Theologically, What is the Church?

Want to read more? Check out what I believe (in extreme abbreviation) the church is personally, biblically, and historically as I continue to write this series for a class I am in at Earlham School of Religion.

Clark Pinnock notes in his text, Most Moved Mover, that God is indeed highly interactive with the world and all of creation. According to Pinnock, “In Scripture, God is revealed as transcendent but also as involved in the world most intimately. God does not simply rule over creation, he is moved and affected by what happens in history. Events arouse joy or sorrow, pleasure or wrath in him. Our deeds move, grieve, gladden, or please him.”[1] He goes on to write that God suffers because of his people. We cause God to grieve when we fail to be what God envisions for our lives. God suffers with his people. God sees us hurting and wants to be with us in it. He[2] sees you with cancer, and he sees you who is taking care of your small child all alone. God suffers with us. And, Pinnock notes, God suffers for us. To be Christian is to understand on some level that God shields us from the full weight of the judgement of separation with God. For many, that is through faith in Christ. Faith in Christ and a life lived like Jesus requires the understanding that God had to sacrifice so we may live abundantly.

So, what does all this have to do with who the church is? Well, I am glad you asked. The Church is, theologically, an extension of God in the world. We are not a literal building for even God never wanted the Church to be a building.[3] We are called to be co-creators of love and goodness (you know, all those God characteristics we love) and even mercy, grace, and justice (the harder and less easy to understand God characteristics) to the world. The Church is so much more than a building to decorate or split over when we cannot agree on what to do with the spare closet in the east wing. The Church and the mission of the Church is to be Jesus.

The definition of what it is to be Jesus is still being worked out by theologians far and wide. But what we can take heart in is that Jesus was the bringer of all the gifts; even the ones that make us uncomfortable or nervous such as prophecy of doom, or forgiveness for those who definitely do not deserve it (you know, like you and me.)

Being in the Church, is hard work. Co-creating a world that is better because we were here is hard work. But doing that work is what we should be about because it is what we are called to be.

[1] Pinnock (2001), pg. 56

[2] I do not believe in a gendered God, but want to respect the original language chosen by my selected theologian for this idea.


Published by Irreverent Rev

audacious. jesus freak. suffrage lover. level head, open mind. laugh enthusiast. trying to become brave.

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