Laity and participation : a theology of 'being the Church'
The basic assumption of this thesis is that there should be a theology of the laity that is truly positive, ecumenical and catholic. The prime concern, therefore, is less with specific contents and more an exploration of the dimensions such a new theology should incorporate and how it could be achieved. At the beginning we observe that, regarding contents as well as "hermeneutics”, currently most lay theologies are dominated by negatives. Therefore, I suggest we explore participation in the sense of "being the Church" rather than "doing something within the church”. Opening sections look at appropriate coordinates for a biblical foundation for lay theology, while a brief overview of church history explores how and why the current status quo of the laity came about. In view of this, the main parts then focus on how a more positive presentation of lay participation can be achieved. Part two explores Roman Catholic lay theology, discussing relevant official documents from Vatican II up to the present and also "unofficial" positions presented by Hans Küng, Karl Rahner, Leo Karrer, and Medard Kehl. To get at least some ecumenical perspective, this is complemented in Part three by an exploration of lay issues in Anglicanism, including ARCIC I and II. Part four explores the laity in liberative theologies, particularly their approaches to being the Church in the world, orthopraxis, authenticity as well as base communities as new forms of being church. In Part V, building on my earlier discussion and criticisms, I offer an alternative model for developing a positive definition of the laity including the image of the Church as a spoked wheel. My central claim is the inadequacy of present discussions and the need to develop a theology that starts from the vocation of the Church as a whole and stresses the interdependence of clergy and laity with neither subordinate to the other.