The twentieth century is called the age of Ecclesiology and Eucharistology within Orthodoxy, as much has been developed concerning what the Church is and what the value of the Eucharist is. The Orthodox ecclesiology, like its other Christian doctrines, has undergone a long-history evolution and has refined its expression in the face of changing social, political and theological circumstances, in which the Church is defined or determined, and an ecclesiological mindset that is part of everyday life. There are a number of contemporary Orthodox theologians who give great contribution to the renewal of Orthodox thinking on its ecclesiology in the twentieth century, such as Georges Florovsky (1893–1979), Nicholas Afanassiev (1893–1966), Vladimir Lossky (1903–1958), Alexander Schmemann (1921–1983), John Meyendorff (1926–1992), Kallistos Ware (1934–) and John Zizioulas (1931–).
Orthodox Ecclesiology can be understood as “sacraments” in Western terminology. The word “sacrament” is originated from the Greek word mysterion, mystery. Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite defines “sacraments” as: “Truly visible things are manifest images of things invisible.” On the Orthodox understanding of the mysteries, there is a distinction between “sacraments” and “sacramental,” that “sacraments” is never isolated from the Church as Western Church, but that any actions performed in the Church are mysteries and possess a “sacramental” character because the Church itself is “sacramental” by nature. Even the whole Christian life should be seen as “a single mystery or one great sacrament.” Based on this understanding of the Church, the Orthodox Church developed its unique “eucharistic ecclesiology” – the Eucharist as the realization of the mystery of Christ within history – as the common action (leitourgia) of the Church, that which constitutes her very being and her vocation.
About the same time of the development of contemporary Orthodox ecclesiology, there was one of the largest and most dynamic Christian movements, the “local Churches” (LC), founded in China. It was found by Watchman Nee (1903–1972) in 1920 and brought to America in 1962 by Nee’s coworker Witness Lee (1905–1997). One of the LC doctrines which seems ambiguous to many Christians outside this group is its ecclesiology. Though LC never uses the terminologies of “sacrament” or “liturgy” explicitly, LC emphatically regards Christ as the mystery of God (Col. 2:2), and the Church as the mystery of Christ (Eph 3:4), that the incarnate Christ visibly expresses the invisible God, while the Church visibly expresses the invisible risen and ascended Christ. These two mysteries, Christ with the Church, are the “great mystery” (Eph 5:32). In this sense, LC ecclesiology can be defined as a “sacramental ecclesiology” as well, that the Church visibly manifests the mystery of the salvific act of God in Jesus Christ.
My goal of this paper is to argue that the Orthodox Church and Local Churches Movement both hold a similar view of the sacramental understanding of the Church and the deification of the Church, yet they follow different approaches of achieving their goal:
The Orthodox Church marks the eucharistic and liturgical celebration of the Church the focus of her identity, constituting the highest expression of her existence; whereas,
Local Churches takes the words of God along with the Spirit of God as the means for believers’ daily enjoyment, and in the Lord’s Supper, the identity of the church is symbolized as well as manifested.
I will begin my analysis with the nature of the Church, which are is essential to both traditions, and then present the views of their sacraments, especially the Eucharist (or the Lord’s Supper, an alternation usage of LC). At last, a comparison of commonalities and dissimilarities of their sacramental views of the Church, and comments on their strengths and weaknesses will be given. I hope, following the increasing ecumenical dialogues in the twenty-first century, that this paper can make a contribution to reconsider: “What does it mean to be the Church, and how does it relate to the value of the Eucharist from the perspectives of Eastern Orthodox and of LC?” and can establish a bilateral dialogue between two traditions.
