Thoughts of a Living Christian

Musings of an amateur theologian and hopeful writer

The Church as Trinitarian Eschatological Koinonia


Ecclesiology has been an area of contention for much of the Church’s existence. Where the Church receives its authority, who is in the Church, what the Church looks like, how the Church should act; many debates have arisen from this creature called ekklesia, some of which become divisive. This paper seeks to present a Biblical and historical argument that the Church should be recognized as trinitarian, eschatological koinonia (or fellowship/community). Initial discussion will pertain to the nature of this Church, before moving to discussing its expression through the marks, ordinances and mission of the Church.



“Outside the Trinity…there is no church.”[1] Similarly “Moltmann believes that ecclesiology is fundamentally trinitarian…The church does not correspond to any one member of the Trinity, “but to the eternal perichoresis.””[2] The Biblical picture is that the Father elects his Church, given to and found in Christ, built up and united by the Spirit (Gen. 12; Deu. 6.6-11; Isaiah 49.5; John 17; Eph. 1.4; Col. 1.13).[3] This people, says 1 Pet. 2.10 is a ‘Holy Priesthood’ of God, his own people and nation.[4] It is also the Body of Christ (Eph. 5.29-32) and hence, as Grenz notes, we must be doing the will of Christ, who is the head.[5] Importantly, we are not Christ himself,[6] but we are connected to him, the True Vine (John 15.5).[7]

Yet it is also decidedly pneumatological in nature, being the ‘Temple of the Holy Spirit’ (1 Cor. 3.16).[8] According to Aquinas, the Spirit animates the Church,[9] and Barth states, “The Christian congregation arises and exists neither by nature nor by historical human decision, but as a divine convocation…called together by the work of the Holy Spirit.”[10] Pannenberg’s ecclesiology is largely pneumatological; through the Spirit we have fellowship and the Kingdom is made present.[11] He argues, “Only by the work of the Spirit…is Jesus Christ the church’s foundation.”[12]


The Church as an eschatological entity refers primarily to its relation to the Kingdom of God.[13] The Kingdom of God is both a present reality (Luke 17.20), by which Satan has been defeated (Matt. 12. 28-29; Luke 10.9, 18, 20) and prophecy has been fulfilled (Matt. 11.2-26; Mark 1.14-15; Luke 4.21); and a future expectation (Luke 21.31).[14] Unlike much medieval theology, it is important to make a distinction between the Church and the Kingdom;[15] “The church…is not identical with the Kingdom of God. It is a sign of the kingdom’s future of salvation.”[16] As a sign of the Kingdom, the Church is a doorway to the Kingdom, bearing witness to the Kingdom, represented through fellowship with one another.[17]

Referencing the eschatological nature of Joel 2, Pannenberg says, “The event of the outpouring of the Spirit…involves a comprehensive account of the church as the eschatological people of God who, in contrast to the Jewish people, is gathered by mission from the human race as a whole and thus becomes…the new people gathered out of all peoples.”[18] Küng argued similarly, centering unity on participation in “the truly eschatological event” of the death and resurrection of Christ.[19]

As a sign, the Church is thus sacramental by nature. Rahner labelled the Church a sacrament of salvation, “the presence of God’s love,” pointing away from itself to God.[20] He states, “By the very fact of being in that way the enduring presence of Christ in the world, the Church is truly the fundamental sacrament…From Christ the Church has an intrinsically sacramental structure.”[21] For Pannenberg, “The Church…is nothing apart from its function as an eschatological community and therefore as an anticipatory sign of God’s coming rule and its salvation for all humanity.”[22] It should be noted that the term ‘sacramental’ should not be understood in terms of administering grace, merely pointing toward the One who does administer grace. The church’s role, according to Pannenberg, is to educate us for the Kingdom.[23] One other element of this eschatological nature of the Church is the Church’s missiological being. As a reflection of the God who revealed his missiological and proactive nature, by electing Israel and his Church, sending his Son, and promising eschatological renewal, the Church must also be missiological. Its very nature is missional. This is discussed below, but it is important to note this eschatological element, as the Church points toward Christ and the Kingdom through mission.


