Koinonia as an image of Ecclesiology for Egypt today
Date added: 19/04/2016
Koinonia as an image of Ecclesiology for Egypt today
By The Very Revd Dr Samy Shehata, Dean of St Mark's Pro-Cathedral and Principal of the Alexandrian School of Theology
An ecumenical convergence in ecclesiology relating to the concept of koinonia may have much to offer to the church in Egypt. The concept of the Church as koinonia emerged from World Council of Churches documents, and the Second Vatican Council. The strengths of the concept of the church as koinonia are its strong biblical connotations, acceptance by all traditions, and emphasis on the incarnational ecclesiology as expressed by Matta al-Miskin.
The challenge for the churches was in discovering the meaning of this. A call was issued for future Faith and Order work to include a major study on ecclesiology. The Faith and Order commission produced a statement on the nature and purpose of the Church which, after revision by the Canberra assembly, was adopted as the Canberra statement in 1991 as ‘The Unity of the Church as Koinonia: Gift and Calling’.
Tillard, a Catholic theologian, writes ‘A turning point of ecumenism, fleshing out the Canberra statement?’ Raiser (the WCC’s General Secretary) argues that ‘the most fruitful outcome seems to be the interpretation of the Church as the hermeneutical community… the assembly in Canberra in 1991 introduced koinonia as the hermeneutical key to an understanding of unity’.
A discussion paper based on the Canberra statement was presented for the fifth World Conference on Faith and Order at Santiago de Compostela in 1993. The conference recommended a study on the nature and purpose of the Church. The Faith and Order commission published a paper on the nature and purpose of the Church in 1998 and invited churches to reflect on the text.
The main purpose of that text is to give expression to what the churches can say together about the Church of God, and within that perspective to set out the remaining areas of disagreement … this seeks to be not a dogmatic treatise but a convergent text, and one which explores also areas where agreement is not apparent.
The Church as koinonia has taken a prominent role in ecumenical discussion on ecclesiology. It is an accepted notion of the Church for the various denominations. Zizioulas, Ratzinger, Volf, and Sagovosky have produced further insight and critical evaluation of the Church as Koinonia according to their denominational allegiances, i.e. Orthodox, Catholic, Free Church and Anglican.
Church as Koinonia
Koinonia is expressed in scripture in the Eucharistic meal, 1 Corinthians 10:16 ‘participation (koinonia) in the Body of Christ’ the benediction in 2 Corinthians 13:14, Philippians 2:1; in exhortation and admonition for congregational life Galatians 6:6; financial support and collection in 2 Corinthians 8: 4; ecclesiology in Galatians 2:9. These are a few examples of the biblical usage of the concept of koinonia
The Church as koinonia is introduced in the first three points of the Canberra statement. It points to the meaning and strength of koinonia as: ‘The purpose of God to gather all creation in the Lord Jesus Christ…all are brought into communion with God.’ (1.1). The Church as koinonia is presented in section III in The nature and purpose of the Church. The first part is ‘Communion, real but not fully realised’. The points of degree of communion, the purpose of God, and division among the Churches are stressed again. There are further explanations of the meaning of koinonia, and the question of how it is achieved, ‘through identification with the death and resurrection of Christ’. The inclusive image of koinonia is the ultimate aim that all should realise communion in Christ.
The two documents point rightly to the essential meaning of koinonia. One notes the aim of unity is in sight when its degrees are discussed. The final report by ARCIC (Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission) defines the Church as Communion (Koinonia):
The church is the community of those reconciled with God and with each other because it is the community of those who believe in Jesus Christ and are justified through God’s grace. It is also the reconciling community, because it has been called to bring to all, mankind, through the preaching of the Gospel, God’s gracious offer of redemption.’
The definition by the ARCIC sums up the meaning of the Church as koinonia in relation to God and one another and indeed to the whole of humanity. The same understanding is presented by Mary O’Driscoll ‘Koinonia in its biblical sense denotes communion with God as well as one another (1 John 1:3).’
The notion of koinonia offers a unique model which is accepted by the main traditions of the Church. Church as Communion can be found in Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant traditions. A Protestant will argue that Luther and Calvin introduced the Church as koinonia, against the institutional understanding prior to the Reformation. An Anglican considers the notion of koinonia as identical with the ethos and understanding of the Anglican Communion. Pentecostals and Free Church will focus on the fellowship groups as the nucleus of the Church in witness and service. Orthodox understanding of the Church will be claimed by Orthodox theologians as Eucharistic koinonia. Catholics will try to prove that Vatican II was the starting point for discussion on the subject.
The strength of the model of koinonia is its degree, which is pointed at by the Canberra statement on the nature and purpose of the Church. The nature and purpose of the Church offers different terms such as ‘ ‘fuller communion’, ‘full communion’, ‘perfect communion’, and suggests what sense is to be made of the notions ‘restricted communion, partial communion, impaired communion.’
In examining the notion of the Church as communion we need to start with caution. Is the notion carrying more weight than it should? There is a concern voiced by different theologians that the notion of koinonia carries the danger of allowing the Church to define herself as Communion in an inclusive way and not striving to promote koinonia more widely.
To say that communion is a necessary model of the church is to say remarkably little, since the model can be used in conflicting ways, and has conflicting theological meanings, depending upon its context.
Christians have different ideas of what constitutes visible unity, koinonia (communion), and efforts to reach a common understanding must be continued.
There is a danger of claiming the koinonia model as the unique and only model of the Church, while we learn from the scripture that many models can offer further insight into the understanding of the Church as koinonia, such as body of Christ, Temple of the Holy Spirit, and People of God. One can argue that all the Churches accept the need for unity and participation in Eucharist but no Church is taking effective steps towards the realisation of such elements. The Church as koinonia recognises the existing tension, and looks towards koinonia as a tool for unity. The most important implications of the Church as koinonia are in its image of the Trinity and in the centrality of the Eucharist in the understanding of church.
Being as Koinonia
The Canberra statement introduces the Church as Koinonia by starting with the Trinity, while Mark Heim criticises it for its lack of Trinitarian character. ‘The theology of the Trinity provides the theological basis for koinonia ecclesiology. The doctrine of the Trinity must therefore offer a model and example for a study of the church as communion.’ While the first (1.1) and the last (4.1) points speak of the Trinity, there is no mention of the Trinity in the remaining points. However, it is implicit in the sense that the notion of koinonia is structured and understood in relation to the Trinity.
It is also true that all traditions accept the model of Communion as being based on the Trinity. Examining the Meissen Agreement (between the Church of England and the Evangelical Churches in Germany) we read that koinonia ‘which is a sharing in the life of the Holy Trinity and therein with our fellow members of the Church.’
Doyle, a Catholic theologian, criticises the model of individuality and commends the communal model of the Trinity. He argues that:
They (theologians) stress the love, which is the core of the Christian revelation, is generated through the intimate connection of Jesus with the Father and is sustained through the sending of the Holy Spirit… To live in Christian community is to share in the life and love of the three persons in one God.’
We see clearly the Protestant and Catholic understanding of the nature of the Church in the image of the Trinity. An Orthodox theologian (John Zizioulas) offers further insight from the patristic understanding of the Trinity and the nature of the Church. His ‘Being as Communion’ is an influential source of the Orthodox doctrines of man and the Church. In his definition of koinonia:
We are called to koinonia because we believe in God who is in his very being koinonia … God is Trinitarian; he is a relational being by definition; a non-Trinitarian God is not koinonia in his very being.
Volf is critical of the Zizioulas hierarchical understanding of the Trinity. ‘Zizioulas is projecting the hierarchical grounding of unity into the doctrine of the Trinity from the perspective of a particular ecclesiology’ and commends a model of unity based on equality: ‘The communion is always constituted and internally structured by an asymmetrical-reciprocal relationship between the one and the many.
Despite these differences, we can affirm that theologians from all traditions will agree that the ‘Church is an image of the way God exists.’ Additionally, to see God as a relational being (Communion) is to speak of the Holy Trinity. Being as koinonia is essential for our understanding of it, and the being of God, while all traditions agree on the theoretical understanding of koinonia in the image of the Trinity. A practical application of koinonia has to be seen effectively in the understanding of ecclesiology.
The Church in the image of the Trinity is an essential part of the understanding of the Church in Egypt. Al-Miskin, who represents the Coptic Orthodox ecclesiology, presents an ecclesiology firmly linked to the Trinity in its incarnational dimension. Being as koinonia is not a new or imposed concept but rather, it developed in the light of the patristic tradition which is that of the Church in Egypt.
