Original Research

Ekumenisiteit as ’n Skrifgefundeerde raamwerk vir kerklike eenheid – ook op die gebied van sendingwerk

C. J. Smit
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 40, No 1 | a334 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v40i1.334 | © 2006 C. J. Smit | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 July 2006 | Published: 30 July 2006

About the author(s)

C. J. Smit, Navorsingsgenoot, Skool vir Kerkwetenskappe, Potchefstroomkampus, Noordwes-Universiteit, South Africa

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Ecumenicism as a Scripturally-founded framework for ecclesiastical unity – also in missionary work
In this article the foundations of a Scripturally-based ecumenicism utilised as a framework within which the dilemma of church division, also in missionary work, can be approached are investigated. The article identifies these foundations as the attributa ecclesiae (the core characteristics of the church), namely unity, catholicity, apostolicity and holiness. The conclusion arrived at is that the purpose of ecumenicism is the unity of the church, because of the catholicity of the church, based on the apostolicity of the church and aimed at the holiness of the church. Within this framework, missionary work should rather focus on cooperation than on emphasising ecclesiastical differences. The concluding issue concerns the boundaries of ecclesiastical cooperation, also in missionary work. Is it possible that different churches within the Reformed tradition can cooperate in missionary fields? Is it furthermore possible that the boundaries can be extended to encompass more than the approach of the Reformed tradition? In which way can churches from the Reformed tradition also cooperate with, for instance, churches from the Lutheran tradition, or with churches from the charismatic or even Roman Catholic traditions? The conclusions arrived at point to the notae ecclesiae (the core marks of the church) as the widest boundary for ecclesiastical cooperation. This approach accommodates the diversity of culture and ethos within the boundaries of the core marks of the church which determine what the church should be like in order to be church of the Lord. In the currently rising ecumenical phase of the history of Christianity the emphasis will increasingly fall on unifying rather than on dividing aspects of the church. The conclusion indicates that the unity of the church, also in missionary work, can only be attained and maintained within the framework of the core characteristics of the church (the attributa ecclesiae) – and that ecumenicism is no longer possible if a church is not recognisable as church of Christ and does not function within the core marks set for the church (the notae ecclesiae).


Apostolicity; Catholicity; Unity Of The Church; Core Characteristics Of; Marks Of; Sanctity Of Ecumenicism


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