Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

The Eucharist as Anticipation of the Eschatological Gathering of the Whole People of God

The Eucharist

Originally uploaded by sheflin_photo

The Eastern Orthodox church considers the eucharist central and foundational, and because of this, they have developed a deep theology when it comes to the eucharist, or communion, or the breaking of bread.

For the Eastern Orthodox, the whole of Christ is present at the eucharist, and the catholicity (universality) of the church is guaranteed by Christ presence, as Karkkainen mentions in his book on Ecclesiology. Catholic is a word derived from the Greek katholics “according to the whole, i.e. undivided”. Thus comes this beautiful statement from John Zizioulas that I wanted to share with you in regard to the Eucharist.

“A eucharist which discriminates between races, sexes, ages, professions, social classes etc. violates not certain ethical principles but its eschatological nature. For that reason such a eucharist is not a “bad” – i.e. morally deficient – eucharist but no eucharist at all. It cannot be said to be the body of the One who sums up all into Himself.”

7 Responses to The Eucharist as Anticipation of the Eschatological Gathering of the Whole People of God

  1. Andrew Arndt says:

    JR. I appreciate this so much. Actually beginning a teaching series on the Eucharist this weekend at Bloom… the Orthodox are close to the heart of my reflections. Peace.

  2. Andrew Arndt says:

    As an aside, have you read Alexander Schmemann’s “For the Life of the World”? Unreal reflections on the Eucharist.

  3. JR Woodward says:


    That is cool that you are starting a series on the Eucharist this weekend. I wish I could be there to hear you. You will have to send me your thoughts. I have not yet read For the Life of the World. Thanks for the suggestion. I have his book that is simply called “The Eucharist”. Look forward to connecting again at some point. Are you coming to the Ecclesia National Gathering in February?

  4. Eric Hyde says:

    Interesting stuff. Be careful with Karkkainen, he introduced me to Zizioulas in the same book you mentioned. I ran out and bought Zizi’s book, “Being as Communion,” the book from which Karkkainen quotes almost exclusively (difficult book to find, btw) in the Orthodox section of his book on ecclesiology. Zizi led me to Kallisto Ware and Alexander Schmemann, and in no time flat I found myself attending a local Antiochian Orthodox Church. These guys will change you’re life; give em an inch…

  5. Andrew Arndt says:

    I am indeed! It’ll be great to connect… I’ll be glad to send you notes/thoughts… and of course the talks themselves will be up on the website (bloomworship.com)

    Godspeed friend.

  6. JR Woodward says:


    Cool. I’m glad you are coming. I will just check out your talk on the website to save you the trouble. Peace.

  7. JR Woodward says:

    Yeah man. I have read some of Being in Communion, but also Volf’s In His likeness and found his dialogue between Ratzinger, Zizioulas compelling for the free church movement. Karkkainen mentions at the end of his lecture on Eastern Orthodoxy what it might look like to have a cosmic communal theology of Eastern Orthodoxy with an evangelical passion. That is more my inclination, developing a cosmic, communal, trinitarian, missional free church ecclesiology, with an appreciation of the one, holy, apostolic, catholic faith. With that said, I have put your blog on my reader so that I might learn from your journey into Eastern Orthodoxy. Thanks for blogging about it. Shalom.

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