Eucharistic ecclesiology was apparent in the experience of the early Church, as pointed out by the ARCIC:
In the New Testament it is clear that the community is established by a baptism inseparable from faith and conversion, that its mission is to proclaim the Gospel of God and that its common life is sustained by the Eucharist.’
The Eucharistic ecclesiology, as presented by the Anglican Roman Catholic commission, is part of the tradition of the Anglican and the Roman Catholic Churches. The Eucharist is seen as the effectual sign of koinonia.
Avis (Anglican) writes:
Anglicans have contributed to the ecumenical theology of communion … we are fundamentally in communion with each other through baptism, but that communion comes to its full realisation in the unity of the Eucharist, the Holy Communion.
Ratzinger (Roman Catholic) writes: ‘The Eucharist is not an external accessory for Eucharistic ecclesiology, but its inmost condition.’ Zizioulas (Orthodox) confirms the same concept: ‘The Eucharist was not the act of a pre-existing Church; it was an event constitutive of the being of the Church’, a view shared with al-Miskin; a church cannot be one without the Eucharist.
From the previous quotation one can conclude firmly that Eucharistic ecclesiology is part of the Anglican, Catholic, and Orthodox traditions. The Free Church view is represented by Volf. He argues that free Church ‘speaks of Christ’s unmediated direct presence in the entire local Church as in every believer’. Volf replaces the sacramental model with an individualistic one. Volf advocated a free Church position of genuine faith and obedience of God’s commandment.
Zizioulas offers insight into the Orthodox understanding of Eucharistic ecclesiology. Eucharist ‘is not the sacrament completing the word, but rather the word becoming flesh, the risen Body of the Logos.’ The image of the Body of Christ is linked strongly with incarnational ecclesiology. It is a view which influenced the Church in Egypt with its close connection to the patristic tradition of the early Church, while Volf argues for non-organic understanding of the Church. The consequence of the non-organic view, according to Volf, is that Christ cannot be identical with the Church, Unity with the Lord in one Spirit being part of his body. It is a view which is unattractive for Christians in Egypt. Al-Miskin argues from the patristic tradition that the Body of Christ in the Eucharist, and the believers, are like two pieces of wax melted together. Those who receive the Body of Christ are one with Christ.
With such a view of the centrality of the Eucharist, the main question remains unanswered. Will there be a convergence on the basis of the understanding of Eucharistic ecclesiology? Did the Church as koinonia offer any step forward to Eucharistic ecclesiology for more unity?
Koinonia and Unity:
There are two dimensions of faith and life as set out by the discussion paper presented for the Compostela Conference. There is an obvious division between what the churches hold together as common faith, and the practice of unity as they relate and interact in their life together.
Confessing the One Faith to God’s Glory
The Canberra statement does not have the division of faith, life and witness which became a later development in the Compostela Conference. In (2.1) the unity of the Church is expressed collectively in the faith, life and witness which became a later development of the theme of the Church as koinonia. It is stated that the purpose of full koinonia will be recognised when ‘all the churches are able to recognise in one another the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church in its fullness’ (2.1). The diversities among the Churches are illuminated in (2.2); the aim is not in uniform unity. The diversities and differences of the Churches will remain, as a result of theological traditions, various cultural, ethnic, or historical factors as integral to the nature of communion.
The concept of unity is explicit in the Canberra statement; the divisions between the Churches are highlighted as: ‘scandalous divisions’ (1.2), ‘they remained satisfied to co-exist in division’ (1.3), ‘many (things) to be done on the way towards the realisation of full communion’ (3.1). In (3.2) the challenges to realise full communion are explained in 7 points. Or again in (4.1) ‘the Holy Spirit comforts us in pain, disturbs us when we are satisfied to remain in our division’. It is very clear that the prime motive of the statement and the notion of koinonia indeed, is more a realisation of the degree of communion, and working towards reaching full koinonia.
The question of the recognition of the main elements of faith is an important one. Pannenberg writes:
Communion through the one Lord, however, can only be ascertained through communion in one and the same faith. Christians have to hold in common what they believe, at least the core of it.
