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"No one man, or group of men, can himself speak for the Church of Christ. It is nonetheless possible to speak from within the Church, in conformity with Orthodox tradition; and it is this that we shall attempt to do." Fr. Seraphim Rose Orthodox Word #1 Jan-Feb 1965 p. 17

The Moral Idea of the Dogma about the Church

Parent post:
http://remnantrocor.blogspot.com/2011/10/from-vladyka-agafangels-livejournal.html

The Moral Idea of the Dogma about the Church.
When the readers are suggested a more or less new explanation of Christian dogmas, the believing Orthodox author does not suppose to introduce into the Church mentality any new truth. On the contrary, he is convinced that the fullness of truth is the property of the church mentality of all times. If, for example, till the 5th century the notions of nature and personality remained untouched, or if till the 7th Ecumenical council the dogma about the revering of icons was not distinctly formulated, then this does not mean that earlier the Church had not known the correct doctrine about the Trinity, or was torn between idolatry and the struggle against icons. In the mentioned cases it was not that the content of faith was enriched, but there happened the enrichment of human thought, because some notions were substantiated and became more profound. Even before the 4th century the church knew from the Gospel and Tradition that the Father and the Son are One, that we are saved by the belief in the Holy Trinity, but how to coordinate these truths with human philosophical notions of personality and nature, or in the other way— what kind of place receive these notions in respect of the Divine creature, — these things people learnt only from the fathers of the First and the following councils.
The same way, if now any simple, resigned Christian, like, for example, Homyakov, starts discussing the truths of faith (in contemporary terms), but without building an opposition to the church tradition, then such an author, remaining in the accord with Orthodox theology, does not discover any new mysteries of faith, but from the point of view of faith satisfies the new demands of contemporary human thought. A modern reader, seeing in his words a long-waited-for answer for the doubts, concerning his beliefs, is ready to proclaim such an interpretation to be "a new revelation", and another reader, without such demands, being an admirer of school authorities, full of distrust and ill-will, does not hurry to agree with the author and is persistently trying to find the presence of heresy, rejecting the fact that the subject is explained much better than in the existing teaching aids. By the way, same Homyakov did not say anything against the teaching aids, so the attitude to the comparative worth of his interpretations and teaching aids in general mostly depends not on how the eternal content of faith, identical for both the variants, is analyzed, but on the substantiation of changing demands of the contemporary thought.
One of the most persistent, most definite demands of contemporary life in respect of our faith has to do with the moral content of its dogmatic truths. The church consciousness always possessed this content. The Creed is always an enthusiastic hymn for the obedient and enlightened sons of the Church. Almost every prayer of the Church ends with the recollection of the Holy Trinity, especially as of the source of all moral treasures. But modern theology, as a science, lacks the clear definition of the moral notions of the truths of faith and the explication how the first are defined by the second ones. Therefore, it is natural enough, that those researchers, who are acquainted with Christianity only from its educational side, but do not have any practical view upon the church truth, these, so to say, external contemplators of Christianity, are bewildered about the fact, why our faith, which made its Founder pronounce the words: if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments — demands from its followers the acceptance of multiple, and as it seems, purely theoretical, dogmas with such persistence. We have said "are bewildered," but, unfortunately, our haughty contemporaries least of all agree to be bewildered, but prefer, like the rooster from the parable of Krylov, the sure and persistent denial and defaming of what they do not understand. This mood is especially strongly manifested in the works of Leo Tolstoy, who, unfortunately, in this case is only one more daring representative of the mood of the great number of educated Europeans and Russians. We are trying to respond to this bewilderment, both in the present article about the Church, and in the former ones: about the Holy Trinity, the atonement and the Holy Spirit.

