In Christianity, ecclesiology is the theological reflection on the Ekklesia ( ancient Greek ἐκκλησία ekklēsía , Latin ecclesia, the ` ` called out ''), according to New Testament usage, the community of those who were called out of the world by Jesus Christ through the Gospel , gather around him in worship (λειτουργία leiturgía) and to be sent by him as a witness of faith (μαρτυρία martyría) and service of love (διακονία diakonía 'service', from διάκονος diákonos 'servant'). In many denominations, Ekklesia is translated as “church”; Ecclesiology, as “doctrine of the church”, is a subject area ( treatise ) of dogmatics . Church in the field of tension between sociological form and theological location, on the other hand, is the subject of church theory as part of practical theology .
Ekklesia in Koine Greek
In the Greek usage at the time of the New Testament ( Koine - Greek) the word ἐκκλησία could have different meanings:
- Assembly of the political community;
- Assembly of the Israelites , especially for religious purposes such as listening to the Torah ( Septuagint , Philo , Josephus , also Heb. 2.12 EU , Acts 7.38 EU );
- Community, e.g. B. also of Pythagoras ; in the New Testament: a) Christian community meeting; b) local parish; c) house church; d) universal church.
The term is based on Hebrew among ancient Jewish and Christian authors קָהָל ḳahal on. It is ambiguous, without the meanings being mutually exclusive, and means on the one hand “the chosen group of those eschatologically gatheredby God asa whole” and on the other hand “the community assembly united in one place for worship ”.
The Ekklesia is often qualified in the New Testament with a genitive connection as "Ekklesia of God" and thus differentiated from the profane Ekklesia (popular assembly): "It does not gather itself, it is gathered by God." ( Horst-Georg Pöhlmann ) This is special to be observed with Paul , who gave a common colloquial word a special religious-Christian color.
Ekklesia in the New Testament
Depending on the denominational orientation of a Bible translation, the Ekklesia is translated as either a congregation or a church; Examples:
|Bible passage||Standard translation||Luther Bible||Zurich Bible|
|Mt 16:18||You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church .||You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church .||You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church .|
|Acts 8.1||Severe persecution broke out on the Church in Jerusalem that day .||On that day, however, a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem.||On that day a great persecution came over the church in Jerusalem.|
|1 Cor 12:28||So in the Church God installed some as apostles, secondly as prophets, thirdly as teachers.||And God has in the community used first apostles, second prophets, third teachers.||And as such, you have God in the community used to be apostles, secondly as prophets, third as teachers.|
|Col 1.18||(Christ :) He is the head, but the body is the church .||And he is the head of the body, namely the church .||He is the head of the body, of the church .|
Pictures of church
Terms that express the essence of the Ekklesia are
- the body of Christ ( Rom 12.4–6 EU )
- the saints ( 1 Cor 1,2 EU ),
- the house of God ( Hebrews 10.21 EU ; 1 Petr 2.5 EU ),
- the royal priesthood ( 1 Petr 2.9 EU ),
- the people of God ( Heb 4,9 EU ),
- the flock of God ( 1 Pet 5,2 EU ).,
- the bride of Christ ( Eph 5,29–31 EU ; Rev 19,7 EU ; Rev 22,16–17 EU ): the church is different from Jesus Christ, but has a personal relationship with him.
The individual writings and groups of writings in the New Testament show a different profile, which Jürgen Roloff characterizes as follows:
- Gospel of Matthew: Disciples' Congregation following Jesus;
- Revelation to John: witness of the end-time kingship of God;
- Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles: People of God on their way through history;
- Paul: temple in which the Spirit of God dwells ( 1 Cor 3:16 EU );
- Pauline School (Colossians and Ephesians): Apostolic Church as an area of salvation;
- Pastoral Letters: God's Orderly Housekeeping;
- First Peter’s letter: chosen community of outsiders ( 1 Petr 2,4–11 EU );
- Letter to the Hebrews: People of God on their way to the heavenly place of rest ( Hebrews 4.1–11 EU );
- Johannine writings: Community of the friends of Jesus.
Body of Christ
A central concept in the New Testament is that of the Ekklesia as the body of Christ into which one is incorporated through baptism and the Eucharist . It can be found in the Pauline letters and, with a different emphasis, in the letters of the Pauline School (Colossians and Ephesians):
“For just as we have many members in one body, but not all members have the same task, so we, the many, are one body in Christ, but as individuals we are members who belong to one another. We have different gifts depending on the grace bestowed upon us. "
The concept of the body of Christ in Romans and 1 Corinthians is rooted in participation in the Lord's Supper founded by Jesus ( 1 Cor 10 : 16f EU ). This Eucharistic table community constitutes “the functional unity of the organism”, in which a “togetherness shaped by Christ”, similar to baptism , overcomes the differences between the members ( Gal 3:26 ff EU ). The impulse emanating from the Lord's Supper remains decisive even after the divine service, in the everyday life of Christians. Through baptism, a person enters into the context of life with Christ, which is historically visible in belonging to the community: "Through the one Spirit we were all received into one body in baptism." ( 1 Cor 12:13 EU )
The "Deuteropaulin" letters written by students of Paul, the Letter to the Colossians and the Letter to the Ephesians , see the body of Christ metaphor in a cosmic-mythological understanding. Jesus Christ is the “head”, the Ekklesia is the body that is built up and stabilized from the head ( Eph 4.15f EU ) and in which eschatological peace can already be experienced ( Col 1.18-20 EU ).
