[Please note: The following are personal musings and not to be construed as *the* Orthodox understanding. If anything here contradicts the received teaching and way of life of the (Orthodox) Church, please correct me. As always: check with your priest or spiritual father.]
I’ve said this before, but I thought this might be a nice way to sum up my previous posts on ecumenism.
I would say that the first most important question a person can ask is “Who is the Christ?”
The second most important question is “Where is His Church?”
For there is no such thing as a Church-less Christian (which Ephesians 4, among other texts, nicely affirms).
But it is also manifestly true that not every church or group claiming to be, or be part of, the Church are telling the truth. This is not to say that they are intentionally lying; just that their claims are not consonant with ecclesial reality. For churches and groups fundamentally contradict one another on central issues such as baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the ordination of women, and human sexuality. And the Holy Spirit would not have led all these groups into these contradictions.
So we are left with two options:
1. Either we must deny that Christ left behind and indwells His Church on earth; or,
2. We must deny that knowing God’s will on important matters such as baptism and the Lord’s Supper really matters.
Neither option is true to Scripture. (Note by the way that option 2 does not necessarily mean we have to have exhaustive knowledge of God’s will. But surely we should be able to work out the major stuff.)
This leaves us with the following facts: Christ did, in fact, leave behind and indwells his Church on earth AND that knowing God’s will on important matters such as baptism and the Lord’s Supper really does matter.
Which leaves us with the second most important question: Where is His Church?