The elements of this structure concern (1) the nature and purpose of the church, including its general ontological self-understanding and its common theological symbolic, hermeneutical, and axiological characteristics; (2) the church's institutional and organizational form and polity, structures of ministry and authority; (3) the membership of the church, including criteria for membership, descriptions of the functions of those who qualify and of their interrelationships; (4) the activities of the church that stand in direct relation to its purpose (activities that embrace assembly, worship, prayer, liturgy, sacraments, ethics, and spirituality); and (5) the relationship between the church and the world, between ecclesial community and society, and the nature of any "boundaries" dividing them. H. hopes that the construction of a transdenominational ecclesiology will serve three specific functions: (1) a deepening understanding of what all Christians share in common and wider appreciation of what is and is not "essential" or of core importance; (2) a broadening understanding, that is, a pushing of horizons beyond denominational boundaries toward an understanding and affirmation of the pluralistic reality of the entire church; and (3) an illustration of the fruits of mutual ecclesial recognition that may lead to closer (formal) communion.
CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY IN HISTORY: VOL. 3: ECCLESIAL EXISTENCE Gerard Mannion Theological Studies; Mar 2009; 70, 1; Docstoc pg. 226 Reproduced with permission of the
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