House of god
The pastoral letters choose the οἶκος oíkos "house, residence" as the guiding metaphor for the community as an institution . Housekeeping played a central role in the urban culture of the eastern Mediterranean, where Christianity spread; the “whole house” was the family residence, but also the production facility, business premises and meeting place for relatives, business partners and workers under the direction of the pater familias . The model of the late antique family business is transferred to the local congregations of the developing, settled early Christianity and gives them reliability and stability after the Christians were expelled from the synagogue at the Synod of Jabne .
Early Christianity knew two types of church constitution; both had a collegial structure:
- Leadership by elders (presbyters) based on the Jewish model;
- Direction by episcopes (overseers, "bishops") in the Pauline mission areas.
So there is no graduation in the New Testament. The apostles are the "historically unique, unrepeatable 'foundation' of the church ( Mt 16.17ff EU ; Eph 2.20 EU )"; unique because they were eye and ear witnesses of Jesus Christ ( Acts 1,21f EU ).
Ecclesiological Foundations in the Ancient Church
Essential attributes in the creeds
Already in the time of the early church the fundamental essential attributes of the church developed. Already in the ancient Roman creed (approx. 135) holiness is mentioned as an attribute of the church, in the creed of Nicaea (325) catholicity and apostolicity are added. In the 381 extended form, the Nicäno-Konstantinopolitanum , the four attributes appear together for the first time:
"We believe [...] the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church"
Church order and structure
According to the Catholic church historian Norbert Brox , the word Ekklesia was initially, even in early Christianity , a name for the individual local congregation. “The individual local church did not have to rely on anything outside of itself in order to be a church in its entirety. At the same time, however, the church meant the communion of the local churches from the outset. ”In the first Christian centuries there was a network of local churches of equal rank, led by bishops. This corresponded to a variety of church ordinances, creed formulas and liturgical traditions. One was aware of this plurality, but (in spite of occasional conflicts) one did not see the unity in faith endangered by the difference. Since the individual local churches mutually agreed to have been founded by an apostle, and since all apostles were in agreement with one another, “apostolicity” guaranteed unity in faith and communion (koinonía, communio) of the local and particular churches.
In the post-apostolic period, the church leadership became a sacramental office, whereby the ministerial official was given authority through ordination. The institutionalization of the church, combined with a hierarchy of offices, is, according to Brox, a fact of church history, but “cannot be described as a“ divine institution ”of a mythical nature and can be dated back to Jesus or the apostles. It is true that it was the old church itself that traced what had become to the institution of Jesus and the apostles, but, as we know today, it did so not on the basis of historical memory, but under the influence of theological guiding ideas ... "
To ward off heresies, Irenaeus of Lyon developed a historical construction according to which every bishop went back in complete succession to a predecessor appointed by an apostle or apostle student; for him, the ministry also ensured the transmission of orthodox doctrine that was entrusted to the bishops. Another component in the 2nd to 4th centuries was the cultic interpretation of the office: Bishops and presbyters were now increasingly understood as priests. Ignatius of Antioch developed the theology of a monarchical episcopate; The hierarchical image of the church was designed as a correspondence to the heavenly order and was therefore inviolable ( Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita , around 500 AD). This derivation of the church order from a heavenly model was a very influential concept for the Middle Ages.
The First Council of Nicaea confirmed the primacy of the bishops of larger cities (Metropolitan Order, Canon 4) and at the same time a superordinate institution: the bishops of Alexandria, Rome, Antioch and other large cities were to have supreme power over a large territory encompassing several provinces (Canon 6). The result was the broad division of the church into patriarchates . While in the east of the empire, where Christianity was born, many places had apostolic traditions, Rome was the only foundation of the apostles in the west, and this legitimized a centralized constitution headed by the bishop of Rome. After Brox, it was only Damasus I who saw himself as pope and adopted the imperial decretal style. When the western empire collapsed at the end of late antiquity, the Roman Church under Leo I succeeded the emperor and empire, while at the same time adopting elements of the pagan Rome idea. However, this is a development that the Eastern Roman Empire did not grasp and therefore does not play a role in the ecclesiology of Orthodox churches.