The word ekklesia, coming from the two Greek words meaning “to call” and “out of” is used in the LXX to translate qahal, meaning “assembly,” (Cf. Deu. 23.1ff; 1 Chron. 28.8). Hence Jesus’ ekklesia is a continuation of the Old Testament assembly of the Lord.[24] This assembly, or community, is emphasized in Zizioulas’ ecclesiology: “The Church as the Body of Christ points to a mysticism of communion and relationship through which one is so united with the ‘other’ (God and our fellow man) as to form one individual unity.”[25] Ratzinger argues similarly,[26] and both centre this communion on the Eucharist.[27] Rather than the metaphysical unity as presented by Zizioulas and Ratzinger, Moltmman’s view is preferred, wherein the Church is a reflection of the trinitarian fellowship; “Through the ministry of the Spirit the trinitarian fellowship invites persons, the church, and the creation into its redemptive, agapic, eternal-life-giving koinonia.”[28]

Is this community ‘catholic’ (meaning ‘universal’)? Cyril of Jerusalem said in the fourth century that the church is catholic because it “extends through all the world,”[29] to which Aquinas added inclusivity and timelessness.[30] However, it moved away from the temporal toward an invisible understanding, as the Westminster Confession affirmed, “The catholic or universal church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ.”[31] However, Barth argued the Church is primarily visible,[32] which seems to fit the biblical picture whereby the Church will be recognised by its actions (Cf. John 13). Grenz argues that according to Hebrews 12.22-23 the Church is “one cosmic fellowship that transcends time,”[33] an idea taken further by Ratzinger and Zizioulas, who argue that the transubstantiated elements in the Eucharist is what unifies the Church, i.e. the one body of Christ.[34]

Eucharistic ecclesiology such as this suggests that the Church is unified in the act of participating in the Eucharist (Cf. Eph. 1.4; John 6). This is largely based on a transubstantiation theology, which will be discussed below. However, unity should be seen as coming solely through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5.5; Eph. 4.1-6; Phil. 2.1-3; 1 Cor. 12.13). Hence, not the Eucharist, but the worship of the One God and the submission to the One Word should be the focal point of the Church’s universality.



Since the Reformation, elements that ‘mark’ Church has been a matter of contention. The First Helvetica Confession and Luther affirmed the central position of the word of God.[35] Luther stated, “Anywhere you hear or see such a word preached, believed, confessed, and acted upon, do not doubt that the true ecclesia sancta catholica, a “holy Christian people” must be there.”[36] Calvin added to this the administration of the sacraments,[37] and then later Barth added to these two the “fellowship of prayer.”[38] Hence the visible Church exists where the Bible is expounded, believed and acted upon, the ordinances are administered and not neglected, and the congregation joins in prayer and worship.[39]


The celebration of the ordinances are the high point of corporate worship.[40] They are symbols by which the Church obediently responds to God’s grace, remembering their participation in his death and resurrection, and allow God to “begin and sustain that faith.”[41] However, appropriate administration requires the other ‘marks’ to be present, thus validity the Church’s presence.[42] The number of ordinances should be kept to two, based on two criteria Grenz outlines: 1) Biblical evidence that Jesus ordained the act, and 2) evidence that the early Church practiced the act. Hence, only baptism and the Lord’s Supper should be considered ordinances.[43]

Baptism is the initiatory symbol of participation in the death and resurrection of Christ. Pannenberg aptly puts it, “In terms of baptism the Christian life is a process of dying with Christ, and at the same time, by the Spirit, the new humanity, the resurrection life, is already at work in Christians.”[44] Infant baptism must be rejected because of the lack of a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, which the New Testament picture clearly portrays as vital in baptism.[45] Hence, the concept of ‘believer’s baptism’ is preferred.[46] Similar to a marriage ceremony, baptism is public confession of personal faith, symbolizing entry into Church, Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the sealing of a covenant with God.[47] Furthermore, baptism is an oath, pledging loyal service to the Lord, surrendering to his will.[48] It does not bring salvation, but is a celebration of God’s grace within the individual.[49]

