Chapter 7

Christian Life and Institutional Church
Nicholas Loudovikos
John Zizioulas’ Eucharist, Bishop, Church, subtitled The Unity of the Church in
the Divine Eucharist and the Bishop During the First Three Centuries, has had
a dramatic impact on the way we view the Church. Written in a diIfcult period
Ior Orthodox ecclesiology, it represents the early thought oI the most signifcant
Orthodox ecclesiologist oI recent times. Despite the eucharistic ecclesiology`
oI Nicolai AIanassieII, the long Babylonian captivity oI Orthodox ecclesiology,
alternating between a Roman Catholic institutionalism and a Protestant institutional
relativism, prevented any distinctively Orthodox conIessional ecclesiology, or even
an account of the ecclesiology of the ancient Church. Zizioulas took up the challenge
to provide a new eucharistic ecclesiology properly built on the ancient patristic
foundations. He did so by showing that the bishop was the essential component
of the unity of the ancient Church. His achievement is a great prize not only for
Orthodox theology, but Ior the whole Church.
Such a great achievement has inevitably caused the ‘falling and rising up of
many`. Zizioulas` identifcation oI the bishop as the source oI the unity oI the Church
seemed to some to allow the excessive legal and institutional elevation oI the bishop,
as almost the sole presupposition of this unity. The structural, legal and institutional
emphasis on the bishop’s primacy seemed to push the communal life of the Church
into the background, so there is no need Ior any other ecclesiastical giIt or oIfce. II
the unity oI the Church is identifed only by unity around the bishop, there would not
be any need for the communion of all spiritual gifts in the bishop. The bishop comes
to express the Iullness oI the Church` and her charism oI truth` as sole successor
of the Apostles’ as it were.
1
This demotes the oIfce oI presbyter. Presbyters are not
considered co-celebrators with the bishop, and it was considered a revolution when
the work of the eucharist was entrusted to them, something foreign to the nature
of the presbyter. But how could there have been such a revolution if the presbyter
did not already possess some eucharistic Iunction, dependent on the bishop as frst
presbyter`? In the New Testament and aIter, there are two priestly oIfces, that oI the
bishop-presbyter and that of the deacon. The elevation of the bishop to the status of
minister of unity par excellence comes from the internal differentiation of this single
ancient oIfce oI bishop-presbyter. This ancient oIfce was essentially eucharistic.
The increasing number of congregations, and so the formation of the parish, led to
this diIIerentiation within a single original oIfce.
1 John Zizioulas, Eucharist, Bishop, Church (Brookline, Mass.: Holy Cross Orthodox
Press, 2001) p. 160.
The Theology of John Zizioulas 126
In their present day form, displaying the unity of Christ in the local church,
the bishop and presbyter present a single priestly status. The nature of all priestly
oIfces is christological. Thus, although Saint Ignatius saw the bishop as an icon
oI Christ (Ior example, Ignatius, Letter to the Smyrnans 8.2) or, elsewhere, of God
(Magnesians 6.1), in other epistles, he suddenly relates the bishop to the Father, the
presbyters to the Apostles and the deacons to Christ (Magnesians 6.1: 13.2: Trallians
3.1). This fexibility oI the icons oI these three priestly oIfces is a reminder oI the
common christological nature oI all priestly giIts and oIfces.
Your noble priesthood, worthy oI God, is ftted to the bishop, as the strings to a harp.
By the harmony of your love Jesus Christ is sung. Form yourselves one and all into a
choir, so that in harmony around the key-note of God, you may sing in unison with one
voice through Jesus Christ to the Father, so that he may hear you and by your well-doing
recognize you as members of his Son. It is right for you to live in blameless unity, that you
may always be partakers of God.
2
It is clear that the presbyters did not merely make up the ‘council’ of the bishop,
his ‘administrative counselors’.
3
They were christological manifestations of ‘the
harmony of love’: without a lyre there are no strings, just as without strings there
is no lyre. The service of the bishop is eschatologically prior as the frame to which
the strings are strung. The ontological basis of this unity is not always perceived
by Zizioulas` readers, so they have used him to argue Ior excessive institutional
elevation oI the oIfce oI bishop in an authoritarian legal and institutional structure,
rather than the harmony of spiritual gifts to which Saint Ignatius refers.
The unity oI the Church in the eucharist and in the bishop` is an expression oI
her unity in Christ, tested continuously by the Holy Spirit and with fre` (Matthew
3:11) for her faithfulness to this unity. If we forget this, the life of the Church will
be determined by its institutions, with resulting problems for the whole identity of
the Church. But in the Church this unity is expressed, not merely symbolically, but
in suffering. The servant of unity is Christ, who emptied himself on the cross, and
the rule oI the Father expresses itselI in his eternal emptying oI himselI in love
for the Son and Holy Spirit. If the bishop does not empty himself on the cross,
expressing and sustaining all oIfces and giIts, even though he may symbolize unity
on a psychological or naturalistic level, the ecclesiality he represents will be missing.
