Issue №24, pp. 24–45
The article outlines the correlation between the ministries of bishop and presbyter in the ancient church. The author highlights the emergence of the two separate ministries from the original single ministry of proestotes. He draws attention to Fr Nikolay Afanasiev’s opinion that historically the holders of the two ministries received the same gifts of grace. According to his hypothesis, even nowadays the difference between bishop and priest is not charismatic but rather a matter of ecclesiastical discipline. Some primary consequences of this conclusion for the present-day church are also pointed out.
Keywords: bishop, presbyter, priest, proestos, parish, Afanasiev, ecclesiology
Toward a Baptismal Ecclesiology: Faith Content and Ecclesial Context
Issue №34, pp. 19–45
This article focuses on the study of the essence and structure of the church in the context of contemporary Orthodox ecclesiology. A theological definition and dogma on the Church do not yet exist, though XIX and XX century’s theologians have made significant contributions to our understanding of the issues involved. This article analyzes the essence and influence of Eucharistic ecclesiology on the development of our understanding of the Church in the XX century, pointing out that Eucharistic ecclesiology pays little attention to making sense of baptism, which many modern Christians understand as nothing more than a ritual. We might be able to significantly supplement Eucharistic ecclesiology by making reference to the meaning of baptism as the beginning of life in the church and entrance into the Eucharistic fellowship. This article looks at baptism in both its broad and narrow contexts: as threefold submersion accompanied by the words “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”, and as the sacral mystery of Enlightenment. Both linear and cyclical models for understanding baptism are considered, as well as various approaches to making sense of the Church’s understanding of baptism, including those of St Cyprian, St Basil the Great and other fathers of the Eastern Christian Church. In conclusion, an eschatological understanding of baptism emerges, as entry into the mystery of the Christian faith in the crucified and resurrected Christ. This is a reality that is integral to life and demands constant growth from Christians, but in its fullness this reality can be revealed in an eschatological perspective.
Keywords: Baptism, Baptismal Ecclesiology, Eucharistic Ecclesiology, Church, St Cyprian, St Basil.
A Contradictory Experience of Identifying the Boundaries of the Church in the New Testament within their Relation to the Revelation of the Kingdom of Heaven
Issue №3, pp. 51–58
The Principles of the Pastoral Ministry of Nikolay Neplyuev, Founder of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross Labour Brotherhood
Issue №40, pp. 63–95
The present article uses the example of the activity of Nikolay Neplyuev (1851–1908), founder of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross Labour Brotherhood, to consider pastoral care as an activity of gathering church assembly (Fr. Nikolai Afanasiev’s term), which is not, however, an exclusive attribute of hierarchical ministry. Not being a holder of holy orders and having no other institutional assignment to his ministry, Neplyuev founded a church brotherhood in 1889, which possessed, if not all, then many ecclesiological properties characteristic of the church assembly structure. Neplyuev consistently tried to implement the most important apostolic principles, particularly those articulated in 1 Peter, where the author of the epistle calls on the younger in the assembly to submit themselves to their elders, and finally concludes: “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another” (1 Peter 5:5). In his pastoral practice, Nikolay Neplyuev sought to overcome the abstract symbolism of pastoral ministry, which presupposes the gathering of church people, firstly, in a parish, and secondly, around a clergyman symbolizing Christ or an Apostle. Neplyuev carries out his ministry primarily as a gathering of the church assembly. Taking care of an individual becomes integral to taking care of the assembly as a whole, in its specific personal composition. At the same time, the assembly also appears not as a symbol of the Church, but as a personal gathering of its living members having its certain boundaries: the members of the assembly know everyone who is part of this assembly. Various particular aspects of Neplyuev’s pastorate, such as the teaching of the faith, common work and life on Christian principles, and the establishment and preservation of both the formal canonical and informal spiritual boundaries of the brotherhood are also being discussed. It is emphasised that Nikolay Neplyuev was in direct communication with the members of the brotherhood, sharing with them all aspects of life. Special attention is given to Neplyuev’s relationship with the hierarchical priesthood: the local bishop and the priesthood of the brotherhood. Сalling himself “guardian of the brotherhood”, Neplyuev did not usurp the canonical position and the related authority of the local bishop, but built relationships with the hierarchy on Evangelical principles.