After baptism, which is the initiatory rite, the Lord’s Supper is the repeated ordinance, by which the Church is invited to remember Christ’s sacrifice and the Church’s participation in that death and resurrection. Further, it acts as proclamation of Christ’s sacrifice, a visual illustration of the gospel.[50] Contentions surrounding the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper have focussed on the debate of Jesus’ presence in the elements. The Roman Catholic perspective became transubstantiation, wherein the elements physically and literally become the body and blood of Christ; the Lutheran consubstantiation purported Christ’s physical presence in all things, not merely in the elements becoming Christ’s physical body; and Zwinglian memorialism which asserted the Lord’s Supper was no more than a symbol – Christ was not literally physically present.[51] Calvin responded to all three by arguing that Jesus is physically present by the Spirit, who lifts us up to God the Father.[52]

Transubstantiation must be rejected, because it is clear from Scripture that Christ has physically ascended to his throne in heaven (Acts 1.6-11),[53] which thus inevitably contradicts consubstantiation.[54] However, the Biblical picture stresses the fact that it is more than merely a sign as the Zwinglian model affirms. Because eucharisto (‘to give thanks’), kuriakon deipnon (‘Lord’s Supper’), and koinonia (‘communion’) are each used in reference to this ordinance (Luke 22.19; 1 Cor. 11.20; 1 Cor. 10.16, respectively), it can be understood as being based in the Trinity. It should be understood as christocentric, pneumatological, eucharistic and celebratory remembrance of Christ as the paschal Lamb of God, in whom we are unified and in whose death and resurrection we participate.


The Church’s essence, reflecting God’s nature, is to be missional. Much ecclesiology has focussed on what the Church does, but the focus should be on what the Church is; the Church’s very nature is rooted in mission.[55] Harper and Metzger argue this missional nature “flows forth from the church’s communal identity…communion with God gives rise to its missional existence, for God’s communal being is co-missional.”[56] According to John 17, as God sends the Son, so the Son sends the Church; as his body, the Church lives by Christ’s will.[57] We are sent to proclaim the Gospel (1 Pet. 2.9). According to Barth, the Church exists for the world, to reveal the Word of God. Ministry is subordination, both to God and humanity as we serve God. We need not, nor should not, do any more. It is up to God to complete his mission. He states, “Its task is simply to serve…to assist both God and man.”[58] The Church merely witnesses to what God is doing; “with the deepest humility it points to the work of God accomplished in Him and the Word of God spoken in Him.”[59]


The Church is trinitarian, eschatological koinonia. It does not correspond with any one person in the Godhead, but to all three; it is the People of God, the Body of Christ, and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. It sacramentally points toward the Kingdom of God and the salvation offered through Christ; a community united by the Spirit to visibly reveal Christ’s love. The Church is marked by submission to the Word, administration of the ordinances, and corporate prayer and worship, and by its very essence is missional. The mission of the Church is, thus, to eschatologically point toward the Kingdom of God by being a community of love. The Baptist perspective is virtually synonymous with this understanding, but would respond to the emphasis on Calvin’s spiritual presence in the Lord’s Supper, preferring a Zwinglian memorialism.[60] The most important thing for the Church to remember, however, is that God has not deserted his Church, but has promised to ensure its survival, even from all the powers of Hades; the Church will endure.


Allen, R. Michael. Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics: An Introduction and Reader. London: T & T Clark International, 2012.

Barth, Karl. Dogmatics in Outline. Translated by SCM Press. 2 ed. London: SCM Press, 2001.

Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Translated by Henry Beveridge. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989.

Godfrey, W. Robert. “Calvin, Worship, and the Sacraments.” In A Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes, edited by Peter A. Lillback David W. Hall. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing Company, 2008.

Grenz, Stanley J. The Baptist Congregation. Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 1985.

Grenz, Stanley J. Reason for Hope: The Systematic Theology of Wolfhart Pannenberg. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Grenz, Stanley J. Theology for the Community of God. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994.