Indeed, every spiritual and church-building gift will disappear if it does not summon
all the giIts oI the Spirit into being. The oIfce oI the bishop is determined by this
cross-driven self-giving that directs all gifts so that Christ may make himself present
to his Church.
Zizioulas’ work is driven by passion for the Church. His later inspirational
theological work shows the form in which the Church comes into being for us. By
a reworking oI the Orthodox ecclesiological tradition, and oI the Western tradition,
particularly perhaps from Henri de Lubac and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the thought
of this great theologian reached its culmination. In Being as Communion (1985),
2 Ignatius, Letter to the Ephesians 4.1-2, Ante-Nicene Christian Library, vol. 1, edited
by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1867).
3 Zizioulas, Eucharist, Bishop, Church, p. 249.
Christian Life and Institutional Church 127
we see him arrive at a balanced ecclesiological synthesis. Zizioulas attributes
apostolic succession not to the line of bishops only, but to the entire community.
He demonstrates that the different spiritual gifts work together, and are valid only
as they are held in communion. The concept of corporate personality is vital. Christ
exists in the Church not only as one, the bishop, but also as many, the totality of
giIts. No single oIfce-holder possesses their Iullness, so they are not subiect to
individualistic possession or employment, and create no institutional pyramid. The
bishop orchestrates these spiritual endowments to serve the dynamic manifestation
of the living constitution of ‘Christ-as-church’. The structure of the Church is an
icon of the eschaton that brings foretastes of itself into the present. This is the fullest
ecclesiological synthesis in contemporary Orthodox theology. With Zizioulas we are
standing upon the solid ground of the ancient Church tradition at its most creative.
Ecclesial charisms and orders are ‘relational events’, that have meaning in their
interdependence within the community, rather than in individual functions or services.
Unless pneumatology shows how the Spirit works to open up beings to one another,
ecclesial ontology becomes essentialist and individualistic. But this aIfrmation
of the gifts through their inter-communion in the Spirit must be conceived only
together with a simultaneous aIfrmation that these spiritual orders and endowments
are individuated and unique manifestations of christological fullness in communion.
The particular function of ecclesial vocations does not make them individualistic.
Orthodox theology uniustly Iears the word individualism`. But Maximus`
theology of ecclesial consubstantiality secures an individuation of vocations or
functions in the community, without losing their communal content. We need to
stress the christological ‘individuation’ just as much as the ‘communality’ of spiritual
gifts. The Spirit works out the consubstantial interpenetration of each gift in all the
others. The Holy Spirit does not communalize` except by individuating` each giIt
consubstantially. The individuation that aIfrms the specifc human subiect constitutes
the maior problem Ior Orthodox ecclesiology and anthropology. All attempts at an
ecclesiology – always inspired by Dionysius the Areopagite – to conceive the Church
as an icon oI the eschata, ontologically and existentially interpreted in the divine
eucharist, is the way to conceive the institution of the Church. We must pay more
attention to the particularity of the individual subject. Our fear of individualization,
internalization, or subjectivism should not lead us to an institutional understanding
of the Church and Christian life, in which the person and his gifts simply service
the institution. There are two risks here. The frst is that we lose the true human
subject. The point of the ‘structuralism’ of the 1960s was to escape subjectivism, but
of course it went on to ‘deconstruct’ the subject. The subject, though, is more than
simply a set of ‘relationships’. This is why we need a theology of consubstantiality
which can show that individual or subjective internalism is not dangerous when,
shaped by the cross of Christ, it is the place in which all created being comes together
(synaxis), through Christ, in the Spirit, within us. Consubstantiality ecclesializes
the individual and his internal life. The institutional structure of the Church is
turned into an apophatic personal imitation and manifestation of Christ. Christ, as
Church, is expressed in the institutional structure, QRWLGHQWL¿HG with it. The notion
oI economy` is necessary in Orthodox canon law as a reminder oI the apophacity
of the institutional structure. The emphasis on the institution is due to the fear of
The Theology of John Zizioulas 128
individualism, but we must equally be careful not to lose the individual within the
Church institution and hierarchy. The one Holy Spirit brings embodiment to the
community. Wholeness and communion can be lost or inauthentic when the integrity
of the individual and his or her gifts are not secured. We do not avoid individualism
by turning the institution of the Church into a kind of meta-individual.
