The Apologists argued in the second century that the Christians were a new people God had brought into being through Christ. The old divisions of people into nations no longer had any force in Christ. This argument, of course, goes all the way back to Paul. It is a foundation of the catholicity of the church.

Yes, I know – and I’ve mentioned it earlier – that Orthodox theologians in the twentieth century not infrequently contrasted Orthodox “catholicity in depth” with Catholic “catholicity in breadth.” I think that argument was more about defending Orthodoxy’s dubious embrace of nationalism, and scoring points against Catholicism, than positing a genuine ecclesiological principle.

Orthodoxy today needs to discover catholicity “in breadth.” And in terms of this understanding of catholicity, what applies to the church as a whole equally applies to its theology and those who teach it. When the church in any particular place rejects ideas – and teachers! – because they come from someplace else in the world, because they are “foreign,” the church denies its catholicity. It degrades itself, becoming a servant of the old tribal gods of nation, language, people, blood.

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