Many Protestant Christians who are anxious to escape the dreadfulness of disunity within their churches look forward to latching on to an authority in which they can rely on existentially. They want to know that the doctrinal explosion – if you will – of the Church as it began at Pentecost will be protected from what Protestantism has come to be.
Many of these Christians turn to Rome in order to embrace the Pontiff ‘s anathemas and other dogmatic ascertains. Others turn to Orthodoxy and embrace the Ecumenical councils as the Rome convert embraces the Pontiff. But this is not right of the Orthodox convert says Bishop Hilarion of the Orthodox Church. He says, “Ecumenical councils were never seen as the supreme authority in the Orthodox Church” (Orthodox Christianity, p. 61).
Orthodoxy is not a religious construct where people can place the thrust of their faith in existential values. Yes, the Church does have a corporeal and existential value, but the Church is a mere glimpse of what is really and truly going on in heaven! When one embraces Orthodoxy, they are not embracing what man says or does but what God says and does.
In Roman Catholicism the Pontiff is perceived as the voice of God; granted he as a bishop does represent the voice of God but he is not the entirety of it, in a Trinitarian sense. The Trinity is represented by the entire Church in that we are all a part of the priesthood; Not that we are all able to espouse whatever we want and expect it to manifest as truth but that we are actually able to espouse whatever we want and perhaps make fools of ourselves! The fool actually fuels the Church. That’s right; we are created in such a way that our human nature takes a certain form so as to embrace the Trinity! This is why the early Church arguments within the Councils were so important. They were protecting the way God created man in the very image of the Trinity. So it was important that they got the Trinity right by warding off the heresies surrounding the Trinity!
Since man was created in the image of the Trinity he is expected to become as the Trinity. He is expected to progress in such a way as to leave what he has learned from secular culture and to take up what he has learned from God’s Holy Church. This growth in the people of God after the image of the Trinity is crucial to the sustainability and authority of the Church.
The Orthodox Church, according to basic existential principals should not still exist, but she continues to exist. She has survived some of the most terrible onslaughts in world history and she still continues to grow.
The Orthodox Church is guided by the people as they embrace the Trinity. There is no need for one man or even a council of men to proclaim that we are in a sense still here and have the Christians submit to such a proclamation. Orthodox unity and sustainability happens “naturally” through the Holy Spirit. The unity of the Church is not proclaimed on paper for people to submit to, it is demonstrated through praxis, to be of “one mind and spirit” as Saint Paul says. The Councils of the Church with the bishopric are for correction and encouragement. They are not for replacing the people; they are the voice of the people.
The fool, in many ways, guides the Church. Believe it or not, it is important to have fools in the Church. Christ states in Matthew 13 that the Church is made up of both wheat and tares. And Saint Paul the Apostle says in 1 Cor. 25-30, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.”
The fools spur the Church on to glory. The fools enter the Church and they begin to mouth off in embarrassment but they grow and suddenly their foolishness becomes the very light of the Trinity; man “becoming” God. The fools both grow the Church, causing her to study and discuss, and even gather in Councils, and the fools themselves begin to grow and change, showing that God is the author of what is good.