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date: 01 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter exposits and analyses the central contours of Barth’s mature doctrine of the church, in which the church is innovatively characterized by a twofold ec-centricity—a double decentring of its life and work. In a first section, it considers Barth’s radical understanding of the being of the church in relation to Jesus Christ and the Spirit, and the way in which the church has its originating centre outwith itself, in its being from God. In a second section, it attends to the creative way in which Barth conceives of the church as a divine event, and thereby relativizes the church as human institution. In a third section, it focuses on the significance and content of the human activity of the church, and the provocative way in which Barth locates the ultimate purpose of the church outwith itself, in its being for the world. In a fourth section, the chapter explores in outline some of the critical responses to Barth’s groundbreaking doctrine of the church. Finally, by way of conclusion, the chapter considers the relationship of Barth’s ecclesiology to ecumenical conversation.

Keywords: actualism, Christian community, church, divine act, election, event, human act, obedience, vocation, witness

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