Lately I've been thinking about my own view of ecclesiology (doctrine of the Church), and have been leaning toward to seeing it as an element of Christology—specifically, I've been thinking that the most basic fact of the church is that it exists as the body of christ in the world, both in being and function. I'm thinking both about "body of christ" language as well as Paul's "in christ" language.

However, I can see that it might be more appropriate to consider the church as the living vessel of the Spirit, and seeing her work as the ongoing work of God's spirit in the world. I'm thinking here about how the spirit drives the church in acts and Paul's attention to the charismatic actions of the spirit. I'm sure at the end of the day it is important for a full doctrine of the church to account for how it interacts with the whole trinity, but I'm wondering if someone might help nudge me one way or another here.

What say ye, is Ecclesiology more closely related to Christology or Pneumatology? What other data should I consider in building a case one way or another? Are there particular historical streams of thought I should attend to?

  • umm, how about "what God has joined, let no man separate."? This may be a permissible thought-experiment, but is it a beneficial one? – bruised reed May 20 '14 at 15:50
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    Is immunology more closely related to biology or chemistry? – Dan May 20 '14 at 15:56
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    Hi Steven. This appears to be more of a discussion type question, which really isn't the kind of question we do here. We are looking for questions that have a more definite, factual answer. I would suggest having a look at the FAQs to learn more about what we do here. – DJClayworth May 20 '14 at 16:48
  • I've edited the question to point towards more factually driven answers. – Steven Hovater May 20 '14 at 18:14
  • @StevenHovater I'm going to leave this open for now as it's mildly narrow. However, it's definitely in danger of being too broad since it allow for an answer from any perspective (what we call truth questions), these generally attract low quality drivel for answers, and if you're looking for good stuff you probably want to narrow this down to asking for support for one side or the other. – wax eagle May 21 '14 at 12:42

Historically, the fact that the birth of the church is associated with the "arrival" of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 at Pentecost, is enough for most people to more closely associate the Church with the Spirit. Likewise, the rest of Acts ascribes the growth of the church moreso to the Spirit than to Jesus. Finally, Jesus mentions the work of the Paraclete and Comforter as the one He would send to us, and as such, thus adheres more closely to the Spirit than to the Son.

As such, Ecclesiology is thus more closely related to Pneumatology than to Christology.

  • Wow. That's surprisingly emphatic under the circumstances. I'm tempted to +1 just for boldness :) – Steven Doggart May 20 '14 at 18:51
  • I agree, that is bold and I will +1. – gideon marx May 21 '14 at 7:42

It depends. Ecclesiology in Eastern Orthodox Church is predominantly based from their Pneumatology that the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father alone. In this sense, the visible Church is connected invisibly to the Holy Spirit who proceeded not from the Son. This is why decentralization is the dominant view in Eastern Orthodoxy. In the other hand Oriental Orthodox is influenced by their miaphysite Christology that the Church is united as a compound unity. Like the unity between soul and flesh in psychosomatic unity. Soul and flesh are no longer two after union but united as one compound unity. This is why each Oriental churches is independent. EO and OO share a similar view of ecclesiology. But because EO draws their ecclesiology from pneumatology there is theological development such as Palamism and Toll Houses. While in OO because after union there is only one compound nature the Church is static, this is why there is no serious theological controversy in OO history because their theology stay the same after Ephesus.

In Catholic Church, both Latin and Eastern rites, we see our ecclesiology not from Pneumatology or Christology particularly but from Triadology. How the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit relate to one another in hierarchical harmony. This is where we get the notion of Ecclesiastical Hierarchy it's seen from Trinitarian relationship. From Trinitarian taxis (eg. ordering of three persons) we have universal (eg. Pope), regional (eg. College of Bishops), and local (eg. local bishop) primacy. Each share the same ecclesial essence. Because the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, each local church is independent while maintaining unity through communion with the Church of Rome, which is one out of 24 churches within Catholic communion who presides in love.

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