– Jordan Bajis –
The Impossibility of “Individualism” – The Church as Community
Koinonia (koinwnia) is the Greek word translated by our English New Testaments as communion, association, fellowship, sharing, common, contribution, and partnership. Not one of these words, however, adequately captures what the early Christians meant when they spoke of the koinonia they had with one another and Christ. Koinonia expressed a relationship of great intimacy and depth, one so rich in fact that it even became the favorite expression for the marital relationship … the most intimate between human beings.”1 The implications of this word when used to express the nature of our bond with Christ and the brethren are especially profound.
…koinwnia implies a closeness of union approaching identity. Hence the significance of its use to express the believer’s union with the ‘Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord’ (1 Cor. 1:9), and with the Holy Ghost (2 Cor. 13:14 and Phil. 2:1)…With St. John indeed it is the predominant and determining note of Christianity. For the Fellowship as defined by him is only another word for that brotherhood or brotherly love (filadelfia) which makes the difference between darkness and light (I John 2:9f), and is therefore the essential characteristic of one who calls himself a Christian…”2
For one to have fellowship with another Christian in the early Church meant much more to him than what it means today to many contemporary Christians. (i.e., Christians having donuts and coffee together in the “fellowship” [social] hall after the Sunday service). Genuine fellowship demonstrates “that bond which binds Christians to each other, to Christ and to God.”3 Fellowship is all inclusive, deep, personal and intimate. The “meaning of ‘fellowship’ or ‘communion’ in the New Testament relates to sharing one common life within the body of Christ at all levels of existence and experience – spiritual, social, intellectual, economic. No area of life can be excluded.”4
The Church is not simply a society; it is fellowship in God and with God. Every description of the Church is simply another way of expressing the depth of this fellowship: the Body of Christ, Ekklesia, Temple of the Spirit, covenant, Eucharist, catholicity, brotherhood, the life of God, etc.5 This is why one can say salvation is of the Church.
Christianity from the very beginning existed as a corporate reality, as a community. To be Christian meant just to belong to the community. Nobody could be Christian by himself, as an isolated individual, but only together with ‘the brethren,’ in a ‘togetherness’ with them … Christianity means a ‘common life,’ a life in common.6
INDIVIDUALISM: THE ADVERSARY OF THE CHURCH
The dictionary defines individualism as, “the leading of one’s life in one’s own way without regard for others.”7 The above description of the Church clearly leaves no room for this attitude. The Church – as community – will always be opposed to individualism. The nature of the Church is love, and where there is love there is union, fellowship, interdependence – not self-imposed isolation and indifference to others.?
The individualistic attitudes of today have deformed our thinking about the Church, and directly oppose the Lord’s greatest commandment to “love one another as oneself” (Mark 12:23). Many Christians demonstrate individualism in their Christianity, thinking it is a sign of discipleship, when in actuality it weakens them and the bond of genuine fellowship within the Church. Such a one is the independent, “spiritual” person who typically stresses private devotions, theological knowledge, or “ministries” over relationships of love, sharing, and interpersonal commitment. Unconsciously he has given in to a destroying individualistic spirit, one which will injure his communion with God and the saints by drawing him away from the center of life.
The Origins of Individualistic “Spirituality”
Individualistic piety had its beginnings before the Reformation, but it has been especially encouraged within Reformation philosophies, American revivalism and Dispensationalism. Let’s take a brief look at each of these outlooks now, and see how they have affected today’s Christian thinking. In order to fight against Rome’s institutional conception of the Church (i.e., If you are not a part of the structure headed by Christ’s proxy, the Pope, you are not a Christian), many in the Fifteenth Century gravitated toward nominalistic thought. The subjective individualism of nominalism advocated an “individualizing” view of the Church, which not only challenged Rome’s false institutionalism, but also countered the Church’s true communal nature. The result of this view led the Reformers and those following them to dismiss the inherent inter-relatedness of each member within the Church, and to replace it with a vision which saw the Church as “only the sum of individual believers.”8 Both Luther and Calvin elaborated their doctrines of salvation from this individualistic premise.
Instead of seeing one’s union with Christ as inseparable from the Church (the divine-human community where He dwells in covenant with His people), the Reformers began to imply that one’s membership in Christ and one’s membership to the institutional Church could be separated.9 The “visible” Church became the Church only in an institutional sense. As we have already discussed, one could be a member of it on earth, for example, yet not be a member of the Church in heaven. It is this dichotomistic and individualistic emphasis which still leads many Protestants today to ignore the inherent communal nature of both the Church and of salvation. Salvation is communal because salvation is union with Christ (Rom. 6: 1-5), and He dwells within His Body, the Church.