PART I: Eastern Orthodox Church
A. Nature of the Church
1. Divine Economy of Salvation and Deification
In the Orthodox view, the Church originated with the divine economy of salvation in pre-eternity, which is about the unity between human and God, culminating in human deification (theosis), and inheriting the eternal life in the kingdom of God. Orthodox understands in the divine economy of salvation, the telos of human life is being directed towards deification, becoming like God, or in biblical synonymous word, “glorification”. As Paul says, “that He [the Father] would grant you, according to the riches of His glory,” (Eph. 3:16) and also “that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (3:19), the Church is designed before the foundation of the world, and is designated to be glorified, to be deified, which does not mean to be honored as God Himself, but to partake of the uncreated glory of God. Traditionally, Orthodox uses Gregory Palamas’s “essence–energies distinction” to describe the process of deification to preserve the distinction between created and uncreated. Kärkkäinen comments that compared to Western theology, Orthodox theology links its ecclesiology specifically with a gradual growth in sanctification culminating in deification by the work of the Spirit. Before creation, the Church is created, continuing in the Old Testament, and that through the Christ’s incarnation, humans may participate in the divine life in Him and attain deification (2 Peter 1:4).
2. Incarnation and Journey of Christ
For the Orthodox Church, the nature of the Church derives from Christ, the incarnate Son of God, and her experience closely follows the journey of Christ. John of Damascus describes that the mystery of the divine salvation economy for humanity is centered in the incarnation of Christ: “Accordingly, the incarnate Son of God, the God-Man Jesus Christ, being the Mediator between God and humans, presents an ideal example of humanity, without which there is no salvation.” On the purpose and significance of Christ’s incarnation, Athanasius emphasizes that the Word assumed human nature in order to deify humankind. Through Baptism, Christians are united with Christ, becoming the real members of the body of Christ, which is the Church. The Church as the body of Christ means that she partakes in the whole life of Christ within her own being. As Gregory of Nazianzus says, “Travel without fault as a disciple of Christ through every stage and faculty of His life…that you may rise with Him, and be glorified with Him and reign with Him,” the Church experiences all stages of Christ in the divine economy, namely, the cross, passion, death, resurrection and ascension, which her head, Christ, experienced. All sacramental and ascetic life of the Church according to the Orthodox tradition, are aimed at the deification of humans by following the journey of Christ, her head and savior.
As the Church is Christ’s body, mysteriously united with him, she is a not a mere human organization, but a divine-human organism, the mystical body of divine-human Christ. Meyendorff says, “In the West, the Church developed as a powerful institution; in the East, it was seen primarily as a sacramental (or 'mystical') organism, in charge of 'divine things' and endowed with only limited institutional structures.” Zizioulas also claims, “Christ without his body is not Christ, but an individual lowest category.” He views Christ of a “corporate personhood” that Christ cannot be considered in terms of isolated individuality, but of personhood in communion corporately. Therefore, it is evident that the orthodox mind of the Church is Christological.
3. The Eucharist, Locus of the Church
The understanding of the nature of the Church, to the Orthodox Church, is rooted in the centrality of the Eucharist, both in the life of the believer and throughout the life of the whole Church. The Orthodox Church preserved the profound connection between the Church and the Eucharist based on Paul’s words of the Eucharist in 1 Cor 11:18: “for first of all, when you come together as a Church, I hear that there are divisions among you.” According to this, the Orthodox Church suggests that the Eucharist gathering of the believers in a locality is identified with “the Church”. As Cyprian of Carthage says, “where the Eucharist is, there is the Church,” Orthodox thinks that the Church discovers and realizes her true identity in her eucharistic celebration: the union with God in Christ. In each local Eucharistic gathering under the presence of the local bishop, there is a reality of the communion (koinónia) of the Body of Christ lived out that makes all participants incorporated into the One Christ (cf. 1 Cor 10:16–17).
The Orthodox view emphasizes the Church as more a reality which we live than an object which we examine. They employ different images which manifest this communion and union of Christians with Christ. For Schmemaan, eating of foods and drinking of drinks are most distinctive imageries of this life communion and union given by the Bible. He suggests humans as a hungry being, hungry for God. A human life by “eating”, depends on food, and is constituted by what he eats. God Himself is the only source of the eternal life, and His desire is to give His life to humans so that humans may participate in His life. In the eucharistic experience, eternal life is communicated to humans, given again as sacraments, so that all members of the Church become communicants of eternal life, ascending to heaven where Christ has ascended, being immersed in the new life of the Kingdom.
