The fourth section of this chapter on “Truth and Communion” (67-122) is entitled “Truth and the Church: Ecclesiological Consequences of the Greek Patristic Synthesis” (110-122) and begins with the subsection “The Body of Christ formed in the Spirit” (110-114).
Zizioulas begins this subsection by outlining two possible Christological approaches. The first sees Christ as an individual who exists objectively and historically and who presents Himself to us as the truth. The distance between Him and us is bridged by certain means such as His spoken words which are transmitted and realised under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In the second approach Christ, while a particular person, cannot be conceived as an individual but rather His truth includes His relationship to His body the Church.
In other words, when we now say “Christ” we mean a person and not an individual; we mean a relational reality existing “for me” or “for us”. Here the Holy Spirit is not one who aids us in bridging the distance between Christ and ourselves, but he is the person of the Trinity who actually realizes in history that which we call Christ, this absolute relational entity, our Savior. In this case, our Christology is essentially conditioned by Pneumatology, not just secondarily as in the first case; in fact it is constituted pneumatologically. Between the Christ-truth and ourselves there is no gap to fill by means of grace. The Holy Spirit, in making real the Christ-event in history, makes real at the same time Christ’s personal existence as a body or community. (110-111)
Drawing on the biblical witnesses Zizioulas argues that Christ exists only pneumatologically “whether in His distinct personal particularity or in His capacity as the body of the Church and the recapitulation of all things.” (111) Thus to speak of Christ means speaking at the same time of the Father and the Holy Spirit and the mystery of the Church is rooted in the entire economy of the Trinity.
In the context of a Christology constructed in this pneumatological manner, truth and communion once more become identical. (112)
This occurs on both the historical and anthropological levels.
In the description of Pentecost in Acts 2, the significance of the event seems related as much to history as to anthropology: through the outpouring of the Spirit, the “last days” enter into history, while the unity of humanity is affirmed as a diversity of charisms. Its deep significance seems to lie in the fact that this takes place in Christ, viewed both historically and also anthropologically , as a here and now reality. The objectivization and individualization of historical existence which implies distance, decay and death is transformed into existence in communion, and hence eternal life for mankind and all creation. In like manner, the individualization of human existence which results in division and separation is now transformed into existence in communion where the otherness of persons (“on each of them separately,” Acts 2:3) is identical with communion within a body. (112)
This application of Christ’s existence to our existence does not occur abstractly but through a community which is formed out of the radical conversion from individualism to personhood that occurs in baptism. Through the new birth of baptism – in the Spirit – we are incorporated into the community “so that each baptized person can himself become ‘Christ,’ his existence being one of communion and hence of true life.” (113)
This truth of existence is an eschatological reality but it is given to us sacramentally as an “eikon” to provide us with a foretaste of eternal life which makes us aspire to the “transfiguration of the world within this communion which the Church herself experiences.” (114) In history, it is realised most fully in the Eucharist and the next subsection will deal with the Eucharist as the locus of truth.