31 July 2009

The Church is One

The separation of Churches or, better said, the schism of Christianity is the greatest failure of the Christendom in history. This failure testifies, how much freedom the Providence of God has given to man, and how much man has misused this freedom.

In the Church there cannot be separation, because the Church is One, and it is homogeneous. Its oneness is determined through the fact that Christ is living in it, that it is mediating the gifts of Grace, and that in it are administered the sacraments.

It is not the Church that is divided, but rather Christian humanity. The separation happened within the kingdom of Caesar which became interweaved with the Kingdom of God, but it is not in the Kingdom of God, in which there cannot be separation.

~Nikolai Berdyaev
There is only one Church, not several Churches. And de facto the schism was not in the Church of Christ, but in sinful humankind, in the kingdom of this world, in the kingdom of Caesar. And the restoration of Christian unity does not consist in unifying the Churches, but rather in reunion of the splintered parts of Christian humankind. All parties are guilty of the schism between Christians.

Even when I am convinced that the dogmatic Truth is with Orthodoxy, I must still however feel the guilt which is on us, Christians of the Orthodox East. Also with us there was a lack of love, self-assertion, aloofness, an aversion to engage a spiritual world which seems to be something strange, also with us there was the ecclesiastical nationalism and particularism, there was the recoursing to the typical confessionalism.

Reunion and union of the Christian world must begin with community and unification of Christians of all Confessions, with mutual respect and love, with an inner universal spiritual attitude. All must begin with spiritual life, with spiritual unity, and it must work from inside outwards.

Unification of the Churches can only be a work of the Holy Spirit. But we can prepare this work spiritually in our human part, we can create a favorable spiritual soil. Christian unity must not begin with negotiation of Church governances, but with a spiritual unification of Christians, with forming a Christian friendly association, which is possible while also remaining true to one's own creed.

~Nicolai Berdyaev
"Orthodoxy & Ecumenism" (1927)

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