Florovsky’s 'The Boundaries of the Church' in Dialogue with the Reformed Tradition: Toward a Catholic and Charismatic Ecumenical Ecclesiology

Ecumenical Trends 39 (3) (2010)
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The purpose of this essay is threefold. First, I seek to trace a brief history of the concept of catholicity within the Reformed tradition and offer this historical context as an explanation for its resistance to traditional conceptions of the Church. Second, I will show how Georges Florovsky’s work “The Boundaries of the Church,” offers a better point of reference for Orthodox dialogue with Churches of the Reformed Tradition than other Orthodox ecclesiologies, such as those based solely on St. Cyprian’s model, and the ecclesiology of N. Afanassieff. Last, I will use John Calvin’s ideas on the church in Institutes of the Christian Religion to show that certain contemporary Reformed ecclesiologies do not take into consideration the early Calvinist emphasis on catholicity. Using the early Christological controversies of Monophysitism and Nestorianism and applying them to ecclesiology, I will illustrate how both the traditionalist Orthodox and evangelical Reformed views of the Church are weak, make extreme claims on the nature of the Church, and must come closer to the center for dialogue. There is hope if doctrinal agreement could be made in two areas— the existence of the Church, at least to some degree, outside the formal walls of any given denominational, canonical structure in a “charismatic” sense, and the intrinsic unity of the Church as a catholic reality. Both these statements must be affirmed for the sides to agree, though agreement must not come at the expense of doctrinal suicide for either tradition
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