When it comes to the idea of “Church”, many people have various memories that come to mind. For me the memory is rather odd. It has to do with “smell” of all things. The church my family attended when I was growing up smelled like that 1960’s. Now granted I wasn’t around during the 60’s but I can only imagine that it would have smelled like this church. Old, dusty, and damp. It was a strange blend of mildew, Pine-Sol, and mothballs. Needless to say, it smelled bad.
Now unfortunately the theology of many churches is the same. Simply put – it stinks. Fortunately the Bible presents the Church in terms of theological attributes. Our theology of the church doesn’t have to stink. Rather it can be well-rounded, Biblically, and God-honoring. The following 7 theological attributes are a summary of Dr. Gregg Allison’s Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church:
The church is characterized by seven attributes.
The first three are characteristics regarding the origin and orientation of the church:
(1) Doxological, or oriented to the glory of God
(2) Logocentric, or centered on the incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ, and the inspired Word of God, Scripture
(3) Pneumadynamic, or created, gathered, gifted, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
The final four are characteristics regarding the gathering and sending of the church:
(4) Covenantal, or gathered as members in new covenant relationship with God and in covenantal relationship with each other
(5) Confessional, or united by both personal confession of faith in Christ and common confession of the Christian faith
(6) Missional, or identified as the body of divinely-called and divinely-sent ministers to proclaim the gospel and advance the kingdom of God
(7) Spatio-temporal/eschatological, or assembled as a historical reality (located in space and time) and possessing a certain hope and clear destiny while its lives the strangeness of ecclesial existence in the here-and-now.
– Dr. Gregg Allison, Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church (pg. 103-160)
Our theology of the church must begin with God who is Father, Son, and Spirit. This Trinitarian theology shapes the gathering (covenantal and confessional fellowship) and the sending (missional and eschatological) of the church. As pastors and leaders we must hold fast to this theological reality as we seek to shepherd Christ’s people.