Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Ecumenism


We communicate, but we don't "commune"
by fr. Thomas A. Vamvinis

From the periodical "Ecclesiastic Intervention", a monthly publication by the Holy Metropolis of Nafpaktos and Saint Vlassios - Issue No.171 

Source: http://www.parembasis.gr/2010/10_10_05.htm


Sometimes, in various texts pertaining to the "institution of the Church", certain sociological and political references are implemented, but without the necessary adjustments and clarifications - a fact that denotes a somewhat "external" approach by the Church; an approach that is foreign to Her content.

The Church is not a political institution; She is not a political party, nor is She any cultural or philanthropical union. She has been constituted sacramentally, not legalistically.  She is an organism, not an organization.

Being a God-human Organism, the Church exists and is "politically involved" in human History, but Her "polity" is "in heaven, from whence we accept the Lord Jesus as Saviour" (Philip.3:20).

Thus, the Church is within the world but is simultaneously outside it. To Her applies the teaching of Saint John the Chrysostom for Her pastors: he exhorts them to be inside the problems of the world and at the same time beyond them; to bear those problems together with the people, but to be free of the corruptive malevolence of the world.

Therefore, for the living body of the Church there is no speculation over "introversions" and "extroversions" that might preoccupy political parties and unions.  The problem lies in the members of the Church and Her pastors; that is, to what degree they are active or potential members thereof. The Church - in the persons of Her saints - has no problems when it comes to Her dialectic relations with the people; She co-exists and converses with the world, but does not "commune" with it, in the fruitless works "of darkness"; instead, She checks them (Ephesians 5:11)

Her presence inside the world is salvific and critical. She saves, and She offers critique. She does not censure. She separates the truth from falsehoods, the true life from a fake one.  She does not pronounce Her critique with caustic words and aggressive sermons (although they sometimes act beneficially in activating a sleeping conscience), but rather with Her presence, Her "work of faith" (2 Thess.1:11) and the faith "activated by love" (Galat.5:6).  She radiates a "benevolent light", which, however, is also "a discerner of the remembrances and the meanings of the heart"  (Hebr.4:12), which is why those who are trapped in works of mischief distance themselves from it.


"Respect" does not mean "acceptance"

Within the clime of the much-advertised "multi-cultural" societies, we shall be obligated to live with different peoples, of other national traditions, of other religions. Christian love - and not the "Charter of Human Rights" - obligates us to be open to all, to respect them and to accept them all, as images of God.  However, that same love, which is a natural energy of the Triadic God and not a frivolous sentiment or ideology, compels us to NOT accept any heresy or their deluded religions

We respect whatever of theirs is sacred.  However, this respect does not signify that we too embrace whatever they hold sacred. We respect their religious otherness, but we do not alter our faith for their sake.

Essentially, we respect their freedom - the inviolable essence of their conscience - while we continue to live the unadulterated truth of our faith, in the Divine-human organism of our Church. 


Translation: K.N.

Article published in English on: 10-12-2010

Last update: 10-12-2010