Harper, Brad, and Paul Louis Metzger. Exploring Ecclesiology: An Evangelical and Ecumenical Introduction. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2009.

Hill, Graham. Salt, Light, and a City: Introducing Missional Ecclesiology. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2012.

Küng, Hans. The Church. Translated by Ray and Rosaleen Ockenden. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1967.

Mannion, Lieven Boeve and Gerard, ed. The Ratzinger Reader. New York: T&T Clark, 2010.

McGrath, Alister E. Christian Theology: An Introduction. 5th Edition ed. West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.

McGrath, Alister E., ed. The Christian Theology Reader. London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.

Moltmann, Jürgen. The Church in the Power of the Spirit. Translated by Margaret Kohl. London: SCM Press Ltd, 1977.

Mullins, E. Y. Baptist Beliefs. Valley Forge: Baptist World Publishing Company, 1912.

Norman H. Maring, Winthrop S. Hudson. A Baptist Manual of Polity and Practice. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1991.

Pannenberg, Wolfhart. Systematic Theology. Translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Vol. 3. London: T&T Clark International, 2004.

Rahner, Karl. The Church and the Sacraments. Translated by W. J. O’Hara. London: Burns & Oates, 1963.

Reymond, Robert L. A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1998.

Stone, Bryan P., ed. A Reader in Ecclesiology. Surrey, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2012.

Vriezen, Th. C. An Outline of Old Testament Theology. Translated by S. Neuijen. 2 ed. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1970.

Zee, Leonard J. Vander. Christ, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004.

Zizioulas, John D. Being as Communion. New York: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1985.

Zizioulas, John D. Communion & Otherness. New York: T&T Clark, 2006.

[1] Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger, Exploring Ecclesiology: An Evangelical and Ecumenical Introduction (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2009). 19.

[2] Graham Hill, Salt, Light, and a City: Introducing Missional Ecclesiology (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2012). 90.

[3] Col. 1.13 reinforces that it is something the Father has done (note the perfect tense). Furthermore, as Barth argues, “A congregation is the coming together of those who belong to Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit,” (Barth, in R. Michael Allen, Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics: An Introduction and Reader (London: T & T Clark International, 2012). 132). Cf. Th. C. Vriezen, An Outline of Old Testament Theology, trans., S. Neuijen, 2 ed. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1970). 88 – “Israel was only elected in order to serve God in the task of leading those other nations to God. In Israel God sought the world…in His mercy He called Israel to the service of His kingdom among the nations of the earth.”

[4] Cf. Stanley J. Grenz, Theology for the Community of God (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994). 466. Notice the link to Old Testament theology (cf. Exod. 6.7).

[5] Ibid. 466.

[6] Cf. Barth, who states, “It is not itself Jesus Christ either acting for the world or speaking to it,” (in Allen. 200).

[7] Cf. Jürgen Moltmann, The Church in the Power of the Spirit, trans., Margaret Kohl (London: SCM Press Ltd, 1977). 5 – “Christ is his church’s foundation, its power and its hope…The lordship of Christ is the church’s sole, and hence all-embracing, determining factor.” Also, Hill comments on Moltmann’s Christological emphasis, “The church’s foundation, essence, power, mission, and future are built on and directed toward Jesus Christ…The church’s identity and purpose is wrapped up in the messianic mission of Christ,” (Hill. 87).

[8] This imagery clearly reflects Old Testament imagery, the temple representing God’s presence (Cf. Grenz. 466).

[9] Aquinas, in Bryan P. Stone, ed. A Reader in Ecclesiology (Surrey, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2012). 65.

[10] Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline, trans., SCM Press, 2 ed. (London: SCM Press, 2001). 133. Furthermore, Moltmann argues similarly, that the Spirit is the primary shaper of the Church; “The Spirit leads the church to witness        to and worship Christ, to embrace his messianic mission, to live in eschatological hope, and to pursue God’s power and presence in all dimensions of its being,” (Hill. 91). Cf. Wolfhart Pannenberg, Systematic Theology, trans., Geoffrey W. Bromiley, vol. 3 (London: T&T Clark International, 2004). 13 – “By the Spirit each is lifted above individual particularity in order, “in Christ,” to form with all other believers the fellowship of the church.”

