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Title: Elasticised ecclesiology : the concept of community after Ernst Troeltsch
Author: Schmiedel, Ulrich
ISNI:       0000 0004 4358 8502
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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Churches are always already in crisis. In this study, I take the current crisis of churches as a point of departure in order to offer a critical and constructive account of church as open(ed) community. In conversation with Ernst Troeltsch (1865-1923) - a conversation which concentrates on a hermeneutical-constructive rather than a historical-critical retrieval of his interdisciplinary thinking - I argue that the communities which constitute church need to be elasticised in order to engage the 'finite other' (the creature) and the 'infinite other' (the creator). My study counters common characterisations of the current crisis of churches in which diversification is interpreted as the reason and de-diversification is interpreted as the response to crisis. In these characterisations, churches are closed off against the 'other'. In three parts which examine the controversial but connected concepts of 'religiosity', 'community', and 'identity', I suggest that the sociological closure against the finite other and the theological closure against the infinite other are connected. Taking trust as a central category, I argue that both the finite other and the infinite other are constitutive of church. Trust opens identity to alterity. Thus, I advocate a turn in the interpretation of the identity of Christianity - from identity as a 'propositional possession' to identity as a 'performative project'. The identity of Christianity is 'done' rather than 'described' in the practices of church. Church, then, is a 'work in movement', continually constituted through the encounter with the finite and the infinite other in Jesus Christ. My study contributes to ecclesial practices and to reflections on ecclesial practices in the current crisis of churches through the elasticisation of ecclesiology. It retrieves Troeltsch's interdisciplinary thinking for the controversies which revolve around the construction of community today, opening up innovative and instructive approaches to the investigation of the practices of Christianity past and present.
Supervisor: Jeanrond, Werner G. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Theology ; Doctrinal ; Church attendance ; Trust--Religious aspects--Christianity