Stumbling Upon Peter? The question of the church in ecumenical dialogue

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My aims in what follows are first descriptive, then analytical and finally therapeutic. I begin by setting out and substantiating a diagnosis: that the present ecumenical distemper is first and foremost ecclesiological. This involves a rather direct stocktaking of the place of the question of the church at this moment in our ecumenical history. The second part of the chapter moves to consider one striking and recurrent theme in ecumenical ecclesiology – the acknowledgement of what I will call the church’s ‘asymmetrical and referential identity’. I hope to be able to show that this theme is present and important in several significant ecclesiological studies and documents, including the most recent offering from the WCC, The Nature and Mission of the Church, a significant contribution from the churches of the Leuenberg fellowship entitled, The Church of Jesus Christ, and, if I may, also some of the ecclesiological reflections of the recently elected Bishop of Rome on the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council. What becomes clear is, I will argue, that alongside real and troubling ecclesiological differences, there is a significant agreement concerning the origin of the church’s identity and the locus of its centre of gravity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEcumenism Today
Subtitle of host publicationThe Universal Church in the 21st Century
EditorsFrancesca Aran Murphy, Christopher Asprey, E.e. Puosi
Place of PublicationAshgate/Aldershot
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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