Reconsidering ecclesiology : feminist perspectives
The predominant model in feminist theologians' critique of theology and praxis of the church has been that of women-church based on the concept of base ecclesial communities developed by liberation theology. The first part of this thesis challenges the women-church model by arguing that even though women-church asserts that women are church, its shortcomings lie in its lack of use of the ecclesiological tradition as well as its unawareness of the dimension of gender for ecclesiology. A feminist reader-response critique of four traditional ecclesiologies shows that women have so far not participated in the process of writing ecclesiology, but that women need to reclaim the ecclesiological tradition because they participate in the church. An analysis of the use of liberation theology for feminist ecclesiology demonstrates that the ecclesiology of liberation theology, even though it points out that the reality of human beings being church shapes the theology of the church, remains unaware of the dimension of sexual difference. Chapter five discusses 'gendered ecclesiology’ as pointing to the importance of sexuality for the rewriting of ecclesiology. In order to write an ecclesiology conscious of the fact that the church consists of sexuate human beings feminists need to reclaim the communion of saints, Mariology and most importantly the relationship between Christ and the church. Chapter six concludes that feminist theologians are not to develop one particular ecclesiological model as the most apt one, but to redefine the ecclesiological debate from the perspective of women being church. In order to do that it is necessary to reclaim the power centres of patriarchal ecclesiological discourse: sacramental celebration, the word of God and the presence of Christ. The church as the community that embodies the body of Christ becomes the space where the stories of women’s lives tell and perform the story of Christ.