I just finished the book Ecclesial Being: Contributions to Theological Dialogue by Constantine Scouteris. Professor Christopher Veniamin has done a wonderful job in collecting and editing some of Professor Scouteris’ finest work, both old and new, concerning the nature and purpose of the Church. Prof. Scouteris has a remarkable ability to define Orthodox ecclesiology not only as it is in itself, but also as it is in relation to other Christian faith-groups, with wisdom and graciousness. In the chapter “The Church, ‘Filled with the Holy Trinity,’” Prof. Scouteris writes:
. . . the Church is not some closed religious corporation, a closed isolated religious community, but rather an open embrace, since God is the “Saviour of all men” (1 Tim. 4:10) and “will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). Often, in Christian circles there seems to be a sense of caution and introversion. Perhaps this is from the suddenness of rapid social transformation, maybe even today from some inclination towards self-defence in the face of the manifold provocations brought about by secularization and globalization on a material basis. It is an unjustifiable feeling of self-complacency, and a contraction and lessening of the Church. Thus, an insurmountable wall is raised, which isolates the Church and alienates it from its universal dimension. (30)
Whether he is writing about the ground of unity in the Church, the necessity of theological language based on worship rather than speculation, the role of the Church in justification, the importance of the priesthood, the significance of icons as a witness to the reality of the Incarnation, or more touchy subjects like the Orthodox approach to the World Council of Churches or common prayer, Professor Scouteris’ words are worth reading.