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‘Satis est — Necesse est’

The Challenges of the Document ‘The Church of Jesus Christ’ to ‘The Church: Towards a Common Vision’

Elina Hellqvist

The task of the current paper is to compare two important, ecclesiological documents to each other, namely, the document The Church of Jesus Christ (cjc, 1994) of the Leuenberg Church Fellowship to the Faith and Order document The Church: Towards a Common Vision (ctcv, 2012). The first one, cjc, outlines an ecclesiology of one, specific confessional church family and church fellowship, in a geographical area. ctcv, on the other hand, reflects the global situation, and seeks to express convergence between churches living in very different societies and cultural spheres. By comparing the two documents, this paper explores themes such as church as a community of Saints, the Leuenberg methodology of unity, legitimate diversity, apostolic succession and requirements for unity. The paper argues that the Leuenberg model of ‘reconciled diversity’ could be understood as a step and a practical tool on the way to the full, visible unity, which, according to ctcv, is the ultimate goal of the ecumenical movement.

Elina Hellqvist and Auli Vähäkangas

Abstract

The article discusses the recognition of same-sex partnerships in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF). The main focus is on the experiences of recognition and misrecognition of same-sex couples when the couples have asked for a prayer on behalf of their registered partnership. The findings of this study confirm that the researched experiences of recognition have two dimensions, vertical and horizontal. Vertical recognition deals with institutional recognition and experiences with the sacred. Horizontal recognition entails experiences of interpersonal recognition. Narrated experiences often contained both horizontal and vertical dimensions of (mis)recognition. Recognition is a social phenomenon. Participants of the study had two distinct social contexts for recognition. One is the more loosely defined “rainbow community”, the other the formally authoritative, institutional ELCF. Most of the interviewees had positive experiences of recognition from the informal community but mainly negative experiences of misrecognition from the institutional ELCF. The difficult balancing between the conviction of the equal human dignity of each individual and the understanding of marriage as a social category for heterosexuals only led to same-sex couples’ experience of not being treated as equal members of the church. The study affirmed the importance of experiences and feelings as indicators in identifying a valid struggle for recognition.