Who is the Church?


  • Cheryl M. Peterson

    1. Cheryl M. Peterson is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, where she has taught since 2005. This article is adapted from her book, tentatively titled Who is the Church? An Ecclesiology for the Twenty-First Century, forthcoming from Fortress Press in 2013.
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Abstract Although the question of survival is on the mind of most mainline congregations in the United States, the real crisis facing the churches is one of identity. After briefly reviewing three theological paradigms for the church (Word-event, communion, and missio dei), I propose that the question of the church's identity is best answered by returning to the “story of the church,” which properly “starts with the Spirit,” and by reclaiming a concept of the church as a Spirit-breathed people who are called and sent.