Sunday, 18 October 2009

Ecclesiology - what on earth is that?

Whenever I type the word ecclesiology into microsoft word it comes up underlined. The software questions the existence of this word. If only! ;-)
Ecclesiology, is, to put it mildly, pretty esoteric. It's also a bit of a problem for translators from German to English, but I'll leave that to one side for the time being (Kirchsein usw.). The rather complex nature of some of our ecumenical endeavour is summed up well by Aimee Moiso - who seems to be about to stop writing reflections about Faith and Order on her Santa Clara blog so I better get on and quote her one last time:

I love Christian unity, I love being with great people from all walks of life and from all parts of the church, and I love talking theology.
But I’m really, really tired. And it’s not just jet-lag. These topics are complicated and require a lot of brain power, and I don’t have much brain power left.
This is an important reality in ecumenical dialogue: how tired we are, how much we have going on in our lives, the difficulties we face in our own contexts – all of these can enhance or inhibit our ability to listen and to understand each other.
Folks from parts of the world where war or conflict or poverty are the norm often have little extra energy or time in own lives to sit and ponder abstract theology. Staying in a hotel in Chicago and spending three days thinking about the church is a huge gift – one I’m both blessed and humbled to receive.
But tonight, I’m just tired.

Meanwhile as I finally got around to catching up with some of what is happening out there in the blogosphere I was very intrigued to come across a post entitled Ecclesiological Stockholm Syndrome on the wonderful Ben Myers' Faith and Theology blog
Responding to Halden on doing theology against ourselves, Adam suggests that many theologians have Ecclesiological Stockholm Syndrome: "the twin tendency to idealize and fetishize local church life and to denigrate their own role".
Maybe that explains why we find things so tiring at these international church and theology meetings. I do myself sometimes wonder whether what those of us trying to continue to enliven the institution of the church in Europe suffer from isn't some kind of survivor guilt ... or maybe it's sort of guilt in the face of possible future generations. But then that makes me ask the question, what does an ecclesiology built on guilt, complexes and survivor syndrome look like? It also made me realise how fortunate a church like the French Reformed Church is to insist that its ministers have good theological education - it does mean that there are theologians in the local church setting.
Anyway if you still haven't figured out what Ecclesiology is, don't worry too much, it does seem to have a future. There was even a new journal launched a few years ago with that title.
So what complex or pathology does your ecclesiology suffer from? If you tell me abotu yours I might manage to work out my own...


sparkling said...

Hi Jane, this is Petra (do you remember our time in Cambridge?!?) Well, this isn`t really a comment! I`m looking for you for AGES and now I found you!!! I`m so happy and would like to tell you more about the last two decades we haven`t heard about each other, but I haven`t got your e-mail address or anything else. So please answer soon - das wäre super.

Jane said...

Petra ich habe an dich gedacht nur diese Woche bist du noch da oben in Nord Deutschland?
Wow das ist super!