The Meaning of the Dogma about the Church.
From all dogmas, the dogma about the Church is subjected to the strongest attacks of sectarianism and pseudo-rationalism. Our liberals with special diligence spread the translated publications about inquisition, the fight of culture with the Papacy, within the reading circles, hoping that the quick-witted Russian reader will be able to shift the ill-intended statements, concerning the Papacy, onto the Russian church. Together with that, Russians in the West will underline that circumstance that the attractive grandeur, arrangement and convictions of the Papacy system — with one word, all that the Papacy can boast with — are not typical of our church management, with which similar people meet via secular executives, who usually cause various limitations, (i.e. censorious, disciplinary, ritual, etc.) And if the church management in the face of its hierarchic representatives creates obstacles for our liberals, then in this case it is usually treated like passive, ineffective, ineloquent, and therefore it is not strange that the renegades see it as the old boring grumbler.
So miserable seems to our contemporaneity that greatest sacred part of Christian teaching, without which the latter would really remain abstract, lifeless dogmatism, without which there would be no essential change in life performed by our faith in the universe. And if nowadays the false liberals think the teaching of the Church to be an obstacle in the path of their faith, then why do not they want, at least, to think over that phenomenon, that precisely this truth about the Church was the main power for attracting people and nations to Christ? Though, even without this dogma of the Church, Christianity is rich in elevated ideas, touching images, but all these ideas and images, including the events of the Evangelical history, would have remained powerless in the aspect of moral rebirth of people, if they would not have been fulfilled in the present life of Christians again and again, if the latter would not be the constant manifestation of that spiritual unity, that tender mutual love and mutual care, which could be instilled on Christians neither by belief in future life, nor by love for the Savior, and the recollection about His sufferings, but only by the words of His and His apostles about the Church, — about the fact that Christ gave His truth and grace not to each believing person separately, but to their unity in the Church, which as if forms the body, that is revived by the Spirit of God, gathering its members into one living unity of love, who live in this unity and die spiritually, as soon as they leave it.
Ancient Christians understood this condition to be the most important for their spiritual life and in it they found the force for fulfilling this most difficult task of life — to love each other. Our contemporaries have lost this understanding and need theoretical explanations, concerning the question about the significance of this dogma of the Church for spiritual perfection of the personality. We would like to offer such an explanation.

The given theological point of view about the interpretation of the dogma of the Church is not accidental and has place only in the contemporary conditions of thinking. The most authoritative dogmatist of Orthodoxy, venerable John Damascene, says that from His features and His providential destinies God, having revealed to us everything necessary for our salvation, hid that, what does not have a direct connection with this goal. In particular, not only the truth about the Church is revealed to us, as far as this goal is concerned, but the very Church is established only for that. Who does not know the words of the apostle that from Christ "the whole body [of the Church] fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" (Eph. 4:16).
So, the designation of the Church is defined clearly and concretely: it is in the spiritual perfection of Christians. Meanwhile, as a consequence of some sad misunderstanding exactly this aspect is omitted in the definition of the Church, made by the contemporary dogmatists, who do not note at all, as it seems, that the given by them definitions suffer from logical incompleteness, which is obvious to a conscious reader.
The majority of the educational definitions of the Church start like this: the Church is a society, established, united, etc. But the main definition of a society is in its designation, its goal, and about this almost nothing is said in the educational formulation of the dogma. Recently in literature appeared another definition of the Church, as of the body of Christ, which caused great polemics, but the arguing said almost the same, though they fiery rebuked each other. The main basis for such a definition was in the given above words of the apostle, but on some reason no one considered it necessary to read the phrase up to the end, and the holy utterance was discussed, being harped on the same string, without going over to its main thought.
If to look at the truth of the Church from the mentioned by us point of view, then we would need to make the following thesis main in our reasoning: for salvation, or, which is the same, for spiritual perfection of man the three conditions are needed: very man, God and the Church. Usually, the third condition is not thought to be the basic for our salvation, because this subject was mostly highlighted by the Protestants in European theology; but we know that the Divine Kingdom, Which our Savior had brought to earth, is reached not only through the sanctification of personal life of man through the direct influence of the Divine Creature, but through the establishment on earth of new existence, new element, only through which the Lord comes into communication with human personality. This existence, this element is the Church. It is great that in that exceptional case, when after establishing the Church the Lord called persecutor Saul to Him directly from His Heavenly Throne, He did not leave him without the most direct guidance of the Church, did not show His will directly to him, as once He had done to Elijah and other prophets, but sent him to Ananias for to be taught, sanctified in the sacrament and healed from blindness.
But even before the time when He was only explaining the principles of His doctrine, in the majority of His parables He showed new spiritual life as the opposite not only to that sinful, split into two, personal life of a single man, but as well to the isolated way of life in human society. In His new Kingdom people gather not only to create a friendly brotherhood, but they arrange some new council existence, which has to grow as the leavened bread, as that tree that hides all in its shadow, as the grape vine, where the stem is Christ and the branches are the Apostles.


