(Being, the second section of chapter three of Being as Communion ).
While few would question that Christology and Pneumatology belong together, the question that arises is that of the relationship between them and, in particular, the questions of which has priority of what their content is.
With regard to priority, Zizioulas points out that differing priorities can be traced back to the New Testament itself – one the one hand, the Spirit is given by Christ and, on the other hand, it is the Spirit who announces Christ and constitutes His very identity – and this continues to be seen in the varying practices regarding baptism and confirmation in the early centuries. He argues that such variation in priority should not necessarily constitute a problem, but that
The problem arose only when these two aspects were in fact separated from each other both liturgically and theologically. It was at this point in history that East and West started to follow their separate ways leading finally to total estrangement and division. Not only baptism and confirmation were separated liturgically in the West, but Christology tended to little by little dominate Pneumatology, the Filioque being only part of the new development. The East while keeping the liturgical unity between baptism and confirmation, thus maintaining the liturgical synthesis on the liturgical level, did not finally manage to overcome the temptation of a reactionary attitude to the West in its theology. The atmosphere of mutual polemic and suspicion contributed a great deal to the situation and obscured the entire issue. What we must and can see clearly now, however, is that so long as the unity between Christology and Pneumatology remains unbreakable, the question of priority can remain a “theologoumenon.” (129)
The differing tendencies of West and East are rooted in their differing contexts – in the former’s concern with history and ethics and in the latter’s meta-historical and liturgical approach. This should not be a problem if the content of Christology and of Pneumatology is the same, but the question remains as to what this content is. “From what exactly does ecclesiology suffer if the content of Christology or Pneumatology is deficient?” (129)
While the activity of God ad extra is one and indivisible, “the contribution of each of these divine persons to the economy bears its own distinctive characteristics which are directly relevant for ecclesiology in which they have to be reflected.” (129-130) Here Zizioulas notes the two central themes of eschatology and communion, which allow us to see the relationship between Christ and the Spirit at work in the Church.
While the Father and the Spirit are involved in history, it is only the Son who is incarnate and becomes history. “The economy, therefore, in so far as it assumed history and has a history, is only one and that is the Christ event.” (130) However, the contribution of the Spirit is precisely the opposite, namely, to liberate the Son from the bondage of history.
If the Son dies on the cross, thus succumbing to the bondage of historical existence, it is the Spirit that raises him from the dead. The Spirit is the beyond history, and when he acts in history he does so in order to bring into history the last days, the eschaton. Hence the first fundamental particularity of Pneumatology is its eschatological character. The Spirit makes of Christ an eschatological being, the “last Adam.” (130)
More over, it is through the Holy Spirit’s contribution to the economy that Christ receives a “corporate personality” and is not “one” but “many”.
It is not insignificant that the Spirit has always, since the time of Paul, been associated with the notion of communion (koinwni/a). Pneumatology contributes to Christology this dimension of communion. And it is because of this function of Pneumatology that it is possible to speak of Christ as having a “body,” i.e. to speak of ecclesiology, of the Church as the Body of Christ. (130-131)
While there are also functions such as inspiration and sanctification associated with the work of the Spirit, and while sanctification has been particularly important in Orthodoxy and especially in the monastic tradition, it has not been a decisive aspect of ecclesiology.
Ecclesiology in the Orthodox tradition has always been determined by the liturgy, the eucharist; and for this reason it is the first two aspects of Pneumatology, namely eschatology and communion that have determined Orthodox ecclesiology. (131)
Indeed Zizioulas argues that these aspects are not only normative but are constitutive of ecclesiology in that they qualify the very ontology of the Church.
The Spirit is not something that “animates” a Church which already somehow exists. The Spirit makes the Church be. Pneumatology does not refer to the well-being but to the very being of the Church. It is not about a dynamism which is added to the essence of the Church. It is the very essence of the Church. The Church is constituted in and through eschatology and communion. Pneumatology is an ontological category in ecclesiology. (132)