The Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England and the British Methodist Church have retained or restored the diaconate. These diaconates remain distinctive and capable of further change. This article uses a receptive ecumenical approach to ask what the Roman Catholic Church can learn or receive with integrity from the diaconate in the Church of England and British Methodism. The first section examines the reassessment of the diaconate of service by John N. Collins. The next two sections explore specific learning opportunities from the Church of England Distinctive Diaconate and the British Methodist Diaconal Order. The fourth section examines the way that British Methodism has become alert to the possibilities of unhealthy notions of diaconal service. The final section explores work towards the interchangeability of deacons, concluding that, in the development of the diaconate, the current historical moment provides opportunities for ecclesial learning and perhaps a step towards visible unity.
As the Roman Catholic Church aspires ‘to embrace a synodal way’, some old questions about its ecclesial vision return. One such question is the equality of all the baptised within the church. This question is particularly fraught because of the church’s long history of viewing the itself as a society of unequals, its hierarchical structures, and its culture of top-down authority modelled on pre-modern monarchical conceptions of society. This paper argues that not only must the church face the implications of accepting the equality of the baptised as a basis of its praxis, but also that it should embrace that equality as part of its witness and service to the world. Thus, it must not simply take equality to heart and express it in its rituals, but must create a ‘theology of human equality’ which then becomes part of its preaching.
This case study of the presbyteral ordination service of the Orthodox Church of Armenia aims to uncover some aspects of the Armenian ecclesiological vision that lie buried under the neoscholastically-framed manuals of theology. By analyzing liturgical texts and comparing them with two theology manuals that are still influential, the paper, in the spirit of ressourcement, challenges the unexamined presuppositions of the handbooks through which ordination liturgy is currently understood. Furthermore, by focusing on the earlier and distinct aspects of the ordination liturgy, the paper excavates some neglected ecclesiological perspectives. In particular, the ressourcement approach allows us to rediscover some pneumatological aspects that can be a valuable theological resource for current ecclesiological discussions.
Receptive Ecumenism (re) has been presented as a distinctive ecumenical approach for nearly fifteen years, and it is eight years since Paul Avis asked the critical question, ‘Are we Receiving Receptive Ecumenism?’ The main part of this essay addresses that question by surveying the different ways in which re has been received in the academy, in ecumenical bodies, and in the life of the churches. A shorter section then outlines a proposal for viewing re in a wider ecclesiological context, rather than simply as an ecumenical practice. The essay primarily focuses on resources developed since 2012 in order to assess the breadth and depth of contemporary reception of re, and potential future developments.