I. The Claim, Its Challengers, and Its Champion The creedal claim: "We believe the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church."
The historicist challenge: overlapping, competing 'Christian traditions.'
The modern, individualistic challenge: mere political structures, 'organized religion.'
The consumeristic challenge: dispensable means of personal growth (or fatigue).
Jesus cares! The community of disciples is his top priority.
Theological implications: 'the Church' calls for theological interpretation, discernment, respect.
II. The Church as "the Gathering Gathering" ekklêsia means assembly, gathering, reunion.
Israel assembles as ekklêsia (1 Kings 8:14).
Israel is scattered among the nations (2 Kings 25).
Israel's regathering is prophesied and begun
(Jer 3:14-17, 2 Chron 36:22-23, 1 Pet 1:1, Eph 1:22-23).
III. Resonances: The Term ekklêsia ... ...respects the Church's eschatological context between Christ's ascension and return.
... respects that the Kingdom is "already" (Matt 12:28) and "not yet" (Matt 13:47-50), so the Church "manifests the Kingdom without being identified with it."
... emphasizes the Church's concreteness.
... recognizes that the Church is personal, a 'who' more than a 'what.' ... respects the Church's center over its boundaries
... suggests the Church's 'marks' of unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity.
IV. What About the "Old" Israel?
What is "the Israel of God"? (Gal 6:16).
Supersessionism: The Church replaces Israel as "the new Israel" (classical theology).
Dispensationalism: The Church and Israel live under two different and still active covenants.
Pluralism: The Church and Israel have different ways to salvation (some varieties of Dispensationalism).
Paul's more complicated vision (Rom 9-11, interpreting Deut 32): Someday "all Israel will be saved" by faith.