Friday, January 24, 2014

What is the Ecclesia?

What does the word Ecclesia mean? The ancient Greeks used the term Temple for their sacred places of worship. This changed with the birth of Christianity. In the English language we use two terms, Church and Ecclesia to describe the Christian place of worship, God’s House, where all Christians communicate with God. Here, Christos Yannaras gives a definition of the term, taking into account the first years of Christianity:

“The first community of Christ’s disciples appear in history with the name “ecclesia”. By this word it declared its identity and its truth.
“Ecclesia” (from a Greek verb “to call out”) means the gathering which is a result of a call or invitation. It is a gathering or assembling of those called. The first disciples of Christ has the consciousness that they were “called”, called by him to an assembly of unity, to an ecclesia. Not to be faithful to a new “religion”, nor to be partisans of a new ideology or social teaching. What united them was not the reception of some theoretical “principles” or “axioms”, but the reception of the call which radically changed their lives: It transformed individuals, detached units, into a single body, the Church. Their Gathering is not exhausted in a simple meeting together; it is not a passing, casual event. They live as a church, as a single body of life, they share life as “brothers” – just like brothers who draw their existence from the same womb – they are “members” of an organic, living “body”[1].

[1] Yannaras, Christos, Elements of Faith, (Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1991), p. 121

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