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Ecclesiological Traditions

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  1. Ecclesiological Traditions Eastern Orthodox Church

  2. “The Church is one and the same with the Lord- His Body, of His flesh and of His bones. The Church is the living vine, nourished by Him and growing in Him. Never think of the Church apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, from the Father and Holy Spirit.” – St John of Kronstadt

  3. Ecclesiality • Ecclesiology as a lived/living experience rather than developing a systematic treatment of the Church • Related to Eastern approach of apophatictheology • Mystery • Stress on prayer and contemplation rather than analysis (contrast with kataphatic, rational argumentation, approach to theology of the West) • Regarding God’s transcendence (though note God is also immanent), the approach of via negativa "We do not know what God is. God Himself does not know what He is because He is not anything. Literally God is not, because He transcends being.“ - Johannes ScottusEriugena (815-77 AD)

  4. Affirms: • Similar to Catholicism, the hierarchical nature of the church and the importance of the bishops and priests: • Apostolic succession • Episcopate • Priesthood • Dissimilar to Catholicism: • No pope; rather autocephalous • Five patriarchs, with Constantinople having “primacy” • No infallibility of leader(s), but of the church itself • Note that the bishop is not over the church but holds an office in the church

  5. Characteristics of E.O. Ecclesiology • Cosmological ecclesiology • “The value of the creation is seen not only in the fact that it is intrinsically good, but also in the fact that it is appointed by God to be the home for living beings. The value of the natural creation is revealed in the fact that it was made for God (something which is beautifully expressed in Orthodox iconography), i.e. to be the context for God's Incarnation and humankind's deification, and as such, the beginning of the actualization of the Kingdom of God. We may say that the cosmos provides the stage upon which humankind moves from creation to deification. Ultimately, however, the whole of the creation is destined to become a transfigured world, since the salvation of humankind necessarily involves the salvation of its natural home, the cosmos.” -Report of the WCC Inter-Orthodox Consultation, Sofia, Bulgaria, October 1987

  6. Characteristics (cont.) • The Church as the image/icon of the Trinity • Church mirrors divine community of God • Theological anthropology (we are created in the imago dei) • “In the Trinity the three are one God, yet each is fully personal; in the Church a multitude of human persons is united in one, yet each preserves her or his personal diversity unimpaired. The mutual indwelling the persons of the Trinity is paralleled by the coinherence of the members of the Church.” -Timothy (Kallistos) Ware • Unity of the Church follows from the unity of God • But what holds together the Church is not a Pope, but commmunion in the sacraments

  7. Characteristics (cont.) • The pneumatological character of the Church • Salvation • Mutuality of pneumatology and Christology • A continued Pentecost • Gift of the Spirit is both to the Church as a whole, but also to each member • Diversity in unity; human variety • Centrality of the Eucharist (more on this later) • Which unites us to each other, as well as to Christ

  8. Characteristics (cont.) • The divine liturgy • E.g. mission as the extending of the divine liturgy • Church is both divine and human • Synergy of human and divine cooperation • Tension between already being the Body of Christ, but also being sinful. As Timothy Ware writes, “…the Church must continually become what it is.” • Church is both visible (concretely localized congregations) and invisible (participating with the community of saints and angels) • These are not separate realities

  9. Eucharistic Ecclesiology • The Church makes the Eucharist, the Eucharist makes the Church • Purpose of the Church • Not just ‘telling’ but ‘doing’ • Wherever the Eucharist is, there is the church • God’s people gathered for the Eucharist, under the bishop (apostolic succession) • Implications • Example of Orthodox Liturgy

  10. Communion Ecclesiology • John Zizioulas, Being as Communion: Studies in the Church and Personhood • Goes back to E.O. idea of Church as the Image of God • Excursus: Church as the Image of God • Being as communion • Everything “personal” exists only in relation to the Other • Person vs. individual • Rooted in the concept of the Triune God as communion

  11. Conciliarity of the Church • Organic Unity • Preservation of particularity • Equality of all members • E.g. “hierarchy” are levels of ministry, not pyramidal • Institutions are expressions of unity • Note that church structures cannot be conceived independently of the Holy Spirit. • Unity while visible is never a function of its structures • Believers are interrelated

  12. What makes the Church the Church? In other words, what are the conditions for the Church to be the Church? • The Eucharist/Communion • The Bishop

  13. Concluding Reflections Lessons to be learned: • Mysticism, spirituality • Cosmic vision • Pneumatological emphasis • The ecclesiological importance of liturgy • Communion

  14. 6. Concluding Reflections Questions, Challenges: • The role of the laity? • Hierarchic? • What about mission and service? • Pneumatology and charisms? • Ecumenism?