Cyprian of Carthage developed the doctrine that it is necessary for salvation to have a share in the lawfully administered sacraments within the church. This found expression in the sentence Extra ecclesiam nulla salus (which cannot be found literally in his work, but was later often quoted as a catchphrase) . Even Augustine argued in his writings against the Donatists that the sacraments their healing properties (institutionally understood) only in the ecclesia catholica unfold. He determined this as corpus permixtum from good and bad, which are only separated in the final judgment; the ideal of a church consisting only of “pure” is thus rejected.
Later Augustine developed a widely received ecclesiological and sacramental theological interpretation of the wound on the side of Christ . Such an idea was already to be found in Ambrosius of Milan .
Orthodox theology did not have such a fruitful effect on other denominations with any of its sub-areas as with its ecclesiology. Orthodox ecclesiology shows a variety of different concepts. The Orthodox Church identifies with the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. But there are different views as to the extent to which other denominations have a share in the Orthodox church.
The term собо́рность sobórnost ' is characteristic of the Russian Orthodox ecclesiology , which has only existed since 1906, but which became widely used. Mediated by Russian emigrants (Paris school), it was also received in the West. Sobórnost ' is a derivation of the noun собо́р sobór , literally "gathering", specifically a meeting of bishops or a central church (cathedral). Sobórnost ' combines different aspects: on the one hand, congregation and catholicity, on the other hand, synodality, conciliarity. For Nikolai Berdyaev is sobornost ' ' like a living organism: the people of the Church lives in it. "
Georgi Florowski indicated that the Church can be experienced in the Eucharist: in the Eucharistic assembly, the Eucharistic gifts (body of Christ) and Eucharistic prayer. This was developed by his students Nikolai Afanassjew and Alexander Schmemann and redesigned again by Ioannis Zizioulas , the Metropolitan of Pergamon.
In an essay in 1934, Afanassjew compared the prevailing ecclesiology, which he described as universalistic, with a genuinely orthodox, Eucharistic ecclesiology. By the Second Vatican Council this draft had become so well known that the council referred to it in 1962. Although Afanassiev skipped all of the newer Orthodox ecclesiology in order to tie in with developments in the early Church, his draft found broad, if not undivided, approval in Orthodoxy.
Afanassjew started his reflections on Paul:
- 1 Cor 10.16 f. EU : the Eucharistic bread is the body of Christ;
- 1 Cor 12.27 EU : the local church is the body of Christ.
The discovery of Afanassiev: The apostle means the same thing in both cases! The consequence: every local church that celebrates the Eucharist under the direction of its head and is in communion with other local churches is the whole church. While the universal church remains obscure, the local church can be experienced. Afanassjew relativized the hierarchical office by assuming that the leadership of the Eucharistic assembly in the early church was not identical with the later presbyter or bishopric. This is an interesting concept for churches that are not in apostolic succession; however, Afanassjew was also often contradicted by the orthodox side.
Roman Catholic ecclesiology
At the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic Church gave an overall view of its understanding of the church and emphasized various aspects that Pope John Paul II summarized in the Apostolic Constitution Sacrae disciplinae leges as follows:
- "The doctrine according to which the church as the people of God ...
- ... and the hierarchical authority is presented as a service ”;
- “The doctrine that identifies the Church as communion ”;
- "The doctrine according to which all members of God's people, each in his own way, partake of the threefold office of Christ - the priestly, prophetic and royal office";
- "The doctrine ... concerning the duties and rights of the faithful, especially the laity";
- "The zeal that the church must muster for ecumenism ."
The church is founded in the word and work of Jesus Christ . Sources of understanding the church are the Holy Scriptures and our own tradition . Traditionally, the seven sacraments and the ecclesiastical office are important.
The calling of the church through Jesus Christ and its eschatological goal correspond to a plan of salvation of God himself. In the church, Christ himself is effectively present until the end of time. The Eucharist , the breaking of bread together according to Jesus' commission to do this in memory of himself (cf. 1 Cor 11 : 23-25 EU ), was of great importance for the unity and identity of the Christian community .
Sacramentality and Principles
For members of the Roman Catholic Church, the presence of Christ in the Church can, by its nature, be experienced sacramentally . The church is also referred to as the basic or primordial sacrament; it is “sacrament, sign and instrument” of God's saving act in the world and brings about “the most intimate union with God” and “the unity of the whole human race”, as the “sacrament of unity” (unitatis sacramentum). According to the theologian Medard Kehl , this avoids both a mystifying exaggeration of the church and its purely functional devaluation. The church must therefore not be equated with salvation, the present Christ or the kingdom of God that has already arrived; rather, the salvation given by God shows itself "in the finite and sinful sign of the church."
The basic functions of the church are witness or “faith service” ( martyria ), liturgy or “worship” ( ancient Greek leiturgia ) and diakonia ( diakonia ) or “brotherly service”. Since the Second Vatican Council, a fourth basic dimension of the church has also been mentioned, the community ( communio / koinonia ).