Keywords: theology, pastoral theology, pastoral care, Nikolay Neplyuyev, Exaltation of the Holy Cross Brotherhood, Labour brotherhood, ecclesiology, hierarchy, non-hierarchical, conciliarity
Church Statics and Dynamics (Generalizing the Ecclesiological Discourse)
Issue №29, pp. 53–66
Contrary to well-shaped theological fields ecclesiology still has to discover the ways to coordinate its possibilities of conceptualization with the described reality levels. Hence we suggest treating this branch of theological knowledge as a still developing discourse. This article presents an attempt to use a static/dynamic controversy as an organizing axis to the ecclesiological discourse.
Keywords: ecclesiology, church, discourse, concept, statics, dynamics
The Significance and Prospects of the Ecclesiological Theory of Archpriest Nikolay Afanasiev
Issue №24, pp. 9–23
The article considers the value of the ecclesiological conception of Archpriest Nikolay Afanasiev in relation to the contemporary theological context. The author points out the non-use of the academic and practical potential of eucharistic ecclesiology. Generally, it has not been assimilated by today’s theology, since there is still no consistent research on the importance and prospects of Fr Nikolay Afanasiev’s conception. At the same time, an attempt is made to demonstrate the constructive potentialities, theological systematisation and the use of eucharistic ecclesiology in church practice.
Keywords: eucharistic ecclesiology, church gathering, charismatic community, reception, church norm, “power of love”.
Issue №34, pp. 61–74
This article takes as its starting point Fr Nikolay Afanasiev’s significant study entitled “The Church Which Presides in Love”, in which in addition to treating the long-discussed relationship between local and universal ecclesiology, Afanasiev proposes an innovative interpretation of the church primate (hierarch), which presupposes the practical refusal of any manifestation of primacy in favour of the conceptual imagery of priority, previously unexplored in academic discourse. According to Afanasiev, priority is an exclusively spiritual quality of the church community which exceeds others in the charisma of Christian witness because of its foundation in the love of Christ. This article examines the possibility of extending this understanding of primacy based on a priority of love, as proposed by Fr Nikolay Afanasiev in the context of interrelations between local church communities, to the internal life of any given local Christian community. The author supposes that it is possible to extrapolate from the priority of love as the foundation of authority of a particular local fellowship in relationship to others, in order to conclude that within each community it is this charisma of love that becomes the foundational, if not unique criterion of the community’s spiritual maturity and the extent to which it is living its calling. Turning the priority of love into a fundamental and pervasive life principle for the local church community makes it necessary, in the author’s opinion, to integrate imagery depicting the “flashing” or “shimmering” manner in which the Church of God appears within history into our conceptual understanding of orthodox ecclesiology. This “shimmering” indicates the lack of self-sufficiency of any given empirical form of church, without respect to its scale in numbers and degree of institutional effectiveness.
Keywords: Eucharistic ecclesiology, universal/local church, primacy, priority, church authority.
Hierarchism and Eldership in the Writings of the Apostolic Fathers
Issue №12, pp. 53–64
The article considers the relationship between pastors and lay people in the early church based on the sources closest to the Apostolic times that became known as the “Writings of the Apostolic Fathers”. These writings reflect a shift in the minds of Christians with regard to an essential church ministry. The concepts of “hierarchism” and “eldership” are juxtaposed on the basis of their onthological (in)equality. Hierarchism is associated with cosubordination, a fundamental separation between a pastor and his congregation and with his special status in this congregation. In accordance with the principle of universal priesthood, eldership is viewed as special responsibility resting on one of God’s flock for his/her brothers and sisters, and for the life of the whole congregation of the faithful.
Keywords: hierarchism, eldership, equality, bishop, presbyter, elder.
The Characteristics and Boundaries of Eucharistic Gathering in the Writings of Protopresbyters Nikolay Afanasiev, Alexander Schmemann and Metropolitan John Zizioulas
Issue №31, pp. 30–53
The article discusses the characteristics and boundaries of eucharistic gathering in the works of Protopresbyter Nikolay Afanasyev. It also traces the development of his ideas in the writings of his most notable followers, Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann and Metropolitan John Zizioulas. The notion of eucharistic gathering is central to Fr Nikolay Afanasyev’s Eucharistic ecclesiology, and so is the issue of its attributes and boundaries. In this paper, an attempt is made to formulate a list of criteria by which eucharistic gathering can be identified (all together in one place for the same purpose, the lack of observers, the royal priesthood service of all participants, the spirit of unity and love etc.). Moreover, considering the views of Schmemann and Zizioulas shows how differently they developed Fr Nikolay Afanasyev’s ideas. Whereas Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann maintained the continuity of Fr Nikolay’s conceptual issues, Metropolitan John Zizioulas elaborated his theology in a rather different and independent way.