B. Sacraments of the Church
1. Holy Mysteries
Sacraments of the Church stand in the Orthodox mind at the center of the Church’s life and mission. They are not viewed merely as symbolic significance or merit of ritual, but that in each sacrament the person is drawn farther into the encounter with God who transforms and transfigures. All the sacraments of the Church have transformative character for both the individuals and the whole congregation. In the Church and through the sacraments, God’s grace is mediated to humans and brings human nature into the mystical union with the divine nature, united with the person of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, all sacraments are “mysteries” and the whole life of Church is sacramental life. Generally, the Orthodox Church does not limit the number of sacraments to seven, but holds that anything the Church does as sacramental as the nature of the Church per se is intrinsically sacramental.
2. Focus – Eucharist
The most profound “mystery” among all the sacraments with transformative characters is the Eucharist, which is characterized as “essentially a meal,” both symbolic and mystical. Members of the Church, by participation in the liturgy and receiving the consecrated bread and wine, may directly communicate with God and be deified. Maximus the Confessor holds that the Eucharist manifests two things in a broader context cosmology and eschatology: first, the divine economy, what God has done and is doing for humans, and second, the movement of the human’s soul, progressing towards deification to become the “image of God”. Following this thought, Gregory Palamas defines the Church as a “communion of deification”, as he shows the Church’s purpose is to lead the human to deification through the Eucharist. Ziziolous summarizes that the Eucharist is the foundational act of the Church that makes the Church what it is. In sum, it is the Eucharist which makes the Church, because the Eucharist offers the primary way that the Church participates in divine sonship in Christ and unites with God.
3. The Presence of Christ
In regard to the presence of Christ, the Orthodox Church believes that, in the Eucharist, the bread and wine are transmuted (metabole) into the genuine body and blood of Christ through the operation of the Holy Spirit, and thus the Lord Himself is present in the Eucharist. To differentiate with the Roman Catholic view of transubstantiation, Orthodox believes that after the consecration, the bread and wine do change their nature by the power of the mysterious transmutation, but their physical and chemical properties remain unchanged. The miracle of the transmutation of the eucharistic elements is not a physical but a metaphysical event. In other words, the miracle is not expressed in the realm of physical world, but in the realm of metaphysical world. As John of Damascus said: “If you enquire how this happens, it is enough for you to learn that it is through the Holy Spirit... we know nothing more than this, that the word of God is true, active, and omnipotent, but in its manner of operation unsearchable,” thus the transmutation is altogether a “mystery,” truly free from the nature “logic” of fallen humanity.
4. Center – Bishops
For the Orthodox Church, the bishops in different localities, as the continuation of the apostles, play the critical role of the Eucharist for the being and unity of the Church. It is because every bishop in Orthodoxy manifests his unbroken apostolic succession back to Christ’s apostles. Zizioulas suggests that the bishops express the continuity of the Church with Christ in two aspects: its earthly existence, historical continuity; and its mystery of sacramental and eschatological unity. In earthly existence, all ordained bishops can trace back to the apostles, who received a mission from Christ to scatter throughout the world to establish Churches within time and space. The bishops constitute an uninterrupted historical link between Christ and the Church; in the eschatological unity, the bishops are understood as a unique and indivisible college gathered from the ends of the earth in a unique time and place, that when the Church gathered in the Eucharist, she may manifest and anticipate the Kingdom. Hence, the order of the eucharistic celebration reflects the very nature and structure of the Church.
5. Eucharistic Liturgy
The Orthodox eucharistic liturgy is a product of historical development throughout centuries and slightly varies from different Orthodox churches. In general, it begins with the solemn doxology. The next act of the liturgy is the entrance into the Church by following the lead of the bishop, and coming of the celebrant to the altar. This signifies that the Church is the entrance into the heavenly sanctuary, and that in Christ we have ascended to heaven. The third act is the reading of the Holy Scriptures by the bishop, telling out God’s desires and intentions, and the salutations of peace, that Christ has established the reconciliation between God and humans with the world. Following the antiphons of peace, it is the proclamation of the Gospel and the offering to God of bread and wine in remembrance of Christ. This prefigures our mystical thanksgiving in the age to come. Then, the act of intercession, which is the preparation for communion, comes. After the bread and wine are transmuted by the invocation of the Spirit, celebrants “take, eat and drink” the heavenly food, which is Christ Himself, as means of communion with Him, so that they may be like Him in the very movement of His life. In sum, the Eucharist is a liturgical act which is the movement of our ascension in Christ, sharing in the eternal blessing and participating in the kingdom, the “world to come”.
