The phrase Third Article Theology is used in two senses: first, to characterize a methodological approach that intentionally starts with the Spirit, and second, as the theological understanding that emerges from this approach. Over recent decades, Spirit Christology has utilized the approach of Third Article Theology to gain significant insight into the person and life of Christ.
The Anointed Church extends this work, providing the first constructive and systematic ecclesiology developed through the approach of Third Article Theology. Gregory J. Liston argues that a pneumatological lens irreducibly informs the connection between other theological doctrines and ecclesiology. Utilizing this insight, the Church is examined from the vantage points of Christology and the Trinity through such a pneumatological lens.
The constituent features of a Third Article Ecclesiology developed in this manner are compared and contrasted with critical evaluations of ecclesiological understandings developed through alternative approaches, particularly those of Barth, Zizioulas, and Volf. Arguing that the immanent identity of the Spirit is reprised on a series of expanding stages (Christologically, soteriologically, and, most pertinently here, ecclesiologically), Liston concludes that the Church can be characterized as existing in any and all relationships where, by the Spirit, the love of Christ, is offered and returned.
If consternation about the diminishing size and influence of the church in the West is set aside, we may yet learn afresh that the vitality of the church does not depend upon its worldly goods and influence but upon the work of the Spirit who establishes and sustains the church as a community enabled to participate in Christ's communion with the Father. Extending the tradition of Third Article Theology, a theology developed 'through the lens of the Spirit', Gregory Liston develops in this book a fresh conception of the church's identity and of its formation by the Spirit. He provides, therefore, both encouragement and guidance for the church as it seeks to learn again, beyond Christendom, what it is called to be.
University of Otago
At the heart of the Christian faith is the doctrine of the Church, the Body of Christ, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the People of God. While Holy Scripture clearly teaches a doctrine of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church, it is an indictment on those of us who call ourselves Christians that we have not lived up to this reality of unity in diversity. Instead, the doctrine of the Church is witness more to the doctrine of sin than it is to unity. The Anointed Church offers one of the most insightful, seminal, and intelligent doctrines of the Church that is both faithful to Scripture and the Great Tradition, whilst acknowledging the need for the Church to act its age. As the first volume written on the Church from the perspective of Third Article Theology, Liston's work promises to be a landmark volume and of interest to theologians across the Christian traditions.
Carey Baptist College
The Anointed Church herein adds significantly to the various proposals for Third Article theology coming especially from Down Under in the last almost decade. The methodological innovativeness of these calls for a pneumatological theology inevitably means that these are conversation starters, not finished systems, but the fertility of such an approach can be appreciated in the fresh ecclesiological readings of major voices in the tradition. For those interested in the systematic and dogmatic theological implications of a renewed world Christianity that starts or begins with the Spirit, Gregory Liston is a proleptic, if not prophetic, voice.
Fuller Theological Seminary