Communion Ecclesiology

Ideology or Path to Dialogue?
  • Dennis M. Doyle
Part of the Pathways for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue book series (PEID)


Is communion ecclesiology an ideology or a path to dialogue? In the year 2000 I wrote a book that addressed this topic.1 I concluded that although communion ecclesiology can be co-opted and put to the use of narrow ends, when it is understood as a broad, inclusive category that coalesces many of the key themes of Vatican II, it can operate as a framework that embraces a significant degree of pluralism, as it helps Church leaders and theologians to move forward. I still agree with that position. One of my main themes was that theologians cannot just let what I identified as the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) version stand alone as the only valid version of communion ecclesiology; we must develop it along the lines of a conversation that values the contributions of diverse participants.2


Church Leader Christian Tradition Review Symposium Inclusive Category Catholic Identity 
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  1. 1.
    Dennis M. Doyle, Communion Ecclesiology: Vision and Versions (New York: Orbis 2000).Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    The number of ecumenical dialogues and documents that draw upon communion ecclesiology is immense. For starters, see Thomas F. Best and Günther Gassmann, eds., On the Way to Fuller Koinonia: Official Report of the Fifth World Conference on Faith and Order (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1994);Google Scholar
  3. Randall Lee and Jeffrey Gros, eds., The Church as Koinonia of Salvation: Its Structures and Ministries: Catholics and Lutherans in Dialogue, vol. 10 (Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2005); US United Methodist-Roman Catholic Dialogue, Through Divine Love: The Church in Each and All Places, 2005, accessed April 10, 2015, Scholar
  4. 6.
    I offer here only a small sampling: Miroslav Volf, After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998);Google Scholar
  5. Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, “Church as Charismatic Fellowship: Ecclesiological Reflections from the Pentecostal-Roman Catholic Dialogue,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 18 (2001): 100–121;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Curtis Freeman, “Where Two or Three Are Gathered: Communion Ecclesiology in the Free Church,” Perspectives in Religious Studies: Journal of the NAPBR 31 (Fall 2004): 259–72;Google Scholar
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  8. Peter Althouse, “Toward a Pentecostal Ecclesiology: Participation in the Missional Life of the Triune God,” Journal of Communion Ecclesiology Pentecostal Studies 18 (2009): 230–45;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Paul R. Hinlicky, Luther and the Beloved Community (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010), esp. 258–300;Google Scholar
  10. Justus H. Hunter, “Towards a Methodist Communion Ecclesiology,” Ecclesiology 9, no. 1 (2013): 9–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 7.
    See Richard Lennan, “Communion Ecclesiology: Foundations, Critiques, and Affirmations,” Pacifica 20 (February 2007): 24–39.Google Scholar
  12. 8.
    Nicholas Healy, “Communion Ecclesiology: A Cautionary Note,” Pro Ecclesia 4 (Fall 1995): 442–53.Google Scholar
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  14. 10.
    Matthias Sharer and Bernd Jochen Hilberath, The Practice of Communicative Theology: An Introduction to a New Theological Culture, trans. Cristian Mocanu et al. (New York: Crossroad, 2008).Google Scholar
  15. 11.
    Louis J. Luzbetak, The Church and Culture: New Perspectives in Missiological Anthropology (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1998), 337;Google Scholar
  16. John Fuellenbach, Church: Community for the Kingdom (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2002), 152.Google Scholar
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    John D. Dadosky, “Towards a Fundamental Theological Re-Interpretation of Vatican II,” Heythrop Journal XLIX (2008): 742–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 13.
    Paul Lakeland, The Liberation of the Laity: In Search of an Accountable Church (New York: Continuum, 2003), 222–33.Google Scholar
  19. See also Bradford E. Hinze, Susan K. Wood, Michael J. Baxter, and Jamie T. Phelps, “Review Symposium: Communion Ecclesiology by Dennis M. Doyle,” Horizons 29 (Fall 2002): 331–34.Google Scholar
  20. 16.
    For an introduction to communicative theology, see Matthias Sharer and Bernd Jochenn Hilberath, eds., The Practice of Communicative Theology: An Introduction to a New Theological Culture (New York, Crossroad, 2008)Google Scholar

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© Dennis M. Doyle 2016

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  • Dennis M. Doyle

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