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This work argues that modern ecclesiology exhibits two unfortunate tendencies: it describes the church in ideal terms, rather than directly addressing the problems of its everyday, sinful activity; and it undermines the distinctiveness of the church and its way of life. The book analyzes the impact of pluralism and inclusivism upon ecclesiology, and draws upon Balthasar's theodramatic theory, MacIntyre's theory of traditional inquiry, postmodern critiques of humanism, and postmodern ethnography to develop a more flexible and concrete ecclesiology that can better address the practical and pastoral needs of the church. This alternative ecclesiology strongly affirms the need for the church to debate with those who challenge its claims and their embodiment, both from within and externally. The text concludes by discussing how the church may construct its own theological forms of historical, sociological and ethnographic analysis of both the church and society.
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