The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Ecclesiology is that branch of Christian theology that deals with the doctrine of the Church: its role in salvation, and its origin, its discipline, and its leadership.


Issues addressed by ecclesiology

Ecclesiology asks the questions:

  • Who is the Church? Is it a visible or earthly corporation? Or is it the body of all believing Christians regardless of their denominational differences and disunity? What is the relationship between living Christians and departed Christians?
  • Must one join a church? What is the role of corporate worship in the spiritual lives of believers? Is it in fact necessary?
  • What is the authority of the Christian church? Is the institution itself, either in a single corporate body, or generally, an independent vehicle of revelation or of God's grace? Or is the Church's authority dependent on and derivative of a prior divine revelation, and individual institutions are the Church to the extent that they teach that message?
  • What does the Church do? Is the Church's rôle primarily the performance of sacraments for the spiritual growth of believers? Or is the Church's chief duty to preach and teach the Gospel?
  • How should the Church be governed? What are the proper methods of choosing clergy such as bishops and priests? Is an ordained clergy necessary?
  • What are the roles of spiritual gifts in the life of the church?

See also

Beliefs that define the Church

Rituals that define the Church

Topics in church government

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