The Second Vatican Council no longer begins primarily “with the institutional elements of the church, but with its spiritual nature as a 'community of faith, hope and love' […] and thus marks a turn towards a communion-ecclesiology in the Catholic world Space. ”The church is understood as“ God's people ”, as a visible assembly and spiritual community; the earthly church and the church endowed with heavenly gifts form a single complex reality that grows together from the human and divine elements. According to the Catholic understanding, the “mystical body of Christ”, the community of saints , includes the members of the earthly church “who make a pilgrimage here on earth”, but also those “who will be purified after the end of their earthly life ” and those who have already died “Enjoy heavenly bliss”; together they form the one church.
The discipleship of Jesus and the task of the Church are particularly concise today in the option for the poor , a partisanship as promoted by liberation theology as “theology of the poor”, the fundamental impulses of the Second Vatican Council and the encyclical Populorum Progressio Pope Paul VI (1967) received. The poor are not only “the preferred addressees of the Gospel, but also its bearers and heralds” (cf. Mt 11.25 EU ).
Exclusivity and church structure
According to Roman Catholic belief, there cannot be several churches next to each other. In the opinion of the Roman Catholic Church, it is itself the Church of Christ in full reality, other episcopal churches (cf. autocephaly ) are particular churches; all other Christian communities are only ecclesiastical communities, but not (Catholic) "Church in the true sense".
In Roman Catholic ecclesiology, the Pope is regarded as the holder of primacy among the bishops and not as the primus inter pares . The First Vatican Council in 1870 determined that the Pope should be infallible when he "finally decides in the highest apostolic authority that a doctrine about faith or morals should be retained by the whole Church". The Second Vatican Council then also declared infallibility to the whole of the faithful in 1964: "The whole of the faithful who have the anointing of the Holy One cannot err in their faith."
The Second Vatican Council also understood its statements on the collegiality of the bishops expressly as a continuation and supplement of the statements of the First Vatican Council on the primacy of the Pope. Together with the Pope, the bishops are “also bearers of the highest and full authority over the whole Church”, especially when they meet as a council . The Pope is the head of the college of bishops and "the everlasting, visible principle and foundation for the unity of the multiplicity of bishops and believers".
The council upgraded the office of bishop and the status of the dioceses as “local churches”. The local bishop does not represent the Pope in his diocese, but has "his own ordinary and direct power, even if its execution is ultimately regulated by the highest ecclesiastical authority". The dioceses, previously only in the function of administrative units, are the place where the inculturation of Christianity takes place. The local parishes are then pragmatic subdivisions of the diocese in which a pastor as pastor proprius (“one's own shepherd”) represents the bishop of the parish entrusted to him, because the bishop “cannot always or everywhere preside over the entire flock in person”.
With its self-image, Anglicanism has a special position among the churches whose bishops are in apostolic succession: Canons A 1 and C 15 declare that the churches of the Anglican Communion belong to the one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church (belong to) and a part of her (part of) are.
Anglicanism is often counted among the Reformation churches. One difference to these, however, was the position of the English monarch as the protector of the church and as a counterweight to the monarchical papacy, which was perceived as a threat. The Enabling Act 1919 and the establishment of a general synod, which met for the first time in 1970, were significant steps in self-government. Nevertheless, the Church of England still has the characteristics of a state church.
The theologians of the Anglican Church in the late 16th century faced the problem of how they wanted to maintain continuity with earlier centuries without being “sucked in” by the late medieval church and its abuses. The characteristics that are considered to be typically Anglican emerged: the emphasis on the episcopate and the priesthood, the sanctity of the church interior and its furnishings, the festive character of the services. In view of the diversity of the churches that make up the Anglican Communion today, Paul Avis names the following ecclesiological principles on which there is consensus:
- Jesus Christ founded the church, its existence corresponds to his intention;
- the church is the body of Christ and therefore a unity;
- since oneness with God has been damaged by human sin, it is God's will to heal the wounds of separation;
- the Church is inspired, sanctified and directed by the Holy Spirit;
- it is in connection with the triune God and the communion of saints (mystical dimension of the church);
- the visible church is in continuity with its past;
- the church exists as a local church (parish), diocese, national and universal church, with the diocese and the universal church being the most important;
- it is constituted by word and sacrament administered by the successors of the apostles and persons ordained by them;
- the people of the faithful have different vocations;
- the church has a mandate towards the civil parish;
- At synods and councils the church takes full responsibility for her life and her mission;
- the Church can err and is always in need of reformation; this correction can come from studying the Bible, but also through spiritual renewal, which the Holy Spirit works.
