The trinitarian ecclesiology of Dumitru Staniloae and its significance for contemporary Orthodox-Catholic dialogue

Radu Bordeianu, Marquette University


Dumitru Staniloae is widely regarded as the most important Orthodox theologian of the twentieth century, but his theology did not receive merited attention. This dissertation attempts to contribute towards a better understanding of Staniloae's trinitarian ecclesiology. If other twentieth century Orthodox theologians tend to take the relationship between Triadology and ecclesiology for granted, based on Staniloae, I have contended that the Church is both a reflection and a direct continuation of the Trinity (as icon, sacrament, and theosis ), hence the same relationships that are manifested in the Trinity are extended in the Church. Next, I have analyzed the relationship between each person of the Trinity and the Church, emphasizing the fully trinitarian character of Staniloae's ecclesiology. The Church is the Body of Christ, sacramentally united with Christ, and raised within the bosom of the Trinity. The Church is also filled with the Spirit, so Staniloae balanced the Christological/institutional and pneumatological/charismatic aspects of ecclesiology. A brief discussion of the ecclesiological implications of the Filioque followed. The analysis of the relationship between the Father and the Church concentrated on the biblical motif of adoption as both present and eschatological reality, subject rarely addressed by other Eastern and Western theologians, but prominent in Staniloae's thought. Lastly, I have discussed how the previous theoretical considerations impact the life of the Church, describing the Church as communion in the image of the trinitarian communion, while engaging Staniloae with Catholic communion ecclesiology. The Church is communion between the Trinity and humankind; clergy and the people, focusing on the natural, universal, and ordained priesthood; and among local churches, with special emphasis on synodality, eucharistic ecclesiology, and open sobornicity as Staniloae's most viable solution towards Christian unity. Thus, the present dissertation offers a clear statement of Staniloae's ecclesiology, points to the relevance of his theology in relationship to other Orthodox theologians, and presents the relevance of Staniloae's theology for contemporary Orthodox-Catholic dialogue in an ecumenical language. Staniloae provided a constructive model for the understanding of the relationship between the Trinity and the Church, thus making an important contribution to the study of ecclesiology and to ecumenism.

Recommended Citation

Bordeianu, Radu, "The trinitarian ecclesiology of Dumitru Staniloae and its significance for contemporary Orthodox-Catholic dialogue" (2006). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI3244557.