What is Communion and When is it Full? 71 [Ecclesiology 2.1 (2005) 71–87] DOI: 10.1177/1744136605056579 What is Communion and When is it Full? JOSEPH D. SMALL © 2005 SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks CA and New Delhi) ABSTRACT ‘Full communion’ has become the favoured term to characterize forms of reconciled life between and among churches in North America. Yet the term is problematic. This article examines ‘full communion’ in light of its genesis in the ecumenical movement, challenges from Orthodox and Roman Catholic perspectives, the biblical witness, and the actual life of churches that are in ‘full communion’. The article concludes by suggesting a way to retain and employ koino¯ nia categories in ecumenical relations. T he problem in ‘full communion’ has been present from the beginning. The World Council of Churches’ 1991 statement, The Unity of the Church as Koino¯nia: Gift and Calling , observes that the ecumenical movement has enabled churches to walk together in ways that allow them ‘to recognize a certain degree of communion already existing between them’. 1 The ‘certain degree’ of communion is doubly indeterminate, for the Canberra statement goes on to note that ‘churches have failed to draw the consequences for
Ecclesiology – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2005
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