This afternoon, I get to go back to school. Pittsburgh Seminary offers an STM or “Master of Sacred Theology” degree designed to “provide a fuller mastery of one area of discipline of theological study and increase research proficiency and the ability to formulate productive questions.” Other school’s call it a Th.M. In short, it’s a degree that comes after the M.Div and before a PhD.
The “one area of discipline of theological study” which I’m focusing on is ecclesiology – the theology of the nature of the Church. When people ask why, I’ve been saying that planting a church raises lots of questions about what the Church is. At Upper Room we talk about being both “missional” and “sacramental”. As I’ve mentioned before (here and here), though, there seems to be a tension between the two. Most missional church writers have very low ecclesiologies, while the church fathers I’ve been reading over the past couple years have higher sacramental ecclesiologies. I think we need to find a way to be missional while seriously thinking about what the Church really is and is called to be. Is the Church a means or an end? What is the relationship between the Church and the Kingdom of God? If we take seriously what the early church believed about the nature of the Church, how should our worship and church structures look today? These are the sorts of questions I’m curious about . . .
And now it’s time to get ready for class.