Friday, August 27, 2010

Light from the East

Perry at Energic Procession unearthed an excellent quote on Eastern Orthodox Ecclesiology. I really ought to quote the whole passage, it is that good. Here is a fragment:

All the bishops participate in the apostolic succession and all the local churches are for this reason in communon with each other. By regarding the Petrine succession and not the apostolic succession of all the bishops as the origin and basis of this power, the pope isolated himself not only from the community of bishop, but also from the whole Church. Seen in this light, it was quite logically consistent for the First Vatican Council to define the decisions made by the pope ex cathedra as irreversable ex sese, non autem ex consensu Ecclesiae.

Read the whole thing here

About the Archbishop of Australia, see here


Anonymous said...

Honest curiosity question:

How does this "communion" benefit individuals? That is, what role does it play in helping someone to imitate Christ that would not be possible in an RC setting?

Apophatically Speaking said...

Right belief comes from right communion, not vice versa. Hence likewise repentance precedes illumination.

The differences between the RC and EOC are far from insignificant. Christ calls us to truth, to Himself. We are called to worship God in "spirit and in truth", from the Gospel of John:

"a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

So we also see this has implications for practical matters such as the imitation of Christ. This is not a matter of believe, of doctrine or external behavior (else it would be a mere aping, mimicking, intellectual assent to right beliefs, or moralizing and such). But this imitation is rather communion with God in truth - to become Christ-like is just that, a true ontological transformation. This is communion and it is of great, ineffable benefit for it is God Himself. From Him springs forth all communion, all meaning, all truth and all goodness.

Joe said...

But doesn't one need to have some form of belief before one can repent and commune with God? A belief like there is a personal God to commune with. A belief that there is a holy and loving God who will forgive us our sins.

Anonymous said...

I thought the communion you were speaking about was a communion of churches. Communion with God is an entirely separate matter - one that does not require that one participate in this or that particular organization. Indeed, I find that following the formulae laid out by institutions serves more to impede than to enhance the objective of "imitating Christ." Seems to me that the only means of telling whether or not one is imitating Christ is whether or not that person is yielding the same results as Christ did. If so, the communion is evident. If not, it ain't. And if it ain't, it's time to reassess.

Apophatically Speaking said...


Yes indeed I was referring to both. I don't see a substantial contradistinction between the communion of the Orthodox churches and communion with God. They are intricately and organically connected, as one flows from the other: communion with God is the source of communion between the sister churches.

As to judging once's imitation of Christ and the need for reassessment if true ontological and existential evidence is wanting, I wholeheartedly agree.

Apophatically Speaking said...


I think your question hinges upon what is meant by "some" in "some form of belief". As creatures made in the Image of God we all have some knowledge of God, the Creator. This is not to say that this knowledge cannot be distorted (cf. Romans 1 for instance). As the great "I AM" God is the One who is. And as such He cannot be denied, His very being is something that confronts us. We can see this with various persons in Scripture: Moses is confronted by God, called to purify himself in his ascent on Mt Sinai where on the summit he communes with God and revelation follows; Paul is confronted en route to Damascus, called to repentance and communion and illumination follow; Saint Photini (the woman at the well to whom Christ spoke about worshiping God in spirit and truth) who didn't know God, but who after being confronted by a Stranger repents and became a great evangelist.

This is all to say that the Christian Faith is not assent to doctrine (say this, believe that and you will be right with God). It is communion with the Living God from Whom all truth and illumination proceeds.

Anonymous said...

"It is communion with the Living God from Whom all truth and illumination proceeds." - So long as that communion is arrived at through the Orthodox faith?

Apophatically Speaking said...


St. Paul certainly wasn't sent to a Jewish synagogue to be cured of his blindness. :>)

I speak as a Christian first and foremost; specifically as an Eastern Orthodox Christian, I make no bones about it. That is not to say that communion with God can't be obtained through various ways and means to some degree or another. Some are more beneficial than others.