[11] Stanley J. Grenz, Reason for Hope: The Systematic Theology of Wolfhart Pannenberg (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990). 152-54. This eschatological perspective is shared by McGrath, who argues that the Spirit’s presence “within the church is a sign of the coming of God’s new age, and the distinctive role that the church must play in bringing about the kingdom of God on earth,” (Alister E. McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction, 5th Edition ed. (West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011). 377).

[12] Pannenberg. 16.

[13] Cf. Ibid. 73 – “The central concern for the Church, and the primary point of reference for understanding the Church, must be the Kingdom of God.”

[14] Cf. Grenz, Theology for the Community of God. 474. He labels the Kingdom “the eschatological in-breaking of God into history,” (p. 474). Furthermore, Rev. 5.9 and Gal. 3.28 reveal that the Church’s diversity of people expresses the inclusiveness of the Kingdom. n

[15] Ibid. 477.

[16] Pannenberg. 37.

[17] Harper and Metzger. 48-71. Also, Grenz, Theology for the Community of God. 461 – “As the fellowship of believers we enter into relationship with God and with one another. This covenantal relationship is a foretaste of the future community we will share in the new creation and a sign of the eternal community of the triune God himself.”

[18] Pannenberg. 13.

[19] Hans Küng, The Church, trans., Ray and Rosaleen Ockenden (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1967). 81. Cf. Hill. 30 – “Küng describes the church as the eschatological community of salvation, called into existence through the eschatological event of the life, message, death, resurrection, and reign of Christ.”

[20] Hill. 14-16.

[21] Karl Rahner, The Church and the Sacraments, trans., W. J. O’Hara (London: Burns & Oates, 1963). 18.

[22] Pannenberg. 32. According to Grenz, “For Pannenberg the church is a proleptic sign of the kingdom, and the people of God live from the proleptic presence of the future among them mediated by the Spirit,” and “the church is the anticipation of the kingdom; therefore its essence is constituted by the kingdom, of which it is a sign,” (Grenz, Reason for Hope: The Systematic Theology of Wolfhart Pannenberg. 151-53).

[23] Pannenberg. 26. Cf. Grenz, Reason for Hope: The Systematic Theology of Wolfhart Pannenberg. 153 – “The biblical discussion focuses on Jesus’ own purpose, to proclaim the kingdom, which for Pannenberg means that ecclesiology is not to be grounded directly on the concept of the fellowship of believers but on the kingdom.” Pannenberg reasons, “The Spirit’s specific work in the church always relates to Jesus and to the eschatological future of God’s kingdom that has dawned already in him. The consequences of this for the doctrine of the church is that its relation to the kingdom of God, as an anticipation of the future fellowship of the humanity renewed in this kingdom, must form the context for an understanding of the church as the fellowship of believers that is grounded on the participation in the one Jesus Christ,” (Pannenberg. 20).

[24] Grenz, Theology for the Community of God. 464-65 – “The early Christians linked themselves as the followers of Jesus to what God had begun in the wilderness with the nation of Israel.” Furthermore, implicit in this is the idea of sanctification, to be set apart for a particular purpose (Cf. John 17). This continuation of Old Testament imagery implies participation in the Abrahamic covenant, as the “People of God,” (Rom. 4.1-16; Gal. 3.6-18) (McGrath. 376).

[25] John D. Zizioulas, Communion & Otherness (New York: T&T Clark, 2006). 307. Furthermore, Hill describes Zizioulas’ ecclesiology, “Our natural biological essence is not eradicated, since Christians live in the body and are subject to death. However, our biological substance, and our transformed substance and nature, are bridged by the nature of the Eucharist, and by our communal participation in the sacrament (bridged by a sacramental or Eucharistic hypostasis),” (Hill. 64).