PART II: Local Church Movement
A. Nature of the Church
1. Hidden mystery in God’s Eternal Economy
First of all, LC’s basic understanding of the Church is the hidden mystery in God’s eternal economy. According to Ephesians 3:9–11, the Church is “the economy (oikonomia) of this mystery and is kept hidden in God for ages past.” The word oikonomia literally means is a “house law,” “a household administration”, inferring a plan of dispensation. Nee and Lee took up this language of oikonomia to construct their ecclesiology. For Lee, the content of God’s hidden plan of dispensation is “to dispense Himself as life, life supply, and everything into His chosen people,” and thus the issue of God carrying out his plan of dispensing through Christ’s death and resurrection is the Church.
2. Two-fold Aspects
In God’s eternal plan, the Church has two aspects: universal aspect and local aspect. In the universal aspect, the Church is uniquely one, as shown in Matt 16:18: “I will build my Church”. In the local aspect, this one universal Church expressed in many localities as many local churches, as shown in Matt 18:17–20, that God called his people to gather in the name of Christ in a particular locality. The relationship of the two aspects is that only being in the local Church can the universal Church be realized and be practical.
3. A Universal Body
In the view of Nee and Lee, the universal aspect of the Church is the “Body of Christ,” which is understood as a spiritual reality. There are three meanings of this Body. First, the essential nature of the Church is not an organization, but a living organism made up of believers who have organic union with Christ. Second, just as a human body is an expression of his/her fullness, so the Church is the expression of the fullness of Christ the head. Third, the Church comes out of Christ and is part of Christ. Nee explicates this idea with the picture of Eve presented in Gen. 2: as Eve is taken from Adam in sleep, and thus be part of Adam, so did the Church come out of Christ through His death, and thus be part of Christ (cf. Eph 5:25–30). In this sense, Nee says that we may say “the Church is Christ”, “the corporate Christ” together with her head, the “individual Christ.”
Shown in the picture of Eve, the Church will be Christ’s counterpart, being one with Him. God today is preparing the Church to become Christ’s counterpart and bride to match Him. As recorded in Eph. 5:25–32, there are blemishes and imperfections in the Church. It is “by water with the words” that the Church is being sanctified and renewed into the likeness of Christ, until at the second coming of Christ the bridegroom, when the Church will be presented to Him as a “glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle or any such thing” (5:27), and will become fully one with Christ (5:31). The LC’s understanding of deification of the Church is based on this union of God with human: “God’s desire is to be one with [hu]man. This goal has been reached through Christ’s death and resurrection, which produced the Church. The Church represents the proper humanity to match God in Christ as the Husband. In this union, which will last for eternity, redeemed, regenerated, and transformed humanity is one with divinity.” Concerning this union with God, Lee makes a clear ontological-economic distinction that “to say that the Church is the embodiment of the Triune God is not to make the Church a part of deity or an object of worship.” In other words, LC insists that there is no loss of the divinity of God and the humanity of human in the union between God and the Church.
On the one hand, the Church is “already” Christ’s body; however, the Church is “not yet” but “becoming” Christ’s body through the process of sanctification until she is glorified. The Church will be the Bride of Christ as the New Jerusalem in future eternity, becoming completely union with Him, sharing His life, nature, and image, as fully gloried (Rev 21–22). This is the time when God’s purpose for the Church becomes completely realized.
