By Veli-Matti Karkkainen
Intervarsity Press © 2002, 238 pages (Names Index, Topical Index)

I read this in 2004. I left my reading of the book with an important realization: “the church is simpler, more complicated, more universal, and more local that we can imagine.”

This assessment remains.

This time out, I have gathered some readings and notions for my upcoming thesis.

Reading List

  • C.N. Tsirpanlis, Introduction to Eastern Patristic Thought and Orthodox Theology (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991)
  • Karl Rahner, The Dynamic Element in the Church (New York: Herder and Herder, 1964)
  • John Zizioulas, Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1985)
  • Hans Kung, The Church (1967; reprint, New York: Image Books, 1976)
  • Wolfhart Pannenberg, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s, 1998)
  • Jurgen Moltmann, The Church in the Power of the Spirit (London, SCM Press, 1977)
  • Miroslav Volf, After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s, 1998)
  • James Wm. McClendon, Jr., Doctrine: Systematic Theology, vol. 2 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994)
  • James Wm. McClendon, Jr., Biography as Theology: How Life Stories Can Remake Today’s Theology (Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1990 [orig. 1974])
  • Lesslie Newbigin, The Household of God: Lectures on the Nature of the Church (London, SCM Press, 1953)

Notions for Further Investigation


  • Essential characteristics of the church, 14

Orthodox Ecclesiology

  • Church as the image of the Trinity, 19
  • The relation of unity and diversity to catholicity, 24

Roman Catholic Ecclesiology

  • Church as a pilgrim people, 28
  • Sacraments as mediators of the communion life of God, 31

Lutheran Ecclesiology

  • Church as simultaneously just and sinful, 41
  • Church as a place where believers exercise God-like love, 46

Reformed Ecclesiology

  • Church as having two parts, one visible to God and the other visible to humanity, 52

Free Church Ecclesiology

  • Church as the gathering of those who have direct and immediate access to God, 65
  • Necessity of holy living, 67

Pentecostal/Charismatic Ecclesiology

  • Necessity of experiencing God mystically and supernaturally, 70
  • Prophethood of all believers, 72
  • Ecclesiology as lived reality, 73

Ecumenical Ecclesiology

  • Unity as God-given, mandatory behavior, 79
  • Koinonia-ecclesiology, 86
  • Acceptable definitions of apostolicity and catholicity, 90

Ecclesiology of Zizioulas

  • Church as the image of God’s communal personhood, 96

Ecclesiology of Kung

  • Need to change forms as the culture changes, 104
  • Relation between the Holy Spirit and the flexibility and freedom of the church, 108

Ecclesiology of Pannenberg

  • Church as the sign of the unity of all humanity, 115
  • “Body of Christ” as Christological and “fellowship of believers” as pneumatological

Ecclesiology of Moltmann

  • Eschatological ecclesiology, 127
  • Church as communion of equals, 128
  • Mission to spread the kingdom not the church, 130

Ecclesiology of Volf

  • Church as those gathered in Jesus’ name, 136
  • Participatory ecclesiology, 140

Ecclesiology of McClendon

  • Doctrine of the practice of the whole people, 143
  • Importance of the local gathering, 144
  • Denial of the lay-clergy distinction, 149

Ecclesiology of Newbigin

  • Church as missionary people, 152