PRINCETON, N.J. – Because the meaning of biblical metaphors for the church are not always commonly shared, conversations about ecclesiology ― the doctrine of the nature and purpose of the church ― might be better served by relying on “foundational” statements, the Rev. Jerry Andrews told the second Moderator’s Colloquium on Ecclesiology here Dec. 9.
While acknowledging that all language is metaphorical, Andrews, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in San Diego, queried: “Is there speech in Scripture ― whether divine or human ― which avoids metaphor in order to be more straightforward, probably more foundational, in the description of the church? Yes, I think so.”
The foundational statement “on which all ecclesiology … the one on which the authors of the New Testament metaphors consciously built,” Andrews asserted, is “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God.”
That statement, in variant forms, occurs repeatedly in the Old Testament: Ex. 6:7, Gen. 17:7, Lev. 26:12, Jer. 30:22, Ezekiel 36:28, Andrews noted. “It is always on the lips of the Almighty, always declarative,” he noted, “always the critical moment into whatever conversation (or silence) it is spoken. It appears to be foundational.”