4. Many Local Lampstands
According to Revelation 1–3, LC understands the Church in local aspect existed in different localities as golden lampstands, which are furniture set up in the tabernacle in the Old Testament. Lee deems that one of the crucial symbols of the local Churches in the Bible is the lampstands, as Revelation 1:20 said “the seven lampstands are seven Churches.” The Lampstand, first, is a symbol portraying Christ as the embodiment of the Triune God (Cf. Exod 25). Gold, which is the substance with which the lampstand is made, signifies the divine nature of God the Father. The tangible, visible form of the lampstand signifies the Son as the embodiment of the Godhead in His humanity. The shining of the lamps signifies the Spirit as the expression of the Father in the Son. Then, in Revelation the lampstands signify the local churches. Thus, the many local churches are the expression of Christ, the Triune God shining His light and glory on earth.
5. Daily Spiritual Eating as the Way
Like Eastern Orthodox, LC uses the illustration of eating and drinking to describe the way in which the Church participates in the divine life and nature in “becoming” the body of Christ and lampstand. As Christ says: “I am… the life,” (John 14:6) and “he who eats me, he also shall live because of me,” (6:57) from LC’s vantage point, to eat Christ refers not to physical eating, but to spiritual eating. Unlike Eastern Orthodox, this spiritual eating is not liturgical but primarily our daily receiving of Christ into us as our life supply that we may be constituted by Him and become like Him. Such a eating is God’s original purpose both for our human enjoyment and His intention of deifying human and being one with human. One of the songs in the LC songbook:
“How may we express such oneness, be divine and shining too?
Hallelujah, eating Jesus is the way! He’s the tree of life, the manna,
and the feast that’s ever new—Hallelujah, we may eat Him every day!”
The song explicitly expresses LC’s idea that daily (spiritually) eating Jesus is the way that the Church can partake in the divine nature, being one as Christ’s body and shining as lampstands.
B. Sacraments of the Church
In accordance with the Reformation tradition, LC recognizes only two sacraments instituted by Christ and performed by the Church: Baptism, by which sinners are initiated into the Church, and the Lord’s Supper, in which the nature of the Church is particularly manifested by the baptized members.
1. Lord’s Supper and Its Manifestation
In the view of LC, there are two aspects of the significance of the Lord’s Supper and how it reflects the nature of the Church:
The first aspect is to show that the Church receives Christ as her bread of life, participating in the divine nature. The symbolic, outward action of eating bread in the Supper signifies our spiritual, inward eating of Jesus. As Jesus said while He established His Supper: “This is My body which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19), and also in John 6:63:“it is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing,” the verses show that “eating Him” refers not to physical but spiritual eating, and that the remembrance of the Lord is to receive Him and enjoy Him into our spirits as our spiritual foods anew. It is when we eat, drink, and “taste” the Lord that we truly remember Him. From Lee’s viewpoint, the biblical usage of “eating” is a fellowship and participation, and thus “to eat the body of Christ is to have the fellowship of Christ. It is to participate in Christ and to become one with Him.” Holding the analogy of “we are what we eat,” Lee suggests that “the more we eat Jesus, the more we become Jesus.” The Church life is simply the fullness of the riches of Christ who have been eaten, “digested”, and “assimilated” by His members.
The second aspect is to show that the Church is the mystical body of Christ, the expression of Christ on earth. The bread taken during the Lord’s Supper does not refer only to the physical body of Jesus, which was given on the cross for imparting his life for the world; but also refers to His mystical Body, the Church itself (1 Cor. 10:17), which is composed of all the saved ones who are blended together. Eating the bread indicates the fact that though there are thousands of bread-partakers, they are still one bread, one Body, having one fellowship in the Church. Hence, the Lord’s Supper, to LC especially, manifests both the nature of the Church’s oneness, the one body of Christ, and the way the Church is united – by eating Christ.
