Nate Kerr has co-written a piece with Halden Doerge and Ry Siggelkow on the missionary nature of the church. It is natural that Nate would return to this question since it was such a hang-up during the hugely disappointing discussion of his book on various theology blogs — the fetish for “the church” is strong among theology bloggers, and in many cases it seemed to actively impede the understanding of a book that many of those same bloggers claimed to love more than life itself.
In general, the position advanced in the piece is what one would expect Nate to advance — a Barthian “insubstantial” ecclesiology, where the church exists for the salvation of the world rather than the world being saved through incorporation into the church as a substantial entity. I think of the Barthian church (and here one could also draw a connection to Dorothee Soelle) as a kind of avant-garde of humanity that is waiting in joyful hope for the day when it will cease to exist as such and simply be dissolved into the redeemed world, and in my forthcoming book Politics of Redemption I wind up putting forward a similar view of the Christian community.
There are plenty of responses to Nate that berate him for having an insufficiently strong ecclesiology, and those of you who are bored at work might find them to be a good way to kill an hour or two. (Executive summary: Nate needs a stronger ecclesiology.) I’d like to ask a few questions from another direction, centered on Nate’s key concept: “mission.” Read the rest of this entry »