In America, this individualization of Christianity accelerated further when sola Scriptura was employed to justify the legitimacy of an even more individualistic spirituality. Dr. George Marsden in his book Fundamentalism and American Culture, notes that the American individualistic understanding of the Church can be directly traced back to the Fundamentalist’s approach to the Scriptures.
The Bible alone should be one’s guide. Biblicism was closely related to religious individualism Š The individual stood alone before God; his choices were decisive. The church, while important as a supportive community, was made up of free individuals.10
In this view, the Bible evolved into “the earthly essence of the church…”11 and the argument became, “Who needs others for guidance or instruction when one has the Bible to guide and teach?” Who needs people, when one has a concordance? Thus, “each individual becomes his own church; [and] his own sanctification is the only holiness the church can know.”12
Individualism was particularly emphasized in American revivalism, especially as it was typified by Dwight L. Moody (1837-99). This renowned preacher continually underscored “religious” individualism in his mass evangelistic crusades. Moody, having inherited only an institutional understanding of the Church, saw salvation solely as an “individual” matter. Of course, it is clear that a human organization can not save. Unfortunately, neither having witnessed nor understood the Church as a divine-human Community, Moody could not see how someone was redeemed in the Body of Christ. To him salvation was purely a “personal” matter. Logically, he did not call the new disciple to see his commitment to Christ as an equal commitment to his brethren in the ekklesia. The new convert was only taught that his primary concern was to “win the lost” and maintain his own private holiness.13
The Dispensational view of the Bible took religious individualism even further still. By contrasting the New Testament period with the era of the Old Testament, Dispensationalism taught that whereas the Lord had previously led a people through the Law, now He leads individuals through the personal indwelling of the Spirit. Where Old Testament Israel was a united people, the Holy Spirit of the New Covenant works with unrelated, believing “individuals.” The Church as a “holy people,” and as “a holy nation” (I Peter 2:9) is ignored in favor of the autonomous “Spirit-led” individuals.14 Thus, the Dispensationalist doctrine allowed many Fundamentalists to stand removed from the mainline religious bodies of which they once were a part, in order to claim themselves a “faithful remnant,”15 those who separated themselves from the fallen multitudes (“church”). The consequence was that the core of the New Testament Christian experience was distorted; Christianity became a thing focused on the individual instead of a communal entity.
All the above views which undergirded religious individualism were based on the Augustinian dualism we discussed in the last chapter. Each view saw two churches: one visible and earthly, the other spiritual and heavenly. The “church” here (on the earth) came to be seen as a beachhead from which people could be evangelized into the “heavenly church,” and as a classroom where “personal” holiness could be taught; only secondarily was it an environment of relationships. Fellowship with Christians was “nice,” but it certainly wasn’t necessary for godliness or instruction in the Christian life, nor was it a requirement for Christian service. By such a focus, the Church’s call to model the communal love of the Trinity is repudiated by the greatest of contradictions: self -focused spirituality.
Community: Love Combating Individualism
Unfortunately, most Christians see the Church only as a place where they can get their private spiritual needs met. The Church, however, is foremost to be an environment of love where brethren care about each other. It is a family in communion, not a forum. Individualism and self centered independence are not characteristics of God’s Church, they are characteristics of the world outside of Christ.16 It is love, for God and the people of God, which makes the Church community.17
Unity within God’s family is not achieved by getting one member to submit to another member of a “higher spiritual rank”, or by persuading numbers of people to conform to a set of laws intended to order them into oneness. The military may do this, but the Church leads us another way: the way of love – here is “the perfect bond of unity” (Col. 3:14).18 A “unity” attained through laws, common teaching, intimidation, or anything else but participation in God’s love and life is counterfeit.19
This brings us face to face with the reality that the Church is specifically relationships of love. As is true with all relationships, one can truly know the other only by the experience of relating to each other, not by academic study. It is this interaction – this communion – which makes us into the image of Christ. When one enters the Church, a spiritual encounter of knowing takes place, and in this encounter one is transformed by the love of God and His people.20 In order to have real communion within the Church, each person must be open, trusting, and willing to be actively involved in “giving – receiving” relationships of love. Love and the voluntary, selfless sharing of our lives are the only philosophy of life appropriate in the body of Christ.
