In response to Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis’ controversial paper delivered at Holy Cross Seminary, I reply that yes our theology demands that it is found in a person, but that person is and always has been Christ. To see a bishop, and to not see him as an icon of Christ, is to completely misunderstand the episcopacy.
An RCC friend keeps asking me: “Where is Orthodox unity, since there are multiple overlapping jurisdictions?” The response is unsatisfying to many: Orthodox unity is mystical unity, it is unity in Christ. By this I do not mean that there is some forensic criteria for determining the “validity” of our Eucharist to the exclusion of others, but rather that Christ is real and present and life-giving to the Church.
Why become Orthodox? Because it is the Church, the Church where the life of Christ is manifest and transformative.
But what kind of philosophical argument is that? It is just a testimony.
Sadly, for one reason or another, some of the mother Churches in the old land are just as unsatisfied as my RCC friend, or the Protestants whose belief in unity being grounded in Scripture cause them to turn a blind eye to facts about its transmission and interpretations. They are looking for a non-mysteriological “backstop” of infallibility, but the only infallible One is God.
In this climate, and with this issue on the minds of many of the clergy and the faithful, Metropolitan JONAH took the pulpit last night. It was a Pan-Orthodox Vespers – the last of the year. In the altar, praying alongside each other, were members of the Greek, Antiochian, OCA, and (I think) Romanian jurisdictions. We said the Prayer of St. Ephriam in 4 languages. At the end of Vespers, His Beatitude, spoke frankly to the people gathered there – and to the Ecumenical Patriarch.
“There is an American Orthodox Church. Leave it alone”
The response from the clergy bordered on elation, even among those of other jurisdictions.