In The nature and purpose of the Church, Apostolic faith is discussed, and the core of faith is highlighted in the scripture and the ecumenical creeds. The weakness of the assumption of unity in faith is the wide spectrum in the interpretation of Scripture and creed, while it is possible to start from Scripture and ecumenical creeds as the main sources for the convergence of faith among the Churches. The text highlights the challenges to the traditional understanding of the Scripture, resurrection, uniqueness of the Christian message, and the procession of the Holy Spirit.
How can we argue that we have common agreement, if we cannot reach a consensus concerning the main elements of our Christian faith? The language of the draft is unclear and it does not state in a concrete way if the points are actually dividing the Church, or if the important points are taken in consideration. The points of disagreement highlight the concept of diversity. It is true that it discusses unresolved points of contention.
In the section on diversity, terms are introduced such as legitimate and illegitimate diversity. The main points of disagreement seem to be indicated as cultural differences. It warns of such influences on the Christian Gospel. The text also points to three models in dealing with diversity in the life of koinonia, those being rigid confessional identity, beyond confessional identity, and reconciled diversity.
The text is hardly offering a convergence formula to diversities among the Christian churches. It points out correctly that there are legitimate and illegitimate diversities but the pattern is not set in any clear way. Moreover, the model of reconciled diversity seems to be the one proposed by the text, but does not offer practical guidance to such convergence. The irony is that the divisions result from our desire to be faithful to the Gospel. There is a conflict between the desire to be in full accord with the Word of God (as we understand it) and the call to conform. How can we attain the widest possible spectrum of diversity within koinonia?
The problems of confessional identity and the diversity in the life of koinonia are highlighted with little guidance in the direction of unity. It serves as a pointer to the path of unity. According to Avis the main problem lies in the exclusive claims of each Church:
Anglican Ecclesiology has never assumed that it is the only one there is and therefore, has never made the mistake of exclusively identifying what may be said of Anglicanism with what may be said of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ.
Sharing a Common Life in Christ
Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu writes under the heading ‘Unity: a practical imperative’:
Our unity is ultimately like that of the divine Trinity. Some theologians make a distinction between the essential Trinity and the economic Trinity – the Trinity of revelation, of salvation and sanctification, or what we might call the Trinity ‘at work’. Maybe we should consider making a like distinction – between the essential ontological unity of the church and that unity as revealed in praxis.
The Canberra statement sets out the main challenges of the common life of koinonia between the churches. There is a basic argument running through the main points which is challenging the churches to respect and consider each other as truly holy, catholic, and apostolic, with full participation in communion, and one mission.
The section on baptism, considers Baptism as Baptism in the one church. ‘The recognition of the one baptism into Christ constitutes an urgent call to the churches to overcome their divisions, and visibly manifest their communion in faith in all aspects of Christian life and witness.’ It condemns rightly the practice of re-baptism. In an inclusive spirit the document mentions that ‘There are communities/Christians who do not celebrate the rite of baptism, yet share in the spiritual experience of life in Christ. This statement denies the whole argument of mutual acceptance of Baptism. However, it does not specify what the spiritual life of Christ means.
On the foundation of the imperfect but real koinonia existing beneath our dividedness, we must together prepare full visible koinonia by strengthening, tightening, explaining, and developing the bonds which the Spirit maintains between us on the basis of our baptism ‘Communion with God and with fellow believers is manifested in one baptism in response to the Apostolic preaching.’
The document points out the Eucharist for some churches, ‘as the ultimate expression of agreement in faith and a communion in life’. Many important questions are asked of the nature of the Eucharist and the role of the Holy Spirit in the Eucharistic celebration. It is with sorrow that we discuss koinonia with the real sign of it between the churches missing. There is a need for a breakthrough, a new revival in honouring and participating with one another in full koinonia. The real mark of considering each other as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic is through Eucharistic koinonia.
Sagovosky affirms the importance of the Eucharistic ecclesiology:
Eucharistic communion going beyond mutual hospitality, and mutual recognition of ministries would not have been possible without a new consensus as to how the churches could understand their nature and mission in the light of the theology of koinonia.
The text of The nature and purpose of the Church has been helpful but seems to offer no new practical insight into the common life of the Churches. Koinonia offers a unique model of unity in the image of the Trinity and in Eucharistic ecclesiology. The text fails to develop the potential of the koinonia model and therefore it offers very little guidance for convergence in faith and life. However one admits that a journey into full koinonia is not an easy one with the different points and models of the Church. The nature and the purpose of the Church is a starting point on a journey towards full koinonia.
