Saturday, January 30, 2010
Vanhoozer on Evangelical Catholic or Catholic Evangelical
After shifts in my understanding of church and sacraments, I decided that I would henceforth describe myself as an "Evangelical Catholic" (I'd like to add the label "Reformed" as well, but I'll just assume that it's embedded in "Evangelical"). But the question that plagues me is which should be the adjective and which should be the main noun. Does "evangelical" modify "catholic" or should "catholic" modify "evangelical"? Towards that end, Kevin Vanhoozer writes:
"'Catholicity' signifies the church as the whole people of God, spread out over space, across cultures, and through time. 'We believe in one ... catholic church.' The evangelical unity of the church is compatible with a catholic diversity. To say that theology must be catholic, then, is to affirm the necessity of involving the whole church in the project of theology. No single denomination 'owns' catholicity: catholicity is no more the exclusive domain of the Roman Church than the gospel is the private domain of evangelicals. Catholic and Evangelical belong together. To be precise 'catholic' qualifies 'evangelical'. The gospel designated a determinate word; catholicity, the scope of its reception. 'Evangelical' is the central notion, but 'catholic' adds a crucial antireductionist qualifier that prohibits any one reception of the gospel from becoming paramount" (Drama of Doctrine, 27).
For this quote I am going to award big Kev the "Clever Little Bunny Award" (the flip side of my "Soggy Fish Award"). For writing a good book that is helping me prepare my lectures on Systematic Theology!