The second danger for an ecclesiology of communion is loss of the relationship
of communion and history. When it is not linked to the call to catholicity, any
consideration of the institution of the Church is in danger of losing touch with its
historical origins. II relationships` become more signifcant than communion the
Church will cease to be a pilgrimage led by the cross. The Spirit does not present
us with static social structures, but brings us into communion freely and of our own
volition. As Saint Maximus insisted, the Spirit gives us a Christ-centred orientation,
and frees us for this communal apophatic imitation of the life of God. What occurs
to the individual is just what happens in his or her communion in Christ: the being of
that person remains part oI the mystery. Although that liIe is given, experiential and
measurable, this life consists in its existence, opened up for life.
The Church conceived in the eucharistic ontology oI Saint Maximus the
Confessor teaches us to see the eucharist as activity in time and space. It is not
solely and utterly above us, but a cooperative act in and with Christ. The gift of
the Church is constituted by ‘life’ and ‘institution’ simultaneously and indivisibly.
‘Life’ and ‘institution’ are transcended because every spiritual gift is a ‘particular’
christological manifestation of the whole Church.
Contemporary Orthodox ecclesiology swings between Protestant and Catholic
positions. The ‘Protestant’ position, represented by Father Romanides, wants the
spiritual gifts to structure the Church. The ‘Catholic’ position sees the institution or
structure as the gift that constitutes the Church. But in a consubstantial theology, that
understands all the endowments of the Church as manifestations of the whole Christ
in the Spirit, this antithesis disappears. The institution does not constitute the ‘being’
oI the Church or the spiritual giIts its action`. Ecclesial existence does not merely
exist`: it is dialogically actuated. No gift or action replaces the Church. Rather,
according to Maximus, it moves in a line towards it, because this is the authentic and
objective act and Word of God, in Christ, in history.
The apostle Paul connects this theology of charisms to love. In the First Letter
to the Corinthians the apostle says that the giIts are only suIfcient when they are
mutually informed in love in the one body of Christ. Love constitutes the ultimate
ecclesiological substance of all the gifts, authenticating them as manifestations of
Christ. The christological functioning of each gift ‘in the Holy Spirit’ (1 Corinthians
12:12) entails three things. First, it entails the presence and action of the loving God
in Christ, who in the Spirit forms members of the Body of Christ through these gifts.
Secondly, it entails truly loving subjects who, through this very love, make these gifts
manifestations of the whole Christ. Thirdly, it brings into being a true community of
ontological love – one Body – where these gifts are shared. The concept of corporate
personality, like that of koinonia, is an abstraction until this complex reality oI willing
love is expressed. For in love, the internality oI the true subiect and the externality oI
its communion are absolutely and indissolubly connected. Communion is therefore
not a transcendent structure, or an objective or subconscious ‘set of relationships’.
Christian Life and Institutional Church 129
The gifts are not structural or institutional, but loving and freely willed dialogues of
God and his people. Only the theological concept of consubstantiality provides the
foundation for an ecclesiology of the true person, and holds these elements together.
Perhaps we can then say that the Church possesses the truth in her very structure.
Without the concept of consubstantiality, corporate personality and communion
simply become static transcendent structures of communion of the one and the
many, as we see in Hegel or Schelling. The contradiction in human society, the
deep conficts, the cross and Ireedom, in short, the struggle Ior the attainment oI
communion and its potentiality, are thereby overlooked. It divorces the concept
of history from that of freedom. True historicity means D VWHSE\VWHS YHUL¿DEOH
communality, which is what the apostle Paul meant by the ‘fruits of the Holy Spirit’,
the existence oI which confrms our progress towards ecclesial communality and
historicity. Love as christological Iulflment oI the giIts in Paul, or Saint Maximus`
concept oI consubstantiality, allows confrmation oI this because we do not merely
conceive of communality, but actually grow in it. Notions such as koinonia and
corporate personality are too abstract to allow for this. This is why, in the discussion
between Florovsky and Zizioulas, about whether the Spirit acts in history or over
history, for the sake of the ‘particular’ in our history, we must decide in favour of ‘in
history’. The action of the Spirit does not take us out of history so much as transform
particularities in history. We are not dealing with ecstatic elevation out of history,
but the transformation of history itself, so these two views are ultimately reconciled.
The penetration of the Spirit into history really does produce visible and empirical
results. II no historical elevation` or purifcation` (Nietzsche) is visible over the
historical long term, our ecclesiology is ‘ecstatic’, an elevation over history, and not
a kenotic descent into its deep suffering. This is the correction that the Areopagite
looked Ior and which Maximus Iound.
But I wonder whether abstract structural models, such as the ‘one and the many’
that John Zizioulas uses, perhaps under the infuence oI BonhoeIIer, are adequate.
On this model, the Father is the ‘one’ in the Holy Trinity, while the other persons are
the ‘many’. The one in the Church is Christ, the members of his Body are the many.
