Yesterday, I was instructed to find a glossary term I’m unfamiliar with relating to my preferred major. Although it took some head banging and nail biting to get there, I realized that I am very interested in theology, and will continue to be whether or not I decide to pursue it as a major. Because of this, I have decided to use it as part of my learning memoir, which will be a project spanning over these next couple of weeks. So with my topic chosen, I decided to look through google and pick out a word. I came across a theological dictionary of sorts here: http://home.pacific.net.au/~amaxwell/booklets/SWWORD-BOOK.pdf. A quick scroll down revealed the word “Ecclesiology”. Given that the book of Ecclesiastes holds a special place in my heart, I decided to pursue this term. Strangely, the term itself has little to do with the book of Ecclesiastes, but instead rather it focuses on structure and characteristics of the Christian church. One of the even stranger concepts about this is that Ecclesiastes is an old testament book, and the Christian church didn’t form until some time after the end of the Old Testament (which is what the book of Ecclesiastes is a part of).
A little more digging pulled up an interesting site known as gotquestions.org, or more specifically the address http://www.gotquestions.org/Ecclesiology.html. The author, who for whatever reason wished to attribute his findings to S. Michael Haudmann, began his explanation of the term by clarifying not only that it is the study of church, but also that the church itself is the people a church consists of rather than an actual building or network of buildings. Another interesting fact the author threw out was in regards to the politics of the church. Apparently, a church is typically governed by a council of elders, as well as one taking a pastoral role upon his or herself. Occasionally, one of the elders may enact their own self as pastor. However, this is not mandatory.
After taking a good look at gotquestions, I transitioned over to this site here: https://bible.org/seriespage/ecclesiology-church. The author Greg Harrick explains that the word Ecclesiology stems from a term used in scripture to describe the church known as “ekklesia”. Yet, in the Seputagint (an older greek translation of the old testament), there are still many definitions for ekklesia. It can directly be translated as “The Church of God”, as well as a meeting held for the purpose of civil affairs, war, for the benefit of nations, or various religious purposes. I came to understand at this point how Ecclesiology might correlate to the christian church, but it still seemed ironic to me that a term referring to the christian body of the new testament could resemble a book read from the old testament so closely. Especially when Ecclesiastes didn’t refer to gathering so much as the individual’s relationship with God taking precedence over material and worldly aspects.