In short, “There can be no Church apart from love.”21 Paul said that we are called to be “imitators of God” in loving one another (Eph. 5:1, 2), and John tells us that love is the only way that we “behold God” in our midst:
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:11, 12)
Without question, to love is “the greatest commandment” (Matt. 22: 36-40) and the intent of the entire Scriptures is fulfilled in this: “‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself'” (Gal. 5:14). To be in the Church is to identify with Christ, and He made it clear that those who so identify with Him must love with divine love:
“‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”‘ (John 13: 34, 35)
At the Church in Jerusalem, “all those who had believed were together and had all things in common” (Acts 2:44). Why? Because someone ordered them to give? Because they would feel guilty if they did not give? No. These Christians gave generously to their needy brethren out of compassion. They understood they were members of the same family.22 This is the way of love. This is the way of the Church. This is the way of koinonia – “the spirit of generous sharing as contrasted with the spirit of selfish getting.”23
Love is the only commandment in the Church necessary to manifest our unity (and union) in Christ. Let us accept one another just as Christ has accepted us (Rom. 15:7); let each member care for the other (1 Cor. 12:25); let us love one another just as He has loved us (John 15:10, 12). If we love in this way, we cannot help but be drawn into oneness. Love – which is vulnerable, open and accepting of all – leads each into genuine Christian unity.
In love we are merged into one. ŒThe quality of love is such that the loving and the beloved are no more two but one man.¹ Even more: true Christian love sees in everyone of our brethren ŒChrist Himself.¹ Such love demands self-surrender, self-mastery. Such love is possible only in a catholic expansion and transfiguration of the soul.24
Truly, the closer we come to Christ in love, the closer we will come to those who have similarly given themselves to Him in the open embrace of catholicity. Catholic union was manifested in that very first Church: “the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul” (Acts 2:44). Are we living catholic lives? Our love should show it. The Church never limits or restricts love, and her members must actively shun exclusivity or possessiveness. In the love of koinonia, “The cold separation into ‘mine’ and ‘thine’ disappears.”25 Each member does not forfeit the responsibility for his own spiritual growth in this communion. The striving for “perfection” in Christ is still up to each unique person but, we are not perfected as loners, we are “perfected in unity ” (John 17: 23).26 This holiness occurs only when each chooses to love his brethren.
In the early second century, a document known as The Shepherd of Hermas included a popular vision of the Church that underscored this aspect of union and love. In this vision, the Church was seen as a tower of stones. It was not just any ordinary tower, however. The tower was composed of rocks that were so closely fit together so that the edge of each individual stone disappeared into the borders of the others. When one looked at the tower, he got the impression that it was constructed of only one large stone instead of the thousands that actually constituted it. Naturally this caused the observer to wonder just how such a structure could be built. The answer was the point of the vision: only with stones that had both sharp edges and smooth surfaces. The builder of this unique tower had flatly rejected all round stones. What does this rejection signify?
In that time and culture, roundness was a symbol signifying isolation, self-sufficiency, and self-satisfaction. The early Christians, seeing that such round stones were unfit for the tower representing the Church, realized by analogy that people of “rounded-character” would likewise be unfit in the fabric of the Church. A “rounded disposition” made a stone unwilling to come into communion with what already comprised the structure.27 The point in those earliest centuries was clear: there is no place in a kingdom of sharing and fellowship for the individualist. Only those “living stones” that choose to fit in with all the other stones will be built by Christ into His Body, the Church.
Community – Loving Specific People One Knows
Loving one another in Community (Church) truly happens when we start to love people whom we know personally. It is much easier to love one’s brethren in China than to love those with whom one must constantly rub elbows. Christians within the first Communities were not strangers who met only at weekly church services. They had ongoing, significant, relationships with people with whom they spoke, worked, lived, ate, laughed and cried. To live out such an ideal may be difficult today, but the nature of the Church makes it clear that some kind of relational environment should be the common Christian experience.
If it is difficult for us to live as Church, we must work at making it easier. We must accept sacrifices of time, money or convenience if we are to live as Christians embracing the mandate of the Scriptures. The pull of this present age against any kind of long term relationships makes it all the more clear that we can never be whole without a determination to pursue true fellowship and communion. Our society may have made the realization of these truths more complex, but the meaning and need of communion has not changed!
