Volume IV - Spirituality

Orthodox Spirituality

The Church

The new and abundant life given by God to man through Christ and the Holy Spirit in creation and redemption is the life of the Christian Church. The life of the Church is the life originally willed for man and his world by God. It is the life of God Himself originally given in creation. It is the spiritual life.

One should not think of the spiritual life of the Church as some particularly special kind of “religious life” different from life itself as we have received it in our creation by God. There are not “two lives,” one “natural” and one “religious.” There is only one life that is real, genuine and true. It is life with God, the life of the Church. Any other life is not life at all: it is the way of death.

What differentiates the life of the Church from the life of “this world,” also called life “according to the flesh,” is only evil and sin. Everything positive is created life, which God has called “good… very good,” is what is saved and sanctified in the life of the Church. Only falsehood and wickedness are excluded—certainly—not creation itself.

In the Orthodox tradition, the Church is called the Kingdom of God on earth, “the re-creation of the world” (Saint Gregory of Nyssa, 4th c., On the Canticles). In the New Testament it is also called the “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17), the Body and Bride of Christ Himself (Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 12:27; Eph 5:23ff; Rev 21:1ff).

... God has put all things under the feet of Christ and has made Him the head over all things for the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all (Eph 1:22-23).

The Apostle Paul also refers to “the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15).

Genuine life, true and real life in perfection and abundance, is found only in the Church of Christ. People who are not formally in the Church are living truly and genuinely only to the extent that they follow the law of God “written on their hearts” by the Spirit of God in creation (Rom 1:12-16), which is the same law clearly revealed and given in Christ and the Church. And those people who are formally members of the Church are living truly and genuinely only to the extent that they actually live the life of the Church. For the sad fact exists that one may be formally a member of the Church and still live according to the law of the: flesh, the law of sin and death, and not of Christ. The spiritual life, therefore, consists in actually living the life of the Church.