Koinonia offers an attractive model of sharing, participating and discovering new grounds with other faiths and humanity on local and universal levels. The Church as koinonia needs to start from the common koinonia with humanity before it defines the degrees of koinonia among the Churches. The strength of the concept of koinonia is the creation of community in solidarity with the poor, justice for the oppressed, and friendship with other faiths. A broadening of the theological reflection on koinonia is needed for a genuine model of relationship with humanity.
The mission of the Church is an essential dimension. There is a need for a new understanding. The Church as koinonia provides us with a new frame of reference which serves to promote unity with other churches and service for the world, relation to other faiths, solidarity with the poor. The mission of the Church in such an understanding is to strengthen the degrees of koinonia with Christians locally and universally, and with other faith communities.
Koinonia relationships, according to the scriptures, are limited to those in Christ and their mission to others. It is true that a degree of koinonia exists in a stronger and more concrete sense among Christians, for they share the Trinitarian life of God to lesser degree of koinonia with other faith’s communities, but it has to be recognised. In identifying and exploring these degrees of koinonia there are two possible questionable consequences. Firstly, full identification of the Church with the world means the loss of the Trinitarian image and participation; secondly, assuming people of other faiths who do not wish to be part of the Trinitarian life of God as part of the Church.
A new paradigm of mission theology is emerging from the understanding of the Church as koinonia. The effectiveness of mission is tested more by the success in strengthening the bonds of koinonia. The Church as koinonia is a practical model for the context of Egypt. It has the strength of the incarnation ecclesiology and leads to the acceptance of other faiths’ communities, the promotion of social work, and the witness of Christians.
Al-Miskin, Mattâ, (1981b) Al-Rûh. al-Qudus (The Holy Spirit), Mat.baca Dîr al-Qidîs al-Anbâ Maqâr: Wadi al-Natrûn, 2 volumes.
ARCIC (1982) The final Report, Catholic Truth society-Church house Publishing: London.
Avis, Paul (2000) The Anglican Understanding of the Church: An Introduction, SPCK: London.
Best, T. and Gassman, G. (1994) (eds.), On the Way to Fuller Koinonia: Official Report of the Fifth World Conference on Faith and Order, Faith and Order paper no. 166, WCC Publications: Geneva.
Callam, Neville. (1998) The Church as koinonia: an ecclesiology Study in Faith and Order in Moshi: the 1996 Commission Meeting, Faith and Order Paper No. 177, WCC Publications: Geneva, pp.97-100.
Doyle, Dennis M. (2000) Communion Ecclesiology: Vision and Versions, Orbis Books: New York.
Gassman and Randano (1991) (eds.), The Unity of the Church as Koinonia: Ecumenical Perspectives on the 1991 Canberra Statement on unity, Faith and Order Paper no.163, WCC Publications: Geneva.
Healy, Nicholas. (1995) Communion Ecclesiology: A Cautionary Note in Pro Ecclesia 4, 1995, pp. 450.
Heim, S Mark. (1998) Ecclesiology at the Crossroads, in Faith and Order in Moshi: the 1996 Commission Meeting, Faith and Order Paper No. 177, WCC Publications: Geneva, pp.105-108.
Lee, Dorothy. (1994) A Vision of Koinonia: the anointing at Bethany, in On the Way to Fuller Koinonia: Official Report of the Fifth World Conference on Faith and Order edit by Best and Gassman, Faith and Order paper no. 166, WCC Publications: Geneva, pp 81-84.
Meissen (1993) The Meissen common statement in the Meissen Agreement: Text (CCU Occasional Paper no.2.
O’Driscoll, Mary. (1998) Thoughts on the Ecclesiology Text, in Faith and Order in Moshi: the 1996 Commission Meeting, Faith and Order Paper No. 177, WCC Publications: Geneva, pp.109-112.
Pannenberg, Wolfhart. (1994) Communion in Faith in On the Way to Fuller Koinonia: Official Report of the Fifth World Conference on Faith and Order, Faith and Order paper no. 166, WCC Publications: Geneva, pp112-116.
Raiser, Konrad. (1998) A Hermeneutics of Unity, in Faith and Order in Moshi: the 1996 Commission Meeting, Faith and Order Paper No. 177, WCC Publications: Geneva, pp.115-126.
