As we navigate our way into the beginnings of this new era, we sense that an approach that combines attentiveness to the Holy Spirit and the practice of the common good will help us to resist the destructive forces of secular individualism. But until now we have not found a theology that expresses this holistic vision. So we are delighted to discover the work of Daniela Augustine, a theologian with a carefully thought through Spirit-inspired political economy for the common good. Daniela draws on her experience of the interrelationship between the Pentecostal and Orthodox traditions in Eastern Europe. She has kindly given us permission to share, in full, chapter three from her book, The Spirit and the Common Good.


‘The world is a market! Hardly anyone would contradict this statement today. The process of globalization, as the technologically induced com­pression of time and space, has lent a true sense of omnipresence to Western neoliberal capitalism and its all-commodifying market logic. Global eco­nomic integration has insured that the entire world may share the devas­tating impact of each crisis engineered in the prosperous stock markets of the West by unholy trading and lending practices. Thus, in 2008 the global economy absorbed and “equitably” distributed the negative outcome of Wall St’s moral irresponsibility, making everyone pay for the greedy appetites of a few. It could be argued that every person in the world was/is subjugated in one way or another to the effects of this economic crisis (e.g.,through the loss of “investments, retirement, college savings; a home lost to foreclosure or a job lost to cutbacks; or simply the increased debt burden”[1] of national governments as well as through the reduction of charitable giving toward international and domestic projects). [2]

Yet we are told that moral values are irrelevant to the market—that mar­kets are morally neutral and navigated by scientifically assessable economic laws of production, consumption, and exchange. The claim of neoliberal economics is that everything can potentially be commodified and sold by the market, and that since the market is neutral, impersonal, and automatic i can function “without systems of justice based on natural law.”[3] As M. Doug­las Meeks points out, “the great fascination of the market is the assumption that we have finally found a way to organize mass human behavior without dominion, authority and coercion.” [4] However, the father of neoliberal (or “neoclassical”) economics, Adam Smith, utilized rather morally charged language in developing his political economy. He insisted that the common good is an eventual outcome of the personal pursuit of wealth and economic is self-interest. Smith asserted the guidance of society by “the invisible hand” of divine providence in accomplishing the betterment of all while indulging individual interests and desires.[5] Other thinkers of the time affirmed Smith’s idea that personal greed functions as a virtue in this model of market economy since its final end leads to a richer society as a whole. [6]

Neoliberal economics claim that profit and efficiency “are the end goals of any rational economy,” yet deny the fact that these goals function as moral values in society “by guiding behavior and decision-making.” [7] As Rebecca Todd Peters asserts,

By establishing that economic theory does, in fact, privilege certain values, we are able to ask why these values are more important than justice, compassion, and environmental sustainability. Thus, we open up the possibility for the important conversation about what values ought to guide decision-making in economic theory and in the business community.

Awareness of the fact that economics are not morally neutral raises the important question regarding the legitimacy of the undiscerning marriage between Western Christianity and the neoliberal market economy. Christianity has lent its spiritual authority to the market—hallowing its values, partaking (often indiscriminately) in its commodifying practices, and benefiting by its mechanism of turning speculative promises into easy money. As William E. Connolly (Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Political Theory at Johns Hopkins University) has observed, neoliberalism in America “lives off the larger cultural ethos within which it is embedded, without committing itself publicly to all aspects of it.”[8] Neoliberalism feeds off

the spiritual support of constituencies that claim that the market is divinely inspired, that state support of ecological and egalitarian practices constitutes an attack on the divine order, and that microeco­nomic experiments with the property form, consumption practices, and the work process assault American exceptionalism. [9]

The irony of joining the conviction of divinely ordained and guided cap­italism with “the neoliberal faith in the market as nearly self-sufficient, self-equilibrating system” is that these are mutually contradictory ideas. While global society is now painfully aware that there is no such thing as a totally self-regulating market, the problematic union of these two convictions is further fortified through the assertion made by proponents of neoliberalism (e.g., Milton Friedman) that “because profit-making is the essence of democ­racy,” any government that pursues stricter market-regulation policies “is being anti-democratic.”[10] Paradoxically, however, as Robert W. McChesney has argued, the assertion of the “sacredness” of the market actually has had a demoralizing and deconstructive effect on the democratic process because it eventually depoliticizes the citizens. “If electoral democracy affects little of social life, it is irrational to devote much attention to it.”[11] Therefore, regard­less of change of governments, no essential change can be expected with i the economic system. McChesney further insists that

Neoliberal democracy with its notion of the market uber alles, takes dead aim at this sector. Instead of citizens, it produces consumers. Instead of communities, it produces shopping malls. The net result is an atomized society of disengaged individuals who feel demoralized and socially powerless.[12]

Western Christianity cannot keep ignoring that both neoliberal economic theory and its application are morally charged, often in ways Ilia I stand in conflict with the foundational values of Scripture and Christian tradition. [13].Christianity cannot afford to be indifferent in the face of the comprehensive “objectivity” of the market that prioritizes profit over people and remains blind to the creation of a nonmarketable populace which is alienated from the cycle of production and consumption, by virtue of lacking market value. The weak, the young, the elderly, and the handicapped are among this “surplus”[14] humanity excluded from the bliss of market society.

While critically reexamining the moral values of neoliberal capitalism, Western Christianity could employ its own spiritual resources in re-envisioning the function of oikonomia within the global oikos—theplanetary household—by summoning economics to moral responsibility and emphasizing the importance of moral and social values in economic development. [15] M. Douglas Meeks defines oikos as “access to livelihood.” [16] For home is

where everyone knows your name. Home is where you can always count on being comforted, forgiven, loved, and cared for. Home is where there is always a place for you at the table. And, finally, home is where you can count on sharing what is on the table.[17]

If we apply this poetic definition of home to planet Earth as the oikos of contemporary global society, we may conclude that almost two-thirds of the planet’s population is homeless, for they live in poverty—in subhuman conditions with scarce access to livelihood. [18] As Daniel G. Groody remarks, when looked at from “below,” “it becomes all the more evident that economic development in the global village has not always led to greater human development. Most of the world lacks the basic necessities for dignified human life.” [19] Economic justice has become the central question of the oikonomia of the global village, and receiving justice is receiving “access to home.”[20] The in­adequacies of economic development are further highlighted by the growing awareness of the interdependence between ecological, economic and social sustainability. Therefore, concerns for economic justice have become closely Iinked with the demand for ecological justice as authors like Sallie McFague have identified nature as the “new poor” in the North Atlantic economies and called for its emancipation and inclusion in the planetary household.”

The Eastern European experience has proven that neither socialism nor capitalismholds the answer to solving issues of economic justice and sus­tainability in the world. As Nicolas Berdyaev asserts, both capitalism and socialism are ultimately motivated by individualism, and their displays of concern for the common good cannot be separated from this prioritizing of self-interest.[22] Both capitalism and socialism have substituted material means for the spiritual goals of life; both economic models are therefore unable to sustain authentic human rights and freedom (since these rights and freedoms represent high spiritual goals and have a spiritual origin).[23]Berdyaev points out that “the historical material force is a part of the spiri­tual historical reality” and that “the entire economic life of humanity has a spiritual base, a spiritual foundation.”[24] Therefore, the spiritual root of eco­nomic injustice resides in the reversal of the natural hierarchism between spirit and matter, between spiritual and economic life, which manifests itself in the individualist inversion of social vision, and the secularization and fetishism of materialism and economics. [25]Economic individualism has substituted Mammonism for truth. “Economic Materialism,” in turn, has declared the entire spiritual life of humanity “as being an illusion and a fraud,”[26] has obscured the spiritual nature of the world, demystifying it and depriving it of wonder. In view of this assertion, according to Berdyaev, “socialism is only a further development of the industrial capitalist system; it is the final celebration of its beginnings and a triumph of their universal spread.”[27] Therefore, any expectation of social transformation that facili­tates authentic human freedom and socioeconomic justice would demand a “revolution of the Spirit”[28] resulting in a renewed vision of the world that recaptures its spiritual identity and purpose. As Berdyaev points out, only the Spirit creates a brotherhood and sisterhood that are a realization of true freedom—as freedom in Christ. In this Christ-centered spiritual together­ness, or rather sobornost,[29] there is no “mechanical equality.” There is also no contradiction and difference between “a right and an obligation.” [30] Indeed, the sobornost of the faith community is the work of the Spirit, who translates the communal life of the Trinity within the community of believers, making possible the sharing of life with the other in all of its wholeness. The personal freedom in the Spirit’s sobornost does not contradict the freedom of the other, for it is not based on competition for the limited resources of the material world but rather on the eternal and infinite reality of divine love and grace. In this divinely initiated and infused sobornost, the hospitality of God is incarnated in the community of Christ as a gift of the Spirit, a gift of freedom to the other to be and to become.

