"Bound to Love" — The Covenant Ecclesiology of Paul S. Fiddes

“Bound to Love” ― The Covenant Ecclesiology of Paul S. Fiddes


This paper explores the distinctive Baptist contribution to ecclesiology made by Paul S. Fiddes, Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Oxford. Fiddes's contention is that the shape of our ecclesiology is determined by the nature of the Trinity, which implies that church is a covenant community.

His particular understanding of the Trinity as movement of being characterized by relationships in which we can participate, means two things: first, the communion in God of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are acts of covenant; second, our participation in God means that believers enter into both a vertical covenant with God (this is common to the Reformers) and also enter into a horizontal covenant with each other (a distinctively Baptist understanding). Hence, church is a covenant community, where members bind themselves to walk in God's ways but also bind themselves in promise to each other to have mutual oversight and care.

After exploring the background of this view, especially in Barth's Trinitarian thinking, and discussing the Trinitarian nature of church, various implications of this for ecclesiology are then given, such as the role of the church, relations between clergy and members, authority structures, etc .

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