Jesus and the Church

Jesus and the Church: The Foundation of the Church in the New Testament and Modern Theology

Paul Avis

T&T Clark, 2020

As an ecclesiologist, I enjoyed this read thoroughly. Avis does a very thorough job of interrogating numerous theologians concerning the foundation of the church. After all, the nature of the church’s foundation is important. Did Jesus himself found it? Did he merely set the stage? Did the Apostles found the church? So on, and so forth.

Avis articulates well that he is seeking to lay out this foundational question of ecclesiology, and he notes the limits of this work. Unfortunately, Orthodox theologians are missed, as Avis explains that they are not his specialty. Along the way, there are some people who are missed (de Lubac and Rowan Williams, to name two) but this book is filled with other figures. Many of them major figures you would expect to find. Others are lesser figures who either deserve more attention (so, a thank you to Avis for highlighting them) or whose work is important to the development of ecclesiology. In short, this book is a treasure trove of bibliographic information for the ecclesiologist.

While it was fun to think along with so many people, Avis finally shows his cards at the very end. I agree. Jesus laid a lot of groundwork by proclaiming the Reign of God, but the Resurrection set everything in motion. One thing I noticed throughout, we ecclesiologists don’t give enough credit to the Holy Spirit for its work in founding the church.

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