In the Church the one is the bishop, the many the other members. There are a number
of things to say about this. First, in patristic trinitarian theology the ‘monarchy’ of the
Father does not elevate the Father ontologically above the others who are ‘caused’
by Him. ‘The Father is not God because he is Father, but because of the common
essence, which is Father and Son and within which the Father is God and the Son
is God and the Spirit is Holy God,’ according to Gregory of Nyssa, writing against
Eunomius. Gregory adds: ‘For God is One and the same, because he has one and
the same essence, thus each of the Persons are in the essence and God.’
4
Thus, in
the Holy Trinity only one person ‘in the essence’, the Father, is the principle of the
begetting and procession of the other persons. God is these three persons, causing
and caused, and not an underlying principle of communion.
4 Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius 3, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, edited by
Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1954 [1892]) vol.
5.
The Theology of John Zizioulas 130
While this is so for the doctrine of the Trinity, it is not so for the Church. We may not say
in the same way that Christ and his members are ‘co-constituted’, or mutually dependent.
Uniquely asymmetrically, Christ is the foundation and initiator who convenes and sustains his
members, with their free acquiescence, as his Body.
For those who he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his
Son, in order that he might be the frst-born among many brethren. And those whom he
predestined he also called: and those whom he called he also iustifed: and those whom he
iustifed he also glorifed.
5
There is no Iull ontological mutuality oI will, or ontological identifcation oI the will,
between Christ and his members as there is between the Father and the other two
persons. There can only be an end to their assertion of their autonomy against him.
The relation of the ‘one and the many’ in the Trinity and ‘the one and the many’ in
the Church are not the same. In the frst case there is an absolute ontological identity
of essence and will between the ‘one and the many’, while in the second there is not
even an ontological identity of nature (of the divine nature of Christ), nor of course
an ontological identity of will. There is only the mystery of participation by grace
through the mysteries in the uncreated will and work of God in Christ through the
Spirit.
Things are even more complicated in the third case, in which the one and the
many model relates the bishop and the Church. Here the will to unify the one and
the many belongs, not to the bishop, but to Christ. The bishop, however (who, as
a member of the Church, himself belongs also to the ‘many’ for whom the ‘one’
is Christ), can, through the humble cession of his autexousion to Christ be, in the
words of St Ignatius, ‘in the mind of Christ’, actuating the gift of unity in the name
of Christ. The bishop does not ‘possess’ various gifts, which he distributes according
to his will, as Christ does. The bishop does not ‘represent’ Christ in the Church as
though Christ was effectively absent, in the Roman Catholic fashion. It is Christ who
gives out the giIts in the mysteries, and every such giIt is he himselI in a specifc and
particular incarnation. Christ thus has the gifts and distributes the gifts. The bishop,
when found ‘in the mind of Jesus Christ’, carries out in his name the distribution (not
the possession) of those gifts. He does this, not as some superior gift of his own, but
by proclaiming their ontological Iulflment in the communal maniIestation oI Christ
through them. His own gift is precisely the manifestation of the ‘communality’ of
the gifts as successive incarnations of the whole Christ in the Spirit. The episcopal
oIfce demonstrates the maniIold and consubstantial catholicity oI each specifc giIt.
It maintains the integrity and eschatological orientation of each of them and for
this reason, the oIfce oI the bishop is above all the oIfce oI pastor. The bishop
demonstrates, because he participates in, the loving pastoral providence of Christ,
which is the foundation of the Church.
According to the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope is the only pastor, occupying
Peter’s place. His own pastoral gift is essentially a superior gift, containing all the
pastoral gifts of the Church, because the Pope is the ‘representative’ of Christ on
earth, assuming in his person all Christ’s pastoral care and administrating all other
5 Romans 8:29-30.
Christian Life and Institutional Church 131
giIts as his vicar. Despite the resonance oI this teaching in Orthodox ecclesiology
today, we must stress that in our tradition Christ is absolutely present in the Church
through the uncreated activity of the trinitarian God, and every gift, such as that of
the pastor, is a direct participation in him. It does not originate in any intermediary
who represents Christ or administrates grace in his name. The pastoral gift of the
bishop and the presbyter (and these were originally a single oIfce) is a participation
in the divine pastoral work of Christ directly. The difference between them is that
the bishop expresses this energy visibly, uniIying every specifc maniIestation oI it
in the pastoral energy of the one Christ who shepherds, and through the bishop is the
icon (not representation) of, the whole Church in that place.
