Unity in Christ

From “Catholic Consciousness: The Anthropological Implications of the Dogma of the Church” by Vladimir Lossky. English translation (from the French original) in St. Vladimir’s Seminary Quarterly, Volume 14, No. 4, 1970.

No differences of created nature — sex, race, social status, language, or culture — can affect the unity of the Church; no divisive reality can enter into the bosom of the Catholica. Therefore one should consider that the expression “national Church” — which is so often used in our day — is erroneous and even heretical, according to the definitions condemning phyletism that were pronounced by the Council of Constantinople in 1872. There is no Church of the Jews or of the Greeks, of the Barbarians or the Scythians, just as there is no Church of slaves or of free men, of male or of female.

There is only the unique and total Christ, the celestial Head of the new creation which is being realized here; the Head to which the members of the one Body are intimately linked. At this point any particular consciousness connecting us with any ethnic or political, social or cultural subgroup must disappear in order to give way to a consciousness “according to the Whole” (kath olon), a consciousness greater than the consciousness which links us with the aggregate of humanity.

In fact, our unity in Christ is not only the primordial unity of the human race, having only one origin, but the final realization of this unity of human nature which is recapitulated by the last Adam (Eschatos Adam).

This eschatological reality is not some kind of ideal “beyond,” but the very condition of the existence of the Church, without which it would be a sacramentalizing organism whose sacraments would have only a figurative sense, instead of being a real participation in the incorruptible life of the Body of Christ.


  1. “any particular consciousness connecting us with any ethnic or political, social or cultural subgroup must disappear in order to give way to a consciousness ‘according to the Whole'”

    Well, let the disappearing begin! Shall we start with an eetsy tiny baby step?

    Anyone willing to drop the “Greek” or the “Russian” or their “xxxx” from their church name?

    Shoot, no takers! 🙁

  2. Michael Bauman :

    Well Robert, there are a few. When the cathedral parish which I attend was renamed after being designated a cathedral several years ago, our bishop specifically left the ethnic adjective out of our name. We are merely an Orthodox Christian Cathedral. Unfortunately, our bishop took heat from the Metropolitan about it, but that is our name.

    We still get called Greek Orthodox by folks in the community.

  3. Robert Fortuin :


    I like your bishop!

    Unfortunately your experience makes my point. Our ethnic “particular consciousness” is our golden calf.

  4. Orthodox Church in America.

    Only an ethnic designation in Canada.

  5. Haha, how about “the North American Orthodox Church for non-Canadians”?

  6. People always ask if I am greek Orthodox. I say, no I am American Orthodox. SO they ask, but your church is a Greek Orthodox Church right? I say, no, I am an American Orthodox Christian and a member of the Orthodox Church in America.

  7. George Michalopulos :

    The problem with those who use Lossky’s argument (which is correct I might add), is that they are usually the first to jump on the “ethnic bandwagon.” Truthfully, I am surprised by how little we are hearing about the Council of Constantinople -1872 anymore by these same people. After all, it invalidates the entire non-Metropolia experience in North America (which is all heavily ethnic).

    Anyway, I guess the Phanariotes will be able to lick their wounds when some future EP is a Russian native of Turkey.

  8. Robert Fortuin :


    The problem with those who use Lossky’s argument (which is correct I might add), is that they are usually the first to jump on the “ethnic bandwagon.”

    Would you provide some examples? You lost me.

  9. George Michalopulos :

    Robert, I think I mixed my metaphors, so forgive me. My take is that there is only one universal (Holy, Catholic, Apostolic) Church. Christ is its head. National churches are at best what was called in the old days “local churches.” Regional gatherings of autonomous dioceses that corresponded to political boundaries. I.e. dioceses, prefectures, political regions. What Apostolic Canon 1 (believe) calls the “civil model.”

    Anyway, most of us here in North America are wedded to the “local church” model as it existed in the Old Country. We’ve just brought it over here, trying to impose it on a different polity. This is a heresy twice over: first, against the findings of Constantinople 1872; second, it violates the “civil model” of the Apostolic Canons. It’s OK if you live in Greece to be a member of the Church of Greece (indeed it’s the only canonical avenue open to you). However, when you go to Australia, U.S, Canada, wherever, then you become part of the local church there.

    Anyway, bear with me. If you go to the (say) Bulgarian Orthodox Church website, you will see that it says that its North American exarchate is an “indissoluble part” of the BOC. That’s one example. The other is the Palestinian/Jordanian parishes who still wish to remain part of the JP and refuse to this day to acknowledge their subjection to the EP. (I realize this is a little harsh as they’ve got legitimate beefs about the way this whole thing was engineered, but I’m disstilling the argument to its essence.) Of course, many in the GOA don’t want to be under the OCA; ditto the recent AOCNA confab in Palm Desert. The Romanian patriarchal church wants to unite with the Romanian episcopate of the OCA into a “maximally autonomous metropolitinate,” etc.

    All of this could be avoided if two things happen:

    1. We all coalesce into an American Church (that’s assuming we want to), and

    2. The Old World patriarchates allow this to happen (not likely).

  10. “2. The Old World patriarchates allow this to happen (not likely).”

    This is very unfortunate… It would be hard for mother churches in the old world to let go of their daughter church here when it comes to financial realities. Most of the Orthodox Chruches in North America do share their financial blessings to their own church across the ocean. And “letting go” would mean… well…

  11. Regarding the name of the Church, I always describe myself as Eastern Orthodox which is the formal title of the Church.

    Greek, Russian, Serbian, Rumanian in the title I have always believed have
    a tendency to confuse non-Orthodox.


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