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The Models of Church As a Communion and As a Political Society: The Meaning, Goals, Strengths and Weaknesses Avery Robert Dulles S. J. (1918-2008) was a famous Jesuit theologian and priest and a cardinal of the Catholic Church. In his classic work Models of the Church, which was first published in 1974 and updated soon, he presented the main models of Church. Such theological images of Church as the political society model, the body of Christ model (or the church as a communion), the sacramental model, the herald model and the servant model were developing during the past two thousand years in the history of church. In the later editions of his book the model of community of disciplines was added. The models of church as a communion and as a political society were chosen to compare because they both have similarities and differences. To see them it is better to compare these two models step by step. THE MEANING The model of church as a political society describes church as an organization or institution, which is presented in rather extreme form. In this case it is understood as an ideal society, which is independent. It is reviewed as a political society. This model depicts a system, which consist of the churchs constitution, its package of rules (canon law), governing body and subjects (bishops, priests and deacons). Every element of the system has to follow certain rules and laws, which are established. Dulles says that according to this model, being a good Catholic is following the beliefs and practices, which are presented by the office-holders (Dulles (1982) p. 3). Church laws and dogmas are created to control the activities of the members of the church. This model was dominating from the times of the late Middle Ages until 1962, when the start of the Second Vatican Council was held. This was the type of ideology, which drew the idea of a church which was teaching, but not taught.

This system of church divides people into those, who are the government of the church (chosen minority) and those, who are average members of the church (majority). Average members are not able to make contributions into changing the rules of the church and participate in constructing church laws. They are only allowed to take part in church processes. Thus, the model of church as a political society is constructed as a pyramid of levels, where the power descending from the pope through the priests and bishops to the ordinary people at the bottom. The result of such a system is that the power of church is in the hands of the ones, who are on the top (Dulles, 1987, p.31). That is why the church is identified with its leaders and sometimes they are the subjects of worship. This system provides the idea that the church cannot carry out its mission without being structured, which is the basis of its stability and organizational features. In the basis of the model which depicts the church as a communion is the conviction that the church is a community of connected people. It underlines the relationships between the members of the church. Here love, acceptance, commitment, intimacy and forgiveness are the foundations of the church. This is the community, where love, justice and peace are realized (Fuellenbach, p.152). Communication between the members of the church plays a major role. This type of community connects men, women and children with God and with each other. Also it presents the idea of certain totality of the means by which these relationships are built. The communion consists of the profession of faith, following the rules of the church and of the participation in the sacraments. The communion, which is given by the Holy Spirit, is expressed in interpersonal relationships and voluntary assistance and concern. The Body of Christ is the main symbol on the way to communion. This kind of model paid more attention to the things, which were missing in the political church model. The communion model was more democratic one, which stressed the importance of the contributions of each member. It was like a supplement to the previous

model, which helped to fill Catholic Church life with spirituality. The arid political model of church neglected three biblical images (the Scripture, the People of God and the Temple of the Holy Spirit) until they were reborn in the 20th century (Hamer, p.204). GOALS The model of church as a political society is directed to the salvation of individuals, where the purpose of human existence is get to heaven for following the canons and rules of the church. There is a sharp separation between the church and the world; the same is about the life and the afterlife of the member of the church. This model of the church makes real Catholics out of people, who accept the established doctrines and obey the pastors. The criteria of membership are visible and controlled. In the goal of the model the church as a communion is leading human beings to the communion with God. The one body of Christ is in the image of this church. The purpose is to build the communication with God, relationships between people with God in heart, a communion with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Being in the church implies being in union with God. Here real Catholic is the person, who unites with other Christians in order to share his faith and grace. As it can be seen, of these two churches differ much in how religion becomes the part of human life. The church as a political society separates the church and the world, but the model the church as a communion invokes people to live in the world with religion in their hearts and minds. STRENGTHS During the years and centuries this dominant model of church gave its members a strong feeling of identity and solidarity. They were confident in who they were and what interests they were standing for. Here protests, dissent or questioning of the government was not relevant. Nevertheless, ordinary members of the church were free of responsibility, so

they believed in what the authority was saying. The important part of the mission was to bring new people, who were not religious, into the organization in order to save their souls. The success could be shown in the numbers of converts, baptisms, confessions, communions, confirmations, marriages, funerals that were held. Usually this was noticed in the official church documents (Dulles, (1987) p.34). Such features as faith and beliefs, common prayer and sacraments, the pyramid with church leadership and government on the top are still very important for the Catholic Church. The communion model of the church provides its strength in natural desires of human being to share and live in society. This model of church is less hierarchical that the previous one. This model emphasizes the contribution of each member of the church in order to receive ones gifts of the Spirit. Biblical images of the People of God, the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit are underlined to create the path to the hearts of Christians. This model revives the practice of prayer and Christian spirituality. The happiness is in an implementation of the idea of warm human relationships in the communities and justice, peace and joy, which can be found in connection with God (Fuellenbach, p.155). WEAKNESSES The main weakness of the political church model is in a little support in scripture. Early history of church did not assume anything but a single community, where more communitarian and less authoritarian relationships were set. One more disadvantage is in clericalism, a so-called domination and control of authorities on one side and blind obedience of passive members on the other (Dulles, (1987) p.34). Next is juridicism, which converts the gospel into church obligations and laws that must be followed by every member. Nevertheless, it lessens the attention that should be paid to the communication of ordinary members with each other and also with Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God the Father. It forgets about God being the friend of sinner while connecting an image of God with the top

of government. Triumphalism is the next defect, which makes one people stand over others. This defect of the prerogatives of authority creates an idea that more gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to authorities instead of selfless ordinary prayers. The mission of the Church was hidden behind an over-emphasis on authority. An excessive role of the hierarchy inhibits the emphasis on theologians, who are the brain centers of the church, putting the brakes on the discovering aspects of their activities. It is hard for this model to affirm the possibility of nonCatholics to survive (Dulles, (1987) p.37). The model of the church as a communion also has its weaknesses. There is too much attention paid to the spiritual side of the church, which can lead to the loss in the organization of the church. There is no strong church system, which could be an engine of the church. Also there is too much stress on the spiritual sources of the church. Nevertheless, any church is a kind of human activity, which is created by people on the earth because of their weakness, ignorance and sinfulness. This is why the church must remain a temple for people, which does not take Christians over other people. Such model does not provide strong motivation for missionary work. High expectations of any human to find his grace in the community can be followed with frustration. The member of the church can forget the main mission on church, which is in being a servant of the kingdom of God because of being wrapped up in the happiness of Christian fellowship. Finally, the members of close communities can take others as intruders and outsiders. CONCLUSIONS The conclusion can be made that both of these two models of church have their own positive and negative sides. The political model of the church seems to be too strict and pays much attention to the hierarchical system. The communion model of the church loses its organization because of extra focusing on spiritual means of church. I consider that more

appropriate church model should consist of the ideas of both sides to provide people with the main ideas of the Catholic Church.

Works Cited Dulles, Avery (1982) Imaging the Church for the 1980s, New York: Crossroad. Dulles, Avery (1987) Models of the Church, 2 ed., New York: Doubleday Image Books. Fuellenbach, John (2002) The Meaning of Church in the Teaching of Vatican II, Maruknoll NY: Orbis Books. Hamer, Jerome (1964) The Church Is a Communion, New York: Sheed & Ward.