Ecclesial Recognition with Hegelian Philosophy, Social Psychology & Continental Political Theory

An Interdisciplinary Proposal


Ecclesial Recognition proffers a framework for churches to accept the legitimacy and authenticity of each other as the Church in the dialogical process towards fuller communion. Typically, ‘recognition’ and its reception investigate theologically the sufficiency of creeds as ecumenical statements of unity, the agreeability of essential sacramentality of the church, and the recognition of its ministries as the churches’ witness of the gospel. This monograph conceives ecclesial recognition as an intersubjective dynamics of inclusion and exclusion amid identity formation and consensus development, with insights from Hegelian philosophy, group social psychology, and the Frankfurt School Axel Honneth’s political theory. The viability of this interdisciplinary approach is demonstrated from the French Dominican Yves Congar’s oeuvre, with implications for intra-Communion and inter-Church relations.

"Dr Lim examines philosophical recognition theory, group social psychology and political recognition theory to analyse the non-theological impasses confronting the whole ecumenical movement." - Rev Dr Trevor Hoggard, Director English-speaking Ministries, Methodist Church of New Zealand.

"Lim masterfully argues for the viability of an interdisciplinary approach to ecumenical recognition within communities, among churches, and in their common pastoral mission.” - Fr. and Professor Radu Bordeianu, Duquesne University, and Orthodox theologian, Representative of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh, and Assistant Priest of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh.

“This book makes an important contribution to ecumenical ecclesiology.” - Rev. Dr and Professor Sandra Beardsall, St Andrew’s College, Canada and United Church of Canada Ordained Minister.

“I find Dr. Lim's work a solid and necessary contribution to ecumenical work around the world.” - Rev. Dr. and Professor Dominick D. Hanckle, Regent University, and priest of the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches.

“With penetrating analysis and creative suggestions, this monograph takes the talk about ecumenical recognition in a new level.” - Professor Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, University of Helsinki.

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Timothy T. N. Lim, Ph.D., is Visiting Lecturer at London School of Theology, Research Tutor at King’s Evangelical Divinity School, and an ordained Minister with Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He has published peer-reviewed articles on ecclesiology, ecumenism, evangelicalism, and interdisciplinary theology.
"In a world fractured by populist appeals to brittle social, cultural, and religious identities, Lim contributes to church ecumenicism and, more broadly, social reconciliation by elucidating the non-theological bases of religious differences (...). In what remains a collaborative task engaging theologians and the contributors to recognition theory, L. raises important questions, identifies needed resources, and charts a hopeful way forward" - Gordon Rixon, SJ, Regis College, University of Toronto, in: Theological Studies 2018, Vol. 79(4) 9930-931.

"In the final analysis, this is a positive contribution to the labor of ecumenical dialogue by a promising young scholar that deserves to be read and studied closely. - Barry Harvey, Baylor University, in: Horizon 45:2 (2018), pp. 479-480.

"Dr Timothy Lim sheds some light on that seemingly immovable object to deeper ecclesial recognition, the lack of reception of ecumenical dialogue, by his extensive illumination of the ‘non-theological factors [that] impact the churches’ ecumenical recognition of each other.’ Dr Lim examines philosophical recognition theory, group social psychology and political recognition theory to analyse the non-theological impasses confronting the whole ecumenical movement. The idea that traditional convergence texts may serve, at least at some point in the process, to entrench existing positions vis-a-vis the ‘other’ potentially alters the future course of how bilateral dialogue is conducted." - Rev. Dr. Trevor Hoggard, Director English-speaking Ministries, Methodist Church of New Zealand.

"At a time when the ecumenical movement is at a crossroads—or even going backwards—Timothy Lim’s monograph represents a much-needed breath of fresh air intended to carry us forwards. Painting a clear picture of the nature of the unity we seek and the road traveled thus far, Lim proposes an interdisciplinary turn to the ecumenical process by making use of a broad range of recognition theories from various academic disciplines. Engaging important theological, socio-political, and psychological resources, Lim masterfully argues for the viability of an interdisciplinary approach to ecumenical recognition within communities, among churches, and in their common pastoral mission. This volume represents a masterful contribution to the ecumenical movement." - Professor Radu Bordeianu, Duquesne University.

