DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.





Church Structure


Vatican Council I: 1869-1870. The Church's organizational structure is the episcopalian government and hierarchical in nature. The Papacy of the Catholic Church is considered the office of the Pope, who is the head of the universal Church through the Roman Curia in Vatican City. There is the top down hierarchy where the Pope is responsible for the appointment of bishops and cardinals The Pope's role also gives him supreme authority with regard to doctrinal disputes and decisions made by the Vatican Council. The Church believes the Pope's infallibility in his instruction of faith and morals is part of the Catholic doctrine, and is given to the solely to the Pope as under direct guidance from the Holy Spirit. (Richert 2009).


Following the Pope in the Church's ecclesiastical structure are the Cardinals who serve as the Pope's advisors and the Church administrators. Although the office of the Pope selects the College of Cardinals from among bishops, patriarchs and archbishops, the College of Cardinals will select the Pope's successor upon his death. (Richert 2009).


Below the College Cardinals are the Archbishops whose duty is to head various dioceses or districts within a city, and a Cardinal may also hold the title of Archbishop. The Bishop follows the Archbishop with responsibilities similar to those of a priest as the teacher of doctrine, conductor of worship and ordinations, and an administrator in the Church government. (Infoplease 2007).


The Priests and Deacons serve the congregation in the administration of Church sacraments in holy communion, penance, baptism and marriage. (Collinge 2006).



Vatican Council II: 1962-1965. Prior to the meeting of the Vatican Council II in 1962 under Pope John XXII, the structure of the Catholic Church was comprised of the supremacy of the Pope and the Vatican, the acknowledgement of the post-Tridentine of sin as the avoidance and confession of sins, and the strict, inflexibility of the Catholic Church with regard to doctrine. The Church maintained the power. However, the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) transformed the Church by revolutionary modifications which included the liturgy, Bible study, a change in the individual mindset of the Church's authority over moral decisions, and the involvement of the laity in decision-making. Vatican II represents an extraordinarily complex phenomenon, but reflected the growing sentiment among the clergy that a more responsive and participatory structure was appropriate. (Greeley 1998)


Author Helen Ebaugh has noted as shift in focus from the hierarchical structure of the top-down authority, to an understanding of the laity and clergy as the “People of God” whose goal is to acknowledge the Great Commission of Jesus Christ in spreading the gospel, and actualize the Kingdom of God throughout the world. (Ebaugh 1991) Several specific modifications were enabled during Vatican Council II that transformed the structure of the Catholic Church and worship. These included the performance of the liturgy facing the congregation, relaxation of the prohibition of meat on Friday, liturgy conducted in vernacular languages as opposed to Latin and with focus on music, and the recognition of Protestant denominations as part of the Church of God. (Ring, 1998). The Council also modified the receiving of the Eucharist in the hand instead of on the tongue, and the inclusion of the laity in the liturgy. One of the most significant changes achieved by the Council was the recognition of Liberation Theology. During a 1968 meeting in Medellin, Columbia, several Latin American bishops convened to discuss concerns surrounding their cultures and jurisdictions in the Church. What resulted from the meeting was an understanding that God's message to mankind should be expanded past the spiritual to the substantial welfare of marginalized groups in local communities and, more broadly, to issues regarding racial discrimination, contraception, human rights violations.


The revitalization of the Catholic Church through Liberation Theology involved not only a focus on the welfare of the poor and oppressed in the Church and community through social support groups, but a recognition and inclusion of culture and ethnicity in the universal Church. After Vatican II, there was an emancipation among the Catholic religious leaders and laity where a variety of outreach programs were established to address health, finances, housing and education of the underclass, while integrating the cultural and ethnic needs of communities. This Theology was embraced by the Council as part of the reconceptualization of Catholicism. (Ring 1998). The intention of Vatican II was to also expose the laity to an experiential relationship with the Scripture and Christ through its own participation and involvement. (Commonweal 1995).