The Main Thought in the Dogma about the Church.
Preparing Himself for leaving this world, the Lord Jesus Christ looked at the skies and appealed to His Father in a prayer about the fulfillment of that act, for the sake of which He had come to earth. This prayer was about nothing but the arrangement of new, council existence — the Church on earth — the existence, which till that time parted by sin mankind did not possess. This existence is typical not of earth, where there is no unity, but pure partition, but of heaven, where the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit gathers the three Persons into One Creature, so that there are no more three, but one God, living council life. Alike, the council new existence, new man is brought forth by Christ onto earth, into the hostile society of Jews and pagans (Eph. 2:14-15). Surely the goal of this new existence on earth lies not in itself, as in a process, but in the relations between its compound parts, i.e. human personalities. "Father, I will, —says the Lord, — that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me…that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:24-26). This is the final goal of the established by Christ Church, in respect to its members; and the first task, without which it is impossible to reach the final goal of our existence, is in unceasing spiritual perfection of the personality in the Church.
Therefore the Church is absolutely new, special and unique existence on earth, which cannot be defined with precision by any notion, taken from mundane life. And if in the mentioned by us theological argument those thinkers, who told about the superiority of their definition of the Church, as of the society (comparing it with the definition of the Church, as of the body of Christ), were sure that they were giving the correct definition of the Church, while their opponents only proposed a comparison, — then let us note that the claims of the first were absolutely unfounded. Any terrestrial society has so many aspects, absolutely different from the life of the Church, and so few common with it traits, that one could prefer the comparison, which is authorized by the Holy Scripture to the visibly formal definition, if only, as we have said above, the referring to this matter words of apostle Paul were analyzed in all their fullness, without shortening its main thought. And this main thought (unto the edifying of itself in love) already stands in the opposition to the image of the body, knowing no love, and through that again this thought leads us to the understanding that the definition of the Church is about the exclusive, opposite to everything terrestrial existence.
Now let us focus on the description of this existence in detail, and then again we shall point at its real displays and by that shall try solving the more difficult question of the mutual argument of European confessions: where should be the real Church searched for?
From the quoted words of Christ the Savior we saw that the Church is the similarity of the Trinitarian existence, in which many personalities become one creature. Why is this existence (as the existence of the Holy Trinity) new and unperceivable for the Old Testament man? — It happens on the reason that in its natural self-consciousness a personality is a limited in itself type of existence, drastically opposite to the others. Let us set aside the language of abstract definitions, necessarily dry and compressed, and discuss the practical influence of this law upon our will. First of all, we see that this law of our natural existence, which can be found in our direct self-consciousness, radically differs from the moral law of the Gospel, which demands from its followers self-denying love for the neighbor. Though, this law of love can be found within human nature, which is disposed to love, but at the same time it is inclined to defend its "ego," and bears the feeling of self-love and vengeance. And till the time man sympathizes with the Christian law only being led by his natural inclinations, he will never accept the fullness of Christian love, will not become a true Christian: he will love some, and maybe ardently, and will hate the others: love and self-love will still remain in him, as two irreconcilable enemies.
"But this will be a constant contradiction in the soul of man!" —an objector will state triumphantly. Sure, we shall reply. Natural man is the incarnated contradiction, and this inner contradiction of his nature is hardly revealed with such force elsewhere than in the feeling of natural love. Like that, for example, in the sexual sphere love and hatred are combined in one strange, ugly process, where sometimes reproduction is followed by a murder. Or take the highest manifestation of natural life — the love of a mother among the animals or simple people: here the affects of tenderness towards children are constantly changed by the affects of anger against their supposed enemies, and against children themselves, if they do not understand the wishes of the mother. A hen, when her chickens are born, not for a minute stops to threaten everyone around, and a usually meek cow is more terrifying than any predator, while the newly born calf is near her. From the constant observations of life, and from the artistic image of the latter in literature we know about the fact, how this inner contradiction of love and hatred is intensified within people (for example, "The Egyptian Nights" of Pushkin, "The Meek" of Dostoyevsky, "The Mother" of Nekrasov and many others).
Human thought did not bring together these two points, but rather intensified the contradiction. When people used the notion of a free personality, this unique notion, upon which the elevated demands of strict morals can be based, then together with the teaching about justice, chastity, honesty, they preached the proudly cold, legal and formal attitude towards the neighbors. Such is the teaching of the stoics and Kant, who totally denied the importance of virtue and suggested to substitute it with the principle of respect for the neighbors. The morals of the scholastic theologians were based on the notions of formal duty and, having no opportunity to deny love for the neighbors, which was preached in the Scripture, were limited by them with the invented doctrine about love for oneself, and with many legal, but artificially created norms, which were taken from the Roman and feudal law and were introduced not only into the teaching about the relations between people, but into the doctrine about God the Redeemer.


