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  • Print publication year: 1997
  • Online publication date: May 2006

11 - The church and the sacraments



For this volume, ecclesiology and sacramentology are assigned to one essay. This requires some compression of both topics. The benefit probably outweighs the loss, for it is a decisive insight that shows itself in the pairing: all loci of theology are interconnected as nodes of an intricate web, but these two indeed make a systematic couple as most possible pairings would not.

Indeed, ecumenical ecclesiology is now dominated by urgent advocacy of just this mutuality of ecclesiology and sacramentology: we are called upon to interpret the Church by the sacraments that occur in her and the sacraments by the church in which they occur. And we may well take this contemporary mandate as our systematic guide, for, as has often been remarked, it is only in the late-modern period and particularly in the post-World War II ecumenical movement that the church has become an explicit and systematically central object of theological reflection. The structure of the following is thus provided by the contemporary ecumenical problematic; earlier thinking about church or sacraments will be adduced within this structure, in somewhat ad hoc fashion.