Digest of terms


association of Christians, extending outwards from its 1st century origins in Israel/Palestine to every country and continent in the world. It is diverse rather than uniform in structure, with a common core of beliefs which is traditionally trinitarian in form, emphasising God as creator of all, historically realised and driving humanity spiritedly into the future.

The institutional diversity of the churches includes at one end of the social spectrum a hierarchical structure, with centrally co-ordinated authority, with leadership defined and determined by power transmitted by direct 'apostolic' line of communication, dating back to the historical Jesus, and passed to Peter understood as first leader in succession. At the other end of the spectrum are local congregational churches, base communities, selecting and appointing their own leaders and guided by their individual reading of scriptures, prayers and charismatic and pentecostal experiences. The hierarchical model is typified by the Catholic, and specifically Roman, Church, and the Eastern Orthodox Churches; the individual model by Protestant Churches. The authoritative voice of the former is found in Vatican and Papal Encyclicals http://www.vatican.va. That of the latter, in the Geneva-based World Council of Churches http://www.oikoumene.org. (Christian ethics)

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