Absence of this Thought in Contemporary Philosophy.
The latest humanistic moral, and with it the Protestant moral of the rationalistic direction came to mutual agreement that for the strengthening of the principle of love it is necessary to renounce "the scholastic" notions about the personality, free will, retribution, and instead of these notions, protecting egoism, to establish the opposite view onto existence, as onto council Divine life, which is distributed between creatures, who long to be the parts of one gracious unity. Here, spiritualism is changed into pantheism, the main leading principle of the modern philosophy and rationalistic theology. Let us add that not mainly humanism, but the Protestant predestination, (which denies the significance of the exploits of will) and the common drop of morals that was concealed behind the shield of humanism serve as the main basis for the development of such a world-view.
But let us discuss only the positive aspect of the latter, without penetrating into its concealed meaning. The connection between personalities is destroyed here, the opposition between "I" and "not me" is exterminated; there is no place for haughty self-praise of nonentity, which bears the name of a human. But everyone knows that with the extermination of the freedom of will the difference between the good and the evil and any moral responsibility of man fades, and the same happens to the moral attraction of the exploit of love and its moral necessity.
That is why the contradiction between haughty sensuous egoism and known to our heart element of love cannot be solved within the philosophic thought, till it originates from this or that principle of natural life — the principle of a free personality or of natural humanism: in the first case there rules legal formalism, in the second — pantheism. Obviously, both the thought and real life are based on the initial notion, due to which there will happen the reconciliation between the free self-esteem of personality and the principle of self-denial and life for the sake of others. Here, these others, this "not me," would not be anything opposite to me, to my "ego," and the freedom of each personality would be combined with the metaphysical council of their existence, not like it is in pantheism.
This is the initial notion of the Church according to the definitions, which we have given to It before, on the basis of the Divine Word. And really, we see that the personality, developing itself in the Church, combines the fullness of self-denying love and high degree of individual will. The most typical representatives of such a combination are our saints — martyrs, ascetics and holy fathers. In these three types of holiness (martyrs, ascetics and holy fathers), different from one another because of conditions of life, we find the identical harmony of those two opposite qualities, which would be permitted neither in natural life, nor in the Western philosophy. All these three types, the giants of will with the extremely intense realization of their moral responsibility, at the same time do not have any natural every-day egoism, any fine self-praise, any demands, concerning personal rights, — they are the types, among which the two first dedicate their whole life to and die for the church community and glory of God, and the third denies the own will for the sake of God and the representatives of the church authorities, making that the most important goal of life.
So, Christian truth about the Church not only within the thought, but within very life, frees man from the natural contradiction between self-consciousness of the personality and self-denying love, as the principle of life. Why exactly this contradiction should be analyzed? We said that the definition of the Church should be derived not from the concept of the terrestrial way of life, but from the teaching about the trinity-united Divine Creature, as the Lord had taught us in His Farewell prayer. God is one in His essence and life, but triple in Persons: the same way the Church is one in its essence, but multiple in persons, which form It. What is the united creature of the Church and how does it relate to natural mankind?
[By the way, let us say beforehand, that the moral strength of the Orthodox teaching about the Church is not limited by the definition of its common significance: the Church is, moreover, the irreplaceable guide for the Christian in his further exploit of life, who again and again needs to re-substantiate the truth, explained in this teaching, — he needs it both for the strengthening of faith, and for the act of moral perfection. In order to understand this need clearly and indisputably, one needs to remember about one certain quality, typical of any moral and moral-informative activity of man on the whole, and of any Christian in particular. What we mean is the forgotten by the Western theologians law of life, owing to which Christian perfection should be treated not like free, unlimited development of the most complicated phenomena among the less complicated, but as the constant intense struggle, full of sufferings.]


