The Rev. Kolby Kerr
Restoration Anglican Church in Richardson, Texas
Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others
David’s central premise can be boiled down to an equation:
Your Soteriology + Your Eschatology = Your Ecclesiology
In other words, how you answer the questions “What is the gospel?” and “When is the kingdom here?” will lead to your conception of how the church should act in the world.
So there was the Post WWI model that was a transactional gospel, in which the gospel is being saved from hell and the kingdom exists in a dispensational future, and that leads to a church that sees itself as just a lifeboat, sort of waiting things out.
Then you have the liberal mainline perspective that makes the gospel about the ‘way of Jesus’ and following his example. In this model the kingdom is here right now, and so the church is marshalling all its energy in social justice and ending up exhausted and sort of confused as to what’s God’s justice as opposed to a human agenda.
The third model was N.T. Wright’s, in which the gospel is the Lordship of Jesus and the kingdom is an “already but not-yet-fully-revealed” reality that we as the church, the people of God, are invited into.
And the fourth model got to the heart of his challenge to us, that Eucharist might be the way of communicating the gospel as the atoning, cleansing work of Christ that ushers back into the presence of God and invites us (the church) to attend to his presence as an act of witness and evangelism.
Questions I’m Thinking About
- Do you find yourself in your leadership reacting to one of these options based on your personal experience?
- Is there any temptation inherent in the first two options for a missional leader?
- Option 1 allows a leader to feel like the one holding the keys to the kingdom. Also, if salvation is primarily an individual, point-in-time decision, it will be much more dependent on preaching and personal influence, feeding the pride of the leader.
- Option 2 allows the leader to invest in programs and tangible gains. If you are the primary driver of the kingdom, bringing about the justice of God, then it’s easier to take credit. Because the results will be more objective and measureable, it might be tempting to reside here since it is easier to justify your role.
- David mentioned that many evangelical churches seem to be trying desperately to patch together a hybrid version of option 1 and 2. Have you seen that in your own context? What are the implications for someone trying to combine these?
- David used some key descriptions for each option’s ecclesiological posture. For the transactional gospel, the church’s role was maintenance. For the social gospel, the church is marked by exhaustion. For the gospel of Lordship, the ecclesiology was left as a question mark, just sort of fuzzy. Then the last role was about “Faithful Presence.” Are these descriptions diagnostic of your own church or your experience with other churches?
- How do you as a leader communicate this vision and this equation (“Here’s our soteriology, here’s our eschatology, so that’s why we have this ecclesiology…”) to your parish in a way that is precise but understandable?
- Is the idea of “attending to the presence” too passive a purpose to be helpful in directing a leader to tangible action?
- As a missional leader, what other understandings of gospel and kingdom are assumed by your prevailing culture? How will your church acknowledge and move beyond those assumptions?