2. Holy Word and Holy Spirit
For LC the Lord’s Supper is the climax of the Church life that exhibits what the Church is, but the reality of the Church is from Christ’s words and Christ’s Spirit, which are the spiritual foods for the Church. Christ is the true food of human and what human truly needs. Based on John 6, LC understands that Christ is embodied both in His Spirit and His words: “it is the Spirit who gives life…the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (6:63). It is Christ’s Spirit and His words which can give believers His life and enable them to live because of him. Whenever a believer hears, reads Christ's words, he touches Christ's Spirit inspired in His words, and thus eats Christ’s flesh as His life and life supply. The whole Church life is a life of spiritual eating. It is by such regular daily receiving of Christ’s words along with His Spirit, the Church is constituted by the riches of Christ and filled with Christ, and thus expressing Christ’s fullness in her local gatherings, particular in the gathering of the Lord’s Supper. Every Church meeting enables members to be nourished, established, and perfected mutually for their growth in spiritual life through exercising their charismatic gifts to speak and hear of Christ’s words and encounter Christ Himself. In this way, they are “built up” (Eph. 4:16) together to be the Christ’s body so that God’s purpose on the Church may be manifested.
3. Practice of the Lord's Supper Gathering
Different from most mainline Protestant communion service practices, believers sit around a small table, which signifies the Lord’s Table, and on which a loaf of bread and a cup of wine are placed. The meeting usually begins with singing hymns concerning Christ’s person and his salvation works, and then giving praises one by one freely without any assigned arrangement. The signing and praising are conducted interweavingly, culminating in a prayer given by a few “brothers” as representatives. Next, they break bread and pass the bread and wine to the rest of the attendants. At the last part of the meeting, attendants would worship God the Father by singing and praising Him, bringing us back to the Father. After singing and praising, usually attendants would end the meeting with calling Him “Abba Father” altogether in order to give the Father glory.
PART III: Comparisons and Critiques
A. Similarities and Differences
To begin with, both Orthodox and LC have a similar view that the church is “sacramental” by nature: expressing or referring to the mystery of God’s salvific work in Christ according to His economy. They both put emphasis on the church as the body of Christ, which is understood not as a metaphor but as a reality of divine-human organism.
Secondly, both the ecclesiology of Orthodox and of LC are soteriological-driven that focuses on not only the conversion but also the deification. Orthodox relates the Church to creation as whole, the cosmos. When the Church has attained the fullness of growth – union with God – determined by the will of God, the external world will perish and human beings are fully restored to God’s image in them and their original role as co-creators with God. Keeping the ontological–economic distinction, they both believe that the Church will be deified and fully one with God. The soteriology and ecclesiology are interrelated in both traditions that believers’ salvation is chiefly understood and experienced in terms of the Church life, especially centered or expressed in the Eucharist.
However, unlike the Eastern Orthodox, LC is more Protestant-centered that does not understand deification to be the issue of sacraments, liturgy, and other ritual. Rather, LC believes that we become like God through the operation of grace partaken through our daily enjoyment of the Word of God, through prayer, and through fellowship with the believers in the many gatherings of the Church. We are made like God through our partaking in Christ and our living like Christ by grace in our daily lives in the Church. It is in this light that LC reforms the Church practice, especially of the Lord’s Supper gathering, in hope that the spiritual nourishment of the members and mutual building up of the whole Church from spiritual eating may be maximized to reach God’s goal of deification on the Church.
B. Critiques and Suggestions
In Orthodox point of view, the Eucharist occupies a special position. The Church is essentially a eucharistic assembly that all aspects of Church life is fully revealed in any eucharistic community. However, as Sopko commented, it seems that the Orthodox Church reduces the entire life of the Church to the eucharistic assembly and, having reduced and fragmented ecclesial life, prefers one ecclesiastical activity to others. I am supportive of this comment that the Eucharist in Orthodox Church is placed so high to an extent that it is the origin of the Church, determining every aspect of the Church. Though I think that there may be a shaping power by the Eucharistic liturgies according to James Smith, nevertheless, by setting all aspects of the Church originated from the Eucharist, the life of the Church is also possibly narrowed down to liturgy alone and in the danger of sacramentalism.