It is true that each Christian is a member of the one Church no matter how far he or she may be geographically removed from other Christians. However, one cannot experience the Community of Christ – the love of the brethren – “long distance.” Agreed, in the End Time when Christ establishes His Kingdom in its fullness, all will have such a communion with each other. But for now, on this side of eternity, one can only taste this communion within the Local Church with local people. Only in this context can one experience meaningful fellowship with Christ and one another. Howard Snyder, in his insightful book, The Problem of Wine Skins, makes this point well:
The New Testament idea of koinonia is not fully understood until we grasp the significance of the horizontal and vertical dimensions together. Typical church ‘fellowship’ seldom reaches the level of koinonia because koinonia is neither understood, expected nor sought. … koinonia is not simply some mystical communion that exists without reference to the structure of the church.. We may talk in abstract terms about ‘the fellowship of the church,’ as though it were something that automatically, and almost by definition, binds together. But the abstract concept is hollow apart from the actual gathering together of believers at a particular point in time and space. We cannot escape this …one cannot have fellowship with another believer who is not present, despite our mystical language.28
THE TRINITY AS THE CHURCH’S MODEL OF COMMUNITY
The perfect fellowship that the Holy Trinity experiences as Father, Son, and Spirit is ultimately represented by the same spiritual reality among the members of the Church. The same love that makes God One is the love that makes the Church One.29 As each member of the Godhead willingly submits to the Others out of love, without yielding His unique identity, so it is to be with each member of the Church with his fellow members.30 In many other similar respects, the Church as Community reflects the fellowship of the Trinity…31
Not only do Christians ‘praise the Father’ and ‘form the body of Christ’ and ‘live in the Spirit,’ but in addition the Christian life is to be found in the mutuality of their shared life in God Š Just as the Trinity is a community of persons united in one essence, so too, is the Local parish Š a community of persons which finds its common life in the persons of that same divine essence by participation.32
The God of the Christians is different from the God of the Moslem or Jew who denies the New Testament revelation. The dogma of the Trinity is not an empty intellectual exercise created by early theologians with nothing better to do. The Trinity is a revelation of the very character of God inherent to the message of the Gospel, because it reveals the truth that the “Christian God is not just a unit but a union, not just unity but community. …He is Tri-unity; three equal persons, each one dwelling in the other two by virtue of an unceasing movement of mutual love.”33 Here is the lesson for the Church. As a “one Personed” God is a contradiction to both God’s love and divinity,34 so is “Christian individualism” a contradiction to all that it means to be “in Christ.” One person can not have communion alone, he must share his life with others to experience it.
The love between the Persons of the Trinity teaches us something else about our relationships in the Church. Just as each Person in the Godhead never loses His identity as their love is shared with one another, so is this truth to be fundamental for life and relationships within the Church. The personal dimension of the Christian life is never to be sacrificed at the expense of the corporate “good.” What is not good for the person is not good for the Body. Conversely, what is good for the Body will always be what is good for the individual Christian. Whether the focus is on the one, the few, or the many, genuine love gives, frees, and strengthens all those involved.
The members of the Church are not merely indistinguishable cells within the Body, they are complete, unique, human personalities. Each person’s uniqueness must be respected and revered as a gift of God, not obliterated in the cause of uniformity. In actuality, The Trinity, as the Church’s model, shows us that there can be “no unity without diversity of persons, and no person fully realized outside natural unity. Catholicity consists in the perfect harmony of these two terms: unity and diversity…”.35 The Church may be One, but it is not one member. Each member has a place, and each person’s distinctiveness is to be harmonized with the distinctive personalities and gifts of the other.
Christian ‘togetherness’ must not degenerate into impersonalism. The idea of the organism must be supplemented by the idea of a symphony of personalities, in which the mystery of the Holy Trinity is reflected…36
The Holy Spirit did not fall upon isolated individuals, but upon the (gathered) Church at Pentecost. This truth, however, does not negate the fact that He did fill each individual person.37 In this miracle, the Holy Spirit made it clear that the specific identity of each person is important, and that the Church needs each member. He has neither given all His gifts to one, nor has He given the same one gift to each; He has given a variety of gifts to many. This teaches us that every member of the Body is not only different from other members, but that each needs the other’s uniqueness in order to be complete.38
The Holy Spirit did not come to bring unity by squeezing our distinctiveness into a blurred, non-personal glob. He respects our individual identities and encourages a diversity led from a love for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7). Each of us is different not only in the gifts God has given us, but in our personalities, experiences, and characters as well. This wonderful diversity is truly a gift of God to the Church. Uniformity is not at all the same as unity. In fact, it is an obstacle to it. If the entire Body were but one uniform member – if all were a hand for instance – how could each member be “connected” to the other? This sameness would actually prevent the unity of the Body, not encourage it.39
Even in God’s creation of man and woman, this dual principle of distinctiveness and unity speaks to us. A man does not love a woman because she is identical with him; her distinct “femininity” draws him close. And it is this distinctiveness which can fill his loneliness and make him “whole” (Gen. 2:18) in a way that no one of his own sex could. The same is true for a woman in her love for a man. Lastly, only their union in diversity makes them “one flesh.” This degree of union is something not possible for two of the same sex. Here yet is even a deeper significance: only they together, united in diversity and love, mirror the image of God’s love in creation (for both, together, revealed His image and likeness).40
THE COMMUNITY AS THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit’s Dwelling Within a People
It is unquestioned that the Holy Spirit resides within each believer, and that each person is a temple of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 6:16). Yet, the ministry of the Spirit is not to make Spirit-filled individuals alone, but primarily to create a dwelling for Himself within and among a people.41 In fact, this corporate, communal dimension is spoken of more frequently in the Scriptures than the personal and individual one.
This understanding of the Church as a people can sometimes be more apparent in the Greek text of the New Testament than it is in our English versions. The pronoun “you” in 1 Cor. 3:16, for example, is not in the singular but in the plural. Thus, although many tend to read the passage “you [as an individual] are a temple of God,” it would be more accurate to read it as “you -all [together] are a temple of God.” Let us keep this reading in mind as we look further at this and a few other similar passages.
For we are God’s fellow-workers; you [all] are God’s field, God’s building. … Do you not know that you [all] are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you [all]?…the temple of God is holy, and that is what you [all] are. (1 Cor. 3:10, 16, 17 )
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body ..and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:13)
And coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God, you [all] also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2: 4, 5)
So then you [all] are no longer strangers and aliens, but you [all] are fellow-citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you [all-together] also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. (Eph. 2:19-22)
This inter-connectedness is further illustrated in the Old Testament where the Septuagint uses the word koinonia as a synonym for “put together,” “coupled ” or “joined.”42 The word was used to describe how the Temple was to be joined together in its construction. This usage now applies to the Temple of God of the New Covenant (Eph. 2:21). The Church of God is built in the koinonia of the Spirit, one member being “built together” with another in accord with the design of Christ, the chief Cornerstone.?
“The church provides the context for spiritual growth by sharing together a fellowship which is at once the gift of the Spirit and the environment in which he may operate.”43 The Spirit’s home (“dwelling place”) is the Church. Here He works miracles, heals, speaks prophetically, delivers from evil, imparts knowledge, anoints its members to pray. And all of this is done, not for the individual (though he benefits), but that each may be edified (literally “built” together) as the body of Christ – as the People of God – as the Church. For this reason, we can say that the manifestation of the Spirit is FULLY expressed only in the Church. Orthodox theologian and historian John Zizioulas summarizes why this is the case:
. . . the Holy Spirit is the bond of love and wherever he “blows” he does not create good individual Christians but persons in communion with God and with one another, i.e., he creates a community. It is in this sense that it remains a fundamental and irrefutable truth that the Spirit exists only in the Church, the community par excellence, the Body of Christ, and that all spiritual gifts, such as inspiration, charisma, ministry, etc. cannot be conceived as possessions of individuals, but can exist only in persons in communion, i.e., in the context of the ecclesial [Church] community.44
The call of the Church is to continually realize what it is: the Body of Christ. We need to agree with God’s perspective concerning what He has done with humankind through Christ, and then rediscover what it means to be a people who live in the communion of His love. The Church is a family, an organism, a community, and unless the world is able to see this reality by the way we love one another, our own message of Life will mock us. Although the individualist may be popular in our culture, he is incompatible with Christ’s view of the Church, and it is not our job to make him comfortable. The Church is first and last a manifestation of God’s love. If we are to manifest this Church, we must love in divine measure (John 13:35).
The first step in meeting this challenge to love demands that we come against our own apathy. In our society, we have redefined “love” to mean “warmly tolerate.” As long as someone does not ask too much of us in our relationships, and as long as the exit from intimacy remains accessible, we can be “loving.” In other words, as long as we do not “hate” our brethren, we “love” them. This is not the love of communion. Christian love is not indifferent. It commits itself to others tangibly, practically, and daily. It requires interpersonal risk, it takes the initiative to heal, and it desires to meet the genuine needs of others. If we long to love with this kind of integrity and sincerity, we will love the way God does: in Community and communion.
Common Ground: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity for the American Christian. Chapter 11.