  15. Ecclesiological Traditions Roman Catholic Church

  16. Three Sources of Authority • Scripture • Tradition • Magisterium

  17. Historical Background of Contemporary Catholic Position • Vatican I (1871) • Hierarchical view of Church • Papal infallibility • Supreme jurisdiction of the pope

  18. Historical Background Opening of Vatican II Council Vatican II Radical shift in RC Church’s self-understanding Anything said in contemporary Roman Catholic thought needs to be related back to Vatican II CommunioEcclesiology Tensions in ecclesiology(s) presented

  19. Vatican II Documents

  20. Lumen Gentium • Evolution • Nature of Lumen Gentium • Structure ( and order as significant)

  21. Themes of Vatican II Ecclesiology • Church as Sacrament • Sacrament of Salvation • “People are saved through the Church, they are saved in the Church, but they are always saved by the grace of Christ. - Pope John Paul II • Thomistic doctrine of grace • Grace is not earned but we cooperate with grace and in so doing contribute to grace’s efficacy • Church as the Pilgrim People of God (contrast with earlier idea of the church as the ‘perfect society’ • Stress on the local church • Importance of laity alongside hierarchy

  22. Themes (cont.) • Relation of the Catholic Church to other churches and religions • Various levels of incorporation into the church • Note how this highlights the church’s relation to the entire world • But note that full realization of salvation happens in the Roman Catholic Church • Note the inclusive theology of religions • Church exists for the sake of world, as a light to the nations • Stress on continuity versus discontinuity • Contrast with Reverend Harold Camping

  23. Themes of Vatican II • Status of Mary • Document on Mary originally separate but later attached to Lumen Gentium • Mary as model of humanity in her perfect obedience to Christ • Mary as model for the Church • Often a difference between perception of Mary at folk level and in the official teaching of the church • Veneration not worship • A note about saints • Episcopal and sacramental ecclesiology

  24. Concluding Reflections Contributions: • Communion/ community • God-centered ecclesiology (Triune God as the “foundation”) • Dynamism: the church on the Way • catholicity in practice: the ecclesiological vision reaches out all the way to other religions! • Sacramental principle: not only individual sacraments but the church as “sacramental sign”

  25. Concluding Reflections Challenges/Questions • What is the relation of local church to universal church (and what is, in the first place, the meaning of “local” church) • Relationship between hierarchy and laity and hierarchy and equality • Relationship between structure and charismata • The nature of ecumenical vision

  26. Ecclesiological Traditions Lutheran Church

  27. Historical Context • Reaction to Roman Catholic position • Reaction to “Enthusiasts” (Radical Reformers) • Luther’s concern about elevating experience over the Word (importance of sola scriptura) • “I have concluded a pact with my Lord God that He should not send me visions or dreams or even angels. For I am content with this gift which I have, holy Scripture, which abundantly teaches and supplies all things necessary both for this life and also for the life to come.” - Luther

  28. Marks of the Church • Where the Word of God is preached and the Sacraments are rightly administered • Baptism • Eucharist • Penance(?) • Adopted by all mainline churches

  29. Central Importance of Word and Sacraments • Lutheran theology is sacramental theology • Word produces faith • Spirit meets us in and works through Word and Sacraments (contra Enthusiasts) • “The Spirit does not go before the Word but acts within the Word to seal us in the grace of regeneration.” Donald Bloesch, The Church, 49. • Contrast with other views of the Spirit’s activity • Sacraments are valid regardless of weakness of administrators or recipients. What happens in reception of sacraments is something God is doing. • does not mean that the grace is automatic, but rather that when combined with preaching of Word and work of Spirit has effect

  30. Community of Saints and Sinners • Church’s holiness is based on the Word (not on the holiness of its people) • Church as both holy and sinful • Simultaneously justified, sinful • Church as a mixed body • Augustine and the Donatists • Full number of elect known only to God • Wheat and the tares • With Augustine, sacraments are valid despite disposition of the ministers or even recipients

  31. Church as a Means of Salvation • Tie this with the necessity of the preaching of the Word and sacraments (rightly administered) • The necessity of the Church • “ He who wants to find Christ, must first find the church. How would one know Christ and faith in him if one did not know where they are who believe in him?”

