The third chapter of Being as Communion is entitled “Christ, the Spirit and the Church”. In the introduction to this chapter, Metropolitan Zizioulas begins by outlining the different emphases on Chistology and Pneumatology in recent Catholic and Orthodox ecclesiology. In broad strokes it might be said that Catholics emphasise the former and Orthodox the latter, and yet both face unresolved issues in this regard. This is illustrated by Orthodox criticism of the ecclesiology of Vatican II in which “it was observed that the Holy Spirit was brought into ecclesiology after the edifice of the Church was constructed” on a Christological basis, and which had important consequences for issues such as “sacraments, ministry and ecclesial institutions”. (123) However, the proposal of two Orthodox observers to the Council that a focus on the Holy Spirit and on “Christian man” was sufficient is, in the eyes of Zizioulas, “a clear indication that Orthodox theology needs to do a great deal of reflection on the relationship between Christology and Pneumatology”. (123)
Zizioulas proceeds to note the contribution of Khomiakov, which was paralleled by that of Möhler in a Catholic context, who injected such a strong dose of Pneumatology into ecclesiology that it effectively made the Church a “charismatic society” rather than the “body of Christ”. This led later Orthodox theologians such as Fr Florovsky to emphasise the Church as “a chapter of Christology” leaving the relationship between Christology and Pneumatology as a question to be addressed.
The Orthodox theologian who addressed this issue in the most thorough way was Vladimir Lossky. Zizioulas sees two aspects of his thought as worth noting. Firstly, there is a distinct “economy of the Holy Spirit” alongside the economy of the Son. Secondly, Pneumatology involves the “peronsalisation” of the mystery of Christ, or what one could call the “subjective” aspect of the Church in contrast to the “objective” aspect that is found in the sacramental structure of the Church. However, Lossky does not pursue the problem of how the institutional and charismatic aspects of the Church are to be worked out and his views are not without problems.
The recent contributions of both Nikos Nissiotis and Fr Boris Bobrinskoy have stressed that the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit belong together and should never be seen in separation, although both give a priority to Pneumatology.
The question, however, remains still open as to how Pneumatology and Christology can be brought together in a full and organic synthesis. It is probably one of the most important questions facing Orthodox theology in our time. (126)
Thus, Zizioulas argues, while it is often thought that Orthodox theology can help to correct the West excesses in ecclesiology – and this is not untrue – Orthodox theology also has work to do in this regard and this is the challenge that this chapter will address.