This particular ecclesiastical statement has come up in discussions recently. I took a class last semester which really got into some particulars on this statement, in the light of ecumenical dialogue. IN the effort to make sense of everything I heard in that class, and in the effort to have a discussion on ecumenical dialogue's impact on our ecclesiology, etc. I was hoping to put some statements here that we could begin discussing.
** Important typing note: every time you see "OHCA" = One Holy Catholic and Apostolic (church)
IN the past we have operated with a notion that we live in the light and those who do not have the same culture as us live in darkness. We cannot operate with this understanding. The HS and the grace of God is everywhere present. There is no darkness after the birth, resurrection, descending of the HS. As we move in a missionary field we must be willing to hear the people in their differences and try to discern the hidden JC and presence of God in them. Augustinian view, we move from fullness of catholicity to partial understandings. You are not trying to fight, but enrich. You are not trying to fight the changing world, but approach it in a positive way (John XXIII). The people who are fighting and see enemies everywhere they cannot see the operation of God in new historical developments.
For us we have identified the church with the OC. If we approach the church not from the perspective of its canonical boundaries but from Eucharist and from its pneumatological dimensions, we have to see that the fullness of the church is lived and experienced in Eucharist, aspects of that fullness can be found beyond the boundaries of the canonical OC. In the Eucahrist we pray for the salvation of the whole world, the whole creation is sanctified. Somehow through the prayers of the church the whole cosmos is united with God. There is something of God in others, therefore.
John Karmires speaks about the church, canonical church, and the church in the wider sense. The church in its wider sense does not have boundaries. This can be found in Lumen Gentium (paragraph 16), speaking about those who have not yet heard the Gospel but are related to God’s people. We have to understand that the church in its widest sense embraces the whole creation which has a consequence for the way we do missions. There is something of God in others.
Does the world have any mission to the church? What is the mission of the world to the church? Some say that the world has nothing to do with the church b/c the church has the whole truth. The LG opens the possibility that the church may learn. The Christians may learn from the world how to live the Christian vocation, through critique of the church performance in history, through the action of the HS in the world, and the church must have a critical relationship with the world. The world also has the grace of God and therefore must be attentive to its critique and its life, and understand how it can enter the church’s life.
Orthodoxy is the fullness, but the fullness spills over and aspects of the fullness can be found in others attempting to live in the Gospel. The RC believes that the OHCA church subsists in the RC church. What do we as OC believe? Do we believe that the OHCA subsists in orthodoxy or that the OHCA IS orthodoxy? What does that mean for those who are not in the OC? Discussion…
I experience and live the fullness of the OHCA in the OC church, without excluding the RC and other churches which exist beyond the canonical bounds of the catholic church. The eucharist is the church, so the fullness of the church is in Eucharist. If the church is Christ, you cannot limit JC in the canonical limits of the church. Our problem as OC is that we did not participate in the reformation issues. Ecclesiologically we have not understood the status of Reformist churches. We have considered them as heretics, but also fellow Christians.
What are the normative principles: that the unity of the church matters. The Augustinians would say that there is a grace of God in different degrees in other Christian communities. Whatever is in these religious communities, it belongs to the church. Some have the bible, other eucharist, etc. there are different degrees. We do have the fullness of the church, of JC, and that fullness can be found in the celebration of the Eucharist. It is the event of the baptized faithful united in faith, life and witness. The LG is about the wider sense of the church. Yes the fullness of the church is in the eucharist but not LIMITED within the canonical boundaries of the church, it is a sacrament of the whole creation.
We must not refuse to recognize the presence of God in the others. If the church IS the OHCA church (what is the meaning of subsists), because when you identify the church, Christ with the OC or the RC church with the word “is” then you are limiting Christ only within the canonical boundaries of the canonical church.
When we say the church is Christ, can you say that Christ IS the OC? Or, is Christ the OC and much more than that? That is the real question. When we say OHCA church we speak about Christ. Can we identify the fullness of JC in a permanent and limited way with a particular Christian church? It is the body of Christ, you can experience the fullness of JC in the OC, but JC is much more than what the canonical boundaries symbolize.
The eucharist is not a historical thing, it an eschatological event. The GOA is a historical embodiment of Christ. When we celebrate the eucahrist by the HS we move from history to eschatology. But the Christ we experience is much more than what we experience in the church. I don’t want the historical to limit the eschatological. I can experience the OHCA in the OC we acknowledge that the historical structures and celebration of the Eucharist I can experience the fullness of Christ, but the fullness of Christ is much more than the historical embodiment.
The OC in every aspect of its life is not reflecting its eschatological dimensions. The unity with the risen Christ is an act of the HS. It is an event of God’s grace and not my accomplishment. As long as I live in history I will not identify the fullness of Christ with any historical structures. It is an eschatological event. Although I experience the fullness of Christ in a particular structure.
The truth is the risen Christ. I experience the fullness of the risen Christ by the work of the HS within the OC. But the risen Christ is a meta-historical event, it is greater than what the church can embody in any aspect of its life, except those aspects that reflect the work of the HS.
I experience the OHCA in the OC, through the experience of the eucharist. The LG says that there are people baptized and in the church but not with Christ. For Clapsis the OHCA is Christ, the risen JC, lived in the church through the work of the HS. We speak about the fullness of JC in the church, but the reverse is not true. The church is not always the reflection of the risen Christ. Christ is fully revealed in the Eucharist and by experiencing this, it is not always true that the church reflects the plentitude of the risen Christ in its life.
The church constantly receives what it is. We must allow the HS to lead us and not allow the institutional aspects to rule our lives. How does the church exist? By invoking the HS that unites us with the risen Christ. There is no church without the invocation of the HS. But, if the church thinks that b/c it is the church, as a historical institution it does not need to invoke the HS and allow the risen Christ to form its identity then the church is not the church.
Other churches have some elements of God’s grace but not fullness as I understand it. Now is it theirs, or part of the OHCA. I would say that it is an overflow of the OHCA. Christ is present in history through the church but the church is a Pentecostal event and the reverse is not always true. That means that the church must constantly re-receive JC through the work of the HS.
Some bishops, priests, laity believe that they are the fullness of the church w/o illumination of the HS. I accept the fullness of the church can be in the OC, but not every aspect of church life reflects that fullness.
There is much more to this if anyone wants to read it. PM me your e-mail if you want the whole document.