The telos of the identity and function of the church requires that the fight occur. God has an end in mind. His determined end matters. Therefore, identities that do not lead to conformity to the ultimate authority of the Son must be confronted. God intends that we—individually and corporately—be conformed to the image of the Son (Rom 8:28-30; Eph 4:10-16). Further, functions that do not lead to praxis-theology must be confronted. God intends that we love him with our entire selves (Mark 12:29-31) and that we be a people for himself (Rev 21:2-4). God’s decided end requires that we confront and exhort one another (Heb 3:12-14).
The ground of the identity and function of the church requires that the fight be fair. We are not to fight any way we choose. A corporate identity grounded in the will of the triune God requires confrontation characterized by love and respect. We did not give rise to ourselves. Our very existence is due to the decision and provision of another. This Other exhibits love and respect by his very nature as three-in-one. We as a people are created in his image. A corporate function grounded in the mission of the triune God requires confrontation characterized by humility. Not only is our existence due to God, our mission is God’s mission. He is already at work and we join his work. Because the work belongs to God, no particular expression of this work can boast in itself.
Christians and Christian expressions will continue to fight. The fight is necessary, for there is a decided end. We are aiming at God’s intended end; we must confront and correct or remove whatever does not tend towards that end. We are coming from God’s decision; the manner in which confront and correct or remove must reflect that beginning.
Glossary of Terms
- Function is the designed-in purpose of the ecclesia.
- Ground is the decision from which implementation proceeds.
- Identity is the truth about who we are, viewed from an eschatological perspective. Ecclesial identity is expressed differently across time and culture, but identity itself is secure.\
- Mission is the decisions and actions undertaken by God in pursuit of and in accordance with his divine will.
- Praxis-theology is a reflective and God-centered way of being, behaving, and thinking.
- Telos is the intention toward which implementation proceeds.
- Will is God’s eschatological intention and manner.
- Ultimate authority is authority beyond which there is neither possibility nor need for proof; there is only declaration and commitment.
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Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. http://www.esv.org/