Home > Christianity, Ecclesiology, Quotations, Theology > Andrew Purves on the Church

Andrew Purves on the Church

The starting point in ecclesiology is the ontological connection between Christ and the church. The church exists as church only insofar as it is Christ’s body, in union with him, meaning also our union in him, both of which are a matter of his free and gracious choice. The church has no other ground of being than Jesus Christ. This means in a primary way that the church is not the church as institution, or a voluntary collection of free, religiously and ethically motivated individuals, or, with its episcopate, as an historically ordered hierarchy that determines what it is and what it does. It is Christ alone who determines the “that” and the “what” of the church, who loves the church and calls and forms it according to his own purpose. The church is what he is in that he is Lord of the church in whom and from whom alone it has life. As such, the church belongs to Christ, not to itself. The church is not self-referenced. In a primary sense, its being is iconic, not institutional, as it points away from itself to Christ.

Andrew Purves, Reconstructing Pastoral Theology

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