Ratzinger, Joseph. (1988) Church, Ecumenism and Politics: New Essays in Ecclesiology, St Paul Pulications: Slough.
Reumann, John. (1994) Koinonia in Scripture: Survey of Biblical texts, in On the Way to Fuller Koinonia: Official Report of the Fifth World Conference on Faith and Order edit by Best and Gassman, Faith and Order paper no. 166, WCC Publications: Geneva, pp.37-69.
Sagovsky, Nicholas. (2000) Ecumenism Christian Origins and the Practice of Communion, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.
Tillard, J.-M.R. (1998) From BEM to Koinonia, in Faith and Order in Moshi: the 1996 Commission Meeting, Faith and Order Paper No. 177, WCC Publications: Geneva, pp.182-185.
Tutu, Desmond. (1994) Towards Koinonia in Faith, Life and Witness in On the way to Fuller Koinonia, edited by Best and Gassman, WCC Publications: Geneva, pp. 93-102.
Volf, Miroslav. (1998) After our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity, William Eedermans Publishing Company: Cambridge.
WCC (1998a) The Nature and Purpose of the Church: A Stage on the way to a common statement, Faith and Order document, Paper 181, Geneva, WCC Publications: Geneva.
WCC-Minutes (1998) Minutes of the Meeting of the Faith and Order Board, 9-16th January 1998, Istanbul, Turkey, Commission of the Faith and Order, Faith and Order Paper No. 180, WCC Publications: Geneva.
Zizioulas, John. (1994) The Church as Communion: a presentation on the world conference theme in On the Way to Fuller Koinonia: Official Report of the Fifth World Conference on Faith and Order, Faith and Order paper no. 166, WCC Publications: Geneva, pp. 104-111.
Zizioulas, John. (1997) Being as Communion: Studies in personhood and the Church, St Valdimir’s Seminary Press: Crestwood.
The Canberra Statement
1.1 The purpose of God according to the Holy Scripture is to gather the whole of creation under the lordship of Christ Jesus in whom, by the power of the Holy Spirit, all are brought into communion with God (Eph. 1). The Church is the foretaste of this communion with God and with one another. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit enable the one Church to live as sign of the reign of God and servant of the reconciliation with God, promised and provided for the whole creation. The purpose of the Church is to unite people with Christ in the power of the Spirit, to manifest communion in prayer and action and thus to point to the fullness of communion with God, humanity and the whole creation in the glory of the kingdom.
1.2 the calling of the church is to proclaim reconciliation and provide healing, to overcome divisions based on race, gender, age, culture, colour, and to bring all people into communion with God. Because of sin and the misunderstanding of the diverse gifts of the Spirit, the churches are painfully divided within themselves and among each other. The scandalous divisions damage the credibility of their witness to the world in worship and service. Moreover, they contradict not only the church’s witness but also its very nature.
1.3 We acknowledge with gratitude to God that in the ecumenical movement the churches walk together in mutual understanding, theological convergence, common suffering and common prayer, shared witness and service, and they draw close to one another. This has allowed them to recognise a certain degree of communion already existing between them. This is indeed the fruit of the active presence of the Holy Spirit in the midst of all who believe in Christ Jesus and who struggle for visible unity now. Nevertheless, churches have failed to draw the consequences for their life from the degree of communion they have already experienced. They have remained satisfies to co-exist in division.
2.1 the unity of the Church to which we are called is a koinonia given and expressed in the common confession of apostolic faith; a common sacramental life entered by the one baptism and celebrated together in one eucharistic fellowship; a common life in which members and ministries are mutually recognised and reconciled; and a common mission witnessing to all people to the Gospel of God’s grace and serving the whole of creation. The goal of the search for full communion is realised when all the Churches are able to recognise in one another, the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in its fullness. This full communion will be expressed on the local and the universal levels through conciliar forms of life and actions. In such communion churches are bound in all aspects of their life together at all levels in confessing the one faith and engaging in worship and witness, deliberation and action.
2.2 . Diversities which are rooted in the theological traditions, various cultural ethnic or historical contexts are integral to the nature of communion; yet there are limits to diversity. Diversity is illegitimate when, for instance it makes impossible the common confession of Jesus Christ as God and Saviour the same yesterday today and forever (Heb 13:8); salvation and the final destiny of humanity as proclaimed in the Scriptures and preached by the apostolic community. In communion diversities are brought together in harmony as gifts of the Holy Spirit, contributing to the richness and the fullness of the Church of God.
