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Constantine Scouteris

Τhe People Of God: Its Unity And Its Glory

The Father George Florovsky Memorial Lecture.
Α discussion of John 17:17-24 in the light of patristic thought

The Person of the Son as the cause of the ecclesiastical unity.

Thus in the Trinitarian life it is the Person of the Father Who is the sole cause of the existence of the other two divine persons, and is consequently the unique principle of the divine communion. The Person of the Father is the ontological basis of the divine communion. Likewise, in the Church it is the Person of the incarnate Logos Who makes every human being a unique person, thus establishing a communion of persons in the image of the communion of the three divine Persons. The incarnate Logos transfered the divine unity to the human level as a personal communion. The incarnate Logos becomes the ontological foundation of the new people. This means that there can be unity of the people because there is Christ. It is the Person of the incarnate Logos Who reveals the authentic human person and makes every human being a unique person in communion with others.

What does this mean? What do we mean when we say that the incarnate Logos reveals the authentic human person and creates a communion of persons? At first sight we simply mean that the Logos of God reestablished in His Person the divine image which had been obscured by sin, thus opening the way for man's liberation from his estrangment, from his isolation and individuality. It also means that the foundation of the unity οf the new people cannot be found outside personal communion. The unity οf the people is not the consequence of a particular external teaching. The unifying force of the people is not theoretical agreement. Similarly, its oneness is not based οn a new common law, with new commandments and regulations.

Let us state the argument again: the uniqueness of the New Testament people lies in the fact that this λαός exists as α communion of persons. Its unity must be understood not in terms of human agreement, nor even of metaphysical beliefs, but as a recapitulation in the unique Person of the incarnate Logos. Ιn the final analysis this means that, if there is unity, it is because the re-creation of the human person is realised in Christ. St. Ρaul puts this well in his epistle to the Ephesians: "Ιn Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity... for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby... Νοw therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizents with the saints, and of the household of God" (2:13-19) .

This passage from Ρaul refers primarily to the gentiles who are "fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers" of the promise of God in Christ by the gospel (Eph.3:6). It is also significant, however, for a generally better understanding of the unity of persons in the one body of the Church. The point is that in the Person οf Christ all distinction and divisions are abolished. And we know that the corruption of human nature is due to the fact that it is a rupture and a breaking off of the original unity established by God. Let me briefly elaborate οn this.

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