Chapter 7 begins by exploring what it means when Christians confess to “believe in the church. It proceeds by differentiating the church from the “kingdom of God” and comparing it to similar terms, such as the “household of God,” and the “body of Christ.” The gender of the church is explored, with arguments that Christians think of the church as male, female, neuter, androgynous, or intersexed. The English word “church” is a translation of the ancient Greek ekklêsia, a political term referring to the citizen assembly that made final decisions by democratic procedures in the ancient city. Thus the ancient political meanings of ekklesia, which included freedom, equality, and democracy, should inform postmodern theology and practice in Christian churches and denominations. Portraits of the church in the New Testament, however, should encourage Christians to reject modernist ideologies of family, nationalism, and capitalism. While avoiding Christian supersessionism over Judaism, Christians today must also avoid the oppressive politics of some forms of Zionism. Christians may also experience the church as a refuge in a sometimes hostile world. Finally, the book concludes with the church as a sacrament of eschatological hope for the future, an expectation of the coming kingdom of God.
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