On the day of Pentecost, the sociopolitical and economic reality of the kingdom of God is birthed in the womb of the church by the Spirit. What the Spirit creates is holy for it is the social form of the trinitarian communal life embodied within humanity—it is the life of the Holy God translated within the human socium. The economics of the Spirit transform the community of faith into God’s household so that, in return, it may make the world into a home for all. The Spirit exposes the unsanctified nature of the market and reveals the sacredness of the world, created and given to humanity as a gift toward a holy communion with God and neighbor. In the last Adam hu­manity experiences the restoration of its ontological essence as a eucharistic being with a priestly mandate within the cosmos. This renewed ontology reunites economics with their spiritual foundations in the new Christlike consciousness of the believers.

Undoubtedly, Christianity can make a lasting contribution toward in­spiring and building a new global economic ethos that prioritizes justice, compassion, and sustainability as guiding principles of economic manage­ment to the benefit of all God’s creatures. After all, if attaining the likeness of God is the aim of the spiritual life, it means (as noted in chapter 1) that sanc­tification involves perfect “love for all of creation.”[31] In light of the church’s eschatological destiny of union with God in theosis, her fundamental social (and thus, also economic) program in the world should be the doctrine of the Trinity, of “God in communion, a social God.”[32] As Bartholomew asserts, every form of human community “has as its vocation to become, each in its own way, a living icon of the Trinity.” [33]

In light of the above, the remainder of the present chapter offers a theo­logical reflection on some potential building blocks toward a new Spirit-inspired political economy. It highlights the reality of the world as eucharistic sacrament, thus offering a vision of the cosmos that can motivate a politico-economic shift from the “sacred market” to a sacred world. The text examines the ontology and vocation of humanity (prior to the fall) as royal priests and stewards of the cosmos and takes a look at the correlation be­tween Pentecost, holiness, and economics in the restoration of humanity’s eucharistic priesthood in the world. Finally, the chapter offers an under­standing of the Eucharist as pedagogy of disciplining desires and an antidote to the malformations of consumerism’s secular liturgies.

The World as Eucharistic Sacrament

If the ongoing human project of world-making has its ontogenesis in God’s infinite creative energies, then it is not accidental that human life unfolds into a procession of time organized into weeks as a perpetual memorial of the divine creative act. Each time segment of seven days becomes a cosmic echo of that event, resonating within the social fibers of the human commu­nity, casting forth all human life as a cultic replica of creation. God creates the world (nature and, arguably, the beginnings of culture) and gifts it to humanity, which in turn creates culture [34] by taking nature and adding to it its own life in the form of daily work illumined by creative imagination, which in a limited way recalls the divine creative act. The first seven days of the cosmic time-space continuum become the measure that marks all of time as its internal intentionality and driving principle. Thus, for the cycle of human productivity enwrapped in the liturgical anamnesis of ev­eryday life, the experience of time appears as a sequence of six days of work as worship culminating in the seventh day of “rest as worship.”[35] This weekly movement creates a rhythm of life in which human world-making preserves the primordial memory of the cosmos emerging out of nothing as a materi­alization of the divine will under the bespeaking power of God’s untreated energies. Marked by the seven days of divine creation, weekly life becomes a liturgy that evokes the teleological procession of time and matter—from eternity toward eternity, from the Spirit toward the Spirit. In its sacramental substance, time guides the world toward its final consummation beyond its own boundaries into a new, never-ending “eighth day” that frames the gates of eternity—where the cosmos experiences “the gathering together and transformation of matter into spirit.”[36]

This understanding of time and matter unveils the sacramental essence of the cosmos as being itself an exquisitely choreographed eucharistic liturgy intended to shape humanity into the likeness of the Creator. By participating in it, human beings learn solidarity with others in the shared cosmic nature that each one of them hypostatizes and yet all have in common. Therefore, as Dimitru Staniloae insightfully suggests,

A separation of cosmic nature taken to the limit between human individuals is impossible. Too great or too unequal a separation of nature brings about war between persons and indeed war within hu­man nature itself or else makes of the latter its slave. Precisely for this reason, everyone is able to contribute to the corruption not simply of a nature that belongs to himself [herself] personally, but also of that nature which belongs to all. [37]

Therefore, the God-given limitations of the material world are part of the intentional pedagogy of becoming like him—they press us to share life and grow spiritually out of selfishness into communal solidarity with others (striving for the common good), realizing that the only way matter can meet all existential needs is through the generosity of the Spirit. The liturgical nature of life as matter in communion with the Spirit is a pedagogical tool that teaches humanity to see the world otherwise—as a sacred space for an encounter with the divine, as a cathedral where the life of God is seeded and gardened by the Spirit until it is fully grown into the materiality of the cos­mos. This illuminated perspective cultivates human communal life of “work and sacrifice”[38] into an inspirited imaging of the Trinity’s divine communal reality. It faces the limited resources of the world with the mandate for a new asceticism of surrender to solidarity in reverent consumption that gives to others “the possibility for development”[39] and flourishing. This is a mark of eucharistic existence that differentiates between the present stage of the world and its destiny in God and provides an antidote to the passions and desires that commodify the world by making it an end in itself. [40]A eucha­ristic consciousness nurtures a Godlike, self-sacrificial attitude for the life of the world (John 6:51). It shapes humanity into the form of Christ, who mends the world with his own life and offers it back to the Father whole, healed, and renewed.

As already articulated in chapter 1, in the act of creation, God gives the world to humanity in self-sharing as a gift of life so that humanity may, in turn, learn to share it with the other and the different. The world is a gift with a pedagogical function—helping humanity “grow spiritually”[41]—to grow in the likeness of God. This pedagogy (in the words of Staniloae) develops through the “dialogue of the gift” between the recipient and the giver, in which the world is to be continually received with gratitude and offered back to God in a gesture of self-sacrificial giving. [42]Therefore, since humanity does not have anything of its own to give to God, it learns to give back to the Creator from the creation (e.g., the tithe, the Sabbath). The greatest gift in this exchange is that of giving oneself, giving one’s own life. Th is ultimate call to the likeness of God for humanity is communicated in God’s self-giving in Christ.

According to the paradoxical dialectic of the “complete dialogue of the gift,”[43] through the continual receiving and offering in return of the gift be­tween two persons, they are drawn closer to one another until, in the words of Dimitru Staniloae,

the gift becomes something common and comes to be the transparent means for the fullest communion between persons. And not only is the gift something common, but it is also increased through the life which the persons communicate to one another through love mani­fested in the gift they make; in this way the persons give themselves as gift, and through this giving they grow spiritually. [44]

Indeed, this logic affirms that the world cannot be kept for oneself—that it is made to be shared as a eucharistic communion with the other. Trying to keep the world for oneself—reducing it to a personal possession intended to satisfy one’s own appetites and desires—distorts its meaning and purpose as a communion of matter and Spirit. Divorced from its spiritual dimen­sion, the world is commodified and made an end in itself, and its material limitations are exposed together with the impossibility to satisfy the ever-present human demand for more of the world. As discussed in chapter 2, the realization that the world is not enough to satisfy the greed and self-indulgence of all persons causes alienation from and violence against the other, viewed now as a competitor for finite material resources. Being a pedagogy on becoming like God and a gift toward communion with him, the world becomes enough only when seen as having its origin, meaning, and end in God. The world is enough only when it is blessed and shared as a eucharistic gift with joy and gratitude, with the reverence of “liturgical askesis” [45] and self-giving for the life of the world.

Therefore, in its true nature, the world is given as a gift by God, so that it may draw humanity closer to him, but also that it may be shared by fel­low humans as the means/element of full communion with the other, for when we gift it to the other, we are offering it back to God (Matt 25:31-46). Part of the Christoforming pedagogy of the gift is that we are to give to the other more than what we have received from God (Matt 25:14-30)—we add to the gift our very life in the form of creative work that increases the value of what we have received as nature (e.g., grain and grapes are transformed through the askesis of human work into bread and wine before being offered eucharistically to God). This makes our offering a sacrifice for the life of the other. We give from ourselves to the other, and as they receive this gift, we become partakers in their life. In a way, we receive the world from God, in order to join our life to it and offer it back to God in a eucharistic surrender to the form and content of his own communal life. In this offering, we become like God in flesh—we become like Christ—the perfect eucharistic being who through the Incarnation took into himself the world to the cross, “circumscribing all that have their origin in him”[46] in order to welcome them into his resurrection. Therefore, the world is intended to lead the human being toward God and the resurrection (life eternal) as a renewed life of partaking in the divine nature. As Staniloae remarks, “In this sense all things found in the middle between God and the human person call for the cross,”[47]through which humanity detaches itself from the gift in order to be united with the giver. “By returning to God the gift of nature transformed by the askesis of our work and through the imprinting of the cross,” we sanctify the cosmos and refuse to continue making it an end in itself, thus also sanctifying ourselves. In doing so, we recognize our destiny in God and enact it in self-giving to the other. We become like him—we become holy with his communal holiness of shared life in self-giving love.

As already noted in chapter 1, the narrative of Genesis depicts God trot only creating within the divine communal self a sanctuary for the possibility and flourishing of the other, but also building a home for them.[48]He takes time in carefully crafting and furnishing this home according to the physical needs of his creatures so that they may truly have access to life more abundant. It could be argued that the unconditional hospitality of God in the act of creation culminates in the establishing of the Sabbath as a day of rest. Time is both an outcome of creation and the canvas on which God spreads the universe. Therefore, John Dominic Crossan invites us to consider that it is not humanity on the sixth day but the Sabbath on the seventh day that is the climax of creation, and that our “dominion” over the world is not own­ership but stewardship under the God of the Sabbath. [49] Therefore, the eu­charistic nature of the world as a shared communion with God and neighbor is clearly visible in the reality of the Sabbath. The seventh day is a day of rest for all of God’s creatures. This is the day in which God gives humanity relief from its labor and commands it to do likewise to the other. Both the anthropic and the nonanthropic creation are to enjoy the unconditional care of God in the Sabbath rest, a gesture of all-encompassing cosmic hospitality provided by the divine host for his creatures. Yet this hospitality is justice, and the recipients of the divine welcome are to extend it to others as an act of “God’s own distributive justice.”[50] Therefore, Sabbath rest is commanded for one’s entire household and all his or her dependents—sons and daugh­ters, male and female servants, farm animals and livestock. The Sabbath is justice as radical equality, from which even the resident alien who lives in Israel is not exempt (Deut 5:14). The Sabbath logic as all-comprehensive justice of divine hospitality is further translated into the Sabbath Year and the Sabbath Jubilee. This is not just “rest for worship but rest as worship,”[51]in recognition of the ownership of God upon all creation, including time, and of the creatures’ full dependence on the divine grace as hospitality.

Reflecting on the relevance of the Sabbath’s inherent political theology for today’s economic existence of perpetual exasperated weariness, Wal­ter Brueggemann contrasts the never-ending slavish work under Egyptian imperial oppression with the covenantal freedom of Sinai’s “economy of neighborliness.”[52] Thus, the author depicts the socioeconomic and political significance of the divinely instituted Sabbath rest as an “alternative and resistance”[53] to the all-commodifying, restless anxiety and dehumanizing effects of market logic, exposing its life-distorting idolatry. In Brueggemann’s words,

YHWH is a Sabbath-keeping God, which fact ensures that restfulness and not restlessness is at the center of life. YHWH is a Sabbath-giving God and a Sabbath-commanding God. Israel, for that reason, is al­ways again to re-choose between “life and death” (Deut. 30:15- 20), between YHWH and “the gods of your ancestors” (Josh. 24:14-15), between YHWH and Baal (1 Kgs 18:21), between the way of Torah and the way of sinners (Ps 1). Sabbath becomes a decisive, concrete, visible way of opting for and aligning with the God of rest. [54]

Observing the Sabbath becomes a weekly liturgy, depicting the re­covered trust between humanity and the rest of creation as rooted in the covenantal trust between the newly consecrated human community and the Creator. If (in the conditions of the fall) the curse manifests itself as enmity (and thus mistrust) between Adam and the land, now worshiping the God of Sinai in the Sabbath rest becomes a prophetic anticipation of the curse’s overturning and creation’s ontological renewal. It is a glimpse of a recovered Eden—of the world being once again a sanctuary, and Iife as an act of worship to the life-giving and life-sustaining Creator. Therefore, as Brueggemann points out, Exodus 34:21 states that the Sabbath should be kept “even in plowing time and in harvest time,” placing the institution of covenantal rest “in the context of the productive, food-producing creation system in which human beings must participate.” Yet they also must “trust the land,” conforming their life “to the rhythms of creation.” [55] In this way, the Sabbath resynchronizes (and heals the rift between) the anthropic and nonanthropic creation, instituting a new, just relationship between humanity and the earth. It constitutes covenantal ecological economics that correct distorted interpretations of humanity’s “dominion” over creation by bringing in view the original context of Gen 1:26-28—worship of the one true God in the cathedral of the cosmos. Therefore, a godly relationship between humanity and the rest of creation can flourish only within the context of a life (including work, production, and consumption) lived with reverent intentionality, as an unceasing worship of the Creator, marked by acute awareness of and attuned attention to the sacramentality of the cosmos and the unescapable nearness of the divine presence. Living life as a eucharistic liturgy centers human existence on God, realigning one’s being in the world with the divine creative intent and cultivating resistance to the idolatrous social pathology of self-centeredness (including its manifestations in greedy exploitation of one’s fellow human and the rest of creation under escalating anxiety of scarcity and blinding fear of the other). Recovered awareness of the world as a eucharistic gift summons humanity into its priestly service and responsible stewardship for the flourishing of all creation on this side of the eschaton.

Royal Priests and Stewards of the Cosmos in the Eucharistic Economics of the Spirit

As established in chapter 1, the ontology of humanity before the fall is that of a community of priests in the cathedral of the cosmos, bearing the image and growing into the likeness of the communal Trinity amidst the material world. As a priest before God, Adam stands as the embodiment of the cosmic communion of matter and Spirit, representing in his very being a sacrament i n which the icon of the cosmos and the icon of God are united together as an evocation of the destiny of the world, where God is to be all in all (Eph 1.23). Thus, human ontology is to be the materialization of the sacred story of the world, joining together the primordial memory of its beginning with the anticipation of its eschatological unfolding in union with the Creator. In the words of H. A. H. Bartholomew I,

The Word of God wanted to reveal that humanity participates in both worlds, namely in invisible as well as in visible nature. . . . There­fore, Adam was placed on this earth as a second world, a large world within a small world, like an angel that worships God while partici­pating in the spiritual and material worlds alike. Adam was created to protect and preserve the visible world, while at the same time being initiated into the spiritual world.[56]

Indeed, humanity is created to participate in both worlds in order to unite them into a living communion. Yet Scripture preserves the reminder that both the material and spiritual components of humanity have their origin in God. Matter is spoken forth out of nothing by the Word as an act of the Creator’s “self-limitation” in opening space for the existence of cre­ation [57]—an image epitomizing the essence of God as love for the other and the different. Consequently, the earth/nature (in a way, following the example of its Creator) shares her material body with humanity so that the human body may rise from her under the craftsmanship of the divine creative en­ergies. Further, the human spirit comes forth as the very breath of God—as his self-sharing with the other. Matter is indwelled with the divine presence as the human body becomes a temple of the Spirit on earth. Indeed, hu­manity is an outcome of the other’s self-sharing (in askesis and kenosis)—it comes from the other and is to embody the gift of life as a shared commu­nion with others. Therefore, humanity is placed amidst the cosmos as an anointed/Spirit-filled, priestly, eucharistic, communal reality, in order to serve as an agent/mediator of the world’s transfiguration into the likeness of God’s communal life until the divine community becomes all in all. This ontologically engraved human vocation involves the continual eucharis­tic discernment of the world as a sacrament toward cultivating a cosmic community of shared life and flourishing with the other—with God as well as with the anthropic and nonanthropic neighbor. Therefore, as Orthodox theologians have suggested, we can understand the “original sin” also in terms of humanity’s rejection of its priestly vocation in the cosmos, for­feiting its eucharistic existence and reducing the world from a divine gift of encounter and communion with God and neighbor to a utility toward one’s own self-indulgence, thus making it an end in itself. To proclaim the world as an end in itself is to deny its contingency on God and therefore its created essence as originating in him. By denying matter’s causality in God, humanity commits the idolatry of substituting God with matter. “For what is an end in itself is also without a cause,” [58]and such is God alone. If the human being is created not only as homo sapiens or homo faber, but first and foremost as “homo adorans,”[59] as a priest standing in the center of the world in order to unify it with the fulfillment of its destiny, then humanity worships what it perceives as an end in itself and looks for its own fulfillment in it. As a wor­shiping creature, humanity is created with an inherent longing for a union with God—for its self-realization in theosis. The peculiarity of the dialectic of worship, however, is that we worship what we love and we become what we worship. Indeed, worship is a transfiguring pedagogy on becoming like God that accomplishes its aim through the intentional askesis of fasting from one’s own misdirected desires, turned from the Creator to the created (from God to the world, thus making it an end in itself). Therefore, right worship (orthodoxy) is disciplining and reordering the affections so that the worshipers may learn to love and be loved rightly (orthopathy) until they themselves (their entire lives) become love—God’s love for all his creation (orthopraxy). This is why humanity is instructed to love God with the en­tirety of one’s being (Deut 6:5; Matt 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27) so that it may worship him alone and therefore be transformed into his likeness—ex­perience theosis. Thus, idolatry endangers humanity’s destiny by forming it into the likeness of something else (something less) than God—something created rather than the Creator.

The theoforming (Christoforming) reality of worship is to enflesh within the human community the Trinitarian perichoretic life as unceasing move­ment of love for the other. It turns our face toward God in order to become once again his face for others. Indeed, worship rehumanizes us, makes us once again a prosopon, “countenance,” turned toward others as an encounter with divine love, striving to provide what is lacking but needed for their flourishing.[60] Therefore, the divine perichoretic reality enfleshed within the human community is manifested as philanthropia (self-giving as love for the fellow human—emphasizing the shared sameness of humanity) and philoxenia (sell-sharing in hospitality as love for the stranger—highlighting the unique, irreproducible otherness of each human being). As God’s redemp­tive love turns humanity’s face toward the other, he or she becomes an unavoidable encounter with the image of God as unapologetic summoning to priestly responsibility for the life of the world. Perhaps the earth’s spherical form can be understood as providential underlining of the world’s reality as a sacrament toward communion with the other. In the words of Immanuel Kant, the fact that the earth is a globe means that we cannot be “infinitely scattered, and must at the end reconcile ourselves to existence side by side”[61] with the other. Even when we turn our back to others and their need, the curve of the globe takes us on a journey back face to face with them, denying the possibility for infinite distance. The saving grace of God leads humanity back to the beginning, to the encounter of the face—the image of God facing itself in the other until a person sees him or herself in the fellow human as in a mirror and thus is capable to love the other as oneself (Lev 19:18; Matt 19:19). The human journey back to God becomes pedagogy of discerning him in the other. Apart from seeing God’s image in the other, one cannot see God. Apart from loving the other, one cannot love God (1 John 4:20). Salvation becomes a way of seeing God disguised in the body and face of the other, despite his or her socioeconomic, cultural, ethnographic, racial, gender, and language otherness, Thus, discerning Christ in the other, even in his or her most distressful condition (Matt 25:31-46), becomes the Chris­toforming power in one’s life that ultimately allows one to see God. Seeing Christ in the other makes one like Christ—makes one a renewed eucharistic being. Each human being stands in the face of the other, imprinted with the same ontological origin and telos—Christ himself—the beginning and the end of creation (Rev 21:6). In this sanctified/deified perspective, the face of the other meets us as the future of the world—as the full potentiality of the fullness of life more abundant in, with, and through God. Therefore, there is no future, no salvation, no world without the other.

As homo adorans, a worshiping creature, the priest ministering before God on behalf of the entire creation,[62]the human being is made to hear the divine Word and respond to it in prayer. Humanity’s ontological actu­alization is to be attained through partaking (via priestly intercession) in God’s communal discourse, carrying the world in itself (in its body, mind/thoughts, and heart/affections) before God, making it “spoken of” within the Trinitarian liturgy of world-making and (in the conditions of the fall) world-mending—thus becoming a communicant (partaker) of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4), attaining theosis. However, the Word addresses human­ity not only as a summoning to priestly intercession but, ultimately, as a call to its prophetic embodiment/incarnation in the human community. Actualizing its prophetic calling, the human being is not just to hear the Word but to enact it as a free-willed doer of the divine will, thus becoming the Word’s living, embodied extension amidst the created order. In light of this assertion, Alexander Schmemann describes humanity’s priestly and prophetic vocation as inscribed from the beginning within human ontology alongside the royal mandate for just stewardship of all creation.[63] Scripture articulates the essence of these three ontological dimensions of human vo­cation (the royal, priestly, and prophetic) as charisms of the Holy Spirit—as the Spirit’s movement within the world in enactment (and embodiment) of the divine will through consecrated/anointed human agency. Therefore, from the beginning, humanity is created to move in and with the Spirit and to be an in-Spirit-ed, pneumatized sanctuary of God’s breath (his living and enlivening presence) within the cosmos (Gen 2:7).

In this pneumatological anthropology, the three charismatic dimen­sions of humanity’s vocation (royal, priestly, and prophetic) are inseparable from each other—Adam is a king only to the extent to which he is a priest and a prophet. As Schmemann asserts, we have to understand these dimensions in light of their Christic/Christoforming telos—there is “not kingship alone and not priesthood alone, but their belonging together as fulfillment of one in the other”—thus “royal priesthood.”[64] Therefore, the power (“dominion”) of humanity over creation is “fulfilled in sacrifice” and in “sanctifying the world, by ‘making’ it into communion with God”[65] as the Holy Spirit trans­forms human life itself into “a ‘liturgy,’ a service to God and communion with Him.”[66] In light of this outlook to human ontology, to be human is to be for others so that they may flourish and live life to the fullest.

Since Christ is the visible icon of the invisible God (Col 1:15), “the perfect Eucharistic Being,”[67] Pentecost marks the ontological renewal of the image of God within the human community. This Christoforming significance of Pen­tecost could be further magnified in perceiving the Spirit’s outpouring as trans­ference of messianic anointing from Christ to the community of believers. They become the anointed ones as a living extension of the Anointed One—of his life and mission. In a manner similar to that of Jesus’s ministerial inau­guration (Luke 3:21-22) in Jordan’s baptismal waters, the Spirit of Pentecost descends upon his own—the incarnated Christ in his communal form—baptiz­ing and empowering it for the fulfillment of its mission as a living, embodied gospel destined to cover the earth. Therefore, the prophetic, royal, and priestly dimensions of Christ’s ministry become inseparable from the charismatic real­ity of his body, as the community of disciples is transformed into a royal priest­hood and prophethood of all believers.[68] On the day of Pentecost, the commu­nal body of Christ, saturated by the self-pouring of the Spirit, becomes the restoration of humanity’s ontology and vocation according to God’s original creative intent. The Spirit manifests the church as the new, anointed, cosmic homo adorans, ordained to circumscribe all creation in union with the Creator.

The Spirit-saturated community enfleshes the Trinitarian life in all as­pects of its existence, including its oikonomia. In the words of Saint Gregory the Theologian, the first Adam “was destined to serve as a royal steward”[69](basileus oikonomos—a royal economist) over creation. The economic and priestly responsibilities of humanity coincide in their purpose of labor in love for the life of the world, which is the household of God. Therefore, the economic management of the world is to be the oikonomia of household based on sharing the family resources for the equal benefit of all its members. It is no wonder that the ethos of household sharing becomes visible in the economics of the Spirit, embodied in the Pentecost-marked life of the Christian community.

Like the nonanthropic creation,[70] the economic model of Pentecost follows the pattern of sharing versus trading of goods and labor—it follows the pattern of the Creator’s self-sharing. The communal composition of the Pentecost model moves from the socioeconomic predicament of the market to that of the household. The relationships of the household are not based on the amount of capital or possessions the members have, but on their family bonds. In contrast to the market, the household does not produce and maintain class structure. The social position of the members of the house­hold is based upon family roles, and any privileges that pertain to these are appropriated within the understanding of a mutual calling to one another as a part of the same family. The members belong to one another: they are each other’s brothers, sisters, mothers, children, etc. They are called together in a shared family identity. The family’s wealth is the wealth of all its members, who share freely in its benefits. Household material possessions are utilized by the household members for the common benefit of the household unit. The well-being of the household as a whole guarantees the well-being of all its members. It is not accidental that the family table is the centerpiece of the household and its economic model. It symbolizes sharing of the funda­mental necessities of life between equals in identity and purpose. The family is nurtured and sustained as its members break bread together and share possessions—they share life and make life together.

The community of Pentecost as the household of God exhibits this family-like pattern of sharing life, which also naturally includes sharing of possessions. Their identity as children of God, born into one family by the same Spirit, outweighs any particularities of gender, ethnicity, and economic class. It establishes instead the dynamic of the traditional fam­ily roles, including caregiving, nurture, protection, and provision for the needs of all.

The image of household summons to responsibility the members of the family of God to care also for creation and its needs, for indeed, God’s house­hold includes all creation. The well-being of the entire household demands this compassionate care within the context of the members’, illuminated by the Spirit, recognition of their mutual belonging. Adam and the adama stand in unavoidable, organic continuity of shared well-being. Therefore, the suffering of the nonanthropic creation (through unrestrained, careless exploitation and pollution) leads inevitably to human suffering, endangering human health and denying access to life to entire communities (as well as to the unborn generations). On the other hand, the flourishing of the earth secures the symbiotic flourishing of humanity in a sustainable eco­sphere of carefully nurtured and gardened common good. Since the world is giftwith and an inherent pedagogy for humanity’s spiritual growth toward its Christic telos, then the faithful economic stewardship of creation and perpetual priestly intercession for its life and flourishing are not merely human responsibilities before God but a divinely ordained vehicle for hu­manity’s ontological actualization as the anointed king, priest, and prophet upon whom the Spirit rests, the temple in whom God finds his home amidst the cosmos.

Therefore, the response to the other as an act of economic and social jus­tice in Pentecost’s communal economics is not an outcome of sociopolitical persuasion but of spirituality that extends one’s participation in the life of God and his presence on earth in the community of faith. This spirituality prioritizes the needs and well-being of the other as indispensable from the well-being of the entire household, while exercising discernment between personal needs and desires and disciplining one’s desires toward the likeness of God.

There is a sense of spontaneity in the communal sharing of possessions, manifesting the life of the invisible Spirit now made visible within the body of Christ.[71] The sharing of possessions is an external expression of the be­lievers’ renewed ontology. This is their way of being in the world as new humanity—the material enfleshment of their spiritual identity as a communal extension and continuation of Christ’s own life on earth.[72] What they do is who they are—the resurrected Christ incarnated by the kenotic agency of the Spirit into the redeemed community. Their corporeal life, as the life of God within the human socium, follows a Trinitarian logic of perichoresis that translates itself in all aspects of human existence (including economics). For indeed, in the all-comprehensive reality of the Incarnation, nothing remains outside the reach of salvation, “nothing can be taken away from the Son of man.”[73]

Therefore, if “possessions are symbolic expressions of ourselves because we both are and have bodies,”[74] then surrendering our possessions to Christ is redemptive, accepting of his identity (and of his body) as our own. The Eastern fathers of the church saw the image of God in humanity as incorporating the totality of the human being—of its spiritual and material existence.[75] Therefore, the likeness of God also cannot exclude the body and its material extension of possessions. Scripture continually emphasizes the reality of the body when articulating the mandate for sanctification (1 Thess 4:3-8; 5:23; Heb 9:13-14; Rom 6:19), and (as noted in chapter 2) the sanctifying work of the Spirit involves the totality of human existence with all its social and material expressions in actions, relationships, and desires.

Indeed, the eucharistic priesthood of the last Adam reestablishes the perichoretic economics of the Spirit within the community of faith. Yet this pattern of sanctified economic relationship to the other is also present in the earthly ministry of Christ, prior to his death and resurrection. The gospel narrative of the feeding of the multitudes reminds the reader of Christ as the perfect eucharistic being unveiling the economic manifestation of the embodied Trinitarian communal life on earth. What God has provided (bread andfish) is offered back to him in a liturgy of gratitude; it is broken to be shared with the other in a eucharistic meal, in which nature gives itself to the other in the elements of communion, blessed and multiplied by God himself to feed his household. He is the host of this banquet in which all who desire to partake are given access to life—not only to the children of Israel, but also to the gentiles, as in the feeding at the Decapolis (Mark 8:1-10)— w here Christ offers “the bread of God’s table to people of all nations.”[76] They are all God’s offspring—they are all his family. This is a radical transformation of humanity’s vision of the world. Not as a place of savage competition for material resources, but as a household where one shares freely his or her life with the other. It is, indeed, the transformation of the world from a market into a home.

In the economics of the Spirit within the community of faith, there is no one needy among them (Acts 4:34). Classism is abolished by the radical equal­ity of the Trinitarian perichoretic life, to which humanity stands emancipated as partaker of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4). The Pentecost community, as an outcome of the socio-transformative work of the Spirit, becomes the embod­iment of God’s hospitality and self-sharing with the other within the present with its pending material needs (Acts 2:43-47). This divine hospitality is an all-inclusive justice. It reunites economics with their spiritual foundations in the new Christlike consciousness of the believers. The consequence is a new form of economic relationships, that is, relationships that embrace the other and provide for their need out of one’s own resources. The result is “having all things in common’. (v. 44) and sharing possessions as a visible material ex­pression of the oikonomia of God’s household. These new economic relations set the Pentecost community apart from the economics of the world. Thus, one encounters in the midst of the world the doing of the Spirit,[77] who has birthed the believers into the sociopolitical reality of God’s kingdom and has transformed them into an extension of that reality on earth. The Spirit is the one who initiates and sustains the conditions that make this radical economic justice possible, for such justice is an outcome of one’s act of worship in Spirit and truth. Therefore, as was proven by the Eastern-European Marxist exper­iment, the secularization of this vision is destined to failure.

Breaking bread together (v. 46), as both daily commensality and eucha­ristic celebration of the unity of Christ’s communal body, becomes a sym­bolic centerpiece of living out the just sociopolitical reality of the kingdom within the household of God.[78]The architectural placement of the communal dining table in the Eastern Orthodox monasteries is an intentional reminder and a symbolic enactment of this reality. The dining table is po­sitioned in a way that presents it as an extension of the sanctuary’s altar. Therefore, the daily commensality of the community is viewed as a contin­uation of its communion around the table of the Lord. Each table becomes the Lord’s table, for he is the host that gives sustenance to all. His presence is invited, and the meal is offered and blessed in his name with gratitude in recognition of being a gift from God as “our daily bread” (Matt 6:11; Luke 11:3). Indeed, we are forever his guests. Yet this is also our family table—the table of our Father—and we are at home, for we are his children and members of his household. Here we all have accesses to life that is shared as a sacrament for the consecration of the entire cosmos. In a way, the daily communal commensality echoes the words of the eucharistic offering—”Thine own of Thine own we offer unto Thee on behalf of all and for all.” Therefore, hos­pitality to the stranger (including unexpected dinner guests) is a monastic rule. No one is turned away, and the table becomes a liturgical anamnesis of Christ’s feeding of the multitudes, anticipating the epiclesis of the Spirit that makes the world more than enough. In this prophetic anticipation (to use the words of Brueggemann), “the gospel of abundance overrides the claim of scarcity and invites to the common good.”[79]

The Eucharist as Pedagogy of Disciplining Desires and an Antidote to Consumerism

The church’s pneumatic sacramental life (as part of the new creation) proceeds from and points to the “sacramentality of creation itself”[80] before the fall. It unveils the liturgical character of the world’s beginning and its eucharistic reality and depicts its telos in the joining of heaven and earth, of the visible and invisible, of the material and the spiritual, gathering all creation in Christ, who is to be all in all. This very telos (in the words of Schmemann) “constitutes the essence and the purpose of the Church.”[81] Therefore, the community of faith is the “manifestation and presence of the new and trans­figured creation,”[82]the inbreaking of the age to come and the adventing of God’s kingdom on earth. This is why the church in its essence and vocation is both “cosmic and eschatological,”[83] and so is her liturgy. In light of this assertion, redemption could be understood as renewal of the sacramental reality of creation (and life itself). As Schmemann. states,

Precisely in this sacramental understanding of the world is the essence and gift of that light of the world that permeates the entire life of the Church, the entire liturgical and spiritual tradition. . . . Sin is itself perceived here as a falling away of man, and in him of all creation, from this sacramentality, from the “paradise of delight,” and into “this world,” which lives no longer according to God, but according to itself and in itself and is therefore corrupt and mortal. And if this is so, then Christ accomplishes the salvation of the world by renewing the world and life itself as sacrament. [84]

The redemptive eschatological union of the ontologically renewed hu­manity with God in the cosmic Christ is articulated, anticipated, and expe­rienced in the church’s liturgical anamnesis.[85] This communal anamnesis of Christ (1 Cor 11:24-25) is not simply a mental recollection, but an enacted likeness. It is choosing “to be” and “to do” like him, becoming his extension on earth through the incarnational agency of the Holy Spirit. Through the body of Christ, heaven descends on earth and restores the unity of the Creator with his creation as the liturgical celebration translates the foretaste of the divine fullness of life in and through the Spirit-baptized koinonia. Therefore, the eucharistic liturgy is an epicletic, pneumatically charged, socio-transformative event unfolding within the tension of “the already all and not yet,” of anticipation and fulfilment, of the encounter between the pres­ent and the summoning otherness of its future.

As the focal point of the liturgical celebration of Christ’s pneumatic oneness with his communal body, the Eucharist is also, in the words of M. Douglas Meeks,

God’s economic act par excellence in the household of Jesus Christ. In it is made present God’s own self-giving, God’s own economy by which God intends to make the world into a home.[86]

The Eucharist asserts the innocence of the nonanthropic creation, which comes to the table of God prior to the human community and wel­comes it as the visible form of divine nourishment in the household of God. Through its inclusion within Christ in the event of the Incarnation, created matter enters redemptive participation in the life of the Trinity. In the mate­riality of the Son’s body, matter is sanctified and sanctioned as an instrument of grace in the consecration of the cosmos.[87] Therefore, the Eucharist pro­vides pedagogy of discerning and liturgical anamnesis of the ontological, soteriological , and eschatological interrelation between humanity and the rest of creation. It instructs us toward disciplining our desires in prioritization of the well-being of others and points us to the practice of liturgical asceticism of reverent consumption (1 Cor 11:27-34). Indeed, the Eucharist detoxifies us from the dehumanizing poisons of unrestrained consumerism and helps us build immunity toward its seductive lure. It cultivates the community of faith as a dissident force of resistance against the commodification of market logic and forms it as an incarnated critique of the utilitarian objectification of God’s creation.

In the Eucharist, the Spirit reveals as transparent to Christ matter, space, and time and opens the believer’s eyes to see the liturgical celebra­tion as the convocation of both the anthropic and nonanthropic creation into one cosmic worshiping community. In his Of Water and Spirit, Al­exander Schmemann describes the Eucharist as cosmic “joy” that “permeates all” that exists. As Schmemann states, the Eucharist is “the entire creation—its matter and its time, its sounds and colors, its words and its silence—that  praises and worships God, and in this praise becomes again itself: the Eucharist, the sacrament of unity, the sacrament of the new creation.”[88] In For the Life of the World, Schmemann affirms that the Eu­charist is best understood as “a journey or procession” “into the dimension of the Kingdom.”[89] This journey begins when Christians leave their homes on Sunday morning, starting that symbolic procession from the present life into the life of the kingdom as the future of the world, gathered by the Holy Spirit in the synaxis of Christ’s communal body. For Schmemann, in this journey “a sacramental act is already taking place,” for the believers “are on their way to constitute the Church,”[90]being called out of the pres­ent world and transfigured by the Spirit into the world to come. Offer­ing a spellbinding reflection on the cosmology of the Eucharist, George Theokritoff provokes the reader to see this processional journey in a new light and reexperience the liturgy with a renewed awareness not only of its all-engulfing reach through the epicletic omnipresence of the Spirit, who reveals (in the language of Saint Basel’s liturgy) creation as the body of the incarnate God, but also of the celebratory participation as the offering of the entire cosmos. Analyzing the complex biological and chemical sub­stances and processes that have to come together (including the intricate, synergistic choreography of nature and human labor) in order to produce the familiar elements of bread and wine, the author vividly depicts the beginning of the cosmic Eucharist’s procession not as starting in the home (with humanity’s journeying to the church building), but “in Creation—‘In the beginning’“[91] Thus, Theokritoff states:

In the Eucharist we offer in this piece of bread and in this cup of wine, the entire Cosmos and every living creature including ourselves—ev­erything from the tiniest particles of matter to the farthest reaches of space, as well as from the fruits of human labor in all places and all times. We thus come to see that the Eucharist is central to the Cosmos. And it is the Eucharist that enables us to recognize more clearly that the Cosmos is transparent to Christ, who shines through all matter.[92]

Therefore, the Eucharist points to a theological ethic of discerning creationnot only as means of communion with God and neighbor, but as cocelebrant at the Lord’s table. It involves recognizing one’s well-being and flourishing as function and outcome of the well-being and flourishing of the totality of creation—of all anthropic and nonanthropic neighbors.

According to Walter Brueggemann, the Eucharist is a “replay of the manna narrative in the book of Exodus” and as such represents “a liturgical interpretive offer to reimagine the world differently,” depicting the community of faith as a living embodiment of the rehumanizing journey “from anxious scarcity through miraculous abundance to a neighborly common good.”[93] As in the communal partaking of the manna under the divine pedagogy of neigh­borliness in pursuit of shared flourishing, the Eucharist defies the fear of scar­city by teaching that taking more for oneself while leaving the fellow human hungry does not provide access to life (1 Cor 11:20-22) but condemns (even unto death) for not discerning rightly the body of Christ (vv. 27-34). As with the manna in the wilderness (the quintessential place of scarcity and depri­vation), so also with the Eucharist (in a finite cosmos of ever-shrinking mate­rial resources) one lives life more abundant only when the world is offered in gratitude to God and shared with others, making sure that there is no one left hungry (v. 21). The Eucharist teaches us to take responsibility for the hunger and poverty of others, examining ourselves—our conscious or unintentional contribution to their economic depravity and marginalization—and to offer them access to the table, learning to “wait for one another” (v. 33), starting with the most vulnerable in the community (the orphans and the widows, the childrenand the elderly, the disabled, the economic migrants) until the needs of all are met. As a sacrament of the new creation, the Eucharist both depicts and cultivates within the new human community the economics of the Spirit. The shared life around the table of the Lord is to become paradigmatic for all human life—a sacramental enactment of the common good that hallows all dimensions of human existence, including its economics.

The Eucharist effectively deconstructs the logic of free-market consum­erism, for (in the words of William Cavanaugh) as the individual partakes in the eucharistic elements, she “does not simply take Christ into herself, but is taken up into Christ. . . . The act of consumption is thereby turned inside out: instead of simply consuming the body of Christ, we are consumed by it.”[94]

As “we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor 10:17), we stand as one body, for we have all become partakers of Christ, and in him of each other. There­fore, prioritizing one’s personal desires over against the needs of others and consuming the other for one’s own self-gratification within the body of Christ becomes devouring oneself.

The ultimate challenge of the eucharistic logic and pedagogy is that, by becoming the body of Christ, we “must become food for others.” [95] Alexander Schmemann contemplates this extroverted missionary orientation of the Eucharist in reflecting upon the three liturgical movements of its celebration. It starts with a movement of ascent as the church is carried by the Spirit to heaven in “its entrance into the new eon.”[96] The church experiences the fullness of the life of the community of the Trinity at the table of the Lord, and being filled and illumined by the divine presence, she is called to descend back to earth. This second movement of descent is part of her missiological identity, for unless the church reenters this world, there will not be “heaven on earth.” Yet the church returns on earth for the sake of the world, and her final liturgical movement (animated by the Spirit) is from the interiority of the temple to the exteriority of all the world—even to its “uttermost” parts—the farthest, the darkest, the most different from us. Therefore, “the Eucharist transforms the church into what it is, transforms it into mission.”[97] In fulfilling her calling, the church enters the cosmos as the living gospel in the body of Christ that gives itself daily to feed and heal a starved and broken world. Indeed, the Eucharist transforms the church herself into a sacrament for the life of the world.

It is not accidental that in many Eastern-European Pentecostal communities (under the influence of their Eastern Orthodox cultural roots), the eucharistic liturgy is followed by an agape feast. While the Eucharist takes place in heaven, the agape feast takes place on earth. It embodies the ultimate purpose of the eucharistic pedagogy—it is the life of heaven on earth captured by the household table of the family of God, where all share their resources and freely receive access to life, so that there is not a single one left hungry and needy among them. They are all children in their Father’s house and equal beneficiaries of his loving homebuilding on behalf of all creation.

While ending with a feast, the eucharistic celebration is preceded by a time of intense prayer and fasting.[98] The commitment to a strict, preeucharistic fast by many Eastern-European Pentecostals is an important dimension of their spiritual hygiene, cleansing themselves from blind submission to the urge for consumption and learning to differentiate between their legitimate needs and self-indulgent desires. The fast is practiced, therefore, as an as­cetic struggle that helps the believers grow in spiritual maturity by strength­ening their resistance to temptation. For these Pentecostal communities, embracing the fast translates into taking a stand against the demonic forces within the cosmos (and their manifestations in systemic evils, prompting the dehumanization and commodification of fellow humans)—an under­standing developed in light of the gospel accounts of Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness (but also in light of Jas 4:7—”Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and hewill fleefrom you”). As already discussed in chapter 2, Luke’s and Matthew’s accounts of Jesus’s forty-day fast (and the subsequent spiritual confrontation with the devil) depict a profoundly epicletic event—it is an ascetic struggle that takes place in and through the leading and em­powerment of the Spirit (Luke 4:1-2; Matt 4:1). in light of this assertion, for most Eastern-European Pentecostals, fasting (as other spiritual disciplines) is surrendering to the sanctifying/Christoforming work of the Spirit within the believer. Yet more than anything else, the eucharistic fast is perceived as a preparation in anticipation of encounter with the living God—a transfor­mative moment, marked by both divine grace and the demand for human accountability/responsibility (an event in which the believer experiences blessing and judgment/discipline—both active expressions of the divine love, lifting humanity into an ascent from glory to glory, carving the believers into the likeness of God).

According to Alexander Schmemann, the relationship between the (pre)eucharistic fast and the eucharistic celebration reflects the church’s liturgical “rhythm of expectation and fulfillment, preparation and ‘pres­ence.'”[99] In light of this assertion, he offers an insightful reflection on the differentiation and continuity between the eucharistic and ascetic dimen­sions of fasting, pointing to their gospel origins and theological significance in ecclesial life. As Schmemann asserts, the eucharistic fast is a preparation in expectation of the parousia, “of the second glorious advent of Christ, of the fulfillment in which ‘God shall be revealed as all in all.'”[100] This theo­logical understanding is rooted in the Synoptic Gospels’ record of Christ’s response to the critiques of the Pharisees that his disciples do not fast: “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day” (Mark 2:18; cf. Luke 5:33; Matt 9:14). Therefore, the preeucharistic fast is an anticipation-pregnant vigil, unfolding in the sus­pense between the ascension and the second coming, keeping the church (the bride of Christ) alert and attuned into the Spirit’s movement that gath­ers the world (and its history) in its eschatological future (for no one knows the day of the Lord’s coming—Matt 24:42). The fast ends with the eucharis­tic celebration as with a wedding banquet, marked by the presence of the bridegroom. In the words of Schmemann, the “yearning” of the church for her Lord

is now constantly fulfilled and answered in the sacrament of the Lord’s Presence, in the Eucharistic banquet. . . . Thus, fasting and Eucharist form, so to say, two complementary and necessary poles of Church life, manifest the essential antinomy of her nature: expecta­tion and possession, fullness and growth, eschatology and history.[101]

Yet, as Schmemann emphasizes, fasting has also a “second meaning, that completes” the eucharistic one—namely, the ascetic dimension, which (similar to the Eastern-European Pentecostal understanding) he depicts “as a fight against the demonic powers, as a method of spiritual life.”[102] While he places the scriptural origins of the ascetic fast within the gospel accounts of Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness (taking place after forty days of fasting), [103] Schmemann also asserts that the gospel makes a direct statement regarding the power of prayer and fasting as “the only means for a victory over Satan (Matt 17:21). For the advent of Christ not only fulfills the history of salvation, it is also the decisive moment in the struggle against Satan, who has become the ‘prince of this world.'”

Echoing the temptation of the first Adam, the temptation of the last Adam, in the wilderness, also starts with food. Therefore, Schmemann asserts that by abstaining from the essential “necessity” of food as a means of sustaining one’s life, humanity (residing in the victorious Christ) finds out that it “lives not by bread alone” and willfully chooses fasting as

 a free return to the fulfillment of that commandment which Adam has transgressed. Accepting it, man again receives food as a Divine gift, food ceases to be a “necessity” and becomes the very image of the messianic banquet, for “eat in order to live” has become again “live in God.” [104]

Indeed, this recovered freedom has profound social and environmental dimensions, for, in the words of H. A. H. Bartholomew I, “fasting underlines the dignity and value of everything and everyone.” Fasting is “wanting less” while “recognizing the wants of others. [105] It is, therefore, an embodied recollection of “the hunger” and suffering of others and “a symbolic effort” to identify with them, [106] while striving (with one’s material and spiritual resources) for the relief of their deprivation. Indeed, in its Christoforming spiritual depth, fasting is (as Bartholomew I explains) an act of love and com­passion for others [107] and “a solemn reminder that everything we do relates to either the well-being or wounding of others.”[108] This love and compassion extend to all creation, for fasting intensifies one’s ecological awareness and longing for the healing of the cosmos. Affirming the totality of the material creation, fasting reminds us, as Bartholomew I points out, “that ‘the earth is he Lord’s’ (Ps 24:1) and not ours to own, exploit, to consume or control. . . . It is restoring the primal vision of the world, as God intended it, and discerning the beauty of the world, as God created it.”

Indeed, the fast sharpens the believers’ spiritual vision, helping them to rightly discern not only creation as a divine eucharistic gift but also the communal body of Christ, and to partake in the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner (1 Cor 11:26 -28). It opens their eyes to recognize Christ in the other and, to embrace them as an organic part of the same family, as members of the same household. The fast prompts the believers to examine their minds and hearts for any negation of Christ expressed as a negation of the other. Thus, the Eucharist liturgy includes private and public (individual and corporate) confessions and responsive articulation of forgiveness di­rected toward healing of one’s relationship to the other—for a separation from them is a separation from Christ, from his communal body. Therefore, during the celebration of the Eucharist in some Eastern-European Pente­costal churches, the communicants take turns asking the congregation for forgiveness, and the body responds with a resounding, “We forgive you and may God forgive you!” The observer can easily discern in this exchange the liturgical influence of the Eastern Orthodox Forgiveness Sunday.[109] Indeed, each eucharistic celebration in these Pentecostal communities becomes a Forgiveness Sunday, magnifying the Eucharist as the quintessential sacra­ment of reconciliation.[110]

The Christoforming work of the eucharistic liturgy (with its preced­ing fast) cultivates in the believer the holiness without which no one shall see God (Heb 12:14). This social holiness that starts with discerning Christ in the other—even in his most radically different and unrecognizable ap­pearance (Matt 25:31-46)—brings the believers face to face with God now, as they share possessions with others in benevolent actions toward those in need. Therefore, seeing the face of God in the face of the needy on this side of the eschaton brings them before his face in eternity as heirs of the kingdom prepared for them by the Father “before the foundations of the earth” (Matt 25:34).

Therefore, the Eucharist transforms the church into a “passage” to heaven, “from the old into the new, from this world into the ‘world to come.'”[111] It teaches us, as Schmemann points out, that we were created eucharistic beings,

as celebrants of the sacrament of life, of its transformation into life in God. . . . We know that real life is ‘eucharist’, a movement of love and adoration toward God, the movement in which alone the meaning and value of all that exists can be revealed and fulfilled.