The Church and Personality.
In the Holy Scripture and church legend it is said for many times that the Lord came to earth in order to revive man, as he had been before the downfall, and to restore His image, obscured by passions, in man and mankind. This image was the image of the trinity-united Divine Persons and exactly this image is revived by Christ in mankind through the establishment of the Church, i.e. the image of one essence in the multitude of persons, as it is said in the Archpriest prayer.
Let us explain the thought about the church common existence, which is in the restoration of the unity of human nature, with the help of the following reasons. Concerning the Divine Creature, under the notion of the united Divine nature theology means the Divine spiritual nature, those spiritual forces and qualities of Divine life, which are brought into action by the free will of the Divine Persons. The same is meant under the nature of mankind and the nature of each separate personality.
This division of personality and nature in us is not something abstract, but is the truth, directly proved through self-observation and experience. Feeling in oneself the presence of an independent personality, freedom of will and of actions, every man understands perfectly well that this independence, this freedom is only in the specific directing of forces and qualities of his, common to all humans, nature, in the development of some natural inclinations and elimination of others — in choosing between the struggling inclinations. But we all realize well that no man can think differently than according to the laws of thinking; man passes through certain stages replacing one habit by the opposite one, he cannot walk upon the air, stop breathing, etc. With one word, we feel ourselves already endowed by certain physical and psychical nature, partly known psychical content, the change of which is subjected to our will, but on a certain basis and with significant limitations (for instance, is it easy for a mother not to love her children?) This psychical nature of ours, this subconscious common human will, which we all inevitably posses, is our human nature.
Till now we have not said anything new about the accepted in contemporary theology definitions. But if we pause on the said above, then under common human nature we shall understand not the actual (real) essence, but some abstract notion, which can suggest neither any basis for understanding of the problem of the first-born sin (which is inherited by all human personalities), nor redeeming grace, thanks to which exactly human nature (and not each separate human personality) is sanctified. Having lost the notion of human nature, as of the existing essence, the Middle Age theologians had to explain the nature of the first-born sin through the hereditary right or even to transfer the unworthy of people concept of vendetta onto the Creator and make this concept basic for the explanation of the process of our salvation.
Meanwhile, the Middle Age theologians and even Plato in earlier times vaguely felt that there exist such common or general notions, which are not a pure abstract idea about the common features of some objects, but which do exist independently and truly. About that was the argument of the nominalists and realists. To the number of such notions belongs the notion of common human nature. Does it possess any actual and real existence? In God this existence is so real, as the existence of each Divine personality; it is even more real, for we do not speak about the existence of three Gods, but one God, though we profess the existence of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We know that these three Divine persons live common life of Divine character — which is holy, blessed, ever-righteous, though they have Their personal Freedom, as the Lord said: "I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love" (John 15:10).
If the people had not fallen, if they had not been filled with the spirit of opposition and partition, if they had not weakened the unity of their nature through all that, then in their hearts with the same fortitude would have been existing the life of common human nature, which was good enough, for God created it in His image, for immortality (Wisd.2:23). In that case, each single human personality would have been given the option to agree with the existing in him source of love, virtue, reason and joy. Unanimously studying the beautiful Divine Creation and the Very Creator, and being pleased with mutual love and joy, people would have been filled with the idea of their unity more and more. And it would have been hard to talk about the acts and thoughts of Peter, Paul and John, but we would have to talk about the actions of man in totality. But such a merging of all into one unity would seem infinitely strange, compared with that pantheistic nirvana, which is being preached by modern philosophers. In ideal, exactly this unity, this unanimity of human thoughts, feelings and actions would be constantly established and built by the free will of each single personality and by that would protect the moral value of its existence. That would make it different from the synchronic movements of various parts of a well-arranged apparatus, or from the unanimity of speechless ants or bees, led by the blind and having no freedom instinct in their tireless labors.
But such blessed life of mankind was distorted by self-loving disobedience of our forefather, and his descendants were destroying it more and more it with new sins, so that human consciousness almost absolutely lost it, reaching such isolation that the opposition between "I" and "not me" became basic for human reason; and the Divine Trinity, the image of Which is in our nature, became an incomprehensible mystery for natural reason, and for those, having taken root in their self-love philosophers — they see it even as logical absurdity.
But then the Redeemer restores the lost by the forefather council-like character of human nature, similar to that, which all people would have possessed, if they had not fallen. This life is the established by Him Church. It is alike the life of first forefathers, but differs a little from it, for now it is based not on the easily fulfilled free accord of each personality with its uncorrupt nature, but on the agreement, characterized by the struggle with that decrepit nature, which we are to crucify.
First, before to analyze this life, or, what is the same, the dogma of the Church, more profoundly, let us recall the utterance of St. Basil the Great, who tells about the unanimity, resignation, love and obedience of the monastic brotherhood in the 18th chapter of the Ascetic Regulations:

"Those living in community, i.e. monks, efface in themselves the sin of forefather Adam, renew the prehistoric goodness [beauty], for if the sin had not split the nature, the people would have had neither partition, nor discords, nor wars. They are the exact imitators of the Savior and His life in flesh. For, as the Savior, having gathered the disciples, made Himself belong to the apostles, the same way do these ones… They compete with angels in life, similarly preserving the unity, like the latter do. They anticipate the blessings of the promised kingdom through their good-willed community and communication, representing precise similarity to the angelic way of life and state. They have clearly shown to humans, how many blessings brought the incarnation of the Savior, because they bring the split into the thousands of parts human nature into the unity with itself and God again. For it is the main thing in the leading to salvation house-building and way of earthly life — to bring human nature into the unity with itself and the Savior, and exterminating sly division, to restore the pre-historic unity, similar to how the best doctor, using curative means, binds the body, broken in many parts, into one again."

As you see, in the above mentioned reasoning St Basil the Great says, that at first, human nature was council-like before the downfall; secondly, that it was split by the downfall or sin; thirdly, that the angels, which had not yield into the sin of self-love and disobedience, preserved this unity of their nature unharmed; fourthly, that the Savior came to restore this unity in fallen mankind; fifthly, that this restoration is in freeing people from self-love, discords and stubbornness and in renewing Christian love and obedience in their hearts, and sixthly that the divine atonement is mainly in the restoration of this newly-blessed unity of love and obedience among people and as well between them, God, and the Lord — and it is opposite to how school theological systems see it. Now we shall continue our reasoning.