[26] Lieven Boeve and Gerard Mannion, ed. The Ratzinger Reader (New York: T&T Clark, 2010). 93 – “These disciples became a ‘people’ through communion with the Body and Blood of Jesus, which is simultaneously communion with God. The Old Testament theme of covenant, which Jesus incorporates into his preaching, receives a new center: communion with Christ’s Body.”

[27] Hill. 5-11, 72.

[28] Ibid. 93. Further, McGrath labels the Church the “Community of Salvation,” called into being as response to God’s salvation work, to proclaim and extend this work, (McGrath. 376).

[29] Cyril of Jerusalem, in Alister E. McGrath, ed. The Christian Theology Reader, 4 ed. (London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011). 411.

[30] Ibid. 415.

[31] Ibid. 426. Furthermore, “The visible church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion.” This dualism affirms what Augustine argued, who, as a result of the Donatist controversy, argued for a mixed body of sinners and saints. Due to sin, the church cannot be made of saints, but the church is sanctified and made holy by Christ, (McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction. 379-80).

[32] Barth. 133 – “By men assembling here and there in the Holy Spirit there arises here and there a visible Christian congregation. It is best not to apply this idea of invisibility to the Church…If the Church has not this visibility, then it is not the Church.”

[33] Grenz, Theology for the Community of God. 467. Cf. 1 Cor. 12.20; Eph. 1.22-23.

[34] Hill. 11, 68; John D. Zizioulas, Being as Communion (New York: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1985). 144-45 – “Although the catholicity of the Church is ultimately an eschatological reality, its nature is revealed and realistically apprehended here and now in the eucharist.” See below for discussion on the Eucharist, including discussion on transubstantiation.

[35] In McGrath, ed. The Christian Theology Reader. 418-419. The First Helvetica Confession stated, “It is not only known but also gathered and built up by visible signs, rites, and ordinances, which Christ Himself has instituted and appointed by the Word of God as a universal, public, and orderly discipline,” (p. 419).

[36] Ibid. 418-19. McGrath notes that for Luther, it was “more important to preach the same gospel as the apostles than to be a member of an institution which is historically derived from them,” (McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction. 382).

[37] Calvin argued, “Wherever we see the word of God sincerely preached and heard, wherever we see the sacraments administered according to the institution of Christ, there we cannot have any doubt that the Church of God has some existence,” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans., Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989). 4.i.9.

[38] Barth, in Allen. 135 – “The congregation is the place where God’s word is proclaimed and the sacraments are solemnised and the fellowship of prayer takes place, not to mention the inward gifts and works, which are the meaning of these outward ones.”

[39] This should not, however, disqualify the inevitable invisible aspect of the Church. While these ‘marks’ are what characterize the Church’s activity, the Church can still exist in their absence. Hence, it should be clarified that a basic understanding of these ‘marks’ should be what the Church should be doing regularly, and through these regular actions, the Church can be distinguished from the rest of the world. Furthermore, as discussed below, the term ‘ordinance’ is preferred to ‘sacrament.’

[40] The meaning of the word ‘sacrament’ has historically been somewhat ambiguous. It is not within the scope of this essay to debate semantics, but based on historical tendency toward the belief that the administration of the sacrament is in itself the administration of the grace it signifies, the term ‘ordinance’, as employed by Grenz, is preferred, referring to the fact that these acts were ordained by Jesus Christ, (Cf. Stanley J. Grenz, The Baptist Congregation (Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 1985). 29-32).

[41] W. Robert Godfrey, “Calvin, Worship, and the Sacraments,” in A Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes, ed. Peter A. Lillback David W. Hall(Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing Company, 2008). 372. Calvin argued, “It seems to me, then, a simple and appropriate definition to say, that it is an external sign, by which the Lord seals on our consciences his promises of good-will toward us, in order to sustain the weakness of our faith, and we in turn testify our piety towards him, both before himself, and before angels as well as men,” (Calvin. 4.xiv.1. Furthermore, the eschatological nature in this argument must be recognized, as Pannenberg states, “The significatory nature of the sacramental presence of Christ and God’s kingdom in baptism and the Supper is an expression of the “not yet” of our Christian life in tension as we move on to the eschatological consummation of salvation,” (Pannenberg. 353).