This is a powerful antidote to the deformities of the free market’s secular liturgies that have distorted our vision of the world. It is a redemptive reca­pitulation of humanity’s economic life into God’s economy of household.[112]

Holiness and Moral Economic Responsibility

As the Incarnation, so also Pentecost affirms the ontological relationship between matter and Spirit and opens the door to understanding “the material condition of others as a spiritual matter.”[113] The economic paradigm of the Pentecost community affirms this understanding and outlines the social responsibilities of holiness as an extension of thelife of the Spirit in human flesh. Saintliness manifests itself as serving the material needs of others with one’s own possessions. Sharing possessions, therefore, becomes an expression of participation in the life of God and a materialization of shared spirituality.

Edith Wyschogrod offers the following identifier of sainthood:

A saintly life is defined as one in which compassion for the Other, irrespective of cost to the saint, is a primary trait. . . . Their [the saints’] lives exhibit two types of negation: the negation of self and the lack of what is needful but absent in the life of the Other. [114]

Sallie McFague argues that personal material possessions can blind humanity from the material needs of others as being a spiritual matter. She as­serts that “self-emptying, self-denial, allows us to see differently and hence to live differently . . . it is often the first step toward universal love of others, toward seeing others as valuable and all as interrelated.”[115]

Viewed as self-denial on behalf of the others, the acts of sharing possessions stand among the gestures and images that summon our moral re­sponse through the hagiographies of the saints as imitators of Christ. Their redeemed humanity is defined not “by consumption but by kenosis” that flows out of “participation in the fullness of the Trinitarian life”—of mutual self-giving and receiving. [116] As the saints empty themselves in the body of Christ, they become his body on earth and are transfigured into his new humanity, taking the form and shape of their destiny and mission in Christ-likeness. This imitation is interpreted as a fulfillment of the broader mission of the community of faith—the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18). The peacemaking of the sons and daughters of God in this world is clearly not limited to the cessation of war and physical violence. It points to shalom of comprehensive justice that involves all humanity and the rest of creation. Therefore, the definition of peace also includes “providing the earth and its people with the basics of existence”[117] and thus affirming their dignity and identity as being part of our own common destiny.

The contrast between Pentecost’s economics of the Spirit and the market logic of global economic neoliberalism exposes the profound need for the sanctification of humanity and its desires and points to the internal struggle of human consciousness when faced with the vision of the kingdom in the midst of the temptation and the promises of this world’s economic systems. As Cavanaugh asserts, our temptation is to spiritualize our union and solidarity with the poor, the oppressed, and the suffering

to make our connection to the hungry a sentimental act of imagina­tive sympathy. We could then even imagine that we are already in a community with those who lack food, whether or not we actually meet their physical needs. We might even wish to tell ourselves that our purchases of consumer goods do in fact feed others—by creating jobs. But we have no way of knowing if such jobs create dignity or merely take advantage of others’ desperation. . . [118]

Economics is a spiritual matter and an external expression of the individual and communal inner life. This is why poverty, as class-related reality, may be viewed as an outcome of a given spirituality that ushers and sustains economic models, which maintain and deepen disparities and further class division. This spirituality stands in contrast to the therapeutic measures in the old and the new covenants, aimed against further class dislocation and toward restoring moral economic and civic responsibility in society at large. The concept of Jubilee is one such striking example of the demand for a social covenant that executes economic justice and sustains human dignity. The forgiveness of debt and restoration of personal freedom are pointers to the spiritual destiny of the covenant people and their social bonds. [119]

The event of Pentecost induces an economic model of distributive justice as a witness of Christ’s resurrected life in the Spirit-filled community (Acts 4:32-33). As Marcia Riggs states,

corporate good requires sustainability. The means toward sustainability is the sharing of resources—that is distributive justice. Distributive justice means that all have the basics to survive and flourish. [120]

This model is based on reverent consumption, which shares the con­cern of well-being for all (Acts 4:34-35). Historically, Marxist thinkers have questioned the sustainability of this model and have identified the sharing of products without sharing the means of production as the primary reason for its decline and eventual disappearance.[121] The primary issue in the Acts account, however, is concerned with sustainability of unity, human dignity, and love as being the fundamental bonds of the Pentecost social covenant and tangible expression of the participation of the faith community in the communal life of the Trinity.

The pouring of the Spirit on all flesh gives a global dimension to the eschatological vision of Pentecost. All flesh is bonded together in and through the life of the Spirit and made participant in its socioeconomic reality. This globalized ethos is indispensable from the anticipation of the planetary spread of the kingdom of God—the reality of the life of God translated in the sociopolitical and economic dimensions of material existence on earth. This is a reality in which economics becomes an outcome and an extension of the divine life through the agency of the Holy Spirit. As such, economics is an extension of justice as the fundamental relationship to the other (things and beings). Through the Spirit, all flesh is brought into this comprehensive justice that realigns matter with its spiritual origin and purpose. This is a radical transfiguring of the fundamental relationships that construct the human socium—from material want and desires undergirding production and consumption in the context of anxious awareness of the depletion of material and energy resources, to spiritual life that permeates redemptively all material existence and translates it in the comprehensive shalom of the kingdom. This is life in the Spirit that is more abundant. It is life free from fear and competition for survival—a life in which there is a home for all (John 14:2).

While reflecting on the Old Testament idea of “the cities of refuge” (Num 35), Emmanuel Levinas makes the important observation that Western soci­ety—free and civilized—enjoys riches and privileges, often at the expense of the rest of the world, causing the suffering and deprivation of others (e.g., through neocolonial exploitation or through unrestrained consumption of “cheap” goods produced in sweat shops within the developing world). With ignorant innocence, we participate in manslaughter and act surprised when the anger of the world rages against us. In light of this volatile reality of our societal conscience, Levinas questions, “does not all this make our cities of refuge or cities of exiles?”[122] Perhaps this is why the arrival of the stranger in our midst makes us more anxious than ever—we are not sure whether they are “the avenger of blood.” After all, driven by political and economic interests, we have continually lied to the rest of the world that the level of material prosperity, proudly advertised as “the American way” of life, can be made universal. Yet, though “the United States comprises onIy 5 percent of the world’s population, we consume somewhere between 23 and 26 percent of the world’s energy.”[123] As James K. A. Smith observes, this way of life is destructive to creation and cannot be feasibly extended to others. It perpetuates “a system of privilege and exploitation,” and the only way to continue enjoying it “is to keep it to ourselves.”[124]While offering to the rest of the global dwellers empty promises of sustainable Western-style consumerism, the seductive glamor of the West rested for decades upon its arrogant claim for autonomy from the rest of the world and a guardianship of human freedom as unapologetic individualism that worships self-indulging desires at the expense of nature and human community. The current global economic and environmental crisis has shattered our self-delusions for au­tonomous existence and has summoned us to moral responsibility for the sickness and poverty of the world. Practicing benevolence as indulgences for our consumer addictions is not enough to mend a broken world. Global healing demands a global vision of the world as a sacrament shared with the other, as a communion with God and neighbor. This vision has to be coined with a eucharistic spirituality of priestly existence in the cosmos, marked by askesis and kenosis for the life of the world. This is a spirituality cherishing this world as God’s household and a sanctuary in which all his creatures are to have access to life. For as the economics of the Spirit reminds us (in Sallie McFague’s famous paraphrase of Saint Irenaeus), ultimately, “the glory of God is every creature fully alive.”[125]

© Daniela Augustine

NB: The footnotes accompanying this chapter are available to download in a pdf, here.

Daniela C. Augustine, (DTh, University of South Africa) is Reader in World Christianity in the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham (UK) and an associate editor of the Journal of Pentecostal Theology.  Her areas of academic research include theological ethics, public theology, ecclesiology, pneumatology and liturgical theology. Daniela is committed to ecumenical engagement and has been involved in the Joint Consultative Group between the World Council of Churches and Pentecostals and the Ecumenical Dialogue between the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and Pentecostals. Daniela is also a member of the steering committee of the Orthodox-Pentecostal Academic Dialogue. She is the author of many publications, including Pentecost, Hospitality and Transfiguration: Toward as Spirit-inspired Vision of Social Transformation and The Spirit and the Common Good: Shared Flourishing in the Image of God, Eerdmans 2019, which received the 2020 Pneuma Book of the Year Award. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

This article was featured in T4CG’s Lent 2022 Newsletter.