Orthodox Church understands the Church in terms of the Eucharist with Bishops. Zizioulas advocates an episcopocentric understanding of Church structure, that the local Bishop primarily is the unique president of the Divine Liturgy and the Eucharistic community. However, this seems contradictory to Paul’s description that the significance of the Eucharist is the fellowship of the Body (Cf. 1 Cor. 10–11). In addition, the episcopocentric structure inadvertently underemphasizes the charismatic character of the Church through a form of hierarchicalism. In practice, Bishops serves the eucharistic mediators who bridge God or Christ with the laity. In fact, the laity is not only an instrument of the extension of the Church in the secular life, but also a living force for maintaining the Church in its movement of manifesting Jesus Christ. From my perspective, the episcopocentric structure not only restrains the diversity of the gifts of the Holy Spirit within the community, but also fails to express the Eucharistic community as the body of Christ.
On the other hand, LC’s ecclesiology is deeply rooted in the Reformation principle of priesthood of all believers. Cheung critiques Nee of the view of eliminating the Protestant ministerial system and the way of the communion service, and claims that though the ministerial system is not found in the Bible, they are necessary for the effective ministry of the Church. In my view, the reason behind LC’s practices lies more on the LC’s understanding of the sacramental view of the Church. By eliminating the ministerial system, Nee and Lee believe that it helps the preaching of Christ’s words and the working of Christ’s Spirit in the Church and that every members in the church gatherings may be nourished and perfected enough to practice the Reformation principle of the “priesthood of all believers” and thus leads to the spiritual growth of the Church to become Christ’s body and lampstand.
In the Postmodern era, both Orthodox and LC have to consider the Church in a global context in which new situation and new demands are arising. That Orthodox insistently holds its liturgical Eucharistic practices, and that LC rigidly goes back to the NT and rebuilds the primitive Church practices may face new challenges in different cultures. In my opinion, they need to adjust their approaches and methods in carrying out their sacramental views of the Church so as to expand the Church in the new context.
As exploring the question of what is means to be the church from the roots of their own understanding and practice on the sacraments of the church, Eucharist, I hope there can be a productive dialogue between both sides: a high appreciation and a proper understanding of the two sacramental views of the Church with different approaches would be given to both the long-standing Orthodox Church, and to the more Protestant-centered, emerging LC movement for the sake of ecumenism.
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28. Smith, James K. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation (Cultural Liturgies). Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.
29. Ware, Kallistos. The Orthodox Church. 2nd ed. New York: Penguin books, 1993.
30. Zizioulas, John. Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church. New York: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1997.
31. _____________. Eucharist, Bishop, Church: The Unity of The Church in the Divine Eucharist and the Bishop During the First Three Centuries. Elizabeth Theokritoff trans. Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox, 2001.
1. Cheung, James Mo-oi. The Ecclesiology of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. Washington: Christian Literature Crusade, 1972.
2. Cunningham, Mary B. and Elizabeth Theokritoff edited. The Cambridge Companion to Orthodox Christian Theology. Cambridge University Press, 2008.
3. Kärkkäinen, Veli-Matti. An Introduction to Ecclesiology: Ecumenical, Historical & Global Perspectives. Downers Grove: InterVasity Press, 2002.
4. Sopko, Andrew. Prophet of Roman Orthodoxy: The Theology of John Romanides. Dewdney, B. C.: Synaxis Press, The Canadian Orthodox Publishing House, 1998.
 Boris Bobrinkskoy, The Mystery of the Church: A Course in Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, Michael Breck Tran. (St Vladmir’s Seminar Press, 2012), 108.
 Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, Letter to the apostle John, ep. 10, quoted in Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works (Paulist Press, 1987).
 Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Church, 2nd ed. (Penguin books, 1993), 276.
 Bobrinkskoy, 116.
 Witness Lee, The Conclusion of the New Testament (CNT) (1) (Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1991), 9–10.
 Mark Husbands and Daniel J. Treier edited, The Community of the Word (IVP, 2005), 193–4, 214–5.
 Gregory Afonsky, Christ and the Church In Orthodox Teaching and Tradition (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2001), 5.
 Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, An Introduction to Ecclesiology: Ecumenical, Historical & Global Perspectives (IVP, 2002), 18–19.
 Hierotheos, The Mind of Orthodox Church, Esther Williams trans. (Birth of the Theotokos Monastery, 1998), 41.
 John of Damascus, "Exposition of the Orthodox Faith," in Polnoie sobranie tvorenii, Book 3, 1 (St Petersburg, 1913).
