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…Continued from Part 3

Councils, Synods and Civilization (Part 4)
By Protopresbyter John Romanides

b) Paul’s window on the Church [ 12 ].

Cross_dome 1 Cor. 12-15 is a unique window through which one may look at the reality of the Church as the Body of Christ. Membership in the Church has its degrees of cure and perfection within two groupings, the illumined and the glorified. The members of the Body of Christ are clearly listed in 1 Cor. 12:28. [And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues].

 One begins by becoming a private individual believer (idiotes) who says “amen” during corporate audible worship. At this stage one is engaged in the purification of one’s heart under the direction of those who are already temples of the Holy Spirit and members of the Body of Christ.

 The degrees of illumination begin with the foundation charisma of “kinds of tongues” at the bottom in eighth place and reach up to the “teachers” in third place.

 At the head of the local Church are the “Prophets” in second place, who have received the same revelation as the “Apostles” (Eph. 3:5) in first place, and are together with them the foundation of the Church (Eph. 2:20). Apostles and Prophets are the foundation of the Church in a way similar to doctors being the foundation of hospitals.

 “Kinds of tongues” are the foundation on which all the charismata are built and are temporarily suspended only during glorification (1 Cor.13:8). As an Apostle, St. Paul puts himself at the head of the list of members God has placed in the Church. Yet he still has the foundation charisma of “kinds of tongues”. He writes, “I thank God in tongues more than all of you” (1 Cor. 14:18). This means that “kinds of tongues” belong to all levels of charismata within the Body of Christ. Paul’s question, “do all speak in tongues?” is a reference to the “private individuals” who do not yet have the gift of tongues and are therefore not yet members of the Body of Christ and temples of the Holy Spirit [ 13 ].

 The illumination and glorification of the members of the Body of Christ are not grades of authority by human appointment or election. They are those whom God prepares and places within the Church for advancement to higher degrees of cure and perfection. That Paul calls on all lower degrees of membership in the Body of Christ to seek advancement to higher spiritual stages means clearly that all are supposed to become Prophets, i.e. to reach glorification [theosis]. “I indeed want all of you to speak in tongues that you may prophesy” (1 Cor. 14:5).

…to be continued

Palamas