[42] Calvin argued similarly, in that they must never function independently of the spoken word, (Godfrey. 375).

[43] Grenz, The Baptist Congregation. 32.

[44] Pannenberg. 243. Furthermore, Mullins argues that baptism symbolizes a remission of sin, union with Christ, and a cleansing from unrighteousness, (E. Y. Mullins, Baptist Beliefs (Valley Forge: Baptist World Publishing Company, 1912). 68-69).

[45] Leonard J. Vander Zee, Christ, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004). 122 – “The primary objection to the baptism of infants…is the fact that in infant baptism one of the most important aspects of New Testament baptism is missing: conversion and the profession of faith in Jesus Christ.” Cf. Acts 8.37, which insists on the need to accept Jesus as saviour before baptism.

[46] It is not within the scope of this essay to argue the points of the links between circumcision and baptism, the Acts ‘household texts’ and others.

[47] Grenz, The Baptist Congregation. 34. Cf. 1 Cor. 12.13; Rom. 6.3-4; 1 Pet. 3.21.

[48] Winthrop S. Hudson Norman H. Maring, A Baptist Manual of Polity and Practice (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1991). 153.

[49] Mullins. 14 – “Baptism does not regenerate. It is to be administered to those who have previously been regenerated by the Spirit of God. Baptism does not secure remission of sins save in a symbolic way…Baptism is simply the outward symbol of what has already taken place within the subject.”

[50] Grenz, The Baptist Congregation. 39-40. Cf. Mark 14.22-25; Matt. 26.26-28.

[51] McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction. 419-20; Grenz, Theology for the Community of God. 532; Godfrey. 372-383.

[52] Calvin. 4.xvii.9, 10, 19. Cf. Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1998). 962 – “It is a fact that Calvin does teach that by the Spirit’s empowering Christ’s human nature, although in heaven and not endowed with ubiquity is nonetheless brought to us (or perhaps better, by faith we are lifted to it) and that we derive spiritual life from feeding specifically upon it by faith.” Furthermore, John 6.51-58 recounts Jesus declaring that in order to have eternal life, one must “eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,” (v.53). John 15.26 and 16.13 state that it is the Spirit who testifies on our behalf before the Father and who guides us into truth and, thus to the Father. Therefore, seeing that it is the Father who gives eternal life through Christ (John 2.16) and it is the Spirit who unifies us to Christ (1 Cor. 12.13) and guides us to the Father, the source of eternal life, we must acknowledge – with Calvin – that it is by the Spirit that the Supper becomes efficacious.

[53] Furthermore, Rom. 8.34 places Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension in the same category, and thus can be understood as a physical death, physical resurrection, and physical ascension. Also, 1 Cor. 15.20-28; John 3.13; 16.5-7; Heb. 4.14; 8.1.

[54] It is for this reason that eucharistic ecclesiology is to be rejected.

[55] Cf. Irenaeus, in McGrath, ed. The Christian Theology Reader. 408.

[56] Harper and Metzger. 20. Furthermore, “The purpose of the church’s missional nature is the glorification and worship of the Father,” (Hill. xiii). Also, “The church has a mission in the world, but it is not its mission – it is the mission of the Trinity, revealed in human history, breaking into the present and awaiting fulfillment in the future. The Spirit empowers the church to fulfill its nature and role in this trinitarian history of God’s dealing with the world, by his transformative presence in word, sacrament, office, mission, worship and witness to the gospel…it does not merely have mission; instead, the church can only be fully comprehended as a missionary organism and community in the light of the Spirit’s work, the eschaton, and the missio Dei,” (Ibid. 90).

[57] Grenz, Theology for the Community of God. 75.

[58] Barth, in Allen. 192-98.

[59] Ibid. 201.

[60] As purported in Grenz, The Baptist Congregation. 15-26.


Single Post Navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: