Churches of Christ & Ecclesiology

Has our movement’s ecclesiology changed over the years to one specific ecclesiology or are there several competing against one another? 

Thomas Olbricht has an excellent article in the most recent Restoration Quarterly journal (2008, vol. 50.1) in which he outlines the varying views of what “church” has largely been thought of throughout our movement’s history.  As I look at Churches of Christ, and more specifically Churches of Christ in Ontario I believe I can confidently say we have several churches operating under an ecclesiology that has largely been shaped by Roy E. Cogdill and Leroy Brownlow.  Yet, Everett Ferguson’s ecclesiology has made significant impacts on our heritage in Ontario as is evident with his invitation to teach short courses at Great Lakes Bible College in Waterloo, ON. 

As I lead the Newmarket Church of Christ I am leading us down a new path which operates under a new ecclesiology.  This new ecclesiology is not based upon the teachings of the apostle Paul but instead is based upon the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Thus my ecclesiology is being developed on the teachings and actions of Jesus.  What else is influencing my ecclesiology? The notion of being a covenant people.  I suppose then that the words of Rubel Shelly and Randy Harris come in to play at this point, “We . . . propose a shift from institution to person, pattern to principle, deed to motivation.”  Our ecclesiology is not about “restoring the true church” but rather is about living in such a way so that we can be the body of Christ in this world. 

 As the community of faith I serve is struggling with the notion of moving out into the community to be the presence of Jesus we are inadvertently taking on a new ecclesiology.  What we are saying is that we are not interested in simply proclaiming “We have the right pattern” but instead come and journey with us as we realign our lives so that we become like the living Jesus . . . so that we become the presence of the living Jesus.

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Published in: on March 4, 2008 at 11:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

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