We need to exercise care in dealing with the parallels between the Trinity,
christology and the Church. The three issues are indissolubly connected, but
analogies between them risk becoming merely the inventions of piety. The Church is
truly an icon of the eschata, but apophatically, not transcendentally. The structural,
institutional and charismatic elements in the Church are apophatic icons of the
kingdom, under the cross, within the struggle by which ‘Christ is formed in us’ so
that all are renewed ‘in Christ’. This task, of course, is not a coerced discipline but
the result of ‘friendship and gratitude’ as St Nicholas Cabasilas puts it. ‘Of the law
of the Spirit, loving friendship is the rule and works all towards gratitude.’
6
This
means that our ecclesial being is brought about in the mysteries of baptism, chrism
and eucharist. These and only these are the grace of God. It is not concocted by those
who participate in them but is revealed doxologically by them as simply as giIts
given in the mysteries.
We do not have to establish a ‘balance’ between Christian life and the eucharist.
Life in Christ, and the perfect grace which this entails, is entirely given in the
mysteries, or sacraments. No addition oI grace is assumed in Orthodox theology,
for it is rather about the maintenance of that life already sacramentally given.
The discipline of the Christian life is the thankful cultivation of the given grace
of the mysteries. Romanides believed that grace ‘accumulates’, through the mere
cultivation of prayer. But grace cannot be ‘added’ to, because it is simply the
gift wholly given in the eucharist. It emerges in its free intentional acceptance
through the virtues and, most basically, through prayer. The eucharistic mysteries
are aspects of the life in Christ, which is why, in his fourth saying in The Life in
Christ, Cabasilas stresses their ‘eucharistic’ character. The divine eucharist is their
Iulflment, goal, meaning and christological Iullness. Baptism is no independent,
selI-suIfcient sacramental event, nor is chrismation some selI-suIfcient wellspring
oI giIts. For Cabasilas, passing on the tradition oI the Areopagite and Maximus the
Confessor, these mysteries constitute the sacramental introduction of each member
of the Church into the fullness of Christ, by which every member uniquely takes on
Christ in the divine eucharist. This eucharistic dialogue between Christ and man is
the catholic offering of the personally given gift of eternal life to man by Christ, and
the catholic response, in the continual appearance of new forms of fullness in this
life, in the gifts from Christ to the baptized Christian. This allows us to say that the
6 Nicholas Cabasilas, The Life in Christ (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press,
1998) 6.8.
The Theology of John Zizioulas 132
eucharist is the foundation of life in Christ. The eucharistic relation of man with God
in Christ cannot truly progress if it is not truly ‘dialogical’, that is, if the mind and
intention of the people do not participate actively in this relation. The discipleship of
the Christian life is the eucharist lived out as a gracious loving response and return of
my already-granted eternal being, back to its giver who loves me self-givingly.
This understanding of the eucharist, neglected by ‘eucharistic ecclesiology’,
demands a dialogical ontology, rather than a transcendent structure which simply
UHÀHFWV the kingdom. The eucharist authenticates the being of all things within the
loving dialogue of God and man. The eucharistic constitution of the gifts in the
Church makes them both christological manifestations and essentially dialogical.
They are continuous dialogues in the Spirit between man and Christ which lead to the
full and total realization of their christological content, consubstantial manifestations
of the fullness of the Church in communion. There is therefore no difference in effect
between the charism and the institution for they both build up the Church. All are
dialogical, eucharistic, christological events of consubstantial fullness in the Spirit,
granted by God and cultivated freely by man, cooperating with the series of manifold
incarnations of Christ which constitute his Church in the multitude of its members.
Within this dialogue there is always a participative relation with the reforming action
of the Holy Spirit, which guides the christological perfection of every spiritual gift
in true history. This living relationship refects, apophatically, in these vessels oI
clay’, the grandeur of the Church as the manifold realization of Christ in history and
creation, and as a free imitation of the divine labour which works out this realization.
The Holy Spirit incarnates, in the true fabric of our freedom, eternally, Christ for all
and in all.