Light and Life Publishing Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 1991
NOTES FOR CHAPTER ELEVEN
William F. Arndt, F. Wilbur Gingrich, “koinwnia,” A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature , (Chicago, Il., The University of Chicago Press, 1957) p. 439
Arthur Carr, “The ‘Fellowship’ of Acts 2:42 and Cognate Words,” Expositor p. 462
William Barclay, “The Christian Fellowship,” New Testament Words, pp. 173, 174
John Driver, Community and Commitment, (Scottdale, PA., 1976) p. 28
“While the Church cannot be fully defined, she may be described as a community of human persons in communion with the three divine persons. The Church is an expression of both horizontal and vertical relationships of love which are not bound by space and time. ….In our own day, the tendency to reduce the reality of the Church to a society of human persons gathered about a doctrine, a ritual or an ethical code is especially dangerous. In such a sociological view of the Church, she becomes simply a fraternal, political or ethnic association which is void of the transcendent reality. Viewed from this perspective, the Church is certainly not an object of faith.” Thomas FitzGerald, “The Holy Eucharist as Theophany,” Greek Orthodox Theological Review (Brookline, MA., Hellenic Cross Press, 1983) Vol. 28, p. 31
Georges Florovsky, Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View p. 59
Webster’s New World Dictionary (Cleveland and New York, The World Publishing Company, 1959) p. 743
Joseph Lortz, “Why Did the Reformation Happen?”, The Reformation: Material or Spiritual? , Lewis W. Spitz, ed., (Lexington, MA., 1962) p. 61, italics mine.
Gustaf Aulen, Reformation and Catholicity (London, Oliver and Boyd Ltd., 1962) p. 48 It should be noted that although Calvin had this perspective, he still stressed a covenantal view of the Church. Luther, however, did not even stress this aspect of the Church in favor of a more “spiritual” view: ” The fundamental aspect of his [Luther’s] view of the church is the antithesis between the external and the internal; the distinction between that which is external, bodily, and visible, and that which is Christian and spiritual. …The church thus becomes merely something ‘inward,’ the spiritual fellowship constituted by the faith given by the Holy Spirit. Thus the idea of the church as precisely that body which in itself includes and fosters this fellowship is rejected.” ibid,. p. 29
George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1980) p. 224
“The Bible is Š the supreme tangible sacred reality. If you possess a Bible, you have the earthly essence of the church Š The Bible in fundamentalism is comparable to the virgin Mary in Roman Catholicism: it is the human visible symbol involved in salvation Š” James Barr, Fundamentalism (Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1978) p. 36
Ernest R. Sandeen, The Origins of Fundamentalism (Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1968) ftne. 13, p. 6
“Moody rose to fame in the heyday of American individualism and his thought is pervaded by its assumptions. The sins he stressed were personal sins, not involving victims besides oneself and members of one’s family. The sinner stood alone before God.” George M. Marsden. Fundamentalism and American Culture (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1980) p. 37
“The important spiritual unit was the individual. The church existed as a body of sanctified individuals united by commitment to Christ and secondarily as a network of ad hoc spiritual organizations.” George M. Marsden. Fundamentalism and American Culture (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1980) p. 71
“The Church was made up of God’s elect who were always only a handful and seldom if ever the possessors of power. The true church could not possibly be identified with any of the large denominations… but could only be formed by individual Christians who could expect to be saved from the impending destruction.” Ernest R. Sandeen, The Origins of Fundamentalism (Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1968) pp. 5, 6
“The individuality of the members is only a secondary characteristic of the one body Š We shall never understand Paul’s concept of the church if we begin our theological thinking with the individual Christian and consider the church as something like a social gathering or an association of individuals sharing some common interests.” Robert Webber, Donald Bloesch, eds., The Orthodox Evangelicals , “A Call to Church Unity” F. Burton Nelson, (New York, Thomas Nelson, 1977) p. 194 citing Eduard Schweizer, The Church as the Body of Christ (Richmond: John Knox Press, 1964) p. 63
To their credit Anabaptist groups have had a consistently strong emphasis on this: “‘ Š whoever eats and drinks alone, the same has fellowship with Judas, who [it is true] ate and drank with the other disciples from the bread and drink of the Lord. But he would not have community in the common brotherly love Š ‘” Franklin H. Littell, The Origins of Sectarian Protestantism (New York,The Macmillan Company, 1964) p. 97 citing Lydia Müler, ed., Glaubenszeugnise oberdeutchdher Taufgesinnter , 1938, p. 109
Certainly as love cannot be “commanded,” neither can communion come about through laws; “… freedom and distinctiveness define the ontological fact of communion; there is no communion unless participation in it is free and distinctive.” Christos Yannaras, The Freedom of Morality, (Crestwood, N.Y., St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1984) p. 212
