In the final subsection of this second chapter on Truth and Communion, Metropolitan Zizioulas makes the following observations about the Eucharist as the locus of truth.

a) In the Eucharist God’s Word comes to us “from inside our own existence … as communion within a community.” Christ is revealed not in a community but as a community. This means that

… truth is not just something “expressed” or “heard,” a propositional or a logical truth; but something which is, i.e. an ontological truth: the community itself becoming the truth. (115)

Such truth is not imposed from outside but springs up from within. However it is not merely sociological but “comes clearly from another world, and as such is not produced by ourselves.” (115)

b) While Christianity is certainly founded on historical fact, history, understood in the light of the Eucharistic experience, is not simply a succession of events but is

conditioned by the anamnetic and epicletic character of the eucharist which, out of distance and decay, transfigures time into communion and life. (115)

While the bishops possess a certain charisma veritatis which was expressed in the development of apostolic succession and of conciliarity,

In the approach presented here, this association cannot be understood as a delegation of the truth to official ministers. The fact that every bishop receives the charisma veritatis only within the eucharistic community, and as a Pentecost-event, shows that the apostolic succession has to pass to the community through communion. The bishop in his function is the apostles’ successor inasmuch as he is the image of Christ within the community: the primitive church was unable to see the two aspects (Christ-apostles) separately. Similarly, the councils were expressions of truth simply because the bishops were the heads of their communities, which is why diocesan bishops alone can take part in councils. The communities’ unity in identity is the foundation of conciliar infallibility. (116)

c) Similarly, the point of dogma is soteriological and is intended to lead to life by maintaining “the correct vision of the Christ-truth and to live in and by this presence of truth in history.” (117) The point of excommunication (and the reason why the councils ended with anathemas) was to protect the community from distortions of truth. And communion was no longer possible after a council’s definition and anathema because communion requires a common vision of Christ.

The councils’ aim was eucharistic communion, and in producing or adopting creeds the intention was not to provide material for theological reflection, but to orientate correctly the eucharistic community. Thus is may be said that the credal definitions carry no relationship with truth in themselves, but only in their being doxological acclamations of the worshipping community. (117)

Dogmas do, nevertheless, “represent a form of acceptance, sanctification, and also transcendence of history and culture” (117) similar to that of the Eucharist itself. Thus historically and culturally specific elements are taken up into the life of the Church acquiring a sacred character and permanence becoming transformed in the process.

It is in this sense that we would understand faithfulness to dogmas. Not because they rationalize and set forth certain truths or the truth, but because they have become expressions and signs of communion within the Church community. Communion, being relational, is inescapably of an incarnational nature… (118)

Thus

Dogmas, like ministries, cannot survive as truth outside the communion-event created by the Spirit. It is not possible for a concept or formula to incorporate the truth within itself, unless the spirit gives life to it in communion. Academic theology may concern itself with doctrine, but it is the communion of the Church which makes theology into truth. (118)

d) Truth is not something that concerns humanity alone, but has a cosmic dimension which finds expression in the Eucharist in which Christ “is revealed as the life and recapitulation of all creation.” (119) It is humanity’s priestly function that reconnects the universe to infinite existence, liberating it from the slavery to necessity.

Man’s responsibility is to make a eucharistic reality out of nature, i.e. to make nature, too, capable of communion. If man does this, then truth takes up its meaning for the whole cosmos, Christ becomes a cosmic Christ, and the world as a whole dwells in truth, which is none other than communion with its Creator. Truth thereby becomes the life of all that is. (119)

This has implications for the relationship between science and theology so that Christian scientists will be able to recognise their para-eucharistic work “and this may lead to a freeing of nature from its subjection beneath the hands of modern technological man.” (120)

e) In the Eucharist truth becomes freedom because it enables us to overcome division and individualisation and creates the possibility of otherness and communion. This is, however, a new concept of freedom “determined not by choice but by the movement of a constant affirmation, a continual ‘Amen.'” (121) This is an idea of truth that is not of this world …

But as we have emphasized above in connection with Christology, you do not do justice to truth’s ontological content by implying that our fallen state of existence is all there is. The individualization of existence by the fall makes us seek out security in objects or various “things,” but the truth of communion does not offer this kind of security: rather, it frees us from slavery to objective “things” by placing all things and ourselves within a communion-event. It is there that the Spirit is simultaneously freedom (II Cor. 3:17) and communion (I Cor. 13:13).

Man is free only within communion. If the Church wishes to be the place of freedom, she must continually place all the “objects” she possesses, whatever they may be (Scripture, sacraments, ministries, etc.) within the communion-event to make them “true” and to make her members free in regard to them as objects, as well as in them and through them as channels of communication. Christians must learn not to lean on objective “truths” as securities for truth, but to live in an epicletic way, i.e. leaning on the communion-event in which the structure of the Church involves them. Truth liberates by placing beings in communion. (122)

Advertisements