Evangelical Lutheran ecclesiology
The Lutheran Confessions make two fundamental statements about the nature of the Church:
- “It is taught that a holy Christian church must always be and remain, which is the assembly of all believers to whom the gospel is preached in pure form and the holy sacraments are administered in accordance with the gospel ( congregatio sanctorum, in qua evangelium pure docetur et recte administrantur sacramenta ). "( Confessio Augustana , Article VII)
- "For God praise a child of seven years of age knows what the Church is, namely the holy believers and sheep who hear their shepherd's voice." ( Schmalkaldic Articles , XII)
The Confessio Augustana takes the classical church attributes of Nicea-Constantinople (“one, holy, catholic and apostolic” church) and connects them synthetically with the event of justification in word and sacrament. The church, however, is not a superordinate size to the believers, but rather the believers themselves, as they are gathered to hear the gospel and receive the sacraments. For the CA, the prototypical appearance of the church is the concrete worship congregation ; this local congregation has at the same time a universal church connection. Only Christ is “above” the believer, who connects himself with them in word and sacrament. In this sense, the church is “the creature of God's word ” (creatura verbi) .
The assembled worship congregation is the whole church, but not “the whole church”. It is spatially and synchronously connected with all local congregations in different places, and from a diachronic point of view it is “in connection with Christianity of all times” in continuity with the apostolic origins, so it did not only begin in the 16th century. This is where the catholicity of the Reformation churches lies .
According to the Lutheran understanding, the orders in the church are necessary, but only iure humano and not iure divino , that is, the concrete form can be different at different times and in different cultures in order to best serve the life of the congregations. What initially applied to liturgical questions was then also related to the church constitution by Lutheran theologians (this differs from the Reformed tradition, which biblically founded the church constitution).
The ordained priesthood is rejected by Lutheran theology; with reference to 1 Pet 2,9-10 LUT it teaches the priesthood of all baptized ; But the service of preaching the word and administering the sacraments should only be performed by someone who has been called to do so through ordination . The episcopal office is derived from the one pastoral office as a special form of this office. However, with reference to the Confessio Augustana, Article V, it can also be argued that the office of pastor is instituted by God in relation to the congregation; the interpretation of this passage is controversial.
Gunther Wenz can agree with the Roman Catholic view that the office of Episkopos is the primary and actual office of the Church, and combines this with the finding of New Testament exegesis that the Episkopos was the head of a local congregation in early Christianity . “The remaining problem can then be reduced to the question of what exactly is meant by local church. The answer from the Wittenberg Reformation is clear: The epitome of the local church is the church service community gathered around the word and the sacrament. "
Luther rejected the hierarchical papal church and could say in this sense: "The church is invisible, the saints are hidden" (Abscondita est ecclesia, latent sancti) . The confessional writings consistently speak of the concealment, not the invisibility of the church; the latter term, coined by Augustine, suggests a Platonic misunderstanding. The Confessio Augustana clearly represents the visibility of the church. Even in one's own religious community there are always many false Christians (Confessio Augustana, Article VIII), but that does not question their being a church. Rather, the notae externae ecclesiae can be used to indicate the place where the church is visible:
- where the gospel is preached pure (evangelium pure docetur) and
- the sacraments are administered according to the gospel (recte administrantur sacramenta) .
"In this place in the visible church the community of believers can be believed, sought and expected at the same time." ( Wilfried Joest ) These two notae are of great importance for modern Lutheran dogmatics; Werner Elert described the constitution of the church in word and sacrament as the "absolutely mandatory permanent order of the church."
Evangelical Reformed Ecclesiology
Ulrich Zwingli's positions are particularlytangiblein the dispute with the Zurich Anabaptists (1524–1527) and in Fidei ratio of July 3, 1530.
In Catabaptistarum strophas elenchus of July 31, 1527, Zwingli's final discussion of Anabaptism in Zurich, he developed the covenant idea . Zwingli understands the circumcision commanded in the context of the renewal of the covenant with Abraham ( Gen 17: 10-14 ZB ) "as a sign that also incomprehensible children belonged to this covenant." one people and one church would be. ”The associated election“ precedes faith and makes it possible in the first place. ”Baptism is thus a sign that man belongs to the church; belonging to the covenant and thus to the church precedes baptism.
In Fidei ratio , Article 6, Zwingli formulates a threefold definition of the church. Accordingly, an invisible church includes "all people destined for eternal life". Only the believer can tell whether he belongs to it. “We do not know whether a non-believer is rejected. The visible Church includes all those who are outwardly recognizable as Christians, for example through baptism or participation in the Lord's Supper. ”It is true that among the baptized there are also those“ who deny Christ in their hearts. ”However, since this cannot be clearly determined from outside, these could not be singled out. The visible churches or congregations in one place "together formed the universal church, which, however, does not appear organizationally."
