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:: Saturday, October 25, 2003 ::

Unity and The Kingdom: Part IV of a Response to NeoTheologue

Neo writes, "Craton's bad ecclesiology also manifests itself in his unbiblical concept of unity: namely, that the uncommon unity Jesus prayed for his followers in John 17:20-23 must manifest itself in visible agreement in all areas of doctrine...Isn't [the Father and the Son's] oneness instead mysterious, invisible, to be accepted by faith and not by sight?"

Well, it must be said that Jesus fully manifests and reveals the Father as he so pointedly reminded St. Philip. In the Church we see, touch, taste, and experience Jesus in the sacraments (albeit not as we will in the eschaton). Yet the life of the Trinity is fully revealed to us and available for us to enter into whithin the Church's life "as far as we can bear it." (as the troparian for the Transfiguration says).

So while this "oneness" includes the invisible (the prayers and witness of the departed saints, Heb 12:1, Rev. 8:3; the unknowable Essence of the Godhead; etc) it is not limited to the invisible but is in fact very visible for those who participate with faith in the sacramental (i.e. physical and visible) life of the Church. In Part V I'll tackle in more depth your definition of unity and the relationship it has to doctrine....

Neo writes, "Arguing for the "indestructibility" of the Church, Craton cites eleven different passages of Scripture, seven of which refer to the 'kingdom' or 'dominion' of the Lord -- which certainly encompasses more than just the Church!"

In what way? It is the consensus of the Church Fathers that "the Kingdom of God" and "the Church" are different ways of talking about the same reality. You'll have to do some serious work to make your contention valid that these terms are not synonymous or are in fact describing different realities. The radical dichotomy assumed between the two, especially as it is understood within the Em-church, is a very modern innovation which has within it several theological presuppositions totally foreign to the Orthodox worldview.

Take for example the words of Fr. Schmemann who writes, "The Church is both in statu patriae and in statu viae. As Christ in us, as the manifestation of the Kingdom and the sacrament of the age to come, her life is already filled with the joy and peace of the Holy Spirit, and it is this paschal joy that she expresses and receives in worship, in the holiness of her members, and in the communion of the saints that in fact the Church is the gateway or the foretaste of the eschatological fulfillment that is to come".

Jesus said, "the kingdom of God is among you." It is here, now, to be found in Christ, within in His Body. Participation in the sacraments of the Church allows us to know and experience that joy, life, and love that Fr. Schmemann writes. Life in Christ *is* the Kingdom and this life is to be most fully found in the Church.

:: Karl :: 9:43:00 AM [Link] ::

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