"Timothy Lim issues a bold challenge to the churches: to get serious about visible unity. His interdisciplinary approach exposes the roots of the churches’ resistance to taking the final steps toward full recognition of one another. The result is a provocative call to Christians to re-examine not only their doctrines, but everything that keeps “us” from “them.” This book makes an important contribution to ecumenical ecclesiology." - Professor Sandra Beardsall, St Andrew’s College, Canada.

"I find Dr. Lim's work a solid and necessary contribution to ecumenical work around the world. Mutual recognition is the next step to helping the body of Christ heal and see in one another the common ground not only as fellow Christians but as legitimate ecclesial bodies with the same authority. Without it, one might wonder what direction ecumenical work might take. As someone who has worked as an ecumenical officer and as a co-pastor of an ecumenical community I am acutely aware of the need to implement Dr. Lim's finding in ecumenical activity. Additionally, as a psychologist, I appreciate Dr. Lim's use of psychological research as part of understanding how mutual recognition can move forward." - Professor Dominick D. Hanckle, Regent University.

“Provocative ideas with interesting implications. Connecting the social understanding of what it means to have recognition, the socio-political implications of recognition and contemporary ecumenical theology raises substantive issues for ecclesiology and the ecumenical movement.” - Rev. Dr. Michael H. Montgomery, Chicago Theological Seminary.

“Ecclesial recognition is not a simple process. Dr. Timothy Teck Ngern Lim explores the issue in a wide-ranging fashion, showing superb command of his intellectual resources. It would be my hope that those involved in ecumenical endeavors will draw insight and support from his work.”
— Professor Paul Lakeland, Fairfield University.

“Lim’s ground-breaking book provides a useful guide through the maze of paradigms for ecumenical convergence as well as a bold constructive synthesis of Congar’s vision of God’s gift of unity and a socio-political paradigm for its human outworking….a timely help for the churches as they remember their connections with the Western ecclesial divisions of the sixteenth century.” - Rev. Dr. Steven R. Harmon, Garder-Webb University School of Divinity.

Preface and Acknowledgements

1 Ecumenism and Ecclesial Recognition: An Evaluation
 1.1 Problem: The Ecumenical Impasse & Ecclesial Recognition after a Century
 1.2 Ecumenical Recognition & Reception: Definition, Problem, and Proposal
    Ecumenical Recognition
    Ecumenical Reception
    Theological Criteria for Recognition, Reception, and Their Limits
    Ecclesial Recognition and Reception: Non-Theological Factors
 1.3 A Focused Reading of “Recognition” for Ecclesiology: A Proposal
    Interdisciplinarity: A Proposal for Ecclesial Recognition
    Interdisciplinarity and Ecclesiology
    Thesis and Summary of Chapters

2 Philosophical Roots of Recognition: Reading Ricouer
 2.1 The Groundwork of a Philosophy of Recognition
    Why Philosophy of Recognition for Ecumenical Recognition?
    Recognition’s Roots: Descartes, Kant, Bergson, and Hegel
    Descartes and Kant
    Bergson and Psychology of Recognition
    Hegelian Mutual Recognition
 2.2 Hegel’s Paradigm: A Literalist Reading of the ‘Lord-Bondsman’ Corpus
    Self-Consciousness and the Ambiguity of Otherness
    Consciousness of Otherness Amidst Unequal Recognition
    The Struggle in the Exclusionary Phases of Recognition
    The Lord-Bondsman Analogy in Hegelian Recognition
 2.3 Recognition, Mis-recognition, and Reconciliation: Anticipating Later Developments
    Review: Philosophy of Recognition
    Struggle for Self-Identity: Recognition’s Intrinsic Challenge
    Struggle for Relational Progress towards Recognition
    Ethics of Recognitive Relationship
    Recognition: Summary
    Philosophical Insights for Ecclesial Recognition
    Overcoming Misrecognition: Social-Psychological Assistance

