13 December 2006

Ecclesial Reductionism

I am the Church
I am the Church
I am the Church--and you're not!

That's a sarcastic ditty some of us wanna-be wags would sing amongs ourselves at seminary (no doubt, after too much German barley pop).

This piece reminded me of that ditty.

It also reminded me of those who are debating the formation of what I call "The we'll get it right this time, true blue, have everything as it should be, no doubt about it xxxx Church."



david+ said...

As far as "Fr. Neo's" question goes, I've asked that very one several times--and had never received a satisfactory answer. And then I asked an Orthodox person. This Orthodox person said, "It is all necessary. Don't you want the fullness of the Faith?"
And that was music to my soul. Rather than reductionistic tendencies and arguments about "where do we draw the line" (remember the one about the two old Anglo-Catholics at the elevation of the new PeeBee? The one looked across the smoked filled narthex and, seeing the partner of the new female PeeBee holding a statue of the Buddha in her arms, the one old priest said to the other old priest, "That's it. One More thing like this and I'm outta here!!") I'm more interested in the wholeness and the fullness. It is much more satisfying than the "Church of Sheila."

Rev. Benjamin Harju said...

It also reminded me of those who are debating the formation of what I call "The we'll get it right this time, true blue, have everything as it should be, no doubt about it xxxx Church."

To be fair, I don't think the re-zoning of Christians into various confessional communions must be such a thing. The world is always trying to usurp what belongs to God. The Church of God in all places and all times always resists and separates herself from the world, even though we sojourn in the midst of it.

On the other hand, though, what you describe sounds just like what the founders of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod were after when they fled to American soil. I still remember the day I learned about that in seminary. I got this real sick, depressed feeling in my gut...and it's still there! :-{

I guess from an Orthodox perspective, all this church-body cell-division might appear to be a man-centered attempt to manifest the True Christian Church, all which is misguided, since the Orthodox Church claims to be that True Christian Church.

I'm not convinced that it always is so man-centered, though.

fr john w fenton said...

Pr Harju,

I like your "re-zoning" turn of phrase. It reminds me of Fr Richard John Neuhaus' "redistribution of the saints." :)

If ecclesiology is christology, then it seems to me that one needs to avoid the error of both ecclesiological Eutychanism and ecclesiological Nestorianism.

Rev. Benjamin Harju said...

My guess would be that the current predicament of the LCMS falls into the category of "ecclesiological Nestorianism," since there is the claim of being "of" the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, yet without that Church-ness necessarily manifesting itself in the visible realm.

But what is the error of "ecclesiological Eutychianism?" Might that be when participation in the divine nature is seen as manifesting something substantially mixed together from the incarnate Christ and "fallen humanity," an almost demigod church that is spawned from Jesus and not truly of Jesus? Could you maybe clarify what you mean here?

fr john w fenton said...

Rev Harju,

What I call "ecclesiastical Eutychianism" holds that there is no distinction between the divine and human natures in the Church; i.e., that the invisible/visible or hidden/revealed distinctions do not obtain.

Rome and Orthodoxy are sometimes falsely accused of holding this position.