These three ecclesiologies are, in order of their historical appearance, riteâ??based ecclesiologies (Catholic), confessional ecclesiologies (Protestant), and ethnically based ecclesiologies (Orthodox).
These three ecclesiologies, are essentially of the same nature: that is, they are established according to aggressive, almost militant, principles. Moreover, they have dominated Church life since their appearance and also determined the statutory texts that regulate the existence and functioning of all Churches since that day.
We are now in a position to reâ??examine the causes that brought about these ecclesiological deviations. While very different in their origin and outlook, they resemble one another, and also continue to coexist, though without creating any communion or unity between them. A key common denominator is what I shall call â??coâ??territoralityâ??, i.e.: separate Churches sharing the same territory. This is an extremely serious problem found throughout the second millennium â?? the same millennium that has faced numerous insoluble issues of an exclusively ecclesiological nature. By contrast, the first millennium, which had to deal with Christological issues, resolved most of them. In other words, when Christological problems appeared during the first millennium, the
Church was able to engage with them and resolve them in a conciliar manner, but we have not been able to do the same with the
ecclesiological problems that have arisen in the second millennium.
These three divergent ecclesiologies, which developed from the thirteenth to the twentieth century, have essentially led the Church into a postâ??ecclesiological age, in which we now live. We seek superficial solutions, whether through Councils like Vatican II, which proposed an increase in ecumenism, or through increasing efforts to federalise the Protestant Churches, or even by the fruitless attempt to summon a panâ??Orthodox Council, which has been in preparation, to no avail, for almost half a century. It is certain that the true solution will neither be ritualist, nor ecumenist, nor confessional, nor federal â?? and it will certainly not be ethnic and multiâ??jurisdictional. It can only be ecclesiological and canonical, and this is perhaps why it seems to be so distant (if not utopian) in todayâ??s age of of Christian modernism that remains woefully nonâ??ecclesiological and multiâ??jurisdictional.
Archimandrite Grogorios Our ‘Post-Ecclesiological’ Age