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Title: Church and mission in four aspects : church planting within a missionary ecclesiology for the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church in contemporary Northern Ireland
Author: Coulter, Paul B.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5993 2320
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2016
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Northern Ireland is a unique context, with its complex history, sectarian divisions between two ethno-political communities, high levels of Christian religiosity, and strong Evangelical presence. It is, however, changing towards postmodernism and post-Christendom, leaving the Church in shock, needing reconstructed identity, structures and mission. Church planting is an increasingly prevalent response to declining church attendance in the West. It is, however, often insufficiently reflexive and based on questionable biblical, ecclesiological and missiological foundations. If it is to happen faithfully where the Church is already present, it must be located within a robust missionary ecclesiology. This thesis establishes a critical conversation between the findings of ethnographic research into church planting in Northern Ireland and the four creedal words about the Church – one, holy, catholic and apostolic. The original meaning of these words is uncovered, they are related to a trinitarian ecclesiology and their distortion in the medieval institutional Church is identified. Protestant reforms recovered apostolicity and holiness, while Evangelical revivals later promoted vital orthodoxy and transdenominational oneness, but catholicity remained neglected. The recovery of catholicity and its reintegration with the other creedal qualities has wide-ranging implications: reimagining catholic oneness through 'local church partnerships' cooperating with 'parachurch' agencies; renewing catholic holiness in disciplined, diverse, countercultural communities of believers; and promoting catholic apostolicity through the gospel ministry of plural, non-hierarchical, facilitative local pastor-teachers supported by translocal evangelists. The creedal qualities also shape core ecclesial practices for faithfulness and integrate presence, philanthropy, peace-making and proclamation (the missiones ecclesiae) as responses to God's regenerating, sanctifying, reconciling and judging work (missio Dei). Applying this missionary ecclesiology in four aspects to Northern Ireland, 'integrative church planting' is defined and located within a renewed vision of the Church: diverse but united; local and translocal; countercultural yet socially-engaged; rooted in its unique history yet confident in a hope-filled future.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Church development ; New