Keywords: eucharistic gathering, ecclesiology, Protopresbyter Nikolay Afanasyev, Metropolitan John Zizioulas, Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann.
The Problem of Identifying Church Boundaries in the writings of Archpriest Sergius Bulgakov, Protopresbyter Nicholas Afanasiev and Archpriest Georges Florovsky
Issue №37, pp. 25–42
The article considers one of the most pressing problems of Orthodox ecclesiology, related to the identification of different ecclesial boundaries. It depends not only on the solution of this question to clarify the doctrine of the Church, which is extremely important in the absence of a special ecclesiological dogma, but also to find ways of achieving the church unity desired by all. The works of Russian Orthodox theologians who made the most significant contribution to the
development of Orthodox ecclesiology in the twentieth century – Archpriest Sergius Bulgakov, Protopr. Nikolai Afanasiev, and Archpriest Georges Florovsky – are used for this study. Proceeding from an understanding of each individual’s belonging to the Church (membership in the Church) and the problem of recognition or non-recognition of sacraments administered outside the Church, the authors under study come to important conclusions. The main one concerns the need to distinguish not only between the nature of one’s ecclesiality (actual, potential and conditional membership) and the canonical and gracious validity of the sacraments administered outside the Church, but also to consider the existence of ecclesial boundaries of a different order than just canonical ones. The analysis of the studied works results in revealing the difference in approaches in determining the boundaries of the Church of different orders (Florovsky distinguishes charismatic boundaries, Afanasiev points out the boundaries of the Eucharistic assembly, while Bulgakov speaks of mystical boundaries).
Keywords: ecclesiology, Church boundaries, Archpriest Sergius Bulgakov, Protopr. Nicholas Afanasiev and Archpriest Georges Florovsky.
“The faithful”, “the laity” and “the people of God” in the theological legacy of N. P. Aksakov: to the issue of the content of the concepts
Issue №38, pp. 103–123
In his ecclesiological studies, church historian and canonist N. P. Aksakov attempts to restore the New Testament content of the terms “faithful”, “laic” and “the people of God”, with the aim of reviving in the Church the doctrine of the royal-priestly dignity of the members of the people of God. The term “layman” is not excluded by the scholar as being rooted in the church, although he notes its inconsistency with apostolic tradition. In his writings, Aksakov fleshes it out with a different meaning, putting it on a par with the concepts of “faithful” and “laic”. To be faithful, laic, laity is a vocation and at the same time it is a church rank. Ordination to this rank is performed in the sacrament of baptism, and the main characteristic of life is service. The service performed by the faithful raises them to the dignity of a member of the people of God. The Church is the people of God, consisting of the faithful, exercising the priestly ministry common to all in the various areas of activity of the Christian community: in worship, in election and ordination, in administration and in the church court. In the exercise of the ministry of the universal priesthood of the people of God, conciliarity is realized as the fundamental quality of the Church. The alienation of the people of God from the ministry detracts from the conciliarity and distorts the life of the entire church body. The experience of church life shows that the people of God who renounce their vocation are thus deprived of their royal and priestly dignity and risk acquiring the status of an “accidental gathering”. A Christian who does not serve God becomes uninitiated, degrading to a layman (in the sense of a profane or secular person) in his aspirations, the quality of faith and life.
Keywords: theology, ecclesiology, N. P. Aksakov, royal priesthood, laic, the people of God, priesthood, clergy, conciliarity.
The Living Tradition of the Church in the Theological Legacy of Nikolay Aksakov
Issue №29, pp. 35–52
This article is an attempt to systematise the views of the prominent Russian ecclesiologist and canonist Nikolay Aksakov on the Tradition of the Church. Aksakov speaks of Tradition as the living and continuous self-consciousness of the Church – one and integral, identical throughout the ages. In his opinion, the task of theology is to identify the apostolic tradition of the Church among numerous ecclesiastical and human traditions. Aksakov’s scholarly work had the practical objective of achieving recognition that the life of the Church must be restored on the everlasting and unchanging canonical principles stemming from the apostolic tradition and bearing witness to the sobornal organization of the Church. Such restoration, according to Aksakov, could have taken place only by convening a Local Council, where the plenitude of the Orthodox Russian Church would have been reflected through the developed system of church representation.
