Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

The Social Trinity, Ecclesiology and Church Leadership – Part 6

How a Social View of the Trinity Can Positively Inform Our Approach to Ecclesiology and Leadership in Today’s North American Church

Interacting with Boff and Volf
Both Boff and Volf have a strong view of the social Trinity that informs their approach to ecclesiology and church leadership. Boff emphasizes the three over the one, while Volf holds the one and three in tension. While Volf holds the balanced view, I believe our capitalist and individualistic context here in North America requires a stronger emphasis on the three to achieve a proper balance contextually. While they differed on whether to emphasize the three or hold both in tension, this doesn’t seem to have affected their basic approach to ecclesiology and church leadership. Their approach is quite similar, and I would agree with their assessment of how a social view of the Trinity – reflecting on the three in one – leads to a more interdependent, communal, relational, polycentric, participatory, self- surrendering, and self-giving approach to ecclesiology and leadership. I found Boff’s suggestion that community precedes leadership excellent advice, which also fits his emphasis on the three over the one.

Regarding the inner life of the Trinity I found their arguments persuasive and helpful. Boff talks about how the Son was subordinate to the Father, yet in no way inferior, ontologically speaking. This corresponds to how both of them approach leadership in the church as something necessary, while emphasizing we are all priests ministering to other priests. While Boff doesn’t state the importance of polycentric leadership, Volf does. I believe polycentric leadership not only reflects the social Trinity well, but is vital in regard to power distribution and unity. While Volf talks about gifted officers, neither of them focus on Ephesians 4, where Paul talks about how Christ gave the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to equip and awaken the entire community to join God in the renewal of all things.

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