Church. 2 Ignatius. The ontological basis of this unity is not always perceived rather than the harmony of spiritual gifts to which Saint Ignatius refers. 1867). The nature of all priestly christological.3 They were christological manifestations of ‘the harmony of love’: without a lyre there are no strings. Letter to the Ephesians 4.2) or. Zizioulas’ work is driven by passion for the Church. just as without strings there is no lyre. Indeed. elsewhere.1-2. the thought of this great theologian reached its culmination. that you may always be partakers of God. 3 Zizioulas. In Being as Communion (1985). he suddenly relates the bishop to the Father. the presbyters to the Apostles and the deacons to Christ (Magnesians Trallians common christological By the harmony of your love Jesus Christ is sung. the life of the Church will be determined by its institutions. on a psychological or naturalistic level. with resulting problems for the whole identity of in suffering. 1. displaying the unity of Christ in the local church. so that in harmony around the key-note of God.1). Ante-Nicene Christian Library. His later inspirational theological work shows the form in which the Church comes into being for us. MI: Eerdmans Publishing. so that he may hear you and by your well-doing recognize you as members of his Son. If the bishop does not empty himself on the cross. p. It is right for you to live in blameless unity. By particularly perhaps from Henri de Lubac and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. who emptied himself on the cross. Form yourselves one and all into a choir. in other epistles. 249. Thus. . Eucharist. and for the Son and Holy Spirit. although Saint Ignatius saw the bishop as an icon Letter to the Smyrnans 8. every spiritual and church-building gift will disappear if it does not summon cross-driven self-giving that directs all gifts so that Christ may make himself present to his Church. you may sing in unison with one voice through Jesus Christ to the Father. edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (Grand Rapids. Bishop. her unity in Christ 3:11) for her faithfulness to this unity.2 It is clear that the presbyters did not merely make up the ‘council’ of the bishop. of God (Magnesians 6. The service of the bishop is eschatologically prior as the frame to which the strings are strung. vol. his ‘administrative counselors’. If we forget this. the bishop and presbyter present a single priestly status. the ecclesiality he represents will be missing. The servant of unity is Christ.126 The Theology of John Zizioulas In their present day form.

Zizioulas attributes apostolic succession not to the line of bishops only. within us. that have meaning in their interdependence within the community. or subjectivism should not lead us to an institutional understanding of the Church and Christian life. is more than simply a set of ‘relationships’. The point of the ‘structuralism’ of the 1960s was to escape subjectivism. the totality of individualistic possession or employment. We must pay more attention to the particularity of the individual subject. The emphasis on the institution is due to the fear of . and are valid only as they are held in communion. rather than in individual functions or services. Ecclesial charisms and orders are ‘relational events’. Christ. but also as many. The concept of corporate personality is vital. Unless pneumatology shows how the Spirit works to open up beings to one another. The notion of the institutional structure. is expressed in the institutional structure. it is the place in which all created being comes together (synaxis). The Spirit works out the consubstantial interpenetration of each gift in all the ecclesiology – always inspired by Dionysius the Areopagite – to conceive the Church eucharist. is the way to conceive the institution of the Church. This is why we need a theology of consubstantiality which can show that individual or subjective internalism is not dangerous when. the bishop.Christian Life and Institutional Church 127 we see him arrive at a balanced ecclesiological synthesis. The bishop orchestrates these spiritual endowments to serve the dynamic manifestation of the living constitution of ‘Christ-as-church’. with it. without losing their communal content. though. but of course it went on to ‘deconstruct’ the subject. The particular function of ecclesial vocations does not make them individualistic. internalization. theology of ecclesial consubstantiality secures an individuation of vocations or functions in the community. and create no institutional pyramid. The subject. as Church. Our fear of individualization. Christ one. through Christ. We need to stress the christological ‘individuation’ just as much as the ‘communality’ of spiritual gifts. shaped by the cross of Christ. in the Spirit. Consubstantiality ecclesializes the individual and his internal life. This is the fullest standing upon the solid ground of the ancient Church tradition at its most creative. The institutional structure of the Church is turned into an apophatic personal imitation and manifestation of Christ. but to the entire community. The structure of the Church is an icon of the eschaton that brings foretastes of itself into the present. of the gifts through their inter-communion in the Spirit must be conceived only are individuated and unique manifestations of christological fullness in communion. He demonstrates that the different spiritual gifts work together. in which the person and his gifts simply service subject.

in Christ. First. No gift or action replaces the Church. The Spirit does not present us with static social structures. this antithesis disappears. The institution does not constitute the ‘being’ actuated. The gift of the Church is constituted by ‘life’ and ‘institution’ simultaneously and indivisibly. make these gifts manifestations of the whole Christ. The ‘Catholic’ position sees the institution or structure as the gift that constitutes the Church. . but we must equally be careful not to lose the individual within the Church institution and hierarchy. Love constitutes the ultimate ecclesiological substance of all the gifts. any consideration of the institution of the Church is in danger of losing touch with its Church will cease to be a pilgrimage led by the cross. In the First Letter mutually informed in love in the one body of Christ. The one Holy Spirit brings embodiment to the community. through this very love. this life consists in its existence. The ‘Protestant’ position. wants the spiritual gifts to structure the Church. opened up for life. who in the Spirit forms members of the Body of Christ through these gifts. objective act and Word of God. The concept of corporate personality. Communion is therefore not a transcendent structure. like that of koinonia its communion are absolutely and indissolubly connected. Confessor teaches us to see the eucharist as activity in time and space. When it is not linked to the call to catholicity. authenticating them as manifestations of Christ. it entails the presence and action of the loving God in Christ. The christological functioning of each gift ‘in the Holy Spirit’ (1 Corinthians 12:12) entails three things. but brings us into communion freely and of our own and frees us for this communal apophatic imitation of the life of God. positions. Thirdly. it brings into being a true community of ontological love – one Body – where these gifts are shared. Wholeness and communion can be lost or inauthentic when the integrity of the individual and his or her gifts are not secured. But in a consubstantial theology. The second danger for an ecclesiology of communion is loss of the relationship of communion and history. We do not avoid individualism by turning the institution of the Church into a kind of meta-individual. in history. that understands all the endowments of the Church as manifestations of the whole Christ in the Spirit.128 The Theology of John Zizioulas individualism. represented by Father Romanides. Secondly. it entails truly loving subjects who. What occurs to the individual is just what happens in his or her communion in Christ: the being of measurable. or an objective or subconscious ‘set of relationships’. ‘Life’ and ‘institution’ are transcended because every spiritual gift is a ‘particular’ christological manifestation of the whole Church. It is not solely and utterly above us. Rather. The apostle Paul connects this theology of charisms to love. but a cooperative act in and with Christ.