Zwingli gave the Grand Council the right to “decide as a representative of the parish.” Synods have taken place twice a year since 1528. "One or two honorable men from each congregation" should appear next to the pastors; while the clergy had to leave the hall, they had the opportunity to lodge complaints. “The person who was called in learned the findings from Zwingli's mouth. […] The Synod could not take any measures. ”The councilors present were, however, able to make suggestions. "All disciplinary and legislative power remained in the hands of the bourgeois authorities." Heinrich Bullinger , Zwingli's successor in Zurich, reaffirmed this position by giving the "Council of the City of Zurich, composed of Christians [...] the right and duty" pledged to regulate "all matters of church teaching and life."
This relationship between the secular congregation and the church was to make a considerable difference to Geneva. There Calvin developed the idea of an independence of the church from state rule based on his experiences with conflicts between the church and the authorities in France and Geneva. Calvin's model later found greater reception because it "corresponded [better] to the persecution situation of Reformed churches"
John Calvin dealt extensively with questions of ecclesiology. He had signed the Confessio Augustana himself and formulated his definition of church in the last edition of the Institutio Christianae Religionis following Article VII in order to strengthen the bond of unity with the Wittenberg Reformation:
"Wherever we perceive that God's word is preached and heard louder and that the sacraments are administered after the institution of Jesus Christ, there can be no doubt in any way that we have a church of God before us." (Inst. IV 1, 9)
Whoever has God for his father has the church for his mother, outside the church one cannot be a Christian , because only in her there is forgiveness and salvation.
For Calvin there can only be one true church, otherwise the body of Christ would be torn to pieces. He equated this one church with his own (Reformed) church; However, the papal church was admitted that it contained “traces of the church” ( Vestigia ecclesiae ), a term that was positively received in ecumenical discussions in the 20th century. For Calvin, the apostolicity of the church is given by the fact that the teaching of the apostles is preached in the church. Calvin respects different opinions within the church: as long as there is agreement on the main points of faith, they do not endanger the unity of the church. Even if mistakes do occur in a church, it doesn't have to break fellowship with it. The biblical idea of communio is strongly emphasized by Calvin: the believers are incorporated into Christ; through this they have fellowship with him and fellowship with one another. Misconduct of individuals endangers the communion of the community, which is why Calvin insists on church discipline (disciplina) .
There is an office throughout the Church and special offices in the Church. The old reformed ecclesiology saw in the New Testament the model of their church constitution and developed the doctrine of four offices (pastors, teachers, deacons, elders). Calvin took this model from Martin Bucer , who founded it with Eph 4,11 EU , and introduced it in Geneva; it was adopted in other churches of the Reformed type. The office of pastors, which is conferred by ordination, is particularly important to Calvin because he is charged with the preaching of the word and the administration of the sacraments. The pastor is also responsible for the unity and order of the church. When Calvin writes that the true ministry ensures that a community is ecclesiastical, there is a similarity here to Roman Catholic ecclesiology (as little as Calvin shares the idea of an ordained priesthood).
Calvin knows the distinction between the visible and the invisible church, but the importance of this distinction diminishes in the course of his theological development and is reduced to the statement that the visible church also has hypocrites in its ranks. Calvin refuses to devalue the visible church because of its imperfection, for the invisible church of which the creed speaks is only accessible within the visible church.
The old reformed dogmatics (e.g. Confessio Scotica 18) described church discipline as a third characteristic of being a church, in addition to the administration of word and sacrament.
Another widespread understanding of the church is that of the church as a “community of believers”, which is concretized in the local congregation. This understanding is constitutive for the Anabaptists and Mennonites as well as for congregationalists , Baptists and denominational free churches. The baptismal doctrine of these movements, their postulate of the separation of church and state and their advocacy of religious freedom are also rooted in him . Personal faith here becomes a prerequisite for membership in the church. The church growth movement of the 20th century re-promoted this understanding of the church.
Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen characterizes Pentecostal ecclesiology as "Church in the power of the Holy Spirit". Since Pentecostals initially saw themselves as a movement and a new beginning, they only later developed a self-image as a church, not least through the international Pentecostal-Roman Catholic dialogue that has existed since 1972.
From a Pentecostal perspective, Kärkkäinen says there are three types of church:
- Church as a lecture hall - the Protestant model;
- Church as Theater - the Catholic Model;
- Church as a charismatic community (fellowship) - the Pentecostal model in which the believers enter into a mutual relationship instead of being predominantly opposite a preacher or liturgist. It is essential that the believers serve one another with their respective charisms ; the church is the space in which this exchange takes place.
According to Michael Harper, churches of the Catholic type understand apostolicity primarily historically (as succession) and churches of the Protestant type emphasize that they pass on the teaching of the apostles; Pentecostal churches, on the other hand, are apostolic in the sense that they revitalized the practice of the apostles: healing the sick, miracles, prophecies, speaking in tongues .