Keywords: Tradition of the Church, canon law, ecclesiology
Various Thoughts on the Ecclesiology of Vatican II
Issue №34, pp. 96–111
A return to the biblical understanding of the “people of God” in referring to the Church implies a change in our understanding and perception of the Catholic Church itself on the part of the fathers participating in the Second Vatican Council. Specifically, all those who make up the church and perform various services and functions within the church are a part of the people of God. A dynamic relationship between charismatic and hierarchical ministries should be integrated into common and individual consciousness and influence the accelerated growth of communities and the intensity with which the Gospel is proclaimed. Charismatic and hierarchical ministries are gifts, and those who have been given them should not use them as instruments of power or domination over their fellow Christians. Nor should these gifts be used toward personal goals, in order to shore up any sort of power – small or large – but should be used to bring us closer to the Kingdom of God on earth here and now, the full embodiment of which will occur only with the Parousia of Jesus Christ.
Keywords: Vatican II, Lumen gentium (“A Light to the Nations”), people of God, charismatic ministries, hierarchical ministries, kingdom of God.
“The Republic of Autocephalous Churches” as a Model of the Orthodox Church
Issue №34, pp. 75–95
In 2018–2019 World Orthodoxy entered a phase of severe institutional crisis, which exacerbated the contradictions existed between the autocephalous churches. The article analyzes the ecclesiological causes of the crisis. The author points out that in Orthodox ecclesiology there are at least two conflicting normative theories describing the structure of the Orthodox Church in different ways. The first is based on the principle of pan-Orthodox unity, the second is based on the principle of independence of autocephaly. The first model describes the position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and is supported mainly in Greek-speaking churches. The second model describes the position of the Russian Orthodox Church, to which the so-called “New patriarchies” are usually joined. As one of the main causes of the crisis, the author also emphasizes church decisionism, within the framework of which it is impossible to reconcile the principles of pan-Orthodox unity and independence of autocephaly. A characteristic feature of the modern Orthodox ecclesial landscape is the lack of the institution of law at the level of relations between autocephalous churches. The source of the ecclesial order is not the common rules to all participants of inter-Orthodox relations, but the sovereign will of the autocephalous churches. In the final part of the article, the author proposes, as an alternative, the contours of normative ecclesiological theory based on the main principles of republicanism: freedom as non-dominance and the rule of law.
Keywords: ecclesiology, inter-Orthodox relations, republicanism, decisionism, autocephaly, primacy, freedom as non-dominance, canon law.
What is the Role of the Laity in the Church? The Laity are the Church!
Issue №37, pp. 43–73
The question of the role of the laity in the Church, in and of itself, requires clarification insofar as the laity are the very essence of the people of God; they are not only in the Church – they are the Church. All divisions between clergy and laity in Church History are relatively late innovations, as this paper seeks to demonstrate. Neither New Testament texts nor early Christian sources show
evidence of the separate category of “laity”, as a definition of non-clerics, who do not have a calling to the special liturgical ministries. All members of the church gathering are together the essence of the people of God (ὁ λαὸs τοῦ Θεοῦ) – a phrase used to describe all those in the gathering, whether or not they have been assigned a particular ministry in the Church. Even the word "laity” presents us with a terminological difficulty, insofar as it does not have a clear terminological equivalent in Russian (the term “laiki” only partially conveys the meaning and when we designate people within the Church who do not have a specific church or liturgical ministry as “miryanje”, we are specifically accenting their tendency to associate themselves only with “this world”, understanding them as “people who are concerned with the interests and needs of this world”). This author of this paper seeks to demonstrate that for any faithful member of the people of God, it is his or her service to the church – according to his or her spiritual gifting and related ministry, that bears witness to full membership. The genre of “Story
Theology” is of particular significance here, alongside early Christian sources and modern church documents. The narrative of “Story Theology” allows us to reveal the path of faith and simple people’s desire to sanctify their lives before God, while retaining their faithfulness to their Christian calling. Their real life witness to the deep and transformative power of God’s action reveals to us, in the opinion of Archimandrite Robert Taft, the actual place that faithful members of the people of God who are designated as “lay” members hold in the history of Church sanctity
and witness to Christ in the world.
Keywords: Liturgics, ecclesiology, laity, people of God, lay people, clerics, church fellowship, prayer, Eucharist, Story Theology.
The Role of Women in the Church, the Ordination of Women, and the Order of Deaconesses: An Orthodox Theological Approach
Issue №26, pp. 66–87
The article attempts to develop an Orthodox theological approach to understanding the role of women in the church, their access to the hierarchical priesthood and the possibility of reviving the order of deaconesses. These issues are considered in the light of the theological debate in recent years, as well as on the basis of the decisions of the Pan-Orthodox Council, held in Crete in June 2016. The article also emphasizes that, in the final analysis, the issue is so thorny not because of the ordination of women as such (in other words, not as the sociological problem and the challenges of the present), but rather due to the missiological, liturgical, anthropological and ecological dimensions of understanding the Christian priesthood.
