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An Orthodox perspective

By: Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima

As we approach the next WCC assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil, under the theme "God, in your Grace transform the world", the Christian churches will once again be invited to reflect, react and respond to the theme. The reflections in my Ecumenical Review article are a contribution from a theological point of view, from an Orthodox perspective. It is obvious that these reflections cannot cover all the aspects, perspectives and expectations of the proposed theme - and this is all the more true of my brief remarks here…

How is Orthodoxy to respond to this changing world and to the challenges which face the ecumenical movement in general, and the World Council of Churches in particular? A first and most obvious answer has to do with ways that God's grace is acting and might transform the existing world through our faith and belief, and how our churches might respond to the need for the world to be transformed as the ultimate goal of the fulfillment of God's plan for our salvation. How is it possible to reconfirm once more that "the faith once delivered to us", expressed by Jesus Christ, remains "the same yesterday, today and tomorrow", that we remain steadfast in the Tradition which has sustained us and our Christian churches through the ages? We should not let our love of the past and our nostalgia for the past cause us to forget another obvious and important truth: that Christ sent his followers into the world to "make disciples of all nations" and to proclaim the Word in each new cultural context…

The Orthodox Church, in its broad teaching about "Grace" or about "Divine Grace", as it is called in confessional statements of faith and in its dogmatic texts, places grace in the entirety of its teaching about the Holy Trinity. Thus, in its teaching about God the Father, all that God provided humanity (anthropos) from the creation of the first Adam until the coming of God's incarnate Son and Word in the world, is placed in the broad grace of God the Father.


Later, all that Jesus Christ the incarnate Word of God did for the salvation of the human race, from his incarnation to his sacrifice on the cross, his resurrection, his ascension, and until the day of Pentecost - all this is placed within the saving grace of Christ.


Consequently, all the energies ("energeia") of the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, from the day of Pentecost until the end of times ("eschata"), the Orthodox church places in the sanctifying and perfect grace of the Holy Spirit. Through these energies, humanity realizes human perfection in holiness and growth into a life with Christ in the church and its sacraments, and is guided to full communion and union with God.

As such, grace is manifested by God, but not transmitted to humankind, as if it were an actually existing entity. When St. Paul says, "by grace you have been saved


Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima