Rethinking Essential Ecclesiology: Whyness

Continuing my unpacking of the essential properties (whatness, whoness, and whyness) of the Church from within my ecclesiological perspective, I move on to whyness.

The purpose of the church.  We expand the kingdom of God.  This kingdom is the spiritual and physical rule of God and it includes obedient subjects, a kingly blessing, and a kingly realm.  The kingdom was proclaimed by Jesus during his earthly ministry and he called his followers to enter the kingdom.  The Kingdom of God has come near but has not yet fully come.  Jesus proclaimed its proleptic presence, but it will only be consummated in the eschaton.  For now, Christians expand the Kingdom through regular life together, centered on Jesus, and for the sake of the world.  Together we proclaim the Kingdom’s King until he comes.[1]

Can the whyness of Church be described within the “expand the kingdom” category?

Teleology: the fact or the character of being directed toward an end or shaped by a purpose–used of natural processes or of nature as a whole conceived as determined by final causes or by the design of a divine Providence and opposed to purely mechanical determinism or causation exclusively by what is temporally antecedent.[2]

Three key ideas surface in the be the kingdom category.

  • the rule of God
  • life centered on Jesus
  • life for the sake of the world

What happens when we run these through the definition of teleology?

Designed by God. The Church exists by God and for God.  Despite any temporal divisions or external dissimilarities, she is a cohesive whole.  She is joined under one Head, Jesus Christ.  He is her sole authority; all other authorities are derivative and subject to the Head.  She follows her Head, shaping her ways of being, doing, and feeling according to his example and will.

Shaped by a purpose. The Church exists to the glory of the Sovereign Creator and to declare his life and will through her communal life.  This communal life, centered on her Head, is shaped by and for love.  Such love is a decided action and intention of the heart for the good of another.  This love, for God and for our brothers and sisters, calls all to trust the only trustworthy God and Savior.

Directed toward an end. The Church exists toward God; her life is directed toward the Trinity: Father, Son, and Spirit.  This refers not only to her temporal journey, but also to her relational tending.  In the consummated Kingdom the church will live in God’s unfiltered presence, but even now her heart (our hearts) leans toward God’s heart.  The Church’s life is centered on the person of Christ, who is her Head and dwells in her by his Spirit.  Leaning toward God and centered on the Son, she acknowledges, through intention and action, that she is here on God’s mission, not her own.  His glory, his rule, and his presence are her reason for being.


[1] Springer, Laura K. An Articulation and Evaluation of an Emerging Church Ecclesiology. La Mirada, CA: Biola University, 2008. Unpublished thesis. p.4 n. 5.
[2] “teleology,” Merriam-Webster 7.0 for Windows Mobile, (c) 2004-2007.

About Laura

My name is Laura and I am on a journey, pondering the implications of God's glorious design of humanity and integrating every aspects of this design into a description of whole life health.
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