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First Page

199

Last Page

239

Abstract

Much of what we call ecclesiology is in fact the history of trial and error in the pursuit of the Kingdom of God in this world. But there is more. Far from being purely clinical perception and assessment of things past and present, ecclesiology is a real life story, that of Jesus and those who attempt to follow him. Jesus is a person who really lived; the Church is the story of people who live their lives patterned on Jesus' person and work. The deeply existential and provisional character of Church, and the reflection about Church, cannot be downplayed or overlooked. In the course of history, this has led to antagonistic views and ways of living Church, some of which favored dissolution of social structures, others the hardening of institutional reality and domestication of the Spirit. However, the complexity of life and the freedom of the Spirit cannot be banned. This makes ecclesiology a frustrating enterprise; it is, in all likelihood, "mission impossible" rather than foregone conclusion, in spite of the Church's ontological rootedness in the mystery of the triune God. Ecclesiology will be fruitful, if it explores the past in search of the future by way of an adequate understanding of the present.

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