the communion and its potentiality. and not a kenotic descent into its deep suffering. MI: Eerdmans Publishing. in patristic trinitarian theology the ‘monarchy’ of the Father does not elevate the Father ontologically above the others who are ‘caused’ by Him. about whether the Spirit acts in history or over history. because he has one and the same essence. Against Eunomius 3. The contradiction in human society.Christian Life and Institutional Church 129 The gifts are not structural or institutional. the many the other members. There are a number of things to say about this. First. The penetration of the Spirit into history really does produce visible and empirical historical long term. 1954 [1892]) vol. which is what the apostle Paul meant by the ‘fruits of the Holy Spirit’. and holds these elements together. such as the ‘one and the many’ On this model. Without the concept of consubstantiality. in the Holy Trinity only one person ‘in the essence’. an elevation over history. the Father is the ‘one’ in the Holy Trinity. so these two views are ultimately reconciled. while the other persons are the ‘many’. Perhaps we can then say that the Church possesses the truth in her very structure. causing and caused. True historicity means communality. conceive of communality. . in the discussion between Florovsky and Zizioulas. edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (Grand Rapids.’4 Thus. God is these three persons. the Father. Notions such as koinonia and corporate personality are too abstract to allow for this. We are not dealing with ecstatic elevation out of history. This is the correction that the Areopagite But I wonder whether abstract structural models. 5. corporate personality and communion simply become static transcendent structures of communion of the one and the many. but actually grow in it. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. as we see in Hegel or Schelling. is the principle of the begetting and procession of the other persons. but the transformation of history itself. thus each of the Persons are in the essence and God. This is why. for the sake of the ‘particular’ in our history. our ecclesiology is ‘ecstatic’. the members of his Body are the many. It divorces the concept of history from that of freedom. and not an underlying principle of communion. 4 Gregory of Nyssa. we must decide in favour of ‘in history’. The action of the Spirit does not take us out of history so much as transform particularities in history. but loving and freely willed dialogues of God and his people. Only the theological concept of consubstantiality provides the foundation for an ecclesiology of the true person. writing against Eunomius. ‘The Father is not God because he is Father.’ according to Gregory of Nyssa. Gregory adds: ‘For God is One and the same. but because of the common essence. In the Church the one is the bishop. The one in the Church is Christ. which is Father and Son and within which the Father is God and the Son is God and the Spirit is Holy God. are thereby overlooked.

when found ‘in the mind of Jesus Christ’.130 The Theology of John Zizioulas While this is so for the doctrine of the Trinity. The relation of the ‘one and the many’ in the Trinity and ‘the one and the many’ in of essence and will between the ‘one and the many’. The bishop demonstrates. in the Roman Catholic fashion. . but to Christ. According to the Roman Catholic Church. It is Christ who particular incarnation. the loving pastoral providence of Christ. not as some superior gift of his own. as a member of the Church. because the Pope is the ‘representative’ of Christ on earth. Here the will to unify the one and the many belongs. Christ thus has the gifts and distributes the gifts. The bishop. as his Body. or mutually dependent. as Christ does. Things are even more complicated in the third case. not to the bishop. which he distributes according to his will. with their free acquiescence. The episcopal It maintains the integrity and eschatological orientation of each of them and for pastor. He does this. however (who. For those who he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his 5 between Christ and his members as there is between the Father and the other two persons. occupying Peter’s place. There is only the mystery of participation by grace through the mysteries in the uncreated will and work of God in Christ through the Spirit. The bishop. carries out in his name the distribution (not the possession) of those gifts. can. Uniquely asymmetrically. The bishop does not ‘possess’ various gifts. himself belongs also to the ‘many’ for whom the ‘one’ is Christ). actuating the gift of unity in the name of Christ. in the words of St Ignatius. His own gift is precisely the manifestation of the ‘communality’ of the gifts as successive incarnations of the whole Christ in the Spirit. but through them. We may not say in the same way that Christ and his members are ‘co-constituted’. the Pope is the only pastor. The bishop does not ‘represent’ Christ in the Church as though Christ was effectively absent. There can only be an end to their assertion of their autonomy against him. through the humble cession of his autexousion to Christ be. containing all the pastoral gifts of the Church. His own pastoral gift is essentially a superior gift. because he participates in. which is the foundation of the Church. ‘in the mind of Christ’. in which the one and the many model relates the bishop and the Church. nor of course an ontological identity of will. it is not so for the Church. Christ is the foundation and initiator who convenes and sustains his members. assuming in his person all Christ’s pastoral care and administrating all other 5 Romans 8:29-30. while in the second there is not even an ontological identity of nature (of the divine nature of Christ).

