Ecclesiology can be defined as the branch of theology that is concerned with the nature, constitution, and functions of a church.  Ideology can be defined as a set of beliefs, values, and opinions that shapes the way a person or a group such as a social class thinks, acts, and understands the world.  The ideologies are individual ways of seeing the church. Here are a few: mythical body, servant, body of Christ, sacrament, people of God, healer.

After Vatican I, the church was seen as “perfect”.  The structure was divided into three sections: teaching, sanctifying, and governing.  In regard to the 1st function, the teachers are considered sacred, and are charged with handing down the word of God.  In regard to the 2nd function, the pope and bishops, helped by the priests and deacons, are seen as if they were engineers opening and shutting the valves of grace.  The third function represented the church’s hierarchy, whose job was purely ministerial.  The church was known for clericalism, juridicism, and triumphalism.  Dulles’s view is clericalist because the clergy is the highest source of all power and initiative; the church structure is like that of a pyramid, with the lay people playing a passive role at the base.  His view is also juridicist because the church follows canon law, and emphasizes the penalties of law-breaking.  Lastly, his view is triumphalistic because it dramatizes the Church as an army against Satan, the ultimate evil.  Basically, if you don’t govern, teach, and sanctify, you don’t have power in the Church.

Vatican II was very proactive; the church leaders realized that they needed to update the church and change with the times so as not to be left behind.  First, it was established that the church could not be defined.  Second, it was decided that lay people should be more involved in the liturgy.  The role of the bishops was brought into renewed prominence in order to teach and govern the church.

After reading the abridged version of Lumen Gentium, and considering last week’s session, it has been said that the document lacks a clear explanation of the person of Christ and the works of the Redeemer.  Lumen Gentium does not give a clear explanation of the person of Chris because it is not meant to.  The purpose of Lumen Gentium was to show the results of Christ rather than his actions.

Lumen Gentium is a landmark document in that the People of God are treated with such importance. Given this, why is so much of chapter 2 devoted to the Sacraments of the Church?  Moreover, knowing that Baptism anoints one as priest, prophet and king, please explain how this document understands these roles.

According to Lumen Gentium, God desires that men be brought together as one people; this creates a “bond” or “link” between the people.  The following quote explains the importance of the sacraments: “It is through the sacraments and the exercise of the virtues that the sacred nature and organic structure of the priestly community is brought into operation” (7).  Sacraments are outward signs of an inward reality instituted by Christ to give grace to living persons.  The sacraments allow people to experience God and be part of the community of God’s children.  Therefore, the sacraments are very important to the Christian faith. Baptism for example gives you a certain status that unbaptized people don’t have.

  • The priestly office is one of sacrifice and service.
  • The prophetic office is one of faithful witness to the truth
  • The kingly office is one of the faithful offering witness and leading everyone to God.

In Treatment of God, Kreeft asks, “How can man know God?”  He answers by stating that man can know God in two ways: by reason and faith.  He furthers his answer by stating that we can know God by thinking and speaking about him, and by listening to him speak to us.  I assume that Kreeft’s use of the word faith encompasses prayer and participation in mass.  I believe prayer to be the best way to speak to God.  Listening seems to be much harder.

In reading section 4, there is an interesting statement made by Kreeft.  It goes as follows: “But an absolute moral obligation can come only from an absolute moral authority” (34).  The self-actualization stage of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory holds that upon reaching this almost impossible life tier, morality is internalized.  By this he means that people would no longer require guidance from the outside world in regard to their morals; people would follow their own moral compass.  Kreeft believes that the moral compass given to each person comes from God.

In section 6, Kreeft explains that the human mind has limits, while God is limitless.  We cannot define or fully understand God, but we can know God as a “person fully loved rather than a concept fully known” (37).  Kreeft then implies that we can “see” God best through prayer.

In section 11, Kreeft states that in calling God “Father”, we are acknowledging that he came first; he was the origin of everything and is the transcendent authority.  He also states that the word “God” encompasses the three divine figures in the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.