Why are there so many different Christian churches? Is there a "right one"?
Ecclesiology (the study of the Church) is my favorite sub-discipline of Christian theology. For me, it's not so much a series of questions about congregational government or who as proper sacraments, or even if I'm in the "right" church, but about exploring what it means to be God's people together, and to learn what it looks like for us to live with God together and participate in his ongoing transformation of real human lives. I'm excited about ecclesiology because of a strong conviction that the way we live together can really hurt or really help us move forward with God.
I also realize that it's a topic attractive to religion "nerds." It has taken me a few years to realize that the question, "Is there a 'one true church'?" is an intrinsically meticulous (read: nerdy) question that doesn't occur to a lot of people. I think it really should occur to people who take their religion seriously, but I suspect many folks just want to be part of a church where they like the people and understand themselves to be helped along in their relationship with God as they understand it.
If you're not a religion nerd, but you are a Christian, here's why you should care: Jesus made a lot of promises to his apostles: to lead them into the fullness of truth, to give them authority and power to help people towards God, and to make of us a battalion that can crash the gates of Hell John 16:13; Matthew 16:13-19). I suggest that the more our individual and corporate lives line up with his purposes - the more faithful we are in our common lives - the more we will benefit from those promises.
Over the next several posts, I'll introduce some of the basic discussions Christians have about what makes a church, as opposed to a group of people hanging out and being religious.
Question: Are you a nerd like me? Did you ever wonder about whether there's a "one, true Church" and if you're part of it? Do you wonder still?