collaboration with western agencies and churches, in order to advance Coptic aspirations. Finally, Pope Shenuda III helped his church to become aware of its identity and vitality, and so gave a new confidence and political awareness to the Coptic community. These approaches were at first in competition, but then worked in harmony to produce a dramatic revival ofthe Coptic Church. This triple movement shows that successful modernisation is not the uncritical adoption of new ideas but rather a revitalisation of the tradition within a new form of society, in other words a 'revolutionary traditionalism'. This example of church revival in Egypt shows how the Orthodox Church can become a vibrant mission community, engaged with a modern society yet drawing life from its tradition.6 Here then is the dual task of a modern Orthodox spirituality -first the revival of the tradition and second the setting up of structures to enable the church to adapt and to function effectively in a modern society.
The process of reviving the church begins with trying to understand what the church is. One of the main subjects exercising Orthodox theologians has been ecclesiology, which they have addressed as an urgent and problematic task. For the early Christians the church was a community of those called out by God, formed into the body of Christ on earth, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. In the second century Ignatius of Antioch wrote of the church as a community, with the bishop at its centre, surrounded by the priests and deacons, celebrating the Eucharist, making Christ present in the forms of bread and wine and so making the people into the church, the Body of Christ. Each community thus created into the church is complete and whole, with nothing lacking.7 The simplicity of this understanding became obscured in the centuries which followed. In the Byzantine Empire the boundaries of the church were synonymous with those of the empire, and so the church became an institution instead of a distinct community. It came to perform a ritual function creative of culture rather than being a prophetic challenge to that culture. As Alexander Schmemann commented, 'In order to evangelise the empire, the Church had to turn itself into a religion.'8 This development is most clearly seen in Russia after Peter the Great, when the church was governed by a synod presided over by the state-appointed over-procurator, who was often not a Christian. The church was structured along the lines of a department of state, with clergy resembling government officials. As well as this
6 See S. S. Hassan, Christians versus Muslims in modern Egypt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), esp. 5-10, 85-99.
7 Ignatius of Antioch, Epistles to the Smyrnaeans 8 and Romans 2.
8 A. Schmemann, An introduction to liturgical theology (London and Bangor, ME: American Orthodox Press, 1966).
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