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malcolm chamberlain

musings about the emerging church, mission and contemporary culture...

God is at large, intimately involved in his world in ways that the church is maybe just waking up to!

defining church...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

According to the Pope's responses to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued yesterday, I don't belong to a church, and indeed never have done! I guess this is quite a kick in the teeth for those, like me, who have (perhaps unrealistically) been hoping for a closer unity between all 'churches' (my definition, not the Pope's) of the world. Here's the question and response he gave...

"Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?

Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery[19] cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense[20]."

[19] Cf. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 22.3.
[20] Cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Declaration Dominus Iesus, 17.2: AAS 92 [2000-II] 758.

So, if we don't take Pope Benedict XVI's somewhat conservative definition of church to be universally attractive (understatement anyone?!) then how do we define 'church'? Answers on a postcard (or blog response) to...

hat tip (and much fuller post!)... Scot McKnight
Update... Dave Walker has a witty post relating to all this 'here'

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posted by Malcolm Chamberlain, 9:34 AM


Cat among the pigeons...

"The cosmos is the church, and the church is the cosmos"


commented by Blogger Steve Lancaster, 12:05 PM  

Although "Cat among the pigeons" is a pretty good definition of church too...

commented by Blogger Steve Lancaster, 12:07 PM  

Hi Malcolm - Any study of the history of Popes, and thus of "apostolic succession...", reveals the full irony of the response to the question you have posted. Church as "body of Christ" etc doesn't get a look in I'm afraid.

You start to read this present Pope's last few pronouncements (latin rites,etc) and you all to quickly begin to get the beginnings of picture of a denomination rebuilding its 'walls' against all 'outsiders'.

commented by Anonymous Paul Fromont, 7:35 PM  

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