This course explores the nature of the Church. The first part of the course will focus on the Church in Scripture, followed by a brief historical overview, highlighting the understanding of the Church given at Vatican II as well developments in ecclesiology. Attention will be given to the biblical foundations of the Church, especially its relationship to the Reign (Kingdom) of God. The key biblical images identified by Vatican II (Sacrament of Salvation, Mystery, People of God, Body of Christ, Temple of the Holy Spirit) will be examined and evaluated for their relevance. The reception of the ecclesiology of Vatican II in the intervening 50 years will be discussed. The nature of the Churchs ongoing mission of evangelization will be highlighted. Key ecclesiological elements for an Asian and Filipino Church will be gleaned from selected FABC documents, PCP II, and Ecclesia in Asia. The Church as a topic worthy of dogmatic assertions is closely bound up with its nature as mystery, a reality imbued with the hidden presence of God, in the apt words of Paul VI. If we believe (as we do and should) that the Church is not simply a human reality but also a divine one; if we believe that the Church is Christs body inseparable from the head as to form one Christ and totus Christus; if the Church is not only the community of those who are saved but also the community through which one is saved, then we can begin to understand why it is important to study the Church.
This course attempts a systematic study of the people of God, body of Christ, and temple of the Spirit as taught in Scripture and elaborated in Church teaching. It will present the major themes of Vatican IIs ecclesiology, situating them in the councils historical context and giving more emphasis to communion ecclesiology which, according to the Extraordinary Synod of 1985, is crucial to a proper understanding of Vatican IIs teaching on the Church. The course will also consider such questions as: the interrelationship between the Church and the Kingdom of God, between the Church and other religions; ecumenism, evangelization and mission, renewal and reform, and Mary as the most illustrious member of the Church.