Church: God’s Polycentric, Experimental Community

COVID has forced the church to experiment with so many aspects of its life. This has intensified the already-existing ferment in which the contemporary church has found itself. There is little likelihood that this ferment will ease any time soon. In fact, for the community brought into being through the strange message of a crucified and risen Jewish teacher and the sending of the Spirit which blows where it will, ferment is to be expected.

This unit, taught by Geoff Thompson and John Flett, will be of interest to anyone who wants to understand and enter into this ferment. The lectures highlight the diverse embodiments of the church found in the New Testament and presents them as evidence of the ferment and experimentation that characterised the formation and self-understandings of early Christianity. Engaging classic doctrines of the church is important, but those doctrines often obscure the experimentation that properly belongs to reflections on the Christian community. The Reformation’s disruption of the Western church, the modern missionary and ecumenical movements, the emergence of ‘world Christianity’ – not to mention ecclesiastical scandals – all provide the background to the contemporary ecclesiological ferment and contemporary discussions about the polycentricity of Christianity.

This ferment will be framed by reference to the history of Jesus Christ and work of the Spirit as the theological foundations for experimental reflection on the church’s mission, structures, and sacramental practices. The unit will include some focus on the relevance of these issues to the vocation of the Uniting Church in Australia.


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Course code CT/DA/DM2011P/8011P
Instructor G Thompson and J Flett
Mode of Delivery Internal – Face to face and
External – Online Synchronous
Semester 1 Thursday, 9.30 am to 12.30 pm