Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Dialogue and Orthodox Mission Today

Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Dialogue and Orthodox Mission Today

Article excerpt

Abstract

Dialogue and Orthodox mission are two fundamental aspects of contemporary Orthodoxy that characterize and qualify its ecclesiastic activity. Orthodoxy is open to ecumenical dialogue, as it believes in apostolicity and the truthfulness of its doctrine. Ecumenical involvement is both the fulfilment of Christ's will and a special occasion for the Orthodox Church to promote the richness and beauty of its spiritual legacy. The Orthodox mission focuses on all aspects and current needs of Orthodox believers, including the response to contemporary secular challenges. It is based on well-defined principles and it is systematic, its main aim being to promote our Lord's gospel.

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Loyal to its mission to be "the light of the world," unshaken herald of the gospel of salvation, the church shares, full of hope and trust, the healing, sanctifying and deifying grace of Christ, and is the ever bright icon of the kingdom of God, a sign of the Lord's love and mercy. Dialogue and mission are two fundamental aspects of its existence, emerging from its very calling but also the main purpose of its work on earth. The calling to unity of Christ's church is mainly based on our Lord's very wish expressed in the garden of Gethsemane, when he asked that "all may be one." These words, a truly ecumenical testament of our Lord Jesus Christ, establish ecumenical work as a real mission, with full divine mandate and eschatological sense.

The centre of the teaching of our holy church, as we know, is the trinitarian doctrine, the faith in one God, one in being and three in persons, a truth that creates an extraordinary vision of ecclesiastic coexistence according to the principle of unity in diversity. From a trinitarian perspective, the church is "humanity living in free and conscious communion with the Holy Trinity or the living God, revealed through Jesus Christ." (1) The different confessional traditions share elements of unity, which underline and underpin the ecumenical dialogue; but they also have specific elements that, even though not seen in opposition, are the unique expression of the process of inculturation, of the fruitfulness of the evangelical word in specific contexts of culture and civilization.

Dialogue and mission, as major expressions of the word and natural manifestations of the depth of humanity, God's image in us, are also milestones of normal ecclesiastic activity in the contemporary world. Nothing is more usual and natural for the church than to relate to, to dialogue with, to bridge communication gaps, to facilitate mutual exchange of spiritual and cultural values, but also to mediate inter-human relations. In a sense, we could say that the dialogue and mission of the church are not only related to the essence of its divine vocation, but also to the practical means, which help it fulfil the mandate given by its Lord. Between dialogue and mission, there is the reconciling and renewing work of the church in the contemporary world and the call directed to us, to each of the members of God's people on their pilgrimage to "the Father's house in heaven." Aware of its missionary and ecumenical vocation, our church considers dialogue a natural way of relating to other Christian ecclesiastic traditions, confident that it is the guardian of the true tradition of the early church, and that it is bound to be a witness of the undivided church and to manifest the unity of the undivided church.

The need to deepen the unity of the church, to improve collaboration between the various Christian religious traditions, is underlined by the fact that the challenges of postmodernity, the problems of our world, with major emphasis on secularism, materialism, and superficiality, require an urgent, united, and articulate Christian response. Our world needs the proof of unity, "so that the world may believe" (John 17:21) to believe strongly, with the indestructible force of solidarity, of unity and brotherhood, to transform the world together, in the light of the resurrection, of his life-giving gospel. …

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