in this study is not used with the Christian meaning of the word -the behaviour of the ecclesiastical body and its turning to the secular character etc- but with the sociological meaning, as a structure of the society without the influence of religion with clearly secular (democratic?) criteria. More in Peter Berger's study, The Sacred Canopy. Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion, Doubleday, New York 1967, p. 106 ff.

[2] Η arvey Cox, The Secular City, Macmillan, New York 1965.

[3] Bryan Wilson, Religion in Secular Society, London 1966. Anthony Wallace, Religion: An Anthropological View, New York 1966. Thomas Luckmann, The Invisible Religion, New York 1967. Thomas Luckmann- Peter Berger, The Social Construction of Reality-A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge, New York 1966. Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy, and others

[4] See Darrell Fasching, The Ethical Challenge of Auschwitz and Hiroshima : Apocalypse or Utopia? Albany 1993.

[5] Danny Jorgensen, Religion and Modernization: Secularization or Sacralization? Jacob Neusner (ed), Religion and the Political Order, Scholars Press, Atlanta 1996, 19-30, p. 19.

[6] Ibid.

[7] See Rodney L. Petersen (ed), Christianity & Civil Society, ΒΤΙ, Boston 1995, and Jacob Neusner (ed), Religion and the Political Order, Scholars Press, Atlanta 1996.

[8] Η . Cox, Religion and Politics after The Secular City, J. Neusner (ed), Religion and the Political Order, pp 1-10.

[9] Darrell Fasching, «Judaism, Christianity, Islam: Religion, Ethics, and Politics in the (Post) modern World», Jacob Neusner (ed), Religion and the Political Order, pp 291-299.

[10] See for example Jurgen Habermas, Die Moderne-Ein unvollendetes Projekt, W.Welsch (red.), Wege aus der Moderne. Schlussetexte der Postmoderne Diskussion, Weihnheim 1988, p . 177-192.

[11] Jean-Francois Lyotard, An Interview : Theory, Culture and Society 5 (1989), 277-309, p. 277. See also by the same, The Postmodern Condition Minnesota UP, Minneapolis 1984 (Greek translation: H μεταμοντέρνα κατάσταση, Gnosi publications, Athens 1998).

[12] Hayden White, Topics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism, J.Hopkins U.P, Baltimore 1978, p. 51 onwards. See also his work with the characteristic title: Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in 19th c. Europe, J.Hopkins U.P, Baltimore 1973. The insistence of some researchers that critically deal with post-modernity in using the term ‘second modernity' is characteristic, see I. Petrou, Tradition and cultural adaptation to the second modernity, (Παράδοση και πολιτισμική προσαρμογή στη δεύτερη νεωτερικότητα), Synaxi, issue 75 (2000), pp 25-35.

[13] W. Welsch, Unsere postmoderne Moderne, VCH Acta humaniora, Wenheim 1988, p. 7

[14] This is according to my opinion the critical question about the relation between modernity and post-modernity and not the western or Greek classical character of right reason. Zisis Papadimitriou very correctly connects the Greek thought with the meaning of right reason (« Από την οικουμενικότητα του Διαφωτισμού στα μεταμοντέρνα αδιέξοδα . Αναζητώντας το μίτο του ορθού » (From the universality of Enlightenment to the post-modern dead-ends. Seeking the thread of the right), Elmazis S. [ed], Ανάμεσα σε δυο κόσμους . Από τη σύγχρονη κρίση στη μετανεωτερική προοπτική, (Between two worlds; From the modern crisis to the post-modernity perspective), Anichnefseis, Thessaloniki 1 988, 97-107, p. 106).

[15] As Robert N. Bellah characteristically underlines: "it is useless to continue hitting the dead horse of the Constantine model" (How to Understand the Church in an Individualistic Society, R. Petersen (ed), Christianity & Civil Society, p. 9).

[16] See the distinction attempted by Peter Berger between accommodation and resistance of the Church to the contemporary modernistic reality. ( The Sacred Canopy, p. 155 ff)

[17] See E. Venizelos, Σχέσεις Εκκλησίας - Κράτους (Church and State Relations), Paratiritis, Thessaloniki 2000 .

[18] See Walter Capps, Religion and Politics: Finding Normative Factors in Current Discussions, Jacob Neusner (ed), Religion and the Political Order, pp 259-273.

[19] Taken from the Message of the Primates, at Bethlehem, beginning of 2000

[20] See S. Neill, History of Missions pages 150, 187, 207 ff, also p. 223. Let us note that this famous historian of the Christian mission does not deal with the subject under discussion.

[21] K. Raiser, The future of ecumenism, Change of example in the ecumenical movement? EKO 10 Thessaloniki 1995, page 79 ff.