3.1: Many things have been done and many remain to be done on the way towards the realisation of full communion. Churches have reached agreement in bilateral and multilateral dialogues which are already bearing fruit, renewing their liturgical and spiritual life and their theology. In taking specific steps together the Churches express and encourage the enrichment and renewal of Christian life, as they learn from one another, work together for justice and peace and care together for God’s creation.
3.2. the challenges at this moment in the ecumenical movement as a reconciling and renewing moment towards full visible unity is for the Seventh Assembly of the WCC to call all churches:
To recognise each other baptism on the basis of the BEM document;
To move towards the recognition of the apostolic faith as expressed through the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed in the life and witness of one another.
On the basis of convergence in faith in baptism, eucharist and ministry to consider, wherever appropriate, forms of eucharistic hospitality; we gladly acknowledge that some who do not observe these rites share in the spiritual experience of life n Christ;
To move towards a mutual recognition of ministries
To endeavour in word and deed to give common witness to the Gospel as a whole;
To recommit themselves to work for justice, peace, and the integrity of creation, linking more closely the search for sacramental communion of the church with the struggles for justice and peace;
To help parishes and communities express in appropriate ways locally the degree of communion that already exists.
4.1 The Holy Spirit as the promoter of koinonia (2 Cor. 13:13) gives to those who are still divided the thirst and hunger for full communion. We remain restless until we grow together according to the wish and prayer of Christ that those who believe in him may be one (John 17:21). In the process of praying, working and struggling for unity, the Holy Spirit comforts us in pain, disturbs us when we are satisfied to remain in our division, leads us to repentance and grants us joy when our communion flourishes.
 Al-Miskin’s incarnational ecclesiology is evident in his understanding of the mission of the Church in Egypt is strongly identified with society.
 Callam, (1998) The Church as Koinonia, p97.
 Tillard, (1998) From BEM to Koinonia, p186.
 Raiser, Konrad. (1998) A Hermeneutics of Unity, in Faith and Order in Moshi: the 1996 Commission Meeting, p117.
 WCC-Mintues (1998) Minutes of the Meeting of the Faith and Order Board, p40.
 for more details see:
Reumann, John. (1994) Koinonia in Scripture: Survey of Biblical texts, in On the Way to Fuller Koinonia p36-69 & 70-80,
Lee, Dorothy. (1994) A Vision of Koinonia: the anointing at Bethany, in On the Way to Fuller Koinonia, p81-84.
 WCC (1998) The Nature and Purpose of the Church: A Stage on the way to a common statement
 WCC (1998) The Nature and Purpose of the Church: A Stage on the way to a common statement, III. 52.
 ARCIC (1982) The final Report, para 8
 ARCIC (1982) The final Report, report on the ‘Church as Communion’.
 O’Driscoll, Mary. (1998) Thoughts on the Ecclesiology Text, p112
 WCC (1998) The Nature and Purpose of the Church: A Stage on the way to a common statement, p28
 Doyle, Dennis M. (2000) Communion Ecclesiology p5
Sagovsky, Nicholas. (2000) Ecumenism Christian Origins and the Practice of Communion, p5.
 Healy, Nicholas. (1995) Communion Ecclesiology, p450.
 Heim, S Mark. (1998) Ecclesiology at the Crossroads, p111.
 Meissen (1993) The Meissen common statement in the Meissen Agreement: Text, para 4-5.
 Doyle, Dennis M. (2000) Communion Ecclesiology, p13.
 Zizioulas, John. (1997) Being as Communion.
 Zizioulas, John. (1994) The Church as Communion, p104.
 Volf, Miroslav. (1998) After our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity, p79.
 Volf, Miroslav. (1998) After our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity, p78.
 Zizioulas, John. (1997) Being as Communion, p15.
 ARCIC (1982) The final Report, report on the ‘Church as Communion, para 8.
 Avis, Paul (2000) The Anglican Understanding of the Church, p74.
 Ratzinger, Joseph. (1988) Church, Ecumenism and Politics, p11
 Zizioulas, John. (1997) Being as Communion, p21.
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Articles by The Very Revd Canon Dr Samy Fawzy Shehata
Koinonia as an image of Ecclesiology for Egypt today (19/04/2016)