 Athanasius, "On the Incarnation," 8.54.
 Hierotheos, 135.
 John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, 2nd edition (Fordham University Press, 1999), 215.
 Bobrinksoy 116–7.
 Cyprian of Carthage, On the Unity of the Catholic Church, Section 5 in On the Church: Select Treatises (St Vladimirs Seminary Press, 2006).
 Bobrinskoy, 19.
 Hierotheos, 106.
 Alexander Schmenmann, For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy, 1973 revised (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2010), 11–14.
 Schmenmann, 20–21, 28.
 Mary B. Cunningham and Elizabeth Theokritoff edited, The Cambridge Companion to Orthodox Christian Theology (Cambridge University Press, 2008), 121.
 Vladimir Lossky, The mystical theology of the Eastern Church (St Vladimirs Seminary, 1997), 181–182.
 Kallistos, 285.
 Hierotheos, 42.
 Maximus the Confessor, On Spiritual Knowledge and Discrimination 69, Philokalia 1:276, quoted in The Philokalia: Exploring the Classic Text of Orthodox Spirituality, Brock Bingaman, Bradley Nassif edited (Oxford University Press, 2012), 154.
 Gregory Palamas, Sermon on the Holy Spirit 2, 78 in P. Christou, Gregory Palamas, Works, vol.1, Thessaloniki, 1962, 149.
 John Zizioulas, Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1997), 145.
 John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith, 4.13, quoted by Kallistos Ware in The Orthodox Church: New Edition (Penguin, 1993), 285.
 Sergius Bugakov, The Holy Grail and The Eucharist (Lindisfarne Books, 1997), 63–65.
 Bokbrinskoy, 116–7.
 Hierotheos, 106–110; Shunemann 20–29, 29–46.
 Witness Lee, CNT (5) (Living Stream Ministry, 2014), 2045–2052.
 Ibid, 2483.
 Ibid, 2139–2156.
 Ibid, 2156–2157. Watchman Nee, Collected Work of Watchman Nee (CWWN), Vol. 44 (Living Stream Ministry, 1992), 822–823.
 Lee, CNT (5), 2171–2172.
 Nee, CWWN, Vol. 34 (Living Stream Ministry, 1992), 28–32.
 Lee, CNT (5), 2287–91.
 Nee, CWWN, Vol. 34, 59–60.
 Lee, CNT (5), 2287–8.
 Ibid., A Deeper Study of the Divine Dispensing (Living Stream Ministry, 1990), 53.
 Ibid., CNT (5), 2243.
 Ibid., 2291.
 Hymns (Living Stream Ministry, 2002), #1226.
 See Lee, Witness. Christ Making His Home in Our Heart and the Building Up of the Church. Chp 8. Living Stream Ministry.
 Lee, Life-Study of 1 Corinthians: Messages 48-69 (3) (Living Stream Ministry, 1990), 449–450.
 Ibid., The Divine Economy (Living Stream Ministry, 1986), 27.
 See Lee, Witness. How God Becomes Man’s Enjoyment, Chp.3. Living Stream Ministry.
 Lee, Life-Study of Leviticus: Message 1–35 (1) (Living Stream Ministry, 2001), 108–110.
 Ibid., CNT (5), 2195.
 Lossky, 178.
 A Statement concerning the Teachings of Living Stream Ministry Prepared for Fuller Theological Seminary, January 20, 2007, 25–26. (http://www.lctestimony.org/StatementOfTeachings.pdf.)
 Andrew Sopko, Prophet of Roman Orthodoxy: The Theology of John Romanides (Synaxis Press, The Canadian Orthodox Publishing House, 1998), 151.
 John Zizioulas, Eucharist, Bishop, Church: The Unity of The Church in the Divine Eucharist and the Bishop During the First Three Centuries, Elizabeth Theokritoff trans. (Holy Cross Orthodox, 2001), 17.
 Smith, James K. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation (Cultural Liturgies). Baker Academic, 2009.
 James Mo-oi Cheung, The Ecclesiology of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee (Christian Literature Crusade, 1972), 124–5.