  32. Ecclesiological Traditions John Calvin and the Reformed Church

  33. Marks of the Church • Along with Martin Luther, Word and Sacrament but Word given even more focus • Emphasis on Word is way in which Calvin claims apostolicity (contra the Catholic Church) • Role of the Spirit is to illumine the written Word of God • The preacher can be a means of grace in is preaching of the Word- see e.g. Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans • Salvation is found only in the Church where Christ is proclaimed • Salvation as work of the Spirit* • We are incorporated into the Church through faith and baptism

  34. Necessity of the Church for Salvation • Apart from the body of Christ and the fellowship of the godly, there can be no hope for reconciliation with God. Hence, in the Creed we profess to believe in ‘the Catholic Church and the forgiveness of sins’…Hence , also, a departure from the Church is an open renouncement of eternal salvation.” - Calvin, Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah

  35. Visible and Invisible Church • Church as visible and invisible • Visible: Sacraments and Word • Invisible: idea of the elect • Eschatological

  36. Governments and Offices • Three-Fold Office: • Elders • Deacons • Ministers of the Word • Church government is Presbyterian (elder) • Church and State

  37. Concluding Reflections (on Lutheran and Reformed Churches) Contributions: • Minimalist conditions for ecclesiality • Centrality of the word • Realistic nature of ecclesiology • Ecumenical potential

  38. Concluding Reflections (on Lutheran and Reformed Churches) Questions/Challenges: • The question of the “holy life” and discipline (especially for Lutherans) • Criteria for the two minimum requirements: what makes the preaching “pure” and administration of sacraments “right” • Individual vs. community – relationship • Mission?

  39. Ecclesiological Traditions Free Churches and “Believers” Church ecclesiology

  40. Historical and Theological Roots • Radical Reformation • Quakers • Puritanism • Baptist • Other Free Churches • Pentecostalism • Contemporary Expressions • Classical Free Churches • Independent Churches • The Emerging Churches (?)

  41. Ecclesiality • Personal decision of faith is the basis of faith • Minimalist rule • Non-mediated • Not based on sacraments nor on special ministers • Water baptism important, but it is not the act that makes the church; rather, those who have been baptized come together and the church emerges

  42. Primary Characteristics • Direct authority of Scripture • Ambivalence toward tradition • Voluntarism • A “lighter” theology of sacraments/ordinances • Baptism is an act of obedience to Jesus’ command • Lord’ Supper is usually understood as “memorial.”

  43. Primary Characteristics • The centrality of Mission and Witness • The importance of the Priesthood of all Believers • The claim for Apostolicity is based on the desire to continue the life of the apostolic church

  44. Concluding Reflections Contributions: • Minimalist understanding of ecclesiality • Focus on commitment • Releasing the potential of all members • Christianity as Counter-Culture • Restorationism --- Back to the Bible

  45. Concluding Reflections Challenges and Questions: • Danger of Legalism • Isolationism; disengagement • Reactionary Ethics • Anti-sacramental ethos • Anti-ecumenism • Anti-tradition • Individualism

  46. Ecclesiological Traditions Pentecostal-Charismatic Ecclesiologies

  47. Historical Background Classical Pentecostalism (from 1901/1906) William Seymour

  48. Historical Background (cont.) • Charismatic Movements (from 1960s) • Neo-Charismatics • Third Wave: e.g. Vineyard • African Independent Churches • China House Church Movement

  49. Spiritual Roots • Wesleyan-Holiness movements • Free Church traditions • Catholic and Orthodox mystical/charismatic spirituality • Black roots (African spirituality)