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Interlude: Complicated Ecclesiastical Terminology

My last post was on the topic of Apostolic Succession.  Over the years I’ve written a lot about theology and such; but I haven’t really written that much about specific churches or church structure.  It occurred to me while writing the earlier post on Apostolic Succession that it’s more “inside baseball” than average.  That is, it assumes a knowledge of a lot of terminology–or at least, it will over the course of coming posts–that might be familiar to Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, or others, but not so much to the public at large.  Even many members of the aforementioned groups may have only a fuzzy idea of the meaning of some of them.  Therefore, I decided to take a short interlude with a post serving mainly to define terms that I have used or will use in writing on this topic.

The terms I’m going to discuss are broadly applicable to the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, the churches of the Anglican Communion (the American branch of which is known as the Protestant Episcopal Church), the Old Catholic communion of churches, the Polish National Catholic Church, and some smaller splinter groups.  In some cases, the terms vary slightly in actual use depending on many factors, or from church to church, and there are any number of exceptions, subtleties, and special cases.  My main goal here is to familiarize my readers with terminology necessary for understanding this series of posts without getting too bogged down in minutia.  Thus, if there are any seeming errors or omissions in what I write here, it’s probably either an omission to save space, or a deliberate decision to omit excruciating details about special cases.  If I have made in true errors, though, I do welcome correction.

Finally, I’m not putting this “glossary”, as it were, into alphabetical or any specific order, aside perhaps from the more specific or lower-level to the more general or  higher-level concepts.  If I had a larger number of terms, I’d worry more about organization; but with the relatively small number I want to deal with here, it shouldn’t be an issue.

All right then!  On with the informal glossary!

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