Keywords: ordination of women, order of deaconesses, Pan-Orthodox Council, ecclesiology, anthropology.
The Biblical Background of εκκλησία and its Later Application in the Orthodox Ecclesiology
Issue №31, pp. 9–29
The author compares two types of Orthodox ecclesiology. The first one is the eucharistic/liturgical ecclesiology based on the biblical (Semitic) understanding of the Church as God’s people, gathered around Christ and called to proclaim the coming Kingdom every time the Church comes together ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό (in one place), especially for celebrating the Eucharist. The second is the therapeutic/cathartic ecclesiology associated with the theological school of Alexandria. This type considers the Church not as the image of eschaton but rather as the image of the beginning of all being, the image of creation. In this ecclesiology, the Church is viewed separately from the historically existing church community, as a perfect and eternal Idea. The emphasis is put on the purification of the soul (catharsis), deliverance from passions and healing (therapy) of the fallen human nature. The spirituality and mission of the Church within the second type of ecclesiology are aimed not at the synergistic and prophetic proclamation of the Kingdom of God but at the salvation of the soul of each particular Christian. According to the author, today the Church needs to return to the prophetic nature of Orthodoxy as well as to the fundamental biblical tradition.
Keywords: ecclesiology, images of the Church, eschaton, Catechetical School of Alexandria, Eucharist.
“Contemporary Orthodox Ecclesiology: Church Unity and Divisions in the Church”. Theology and Research Conference. An Interview with Fr Georgy Kochetkov, Deacon Vasiliy Felmy, E. A. Pilipenko, P. Vasiliades, Archimandrite Kirill (Govorun), Th. Bremer, Fr Stephan Lipke
Issue №34, pp. 112–148
This series of interviews published in the SFI Journal is a foretaste of what will be heard at SFI’s annual conference focusing on issues of contemporary Orthodox ecclesiology. The conference “Church Unity and Divisions in the Church” will be the most recent in a series: “Between Eucharistic Ecclesiology and the Reality of Parish Life” (2017), “The Nature of the Church and Its Boundaries” (2018), “Ministry and Structure of the Church” (2019). On the one hand, the Eastern and Western churches continue to take steps, if not towards reunion, at least towards increased dialogue and the elimination of historically accrued stereotypes. On the other hand, a number of new challenges to church unity have appeared. In particular, there have been a number of recent events in the Orthodox world, such as the non-participation of several local churches in the Pan-Orthodox Council, the establishment of a new metropolis under the jurisdiction of Constantinople in Ukraine, and the debates around the status of the Archdiocese of Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe. In light of these tendencies, we ask Orthodox and Roman Catholic theologians to answer a number of questions about the nature of church unity and the prospectives for preserving visible unity between Christian churches in the contemporary world.
Keywords: Church unity, sobornost, conciliarity, Christian dialogue, types of ecclesiology, Phyletism, borders of the Church.
Contemporary Orthodox Ecclesiology: the Nature of the Church and Its Boundaries. Interview with Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware), Priest Georgy Kochetkov, Archpriest Valentin Asmus, A. G. Dunayev, A. V. Shishkov
Issue №26, pp. 9–37
A series of interviews timed to the conference “Contemporary Orthodox Ecclesiology: the Nature of the Church and Its Boundaries,” organised by St Philaret’s Christian Orthodox Institute, reflects the views on the relevant ecclesiological issues by representatives of various Orthodox churches and trends within the Russian Orthodox Church. The theologians, whose opinions are collected in this section, focus on multiple aspects of the existence of the Church and outline differently the possible models of its organisation and the permeability of its boundaries. The diversity of viewpoints indicates, on the one hand, the absence of the one Orthodox ecclesiology today. On the other hand, all these highlight the pressing issues related to how the Church identifies itself and its place in the secular world in the post-Constantine era.
Keywords: ecclesiology, boundaries of the Church, sobornost, church communication, parish, community.
Conference “Contemporary Orthodox Ecclesiology: Ministry and Structure of the Church”. Interview with Bishop Irinei (Steenberg), Archpriest John Behr, Priest Georgy Kochetkov, D. S. Gasak, V. V. Aleksandrov, Priest Hyacinthe Destivelle
Issue №29, pp. 67–79
Conference “Contemporary Orthodox Ecclesiology: The Nature of the Church and its Boundaries”
Issue №29, pp. 9–10