such as that of the pastor. is a direct participation in him. and the catholic response. under the cross. most basically. But grace cannot be ‘added’ to. we must stress that in our tradition Christ is absolutely present in the Church through the uncreated activity of the trinitarian God.8. loving friendship is the rule and works all towards gratitude. these mysteries constitute the sacramental introduction of each member of the Church into the fullness of Christ. in the continual appearance of new forms of fullness in this life. It does not originate in any intermediary who represents Christ or administrates grace in his name. within the struggle by which ‘Christ is formed in us’ so that all are renewed ‘in Christ’. The structural. the whole Church in that place. by which every member uniquely takes on Christ in the divine eucharist. These and only these are the grace of God. The divine eucharist is their Confessor. It is not concocted by those given in the mysteries. The discipline of the Christian life is the thankful cultivation of the given grace of the mysteries. The three issues are indissolubly connected. The pastoral gift of the in the divine pastoral work of Christ directly. The Life in Christ (Crestwood.’6 This means that our ecclesial being is brought about in the mysteries of baptism. because it is simply the gift wholly given in the eucharist. institutional and charismatic elements in the Church are apophatic icons of the kingdom. ‘Of the law of the Spirit. Romanides believed that grace ‘accumulates’. NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press. The eucharistic mysteries are aspects of the life in Christ. The difference between them is that in the pastoral energy of the one Christ who shepherds. We do not have to establish a ‘balance’ between Christian life and the eucharist. This allows us to say that the 6 Nicholas Cabasilas.Christian Life and Institutional Church 131 today. Life in Christ. through prayer. It emerges in its free intentional acceptance through the virtues and. and the perfect grace which this entails. but analogies between them risk becoming merely the inventions of piety. of course. . which is why. and every gift. The Church is truly an icon of the eschata. is not a coerced discipline but the result of ‘friendship and gratitude’ as St Nicholas Cabasilas puts it. in the gifts from Christ to the baptized Christian. This eucharistic dialogue between Christ and man is the catholic offering of the personally given gift of eternal life to man by Christ. chrism and eucharist. and through the bishop is the icon (not representation) of. not transcendentally. through the mere cultivation of prayer. in his fourth saying in The Life in Christ. This task. christology and the Church. is entirely given in the for it is rather about the maintenance of that life already sacramentally given. 1998) 6. Cabasilas stresses their ‘eucharistic’ character. but apophatically.

christological events of consubstantial fullness in the Spirit. They are continuous dialogues in the Spirit between man and Christ which lead to the full and total realization of their christological content. granted by God and cultivated freely by man. rather than a transcendent structure which simply the kingdom. cooperating with the series of manifold incarnations of Christ which constitute his Church in the multitude of its members. in the true fabric of our freedom. consubstantial manifestations of the fullness of the Church in communion. This understanding of the eucharist. Within this dialogue there is always a participative relation with the reforming action of the Holy Spirit. Christ for all and in all. that is. The Holy Spirit incarnates. The discipleship of the Christian life is the eucharist lived out as a gracious loving response and return of my already-granted eternal being. and as a free imitation of the divine labour which works out this realization. if the mind and intention of the people do not participate actively in this relation. neglected by ‘eucharistic ecclesiology’. demands a dialogical ontology. The eucharistic constitution of the gifts in the Church makes them both christological manifestations and essentially dialogical. back to its giver who loves me self-givingly. eternally. The eucharist authenticates the being of all things within the loving dialogue of God and man. There is therefore no difference in effect between the charism and the institution for they both build up the Church. which guides the christological perfection of every spiritual gift clay’. The eucharistic relation of man with God in Christ cannot truly progress if it is not truly ‘dialogical’. eucharistic. the grandeur of the Church as the manifold realization of Christ in history and creation. .132 The Theology of John Zizioulas eucharist is the foundation of life in Christ. All are dialogical.