In the early days of Quakerism , no distinction was made between “church” as a building, “church” as an institution, or “church” in the theological sense. Accordingly, “the church” was the community of those who lived according to God's will and did not persist in sin. Perfectionism - that is, "bliss" - was the desired goal and sign of membership of the otherwise outwardly visible Church of God. Sacraments and liturgy were rejected as "secular". Today, however, this view is largely no longer represented in evangelical Quakerism and in liberal Quakerism. However, elements of this can still be found in conservative Quakery.
Ecclesiology of the New Apostolic Church
Current teaching (2012 catechism)
The New Apostolic Church (NAC) defines the church today as “the institution that has the task of imparting salvation in Christ to people.” Here one has fellowship with the Triune God, who “turns to the believers in word and sacrament Offer him worship and praise. ”The two natures of Jesus Christ were reflected in the Church:“ The divine nature was invisible, his human nature was visible. It is the same with the Church: it has an invisible and a visible side. Both ... belong ... indissolubly together. "
The New Apostolic Church teaches that the old church notae ecclesiae are realized in different ways and to different extents in the various Christian church communities (graded ecclesiology). “These marks of the Church of Christ appear most clearly where the apostles are at work. ... The Lord's work of redemption is established here. ”The NAC describes itself exclusively as the“ bride church ”, because in the work of redemption“ the bride of Christ will be prepared for the wedding in heaven. ”This means that the members of the“ bride church ”will be in the end times have a different fate than the members of other churches: According to the teaching of the NAK, the members of the bridal congregation are raptured into heaven as "first fruits". “The other part of the church remains on earth and has to prove itself in adversity.”
The existence of apostles is therefore essential. The apostleship is the only office established by Jesus Christ. After the death of the last early Christian apostles, around the year 100 AD, "the office ... was no longer occupied." However, the church continued to grow and, among other things, had "inspired by the Holy Spirit" formulated the early church confessions that were supported by the NAK are accepted. “However, the apostleship itself continued to exist unchanged. In the year 1832 God filled this office again. ”This interruption of God's activity of around 1700 years“ lies in the will of God; for humans this remains a secret. "
The Stammapostel fulfilled in the NAK Petrus service (also called "rock Office"), it receives the unit of the apostles, he also ordained; he watches over the correctness of the teaching and can interpret it out of the Holy Spirit.
After the Catholic-Apostolic congregations first saw themselves as a renewal movement for the whole of Christianity, the New Apostolic Church developed a strictly exclusivist ecclesiology that went so far that other Christian churches were of no positive or negative significance to them.
In the 1992 edition of the “Questions and Answers” catechism, the history of the church between the death of the early Christian apostles and the emergence of the NAC was examined in a new way: Christianity became the state religion; "The striving for worldly power and unrestricted influence over the people ... culminated in the establishment of the papacy." If an anti-Roman affect becomes evident here, it is accompanied by a more anti-Protestant criticism of the "erudition" with which "the replace the lack of power of the holy spirit with diligent study of the scriptures. "
Strict exclusivism was also represented in 1992: “The New Apostolic Church is the Church of Jesus Christ, like the apostolic congregations at the time of the first apostles.” Since the District Apostle Meeting in 2002 in Halle an der Saale, there have been plans for “questions and answers” through a new one To replace the representation of the faith of the New Apostolic Church that is available with the 2012 Catechism.
Modern ecclesiological designs
"The church is Jesus Christ's own earthly-historical form of existence". But the risen Christ not only lives in this way in the community, but also in a “heavenly-historical form of existence” ( Karl Barth is referring to the Extra Calvinisticum ). Christ is the church, but the reverse is not possible, the church is not Christ.
God does not want to forego man's thanks and praise; he waits for the human response to his reconciling and redeeming action - for that there is the church. In the Reformed tradition, Barth emphasizes that the legal order of the church is not an arbitrary matter, but that its formation belongs to the confession of the community. Church law is a service order and at the same time exemplary law. Barth explains the formulation of the Apostles' Creed that the church is a community of saints (communio sanctorum) : “There is no legitimate private Christianity. The question that must be asked from here to some forms of mysticism and pietism , but also to Kierkegaard , is obvious. According to Calvin (Inst IV, 1, 10), those who only wanted to be a Christian personally for themselves would be ... not a Christian. "
Wolfhart Pannenberg is based on Rudolf Bultmann's definition of the church as an “eschatological community”. So in ecclesiology it is not about the interpretation of the church as it is now, but about the future, the kingdom of God . The church is not this kingdom itself, but its sign and instrument. Pannenberg agrees with the Council document Lumen Gentium that the church is “the sacrament of the rule of God”.
Pannenberg defines the leadership position in the church as the proclamation of the gospel in word and sacrament; the ministers are responsible for the unity and apostolicity of the church. Pannenberg compares the old church bishopric here.
