The Church

Ralph G. Del Colle

in The Oxford Handbook of Systematic Theology

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780199245765
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

The Church


The doctrine of the church bears witness to the confessional differences that have marked the history of Christianity. Ecclesiology proper – the theological understanding of the church – whether implicit or held explicitly as a matter of doctrine, contributes in no small way to the present state of Christian ecclesial existence and the prospects for its future. The particulars of ecclesiology remain. Understanding of the traditional four marks of the church – unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity – are enriched, as are notions of the church's order and of the relationship between universality and particularity, between the universal church and local churches. The church is indeed a communion of local churches. This communion is actualized in both Word and sacrament.

Keywords: communion ecclesiology; Christianity; Word; local churches; catholicity

Article.  8701 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion

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