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Title: … als het ware een sacrament
Subtitle: Naar een theologische visie op de reëel bestaande kerk
Author(s): BORGMAN, Erik
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Theologie
Volume: 50    Issue: 1   Date: 2010   
Pages: 123-143
DOI: 10.2143/TVT.50.1.3203430

Abstract :
In Church: The Human Face of God (1989), Edward Schillebeeckx suggests that he could not write on the Church in the way he had originally planned, because the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, which to him was the Holy Spirit, had to a large degree disappeared from the Church. Elsewhere, however, he argues that all in the Church and outside it depend on the presence of the living God who brings human history to its post-historical end. This article tries to understand this ambivalence in Schillebeeckx’s approach of the Church and overcome it. Firstly, it shows how in the 1980s, Schillebeeckx uses history as either the source of the current problems or of possible solutions in his reflection on the Church and its Ministry. This does not meet his own standards of understanding the ecclesial present as part of larger history. Secondly, it is made clear how the magisterial emphasis on the ‘one-issue Church’ that has all it needs within itself, leads to fundamental problems. Thirdly, it is argued that Schillebeeckx tries to solve these problems by turning to the historical Jesus and fundamentally defending the ongoing dependence on him. This, however, leads to an aporia expressed in Schillebeeckx’s concept of ‘proportional equality’: the relation of the Church to its context should be the same as the relation of Jesus to his context. Neither Jesus as a historical figure nor the current understanding of Christ in the Church can serve as the criterion for authenticity here. Fourthly, therefore, the point is made that the Church remains dependent on the living, active Christ who presents himself in ever unanticipated and unprecedented ways. In conclusion, it is shown how this makes it necessary to break away from the tendency in Schillebeeckx’s work to emphasize a continuity right from the origin. The fullness of God's grace is present in creation and the fullness of Gods revelation is present in Jesus Christ, but what this means only becomes clear in the Spirit making the present and its past the place where God’s future starts. This means that the ultimate question is not how the Church understands its own mission in relation to the Jesus of the past and the Christ present in the Spirit, but how it is unexpectedly and unprecedentedly conquered by the Spirit. Thus it is not, but becomes ‘like a sacrament’ as Vatican II formulated it: ‘a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race’.

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