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The Church and Her Task: An Analysis of Florovskys

Understanding of the Church


Dimmitri Christou
Georges Florovsky. The Church: Her Nature and Task. Chapter IV of Collected Works of Georges
Florovsky, Vol. I: Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View. (Bchervertriebsanstalt,
Vaduz, Europa, 1987), p. 32-41.

The focus of this analytical summary is oriented toward assessing Georges Florovskys
article The Church: Her Nature and Task. Georges Florovsky was an Eastern Orthodox
priest, historian and theologian. Georges Florovsky also contributed a substantial amount
of literature oriented toward establishing ecumenical dialogue between the various
churches of Christianity (e.g., Roman Catholic and Protestant). George Florovsky passed
away in 1979, leaving behind a substantial theological legacy.
The focus of this analytical summary is oriented toward assessing a part of the
authors legacy. The authors article only spans ten pages, granting insight to a list of
theological matters that are otherwise considered undeniably significant. The themes of
the article are primarily ecclesiological. The author goes into detail describing the
teleological end of the Church, what constitutes the Church, etc. (e.g., the new reality of
the Church and the Church as new creation). The author discusses several key
characteristics of the Church per se within several independent sections of the authors
article.

1. The Catholic Mind
The author firsts begins his article by discussing the Catholic Mind of the Church. The
author begins the article by pointing out that no formal definition of the Church has been
offered throughout the life of the Church either in the Ecumenical Councils or the
literature of the Fathers. There seems to have been a necessary reason for the Church to
give an explanation of the Church. That said, the author goes on to state the [] lack of
formal definitions does not mean, however, a confusion of ideas or any obscurity of
view.
1
Indeed, for the Fathers, as the author states, the nature of the Church was an
axiomatic reality experienced within the life of the Church. Thus, according to the author,
there was no need to define the Church as One does not define what is self-evident.
2

Consequently the author goes on to state that the Church can only be defined from
within the Church such that the [] mystery [of the Church] is apprehended only by
faith.
3
Essentially the authors point is formal definitions of the Church cannot be
offered. Still, material definitions of the Church can be offered. However such a
definition can only be experienced through the life of the Church.

2. The New Reality and New Creation
In the following sections of the article the author goes into Biblical detail, referring to
how the particular contributes to the universal in light of the Church as the New Reality.
Specifically the author states that Christianity denotes a common life, a life in
common
4
such that Christians have to consequently regard themselves as brothers to one
another.
5
The life of a Christian is communal in nature. Indeed the particular Christian is
united in Jesus Christ, where Christ is [] not above or outside the Church rather []
the Church is in Him.
6
Indeed the author states that the community of the Church is
affected through the Sacraments (e.g., Baptism and the Eucharist).
7
Still it is the Holy
Spirit that guides and unites the Church in Jesus Christ. For, the Holy Spirit permeates all

1
Georges Florovsky. The Church: Her Nature and Task. Chapter IV of Collected Works of Georges Florovsky,
Vol. I: Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View. (Bchervertriebsanstalt, Vaduz, Europa, 1987), p. 32.
2
Ibid., p. 32.
3
Ibid., p. 32.
4
Ibid., p. 33.
5
Ibid., p. 33.
6
Ibid., p. 34.
7
Ibid., p. 34.
things, wherein the descent of the Holy Spirit at the moment of Pentecost determined the
continual life of the Church embodied in Jesus Christ.
The authors main point here is to grant insight on the Christological nature of the
Church. As the author states, Christians are incorporated into Christ and Christ abides in
them.
8
The incorporation of the individual in the Church is embodied in the Sacraments
of the Church and marks. Consequently, the author goes on to explain the Church as the
ultimate reality. The Church simply is an eschatological reality. The Church being
Sacramental per se can be no less as the author states.
9
Essentially the authors point is
that the Church possesses no less than the salvific decisive end of all things. The Church
is comprised of sinners, of the weak. Nevertheless the Church is a community of persons
incorporated in Christ and the Holy Spirit which therefore reflects the Church as the new
reality.
Subsequent to analyzing the Church as the New Reality, the author goes on to
analyze the understanding of the Church as the New Creation. In this short section the
author explains that conversion constitutes the new creation. However, conversion is not
simply reduced to conveying ideological principles. Rather, conversion, as the author
states, is oriented toward transforming the individual for their salvation. Being converted
and born anew, the person enters a new life, accomplished [] in Him and into Him by
water and the Spirit.
10
Nevertheless it is through conversion and entering into new life
the person enters a new life, a new life that is oriented toward a salvific end that by nature
is in opposition to the world is subsists in. The Church possesses the foundation for
making this new life possible for as the author states the Church possesses the foundation
for the new mode of life, that of the world to come.
11


3. Conclusion

8
Ibid., p. 36.
9
Ibid., p. 39.
10
Ibid., p . 39.
11
Ibid., p. 39.
The overarching theme of the authors article is oriented toward giving a living
understanding, a material definition, of the nature of the Church and its purpose and
function in the world in both a particular and universal manner rather than a formal
definition of the Church, wherein the essence of the Church is reduced to an entirely
human level thus exhausting the Church of all its mystery. To engage in this definition
the author covers a list of characteristics of the Church (e.g., the Catholic mind, the
Church as New Reality and New Creation).