The Second Vatican Council and its decentralization of structure saw the birth of many national and international church movements that spoke to various underlying issues that existed pre-Vatican II. The changes did facilitate the emergence of a number of groups. One such organization was the Liturgical Movement developed to emphasize the participation of the laity in worship, as opposed to being limited to congregation status. Religious women seeking education in the Church organized the Sister Formation Movement, and the Catholic Action Movement was developed to assist priests and laity to achieve greater involvement in the Church. Another organization was the Catholics for Free Choice, which openly challenge church teachings and doctrine.


The development of these organizations and others were the fruits of the Vatican II's reconceptualization of the Church as the People of God, and its new image of collegiality. (Ebaugh 1991). Though the hierarchical structure remained intact after Vatican II, the changes made by the Council introduced new beliefs to the Catholic Church which have transcended the modifications defined at the Council. A study on early post-Vatican II on the the perceptions of the Protestant and Catholic Church structure showed that the Catholic Church had essentially maintained its hierarchy, with an unwavering respect and belief in the unquestionable supremacy of the Pope and religious authorities. (Ring 2005). However, the laity of post-Vatican II now believe they have the authority to make changes in the decision-making structure with regard to church activities and the congregation at large. (Davidson, Schlangen, D'Antonio 1969). Vatican II opened discussion on birth control, premarital sex, oral sex and homosexuality, although the basic doctrine remains unchanged.

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.





Church Structure


Central to understanding the Pentecostal Church is its congregational structure, wherein there is very little official hierarchy as in the Catholic Church. Although there is less hierarchical structure, the Pentecostal Biblical teachings found in Romans 13:1, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God,” could define a hierarchy as God having all supremacy over earthly authority. (Dearman 1974). This belief gives the Pentecostal Church its congregational nature with democracy in its decision-making. All members of the Church, including lay people, hold authority with regard to the election of pastors and Church activities. In contrast to the top down nature of the episcopal structure, there is the delayering which removes barriers between the congregation and the clergy. There is somewhat of a similarity in this delayering process within the Catholic Church after Vatican II where there was involvement of the laity in decision-making.


During mid-20th century, sociological research on the perceptions of church structure was performed by authors Davidson, Schlangen and D'Antonio. Prior to the study, the authors hypothesized that the congregational churches of the Baptist, Christian and Assembly of God would perceive their church structure to be most democratic. In a report entitled, Protestant and Catholic Perceptions of Church Structure, the authors' findings confirmed the perception by members of the Protestant-based denomination of the Assembly of God, in that their church structure was, for the most part, democratically structured. Because the Protestant faith refers and adheres to the teachings of the Bible for its salvation, clergy is not perceived as having power or special privileges over the laity or its salvation and can be challenged on teachings. Laity in the Assembly of God is also involved in decisions regarding the congregation as a whole. The study not only confirms minor hierarchical structure, but the overall autonomy of the laity within the church. (Davidson, Schlangen, D'Antonio 1969).


Church Split


The general theology of Pentecostals lies in four core beliefs: salvation, healing, baptism of the Holy Spirit and the return of Jesus Christ. Due to a conflict in Biblical interpretation, there was a split in the Pentecostal Church and the creation of denominations under three movements. There was the Holiness Movement who believed in the water-baptism as an outward sign of conversion, followed by a baptism in the Holy Spirit and glossolalia or speaking in tongues. In Pentecostalism, glossolalia is perceived as the ultimate sign of true sanctification and is accepted in most Pentecostal Churches. (Yamane 2009). There was also the creation of the Reformed Pentecostal Movement whose doctrine is grace through conversion without the water baptism. The third denomination created was the Oneness Movement whose doctrine recognizes Jesus alone as the Godhead. This Movement is in contrast to the Catholic Church's strong adherence to the Holy Trinity in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.


Along with the doctrinal split in the Pentecostal Church, there was also racial division between African American and Caucasians. The Holiness Pentecostals consist largely of the African American Church of God in Christ (COGIC), the Church of God, Church of God in Christ International and the Pentecostal Holiness churches. The Oneness denomination is primarily comprised of black. This denomination is also known as the African American Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. But despite the creation of the several denominations, all the Churches embrace the theology that the Bible is the reliable and inerrant Word of God. (Yamane 2009).

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.