Olga Kuznetzova, Head, Theology College, St Philaret’s Institute (Moscow)
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.
For citation: Kuznetsova O. V. The Problem of Identifying Church Boundaries in the writings of Archpriest Sergius Bulgakov, Protopresbyter Nicholas Afanasiev and Archpriest Georges Florovsky // Bulletin of the St. Philaret Institute. 2021. Issue. 37, pp. 25–42. DOI: 10.25803/SFI.2021.37.1.002