This course is intended to provide an overview of the Church’s teaching about herself in the context of scriptural and historical evidence. We will consider the relationship between the organizational and social structure of the Church and structures already familiar to the first Christians from Scripture and Jewish tradition. We will also consider evidence in the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers for the continuity between the framework of ecclesial organization and authority present in the Catholic Church today with that of the primitive Church, even during New Testament times. We will discuss questions of ecumenism arising from the differences of the rites present within the Catholic Church, as well as those arising from the fact of division within the Church. This study will include consideration of the difficulty, evinced in the Church’s historical experience, of effecting a final reconciliation between all surviving churches of apostolic origin, as well as the ecclesiological differences that arose within the Western theological tradition at the time of the Protestant Reformation.
Students who complete this course will be equipped to:
- Present in broad strokes an argument for the continuity and authenticity of the Catholic Church in relation to the Church of the Apostolic Fathers and the New Testament,
- Describe how the Modernist Crisis relates, historically, to the teaching of the First Vatican Council concerning the universal and immediate primacy and infallibility of the pope,
- Identify and Explain several models of the Church, including common models like, Church Militant, Pilgrim Church, People of God/New Israel, Kingdom of God, and Body of Christ, Bride of Christ, and Universal Sacrament of Salvation, identifying strengths and weaknesses inherent in these models,
- Define the terms “koinonia ecclesiology” and “Eucharistic ecclesiology,” and explain the essential relationship between these ideas.