So when there arises a need for a new ecclesiology, that shakes the foundations of a denominational identity that is rooted in how to structure a church, what to call it, and what to do in its plenary gatherings. Put all your eggs in a basket of how the church is expressed (even effectively and redemptively) in a particular time and place, and you are likely lose all your eggs when the times change.
But the need for a new ecclesiology is not, in my opinion, due to the shortcomings of my own particular heritage. The problem stems from the fact that modernity and its monolithic confidence in objective, scientific data is losing out to something that is not modern. Instead, this new world is pluralistic, less certain, and thankfully less shallow. Little is as shallow as the empiricism and humanism of modernity. I remember the Time article several years ago that explained all human love and our appreciation of human beauty as a drive to find the most fertile and healthy mate to bear our genes.
We are determined by our chemistry. Modernity has no room for poets. Modernity is a type of scientific hyper-Calvinism devoid of human creativity, choice, and asthetics. Choice is illusionary. We do as we are forced to act by our genes and chemical processes. The anthropology of modernity is miserable and dehumanizing.
So why a new ecclesiology? A few initial thoughts come to mind . . .
- We need to be more humble.
- We must learn to be less certain of ourselves, though still certain of God.
- We must avoid slapping simple answers on complex problems.
- We have to find ways of being more communal in a less communal world.
- We must offer an alternative to consumerism.
- We can no longer trust the social sciences to handle all but "spiritual" matters.
- We cannot use leadership models that are not Trinitarian and thrive in God.
- We must learn to co-inhabit this world with others as aliens rather than rulers.
- Our evangelism must be less imperialistic and formulaic.
- We must not agree to be a figurehead chaplain who words meaningless invocations and benedictions at our culture's events.
It is not having a new ecclecsiology for its own sake, but finding how the ways in which we are the church may reflect a clearer sense of our real mission.