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People of God, Body of Christ, Koinonia of Spirit: The Role of Ethical Ecclesiology in Paul's "Trinitarian" Language

A. Katherine Grieb


The relationship between trinitarian doctrine and human society is intensely debated today. Can Paul's ethical ecclesiology help? Paul's missionary theology requires a careful working out of the interrelations of the term "people of God" taken from Israel's Scriptures, and another term, the "body of Christ," deriving from the sacraments and popular social theory. Are these opposing ecclesial descriptions? Has one superseded the other? At issue is nothing less than the integrity of God. This paper argues that a close study of a third Pauline ecclesial term, "koinonia of Spirit," can clarify the problems of sameness and difference and of the one and the many in Pauline theology. A complex integrity holds together: Israel and the Gentiles; Christ and his church; and the Oneness of God with the divine Lordship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Paul's practical problems led to his "trinitarian" reflections, suggesting that the relationship between dogmatics and practical theology works both ways.

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