In another post commenting on some of the struggles in the Russian church, Fr Raphael makes the comment "We know that any sinful action deprives us of grace to some extent. However at what point does this cast us right out of the Church? Or at what point can a sinful action debilitate grace to such an extent that we are part of some sort of 'phantom church'? In other words the church we are part of is formally part of the fullness of the Church but yet the concerted actions of its hierarchs, clergy and people deprive it of effective grace. This is like a man with only a partial blood flow. He is alive but not quite."
The reason precisely why we cannot view the Church wholly on eschatological principles is because human being are involved. I think when talking about inter church relations we have to give legitimate recognition that there comes a point when grace has been lost to such an extent that communion has been cut off physically. This represents something obviously that had already been happening on an internal level, for if true internal unity of belief and life exist, no tension or conflict ever would have arisen.
After this break has occurred how then do we see the struggle toward unity? Well we understand from history that for a person who had been cut off from the church to the point of being refused communion to come back into the church the only way for this was repentance. The person had to repent of false beliefs or practices or the participation in unlawful assembly, etc. that they had been involved in.
Repentance always brings about a restoration of grace. So we can turn around the quote above and say, "We know that repentance restores grace, However at what point does this restore us to full communion with the Church?"
What we cannot do is start with the apriori assumption that there is already some kind of substantial unity or oneness that exists on an eschatological level for the human race. Yes there is unity in the Trinity, but for the rest of mankind, the doctrine of the Church is very clear- the oneness of the human race was broken at the fall and we are still in the process of trying to regain it. Only when Christ becomes all in all will there be oneness on a universal level for the human race.
But all these false modern doctrines try to start with the human race having an eschatalogical unity which they believe already exists and which we just have to discover as individuals. (and which they believe they have discovered as opposed to all those ignorant people who are living still in divisions.)
Edited by Anna Stickles, 16 August 2012 - 11:44 AM.
added most of the post