Ecclesiology in the Trenches: Theory and Method under Construction

By Sune Fahlgren and Jonas Ideström (editors)

Essays introducing the reader to contemporary academic ecclesiology, revealing the thematic diversity and methodological richness of the modern discipline.

ISBN: 9780227175774


The field of ecclesiology is rapidly expanding as new material, theories, methods, and approaches are being explored. This raises important and challenging questions concerning ecclesiology as an academic discipline. This book takes the reader into the trenches of ecclesiological research where the actual work of reading, writing, interpreting, and analysing is being done. The authors reflect on fundamental questions concerning theory and method in ecclesiology in relation to concrete and actual research projects. Ecclesiology is dealt with as a systematic, empirical, historical, and liturgical discipline. Essays explore theology in South Africa as shaped by apartheid, liturgical theology, the diaconate in an ecumenical context, Free Church preachership, suburban ecclesial identity, medieval church practices, liturgical texts, church floor plans, and ecclesiology as a gendered discipline. Ecclesiology in the Trenches is a book for anyone who is interested and involved in ecclesiological research. It is also an example of a reflective approach to academic work. The book can be read as an overall argument for ecclesiology as a theological discipline with great potential for studying the church as a theologically defined empirical phenomenon.

Additional information

Dimensions229 × 153 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

Sune Fahlgren is Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Stockholm School of Theology. He is the author of Shalom Inshallah: Encountering Jews, Christians, and Muslims (2013).

Jonas Ideström is a researcher at Church of Sweden Research Unit. He is the editor of For the Sake of the World: Swedish Ecclesiology in Dialogue with William T. Cavanaugh (2010).


Foreword: The Point of Ecclesiology
     Gerard Mannion

1. Ecclesiology Under Construction: A Report from a Working-Site
     Sven-Erik Brodd

Part One: Systematic Ecclesiology under Construction
2. Ecclesiology as Juxtaposition of Social Theory, Hermeneutics, and Theology: Learnings from a Dissertation on Afrikaner Theology
     Hans Engdahl
3. Systematic Ecclesiology as Primary Ecclesiology
     Michael Hjälm
4. To Compare or Not to Compare, That is the Question: Some Thoughts on Comparative Method in Ecclesiology
     Tiit Pädam
5. Reflections on Understanding Ecclesiology
     Harald Hegstad

Part Two: Empirical Ecclesiology under Construction
6. Studying Fundamental Ecclesial Practices
     Sune Fahlgren
7. The Active and Concrete Church: Operative Ecclesiologies in the Visitation of the Sick in the Middle Ages and Reformation
     Stina Fallberg Sundmark
8. Implicit Ecclesiology and Local Church Identity: Dealing with Dilemmas of Empirical Ecclesiology
     Jonas Ideström
9. Reflections on Particularity and Unity
     Clare Watkins

Part Three: Embedded Ecclesiology under Construction
10. Ecclesiology in Liturgical Texts: In Search of a Method
     Karin Oljelund
11. Church Floor Plans as Ecclesiological Texts
     Gunnar Weman
12. (De)gendering Ecclesiology: Reflections on the Church as a Gendered Body
     Ninna Edgardh
13. Reflections on The Church at Worship and the “Lieutenant Nun”
     Teresa Berger



Endorsements and Reviews

This outstanding collection of consistently high-quality essays brings the reader deep into the exciting discussions at the intersection of ecclesiology and its material, and social forms and conditions. The book convincingly displays the fruitfulness of constructive ecclesiology when it attends to these conditions. Those unfamiliar with the essential work in this area in Scandinavia will find it especially enlightening.
Nicholas M. Healy, PhD, Professor, Theology and Religious Studies, St. John’s University, New York

This volume succeeds in being not just another collection of essays, but a compelling report of ecclesiology ‘under construction’. The editors skilfully gather and introduce a variety of approaches to ecclesiology, enabling the reader to see them from a complementary standpoint. Bridging divides, integrating doctrine and empirical research, truly interdisciplinary and sensitive to ethics and worship, this book is an indispensable tool for making an ecclesiology for today, and is a tribute to the clear vision of the editors.
Paul S. Fiddes, Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Oxford

There is no doubt that the transdisciplinary approach of this book to ecclesiology represents a unique and remarkable contribution to the field. … [I] would warmly recommend this book to anyone interested in studying ecclesiology. It is not just the innovative perspective that makes this volume an important accomplishment, but also the gathered variety of methodologies and ecclesiological loci which it presents.
Petre Maican, in Reviews in Religion and Theology, Vol 25, Issue 1

This volume should inform subsequent future-oriented ‘constructions’ of ecclesiology both ‘in the trenches’ and in the seminar room and, significantly, elsewhere in the world.
Frank England, in Theological Book Review, Vol 28, No 2