[22] Ibid, p. 76

[23] A biblical point of reference at this phase was the phrase: "go ye therefore and teach all nations…" (Matthew 28:19) See Ion Bria –P. Vassiliadis, Orthodox Christian Witness. Missionary Text Book, ΕΚΟ 1 Katerini 1989, p. 119 ff

[24] This was the secret hope and basic argument of Arend Th. van Leeuwen (see Christianity in World History: The Meeting of the Faiths of East and West, London 1964). Unfortunately for him, though, and this old concept about Christian mission and fortunately for these regions, the reclamation of their cultural independence upon the end of colonialism was accompanied by a revival of their religious traditions that were often the symbol of their cultural identity. To the grief, therefore, of the "expansionist" mission, all the live religions, Islamism, Hinduism, Buddhism etc, were reborn and even reached the point of creating missions in historically Christian regions. More in Κ . Raiser, The future of Ecumenism, p. 115 ff.

[25] Ibid, p. 102.

[26] See the classical work of the first General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) W. A. Vissert Hooft, No Other Name: The Choice between Syncretism and Christian Universalism, SCM London 1963. See also criticism on this concept in the wonderful study of K. Raiser, The future of ecumenism, A paradigm shift in Ecumenical Movement ; EKO 10 Thessaloniki 1995, p. 88 ff.

[27] See E. Voulgarakis, « Ιεραποστολή » (" Mission "), Religious and Moral Encyclopaedia, volume VI, v. 763 ff

[28] See Stanley Samartha, Courage for Dialogue. Ecumenical Issues in Inter-religious Relationships, WCC Geneva 1981. In the "missionary example" of the Christocentric universalism a religious and political monism was obvious. A concept, that is, of centralisation both as regards the quest of visible unity as well as the witness of the Church in ecumene and beyond.

[29] Κ . Raiser, The future of ecumenism, p. 174. B J. Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom of God, SCM London 1981, L .Boff, Trinity and Society, Tunbridge Wells 1988

[30] More on this subject in my study "The Orthodox Church and the quest of visible unity", Orthodoxy and the unity of all, ( Ορθοδοξία και η των πάντων ενότης ), Publication of the Holy Monastery of Koutloumousio, The Holy Mountain, pp. 139-152.

[31] The consequence of this theological concern was the gradual biblical reference to other passages apart from Matthew 28:19. More in the classic work of D.J. Bosch, Transforming Mission . Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission, New York, 1991. "The mission of the church is based on Christ's mission. A correct understanding of this mission requires in the beginning a reference to the Trinitarian theology. Christ sent the apostles as Christ Himself was sent by His Father through the Holy Spirit (John 21:22 -33)" ( Ion Bria –P. Vassiliadis, Orthodox Christian Witness, p. 15 ).

[32] The formal recognition of the Trinitarian doctrine has never of course been a problem for the ecumenically oriented mission, especially since the statement of the WCC was expanded in the Trinitarian issue in the General Assembly at New Delhi (1961). It retained though its Christocentric orientation.

[33] More in the recent wonderful study of (Archbishop of Tirana) Anastasios Yannoulatos, Universalism and Orthodoxy, ( Παγκοσμιότητα και Ορθοδοξία ), Akritas, Athens 2000, p. 169 ff. See also by the same: " Positions of the Christians on the other religions" ( Θέσεις των Xριστιανών έναντι των άλλων θρησκειών ), Athens 1975.

[34] See (Metropolitan of Pergamos) J. Ζ izioulas, Being as Communion, Studies in Personhood and the Church, SVP, Crestwood, New York 1993.

[35] For a more analytical approach on the subject see my study: "Orthodoxy and theology of affinity" ( Ορθοδοξία και θεολογία της συνάφειας ), lex Orandi. Studies of liturgical theology ( Μελέτες Λειτουργικής Θεολογίας ), ΕΚΟ 9 Thessaloniki 1994, pp. 139-156

[36] See my study: "The Eucharistic perspective in the mission of the Church" ( Η ευχαριστιακή προοπτική της αποστολής της Εκκλησίας ), Synaxi 61 (1997), pp. 29-43. Also: Eucharist and Witness. Orthodox Perspectives on Unity and Mission of the Church, WCC-HC Press, Geneva-Boston 1998

[37] More in the essential contribution of Κ . Raiser, The future of ecumenism, p. 191 ff.

[38] The Commission on the World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) of the WCC recently (2000) adopted and promoted for study its last mission statement. This statement, which essentially improves the basic text of principles of 1981, ("Ecumenical ideas on mission and evangelism", Ion Bria - P. Vassiliadis, Orthodox Christian Witness, pp. 177ff), is generally accepted that it is full of the Orthodox theological concern and focuses on the phenomenon of globalisation. A translation in Greek is being prepared by Akritas publications.

[39] See Mission, Proselytism and the Ecumenical Movement, El. Voulgarakis et . a ( eds ), "Πορευθέν"".." Χαριστήριος τόμος προς τιμήν του Αρχιεπισκόπου Αλβανίας Αναστασίου (Γιαννουλάτου) (" Go fourth …" Volume dedicated in honour of the Archbishop of Albania, Anastasios (Yannoulatos), Athens 1997, pp 77-97

[40] This is the direction followed in his Orthodox theological arguments by the professor of Dogma of the Holy Cross School of Theology, Rev. Emm Clapsis, whose work " Orthodoxy in the New World " has recently been published in Greek, Thessaloniki 2000.

[41] Η . Cox, Religion and Politics after The Secular City, p. 9

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