Other definitions of the Church.
We have said that this restored by Christ unity of nature of believing mankind is in the Church. And alike the first given by God unity of nature was not an abstract notion, but a real living power, which was constantly living within the human heart, and as well within the multitude of saints, the same way the Church is not simply the multitude of separate people, but a legal and governmental institution. Though, first of all, it is the established by Christ life, blessed and holy, which unbreakably and stably will exist on earth till the second coming of Christ, protected from without, and manifested, first of all, in the holy and touching feelings of faith, repentance, spiritual joy, purity and love, which any blessed person finds in his heart, not as the fruits, cultivated by the efforts of his will in his personal life, but as the characteristics of another, given to him from without, nature — the nature of that New Man, whom any person becomes after the baptism. His further task will be to protect and to nourish these holy elements of salvation, given to him by God, this life of the restored nature, and the life of the Church, through the exploit of his personal freedom; and to crucify and do away with the opposite to this life human decrepit nature.
Sure, this exploit is more difficult than that what mankind had to face if it had not have fallen, but anyway, due to the above mentioned understanding of the matter, it becomes rather clear to us, why the mentioned by us types of martyrs, venerable and saints were the invincible giants of will, and at the same time constantly suppressed the desire of self-establishment, self-love, or cultivation of the personal "I" within themselves. This lets us understand, why Paul, who had, on his personal statement, more exploit than any of the disciples of Christ, says that he does not live any more, for he had crucified himself, and Christ abides in him; and that not him, but the grace that abides in him, is working for the Church.[ The grace in the Biblical and church language is called sometimes the very essence of the church life, sometimes the fruits of this life in the soul of a Christian, sometimes as the blissful influence, through which this power of new life is reported to the soul of man].
Still, our explanation about the true Church is not yet finished. We have mentioned its characteristics, which make the notion of the Church close to the notion of originally created by God human nature, but we did not explain the difference between these two notions: this difference is in the fact that human nature would have been revealed directly and without obstacles in each man (if there would have been no downfall).
But the life of Christ, which He had given to the Church and which He shares with every single person is not like that: this introduction of new nature (grace) into the soul of each Christian is a more complex phenomenon: it does not happen so directly, like the development of the human personality of innocent Adam on the basis of human nature, but first of all it goes through conscious acceptance of the life of Christ or Christianity, and then through the mysterious introduction of the newly-blessed church nature into our personality.
The Lord and the Apostles point at both the methods of sanctifying Christians, as at the equally necessary. When they say about the revival or about the purification of our nature through the word of teaching, they recognize the conscious penetration of new life, described in the Divine teaching (John 15:3; Pet. 1:23; Hebr. 10:22). And on the other hand, — who does not know the parables of the Lord about the unconscious and mystical growing of the blessed seed of new nature in the soul of a believer? It is similar to that, how a man would sow a seed in the field, and then easily spend his days, and the sun and water without his efforts would grow the plant and make the ear form (Math.13:31); it is like leaven, which raises in a dark stove (Math.13:33). It is subtle, like the place where the wind comes from, on the word of the Lord to Nicodemus (John 3:8).
Therefore the Church is not simply that school of Christian law, not only pure unconscious blissful energy, mystically transmitted by Christ into human hearts, but that very energy, which is kept and spread by the conscious element, i.e. the Church community. Hence, it is possible to fill in the gap in defining the Church as community, or body, — that gap about the designation of the Church, which we have mentioned above. Analyzing any definition of the Church one has to point at the fact that the Church, first, is meant to keep untouched the conscious content of newly-blessed life, i.e. the Divine teaching, and then to pass it over to separate people, preserving both quantity and quality; secondly, what is the same, to spread the Divine teaching among people, and thirdly, to fill the believers with this life and to make them reach spiritual perfection. The given by Apostle Paul comparison of the Church with a living body (Eph. 4:16) fully coincides with this designation of the Church.


The Militant Church.
But I see here neither the presence of teaching about the Church as about the organized society, — some reader will say, — nor the reference to the fact, in what sense both the heavenly and terrestrial church is called holy and infallible. If under the Church you mean the reproduced by Christ unanimous nature of newly-blessed mankind, — the objector will continue, — then where is that infallible authority of the terrestrial, militant Church? Do not you indulge the Protestants, who lay their inspirations upon the heavenly Church and are deprived of the terrestrial One?
— We started to discuss these questions in our prior reasoning. But that blessed life, which inspires a zealous Christian, is the life of new Adam; and the more the Christian is worthy of his title, the more clear and joyful is his understanding of constant communication with saints in heaven and the more inspired he becomes by the given to us Creed, by the expectation of the final judgment and the life of the next age, as St. John taught us in the Revelation (chap.21). Here is the first failure of Protestantism, for it omitted the prayers to saints and the commemoration of departed.
But we have said about the fact that the life of the Church is the struggle against this sinful world, and in every generation of people this world acts as a certain, partly conscious and partly subconscious force. Every generation of people is to feel its moral-historic task, bring to God its talent and put its victory into the treasury of the Church. That is why the newly-created, blessed nature of the Church, this new Adam, led by Christ, must have its certain, adequate manifestation in every époque of terrestrial struggle. [In the Holy Scripture and History Christ himself and the Church, led by Him, are called new Adam or New Man, Eph. 2:15; 1 Cor. 2:12; St. Gregory the Theologian. The Word on the Theophany of God; venerable Isaac the Syrian. About the Merciful Spirit].
Here, on earth, within the struggle of Christianity and the world, in the new church nature, which is being developed together with the decrepit one, there must live and act, first, the qualitative fullness of the gifts of Christ to the Church, i.e. the untouched content of the Church (or the pure Christian teaching), and secondly, the mysterious blessed energy (the holiness of the Church), which is reported to the Christian soul indirectly, in the form of blissful gifts. And as the life of the Divine Persons is the council life of one Divine Nature, the same way the acting on earth power of blissful life of Christ proceeds from church fullness. Therefore the entire church community on earth, but not its separate branches or some local authorities, as the Roman Catholics explain, turns out to be holy and infallible.
The detailed substantiation of this latter thought, based on Divine revelation, is not included into our task, because school theology describes well the authority of the militant Church, using the revelation. But still let us remind the reader that the majority of the Lord’s parables about the Divine Kingdom relate to the militant Church, —the fullness of blessed gifts is promised to It, and His words, said at the time of His Ascension, are addressed to It as well: "And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." The same way the Revelation draws the fight of the blissful Kingdom of Christ with the terrestrial world, and depicts Christ as the Leader and Direct Head of the militant Church, both in the first vision, where He is among "seven candlesticks", and in that revelation, which narrates about the future lot of the Church.