3 A Social Psychology Contribution to Social Recognition
 3.1 The Groundwork of Social Recognition for Ecclesial Recognition
    Defining Social Recognition
    Social Psychology, Its Philosophical and Scientific Antecedents
    Methodology: Social-Psychology for Ecclesial Recognition
 3.2 A Social-Psychology of Social Recognition
    Building Blocks of Social Recognition for Overcoming Misrecognition
    Group Processes & Theories: Intra-Group and Inter-Group Dynamics
    Group Social Identity Theory Processes
    Other Pertinent Group Processes
    Socially Shared Cognition and Consensus Development
    Group Stereotyping
    Group Conformity
    Intergroup Relational Interventions
 3.3 Intergroup Recognition and the Limits of Reciprocity: Anticipating Questions
    Review: Fundamentals of Intergroup Recognition
    Overcoming Limits of Reciprocity, Disrespect, and A-Reciprocity

4 Honneth’s Political-Ethical Praxes of Recognition
 4.1 A Framework for the Politics of Recognition
    Politics of Recognition: Identity, Power, Paradigms, States, and Stages
    Political Theories of Recognition in Political Science
    Recognition Issues in Political Philosophy and Theory
 4.2 Axel Honneth’s Political Theory of Recognition in Select Oeuvre
    Deepening Traectories: Disrespect
    Three Patterns, Spheres, and Duties of Reciprocal Recognition
    Three Types of Denial of Recognition
    Misrecognition as Social Distortion and Causes
    Insights for Ecclesial Recognition
    Expanding to Politics: The I In We
    Recognition, a Layered Social Reality of Justice
    Recognition: Productive, Reproductive, and Gradual Expansion
    Plurality: Recognition and the Dissolution of Social Morality
    Diplomacy and the Politics of Recognition
    Psychoanalytic Ramifications of Recognition
    Insights for Ecclesial Recognition
    Towards Mutuality in Honnethean Struggle for Recognition
    The Fundamental Need for Recognition
    Political Payoffs: Recognition and Power Dynamics
 4.3 Politics of Overcoming Disrespect
    Dialectics of Domination: Identity, Relationality, and Recognition
    Ethics of Power: Rectification, Reconciliation, and Recognition

5 Interdisciplinarity in Ecclesial Recognition: Yves Congar’s Legacy as a Test-Case
 5.1 An Application of Interdisciplinarity to Ecclesial Recognition
    Congar’s Crises of Recognition
    The Development of Ecumenical Thought in Congar
    Congar’s Proposed Resolutions of the Crisis of Recognitions
 5.2 Interdisciplinarity: Invigorations for Ecclesial Recognition
    Philosophy of Recognition’s Struggle and Ecclesial Recognition
    Protestant-Catholic Relations
    Anglican-Catholic Relations
    Orthodoxy and Catholic Relations
    Group Social Psychology and Ecclesial Recognition
    Catholic Unity: An Intragroup Reading
    Ecumenical Disunity: An Intergroup Protestant-Catholic Reading
    Toward Unity: An Intergroup Interventional Application
    Politics of Recognition and Ecclesial Recognition
    Politics and Ecclesial Recognition
    Political Themes and Ecclesial Recognition
    Ecclesial Politics and Diplomacy
 5.3 Conclusions
    Limits of the Model
    Summary of Chapters

6 Concluding Postscript: Towards a Productive Ecumenism
 6.1 Reproductive and Productive Ecumenism
    Furthering Honneth’s Reproductive and Productive Paradigms
 6.2 Intra-communion Ecumenicity
    Anglican Communion
    Baptist Churches
    Brethren and Mennonite Traditions
    Catholic Church
    Evangelical Christianity
    Lutheran Communion
    Pentecostal and Charismatic Renewal Movements
    Reformed Communion
    Wesleyans, Methodists, and Uniting Churches
 6.3 Intra-christian and Inter-communion Relations
    Quincentenary of the Protestant Reformation
    Churches’ Bi-lateral and Multilateral Developments
 6.4 .Pastoral and Ministerial Implications

Expected readers are philosophers, ecumenists, theologians, ecclesiastical/church leaders, and students interested in the relationship between churches/communions, scholars of recognition in the human sciences: philosophy, psychology, and political studies.