In Roman Catholic theology, Karl Rahner is one of the “modern fathers of sacramental ecclesiology” alongside Otto Semmelroth . In the treatise "Church and Sacraments" (Quaestiones disputatae, Volume 10, 1960) Rahner developed the thesis of the church as the "primordial sacrament" of God's mercy for the world. Before the publication of Mystici corporis (1943), Rahner had considered that the whole of humanity had undergone a sacramental consecration through the event of incarnation and that "in a rooted sense it was already a 'church'". After the publication of the encyclical, Rahner did not pursue these considerations any further and spoke of the church primarily as the people or children of God. After the Second Vatican Council , in which he had participated as a peritus , Rahner differentiated between Christ as the actual primordial sacrament and the church as the "basic sacrament of the salvation of the world".
In his ecclesiological foundation, which he wrote in 1964 for the “Handbuch der Pastoraltheologie”, Rahner gives the following definition of church: “The church is the socially legitimately constituted community in which through faith, hope and love the eschatologically perfect revelation of God (as his Self-communication) remains present in Christ as reality and truth for the world. "
Ioannis Zizioulas emphasizes that the apostles should not be seen as individuals scattered around the world, but as a college. Every bishop in apostolic succession traces his authority back to the college of apostles - so every bishop is the holder of the Kathedra Petri. Zizioulas shares with Afanassiev the idea of the Eucharistic eschatology. But he does not identify the local church with the whole church. Zizioulas' image of the local church is shaped by Rev 4 and Ignatius of Antioch . With this he emphasizes the eschatological dimension of the church. On the question of the office it was innovative that Zizioulas emphasized the irrevocable relationship with the local church that a bishop, priest or deacon enters into in ordination.
These different ecclesiologies correspond to different ideas of the sought-after unity of the Church of Christ. The question of mutual recognition as “church” is a central problem of the current ecumenical movement . With the rejection of the Anglican consecration in the document Apostolicae curae from 1896, the Roman Church had already distinguished itself from the understanding of the church by others. The Second Vatican Council distinguished between "churches" and " ecclesial communities ".
From an evangelical point of view, the Roman Catholic Church created “ soteriological secondary centers” with the dogmas of 1854, 1870 and 1950 ( immaculate conception , sinlessness, the ascension of Mary and the infallibility of the Pope) , “which question Christ's sole reason for salvation “And establish a separation between it and the Reformation churches. The Second Vatican Council not only reaffirmed these older dogmas, but also designated Mary as the mediator of graces .
The current status of the ecclesiological discussion in the World Council of Churches can be found in the declaration that was adopted in 2013 at the 10th General Assembly in Busan ( South Korea ): “God's gift and call to unity - and our commitment”. It is based on the study The Church: Towards a Common Vision prepared by the WCC Faith and Order Commission .
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- Current literature on Roman Catholic ecclesiology (by Herbert Frohnhofen )
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- The Luther Bible has a noticeable preference for the translation with congregation. For Joseph Ratzinger this is no coincidence: "Church withdraws to the community, that is, the church as successio, as a unit of binding tradition in a sacramentally structured form, loses its theological content for Luther." Quoted from: Gunther Wenz: The great idea of God “Church” , p. 461.
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Jürgen Roloff: The Church in the New Testament. P. 278 ff.
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- Lumen gentium No. 26.
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- According to the assessment of the New Testament scholar Jürgen Roloff, the priesthood of all baptized is an appropriate synopsis of various New Testament statements, but the statement of 1 Petr 2,5.9 is different and should not be used as a justification. Jürgen Roloff: The Church in the New Testament. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1996, p. 274.
- Horst Georg Pöhlmann: Abriß der Dogmatik. A repertory. Gütersloh publishing house Gerd Mohn, Gütersloh 1973, p. 235.
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- Gunther Wenz: Church . Göttingen 2005, p. 95.
- Martin Luther: De servo arbitrio , WA 16, 652, 23.
- Gunther Wenz: Church . Göttingen 2005, p. 66.
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- Werner Elert: The Christian Faith . 3rd edition 1956, p. 416, quoted here. after: Horst Georg Pöhlmann: Abriß der Dogmatik. A repertory. Gütersloh publishing house Gerd Mohn, Gütersloh 1973, p. 233.
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- Institutio Christianae Religionis IV 1.4.
- Institutio Christianae Religionis IV 1.10.
- Institutio Christianae Religionis IV 1,2.
- Institutio Christianae Religionis IV 2.11.
- Institutio Christianae Religionis IV 2,3.
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- Catechism of the New Apostolic Church in Questions and Answers , Verlag Friedrich Bischoff, Frankfurt am Main 2015, p. 126.
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- Catechism of the New Apostolic Church in questions and answers , Verlag Friedrich Bischoff, Frankfurt am Main 2015, p. 150.
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