Trinitarian Structure, Lay Responsibility and Infallibility

‘If we suppose that we have a center that cannot err, matters change radically in the Church. Everything is degraded to the level of worldly existence. Things move mechanically, regulated from the outside. We return to the curse of the law. The whole architecture of the Church is put out of shape…The responsibility of the laity is diminished or done away with entirely. Theology, instead of being a “mystery” clearly delivered to the Church, becomes an individual intellectual concern. Dogma no longer serves as a guide for life, nor does life lead to the open door of the truth which frees.

The suffering and the struggle inherent in the universal responsibility of the laity is something which has cost and continues to cost dearly. It is painful for the whole body of the Church, and for this very reason leads to salvation. This is because, in a way that is conscious and recognised, it leads everyone as a community and as persons to spiritual maturity and adulthood in Christ. In this spirit of responsibility, faith matures and theology is born, The truth is made flesh within us, as freedom become tangible: “We who are many are one body and one spirit” (1 Cor 10:17).

We are bound together by the common faith which, in accordance with tradition, each of us has found and finds personally through the exercise of his own responsibility-“so each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom 14:12)-and through the communion of the Holy Spirit. The Church leaves the believer free to feel Christ dwelling within him; free to live in fear on the sea of the present age; free to be crushed by his resposibility; free to cry out to the Lord, “Master we perish,” and to see Him in the night of the present age, walking on the waters for him personally and for the whole Church; and free to hear the Lord say to him, “It is I.”

…It is a mysterious presence of God made man, which surpasses firm administration, world conquest or history. It is a certainty for man, given by God. It is an expansion of our being to His dimensions, a process whereby what is mortal is swallowed up in life.

This unconfused and indivisible interpenetration of life and certainty, of the laity and responsibility, of freedom and unity, constitutes the source of renewal in the Church. Here we see the operation of the Trinitarian “leaven” of the Kingdom of God, which no one can impede and which sanctifies and renews all things, making them pass through unceasing trials:…

Every believer is called to live theologically, and the whole body of the Church is creating theology in its life and its struggle. Thus the ex cathedra of Orthodoxy, the way in which it expresses itself infallibly, is from the Cross. The responsibility that is spread over the whole body of the people is a cross…The spiritual life of each believer which provides the overall balance is a cross. On the Cross, the Lord “stretched out His hands and united what had previously been sundered.”

The infallibility on which the Vatican prides itself is a disruption of the trinitarian structure of the Church’s ecclesiology and spirituality. Orthodoxy cannot accept the dogma of Rome’s infallibility without denying itself. It could not accept it without living it; all the dogmas of the Church have been embodied in its worship and have formed and set their seal on its life. Supposing that the Church did accept it and lived it consistently, as it lives all the other dogmas, it would then cease to exist. The Church itself would cease to live. This dogma of infallibility is one that the Western Church has manufactured in its own way. This is a dogma which no Church can live in a way that is Orthodox; it brings about the paralysis of the whole body of the Church.’

Ecclesiology and spirituality have the same basis: dogma. The Church is Christ, His body living in history. It is summarised in each of the faithful, who is the Church in miniature/ The personal consciousness of each of the faithful has an ecclesial dimension, and every problem of the Church is the problem of the personal salvation of each of the faithful.

Archimandrite Vasileios in Hymn of Entry pgs 50-52.


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