The Patristic Background of Symeon’s Ecclesiology
Ecclesiology has become a fashion among theologians of recent times and very often the main task of modern investigations into patristic ecclesiology is to address contemporary issues with the help of the Fathers. In the patristic tradition, in fact, ecclesiology was never expounded as a comprehensive teaching on what the Orthodox Church is. Some ecclesiological questions, however, have been discussed in connection with temporary problems that arose within the Church from time to time. In the time of Symeon the New Theologian, there were also several ecclesiological problems at issue, which arose during the iconoclastic period and were focused around the question of the role of the hierarchy in the Church's life. Symeon devoted some of his writings, particularly his ‘Epistles’, to a discussion of these topics. Symeon indisputably regards the Church, both the earthly and heavenly, as the only place for salvation. This chapter examines Symeon's understanding of the Church, his attitude to the hierarchical principle in it, and his teaching on the sacraments.
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