The Theses.
So, to believe in the Church means:
First, to believe that Jesus Christ through Himself restored the unity of human nature in the flock of His disciples, which was lost by people through the downfall of Adam and because of the sins, committed by his descendants.
Secondly, that this unity is not an abstract notion, but an active moral force, which gets into the hearts of His disciples and acts in them, like the source of blissful intentions and feelings, especially in their mutual love for God and one another.
Thirdly, this force, this church life, on the word of Christ, will exist on earth forever, and it is the unique means, through which the Lord leads people to salvation, i.e. to holiness and unity.
Fourthly, the people, leading church life, form one spiritual creature together with Christ, Who leads it as the Leader. To the extent of their perfection on earth — and to the utmost extent — in heaven, — they strengthen this unity so that it starts resembling the unity of Divine nature in three Divine Persons and by that fills every human personality with bliss and holiness, and the elements of this state are reported since people first enter the Church.
Fifthly, because the people of each generation start their spiritual perfection on earth in their struggle with the world, then the fullness of Divine gifts on earth is constantly preserved within the struggling for salvation community of people.
Sixthly, this community or the militant Church has a designation, first, to protect the source of Divine life, i.e. the Divine teaching and blissful energy of newly blessed life, and secondly, to report both of them to the own children by the means of teaching and prayer, so that they could reach perfection in their graceful church life, and to those not knowing Christ, so that they could become a part of this life.
The seventh point is in the statement that the task of each man, who wants to be saved, is first of all in the agreement with these truths of faith, reported from without to his personality, as well as with these sacred predispositions of the heart, and with the life of the Church.
The eighth point is in the idea that one’s personal life meets with the Church life not like free of any qualities, but like life, already filled with sin, that is why we call this free agreement with newly-blessed life of the Church as voluntary obedience.
The ninth point is that if it is so, if the life of the Church meets with the life of each personality, being the superior element, and a guide in voluntary inner struggle of man, then the life of the Church needs to have certain conditional outward forms, so that it can give way to manifestation of the church life or church administration and discipline. The common features, which define this external arrangement of the Church, are mentioned by the Savior in the Gospel and by the apostles in the Acts, Epistles and Revelation, and the most detailed explanations are given by Christ to the church pastors and form the subject of Church Tradition, mostly of canons.
The tenth point is that all external conditions, which define the appearance of blissful (church) life on earth, and the Church guidance of Its children, are filled with the same spirit of blissful Divine life, in which is found the meaning of this life, i.e. the spirit of love and holiness, and therefore, if they are called by us external, then it is not in the literal sense, but means that they guide the inner life of our souls with the help of some external means.

This is the content of the dogma of the Church. — Is it necessary to say that such beliefs are the part of irreplaceable moral force, general for the Christians undertaking exploit; that without such beliefs their life is aimless, and exploit has no basis?

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