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Practising Ecclesiology: From Product to Process

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Developing Ecclesiology as a Non-Correlative Process and Practice through the Theological Action Research Framework of Theology in Four Voices

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This paper positions theological action research methods of ecclesiology within current debates around ecclesiology and ethnography, and within theological reflections on postmodern culture. In relation to the first, it responds to Nicholas Healy’s proposal of ethnographic methods, and his more recent questionings of this approach, before, secondly, engaging with Lieven Boeve’s account of postmodern theology as a non-correlative attentiveness to dialogue and interruption. In each case the nature of the difficulties for practical ecclesiological approaches are rooted in the modern moves away from integrative, pre-modern approaches, towards more rationalised, systematised accounts of reality. Such modern accounts are seen as failing the incarnational theological instincts of Christian theology generally, and the concrete theological concerns of ecclesiology in particular. Theological Action Research offers a response to these contemporary challenges, envisioning ecclesiology as a discursive practice, which finds its identity in process and pedagogy, rather than in the construction of an ecclesiological ‘product,’ or model.

Affiliations: 1: University of Roehampton, University of London, Heythrop College


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