Thursday, April 4, 2013

The important role of the Orthodox Church within the Ecumenical Movement

Many argue that the Orthodox Church should stop being a member of organisations such as the World Council of Churches or other ecumenical bodies, removing itself from the dialogue with the non-Orthodox. However, there are many who go against this conservative view and show the positive side of these relations and what Orthodoxy can truly contribute towards an Ecumenical Dialogue. Here Nikos Nissiotis gives his views on Orthodoxy’s contribution, stating:
“The unique contribution of Orthodoxy to the discussion on Church unity lies in its simple reminder that the unbroken continuity of the life of the historical Church has a far greater authority than any confessional statement of a local church which attempts to explain and justify its separateness. The life of the Church in itself and by itself is the most solid authority because it perpetuates the event of Pentecost. Eastern Orthodoxy must respond to the calling of the Holy Spirit to be the pivot-church for the ecumenical movement precisely through maintaining its catholic and apostolic witness to this foundation fact and through its own unity”[1].

We must therefore follow what St. Paul proposes, on the one hand to be part of the Oneness, ‘built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets’ (Eph. 2:20). On the other hand, the Church and St. Paul call us to concern ourselves for ‘building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’ (EPh.4:12-13). Therefore Orthodoxy has a dualism, “on the one hand to be supported by the unity, on the other hand to have a vocation for this unity”[2].  

[1] Nissiotis, Nikos, “The Witness and the Service of Eastern Orthodoxy to the One Undivided Church”, Sobornost, Series 4, No.7, Summer 1962, p. 351-352
[2] Ibid.

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