Finally Zizioulas

I finally finished reading Being as Communion by John Zizioulas yesterday. It has taken me forever because I’ve been attempting a close reading & I kept getting distracted. It’s a pretty amazing book; one which is often referred to as one of the most important Christian theology books of the last half century.

I read something in Zizioulas yesterday which blew me away. He describes what he calls the “double movement” of the church.

The baptismal movement:
“which renders the church a community existentially ‘dead to the world’ and hence separated from it,” on one hand.

The Eucharistic movement:
which relates the world to God by ‘referring’ it to God…an by bringing to it the blessings of God’s life and the taste of the Kingdom to come.”

I’ve never thought of the two sacraments in quite that way before. Baptism leaves us dead to the world and we re-enter the world through the body of Christ, through the Eucharist and through Eucharistic community.

I had a discussion with friends last night and one of the things we talked about was the nature of baptism in relation to our role as citizens of the United States. I think Zizioulas seems to point out that our baptism implies a renunciation of the primacy of all other associations over and against that primary association as the covenant people of God. Not that we renounce our citizenship in this country when we are baptized, but we become dead to its primacy at that point. Then we re-enter our state citizenship through the Eucharist, or more precisely, within Eucharistic community where we decide together as a people what covenant faithfulness looks like in our current day and time as citiziens of the United States. We bring our state citizenship to God together as a community and our citizenship is relativized by the primacy of God’s covenant. The place where this happens in the Eucharist. This blows me away.

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  • Chris Green


    I’ve read Being but not as closely as I should have done. I somehow missed this notion of the sacramental double movement. This is a beautiful idea, and one that resonates with me, as it obviously does with you.

    The applications are as diverse as the variations of human being and experience. Not only citizenship, but also marriage and sexuality, friendship, vocation – everything would come under this vision, wouldn’t it?

    Thanks for posting this.

  • Hey Tim,

    Thinking about attending the Conference on Paul at Jacob’s Well in October. Have you heard about it and any thoughts?


  • Hey Scott,

    Great to hear from you! what are you up to? email me offline and give me the scoop.

    I’m going to the Paul conference for sure. Michael Gorman is one of the speakers and I’ve been pretty invluenced by him – he does great stuff. You should come – it will be well worth the money! I’ll buy you lunch!