“And unity cannot survive without charity. If anyone speaks of unity and lacks charity, he speaks in vain. Unity achieved at the expense of charity, or maintained at the expense of charity, will not survive for long and is never authentic. The most essential of all virtues then is unity–inner brotherhood and love.” Metropolitan Emilianos Timiadis, “The Eucharist: The Basis of All Sacraments and Union With God,” The Patristic and Byzantine Review (Kingston, N.Y.., American Institute for Patristic Studies, 1984) Vol. 3, No. 3, p. 186
Col. 3:9, 10,14; Gal. 5: 22, 23
Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way (Crestwood, New York, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1980) citing John of Kronstadt, p. 51
“Fellowship in the New Testament describes a certain quality of richness of life, and was manifested in the experiment of holding all things in common. What is significant here is not the particular form of the experiment but the underlying concern and commitment for one another’s well-being–and the dimension of solidarity that sought, by means of the bond of love, to remove all barriers of separation and hostility. …This Fellowship binds together all Christians, not only for their own solidarity, but also for solidarity with all those for whose salvation Christ came.” Metropolitan Emilianos Timiadis, “The Eucharist: The Basis of All Sacraments and Union With God,” The Patristic and Byzantine Review (Kingston, N.Y.., American Institute for Patristic Studies, 1984) Vol. 3, No. 3, p. 179
William Barclay, “The Christian Fellowship,” New Testament Words, pp. 173, 174
Georges Florovsky, Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View (Belmont, MA., Nordland Publishing Company, 1972) p. 42
Georges Florovsky, Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View (Belmont, MA., Nordland Publishing Company, 1972) pp. 41, 42
“Spirituality does not mean the accumulation of the experiences of a refined spirit, an undisturbed enjoyment of certain insights which can be cherished without reference to the community. True spirituality grows with the experience of the communion of many persons, with the understanding of the many complex situations born in the life of communion.” Dumitru Staniloae, Theology and the Church, (Crestwood, N.Y.. St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1980) p. 218
Georges Florovsky, Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View ( Belmont, MA., Nordland Publishing Company, 1972) p. 43
Howard A. Snyder, The Problem of Wine Skins, (Downers Grove, IL., Inter-Varsity Press, 1975) pp. 91, 92 Italics his.
“The expression ‘God is love’ (I John 4:16) signifies that God ‘subsists’ as Trinity, that is, as person and not as substance. Love is not an emanation or ‘property’…but is constitutive of His substance, i.e. it is that which makes God what He is, the one God. …Love as God’s mode of existence ‘hypostasizes” God, constitutes His being.” John D. Zizioulas, Being As Communion (Crestwood, N.Y.., St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1985) p. 46
“The Trinity is the culmination of the humility and sacrifice of love. It represents the continual mortification of each ‘I’, for it is the self-assertion of these ‘I’s’ that would make the absolute unity of love impossible, and thus give birth to individualism. And it is the sins of individualism that hinders us from understanding fully that the Holy Trinity is a complete identification of ‘I’s” without their disappearance or destruction.” Dumitru Staniloae, Theology and the Church (Crestwood, N.Y.., St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1980) p. 89
There is, however, a distinction to be made between the community and oneness we experience as human persons in the Church and the union and communion of the Divine Persons in the Trinity. This stems from the difference of natures. The common nature we share as human beings is distinct from the divine nature which each Member of the Trinity has in common:
Š although Father, Son and Spirit are one single God, yet each of them is from all eternity a person, a distinct centre of conscious selfhood.. God the Trinity is thus to be described as ‘three persons in one essence’. There is eternally in God Š personal differentiation Š Father, Son and Spirit are one in essence, not merely in the sense that all three are example of the same group or general class, but in the sense that they form a single, unique, specific reality. There is in this respect an important difference between the sense in which the three divine persons are one, and the sense in which three human persons may be termed one. Three human persons, Peter, James and John, belong to the same general class ‘man.’ Yet, however closely they co-operate together, each retains his own will and his own energy, acting by virtue of his own separate power of initiative. In short, they are three men and not one man. But in the case of the three persons of the Trinity, this is not the case. There is distinction, but never separation Š [they] have only one will and not three, only one energy, and not three. None of the three ever acts separately, apart from the other two. They are not three Gods, but one God. ..[The distinction is real but it] is beyond words and understanding. [For Each] of the Three is fully and completely God. None is more or less God than the others. Each possess, not one third of the Godhead, but the entire Godhead in its totality; yet each lives and is this one Godhead in his own distinctive and personal way. [According to Gregory of Nyssa] ‘Using riddles, as it were, we envisage a strange and paradoxical diversity-in-unity and unity-in-diversity’.
Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way (Crestwood, New York, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1980) p. 37, 38, 39
Stanley Harakas, “The Local Church-An Eastern Orthodox Perspective,” The Ecumenical Review (April, 1977) pp. 16, 17
Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way (Crestwood, New York, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1980) p. 33, Italics mine.
“The one, true and living God is not, and according to Orthodox theology cannot be, ‘alone’ in his divinity. If he were ‘alone’ he would not be God, for his very divine perfection is such that he has with himself–eternally and essentially, by nature and not by decision, by his being and not by deliberative choice–his only-begotten Son, also called his personal Logos and Image, and his Holy Spirit, who is the hypostatic personification of his divine activity and life.” Thomas Hopko, ed., “Man, Woman and the Priesthood of Christ,” Bishop Kallistos Ware,Women and the Priesthood, (Crestwood, N.Y.., St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1983) p. 99, 100
“The relation of the work of Christ to that of the Holy Spirit in the Church would appear to have the character of an antimony: the Holy Spirit diversifies what Christ unifies. Nevertheless a perfect concord is supreme in diversity … Without this personal diversity, the natural unity could not be realized and would be replaced by external unity, abstract, administrative, blindly submitted to by the members of a collective body.” Vladimir Lossky, In The Image and Likeness of God (Crestwood, New York, St. Vladimir’s Press, 1974) p. 178
Georges Florovsky, Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View ( Belmont, MA., Nordland Publishing Company, 1972) p. 67
“While Christ unites us, the Holy Spirit ensures our infinite diversity in the Church: at Pentecost the tongues of fire were … divided, descending separately upon each one of those present. The Gift of the Spirit is a gift to the Church, but it is at the same time a personal gift, appropriated by each in his own way. ‘there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit’ (I Cor. 12:4).” Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England, Penguin Books, 1981) p. 247
“To desire to base ecclesiology solely on the Incarnation … is to forget Pentecost and to reduce the work of the Holy Spirit to a subordinate role, that of an emissary of Christ, a liaison between the Head and the members of the Body. But the work of the Holy Spirit, although inseparable from the work of Christ, is distinct from it. … As surely as she is the new unity of human nature purified by Christ, the unique Body of Christ, so she is also the multiplicity of persons, each one of whom receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. The work of the Son has for its object the common nature: this is what is redeemed, purified, and recapitulated by Christ. The work of the Holy Spirit is directed to persons, communicating the virtual fullness of grace to each human hypostasis [person] in the Church, making each member of the body of Christ a conscious collaborator (sunergos) with God … ” Vladimir Lossky, Image and Likeness of God, (Crestwood, New York, St. Vladimir’s Press, 1976) p. 177
“If the Body of Christ is ‘unity in variety,’ it cannot exist without the communion of all the members, without common love, reciprocal care, and common interdependence. ” Serge S. Verhovskoy, “Catholicity and the Structures of the Church,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly (Crestwood, N.Y.., St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1973) vol. 17, No. 1-2, pp. 27, 28, 29
“… in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them ” [Gen. 1:27]) “If God is ‘we,’ then man too must exist as a multipersonal being. … Man in isolation is both incomplete and unhappy. Only in mutual relationships do men attain the fullness of being. …The words spoken by Adam about his wife have a much deeper meaning in the original Hebrew text than in any translation. The word ‘wife’ in Hebrew is ishah, and husband–ish. The concepts of husband and wife are thus expressed by the very same word, only with the masculine and feminine word endings. This emphasizes the correspondence and unity of nature between man and woman. They are the same man, the same nature, only in two different forms–masculine and feminine, as it was said at the beginning: ‘God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them’.” Serge Verkhovskoy, “Creation of Man and the Establishment of the Family in the Light of the Book of Genesis”, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Quarterly (Crestwood, N.Y., St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1964) Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 7, 10
“In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit usually was poured out upon groups of persons, be they the company of disciples or family groups. The Holy Spirit was rarely given to individuals alone, and even in these cases He was given for the edification of the body of Christ.” John Driver, Community and Commitment, (Scottdale, PA., 1976) p. 40
“And thou shalt make fifty golden rings [clasps], and thou shalt join (or “couple”) the curtains to each other with the rings, and it shall be one Tabernacle. ” (Ex. 26:6). Septuagint Version of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI., Zondervan Publishing House, 1970) p. 104. Koinonia is also used in a similar way in Ex. 26:9, 10; Gen. 14:3.
Howard A. Snyder, The Problem of Wine Skins, (Downers Grove, IL., Inter-Varsity Press, 1975) p. 95
John Zizioulas, “Appendix–The Authority of the Bible,” The Ecumenical Review , Vol. XXI, No. 2, April, 1969 p. 163