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Orthodox Ecclesiology

The Church of the Triune God

 

Hospitality of Abraham-symbol of the Trinity

Hospitality of Abraham

Symbol of the Trinity in the Orthodox Church

The nature of the Church is to be understood as the Church of the Triune God. The Holy Trinity is the ultimate basis and source of the Church's existence and, as such, the Church is in the image and likeness of God. This being in the image of the blessed Trinity constitutes the mode of the Church's existence, which, in fact, reveals her nature. Being in God, the Church reflects on earth God's unity in Trinity. What is natural to God is given to the Church by grace.

The grace of the Trinity is the starting point for understanding the nature of the Church, and especially for her unity in multiplicity, as the Holy Spirit shares one life and one being. The three distinct and unique Persons are one in life and in nature. Similarly, the Church exhibits a parallel multiplicity of persons in unity of life and being. The difference between God and the Church is that, in the former, multiplicity in unity is the truth, whereas in the latter, this is only a participation in the truth. In patristic language the former is ousia, while the latter is metousia. The unity of the three divine Persons in life and being is, therefore, the prototype of the unity of the Church's persons in life and in being. As Christ Himself says in His prayer for the Church: even as Thou O Father are in me and me in Thee, so they may be one, that the world may believe that Thou has sent me. The mark of unity is collegiality and love, and not subordination. Orthodox Triadology, based on the grace of the Trinity, supplies the basic ontological categories for Orthodox ecclesiology. The Church is an eikon of the Holy Trinity, a participation in the grace of God.

Home | Preliminary Remarks | Introduction | Church of the Triune God | Church of Christ | Church of the Trinity and the Church of Christ
Church of the Fathers | Church of the Saints or Those Who are Called To Be Saints | Conclusion