Author: Archbishop Gregory (Afonsky)
The popular notion of a "churchless Christianity"-of peaceably praying alone with the Savior in the confines of one's own sacred space-forces the question: "Do we need the Church, its complicated dogmas, canons, services and the ongoing struggle to defend the faith against schism?" In this dogmatic essay, Archbishop Gregory Afonsky expounds upon thirty years of research and teaching in the field of ecclesiology to demonstrate the divine origin of the Church and its importance in the life of a believer. Countering the sentiment that a Christian is saved independently of community, the author insists that following the footsteps of Jesus Christ entails a journey within His Body. By participation in the Body of Christ, a believer experiences the nourishment of the Holy Spirit and shares in the Divine Life. Reasoning that the Church is the Kingdom of God in our midst, Archbishop Gregory argues that the "ekklesia" presupposes visibility, a presence that challenges individualism, relativism and secularism. Indeed it is a manifest bulwark that accosts the very gates of hell. The Most Reverend Gregory Afonsky was Archbishop of Sitka and Alaska from 1973-1995, where he also served as Professor of Dogmatic Theology and Canon Law at St Herman's Theological Seminary. He is now retired and lives in New Jersey.
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