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The People of God's Presence

An Introduction to Ecclesiology

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In an age when the church is sometimes viewed as irrelevant and inauthentic, leading Pentecostal theologian Terry Cross calls the people of God to a radical change of structure and mission based on theological principles. Cross, whose work is respected by scholars from across the ecumenical landscape, offers an introduction to ecclesiology that articulates the doctrine of the church from a Pentecostal perspective, showing how the Spirit works to assemble, equip, and empower Christians for participation in the church's ministries. The book also demonstrates how Pentecostals can contribute to and learn from the church catholic.

A forthcoming volume by the author, Serving the People of God's Presence: A Theology of Ministry, will focus on the role of leadership in the church.

Introduction: A Re-formation of the Church?
1. The Church as the Means of Connecting with God?
2. The Nature of God and the People of God
3. The Encounter between God and Humans
4. The Tasks of the People of God in Gathered Community
5. The Tasks of the People of God in Missional Outreach
6. The People of God Proclaim the Word of God and Hear It Proclaimed
Conclusion: For the Sake of the World


"Terry Cross's The People of God's Presence is a fresh and exciting proposal of a rigorous theology of the church that seeks to witness faithfully in changing contexts. It grapples with the legacy of Western Christendom, building where possible while creatively engaging critical voices from the global church. His explication of the church as 'the people of God's presence' defines the church in terms of God's mission and the Christian vocation as witness to God, who is present and acting in human history. Cross argues a very high theology of the assembled worshiping community, whose significance he investigates as the formation of the people of God's presence for God's mission in the world. Supporting this focus is a robust theology of the essential presence and work of the Holy Spirit as a constructive offer from the Pentecostal tradition. The book is a solid contribution to the ecclesiological discussion, made all the more valuable by its accessible style and lucid argumentation."

Darrell Guder, Henry Winters Luce Emeritus Professor of Missional and Ecumenical Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary

"Terry Cross's The People of God's Presence is a bold and provocative ecclesiology that depicts the church as the people of God's immediate and saving presence in the world. According to Cross, only in the depths of this insight will the church rediscover its true power and relevance in our time. This ecclesiology deserves a broad hearing across ecumenical lines and among both pastors and scholars."

Frank D. Macchia, professor of Christian theology, Vanguard University of Southern California; associate director of the Centre for Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies, Bangor University

"Terry Cross wants to reinfuse into Christian churches the reality of God's presence, especially in the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Churches too often reminisce about the past without emphasizing God's empowerment in the present for Christian living, both individually and collectively as churches. Accessing God's presence may require foregoing programs and doctrines that distract rather than facilitate God's presence among us. Cross offers some radical suggestions for restoring God's presence both in public worship and in the proclamation of Scripture. At the turn of the twentieth century, Pentecostalism initiated a 're-formation' of the church in emphasizing the person and work of the Holy Spirit, which helped to empower and transform individual Christians. Drawing upon his Pentecostal background, Cross advocates for a 're-formation' of churches, emphasizing the empowerment of God's Spirit collectively in how churches worship and proclaim the Word of God. Churches should excel as the means by which people encounter God's transformational presence. Churches that recover a greater sense of God's presence will become more missional and effective in ministering to all the needs of the world."

Don Thorsen, professor of theology, Azusa Pacific University

"Cross proposes a theology of the church as the Spirit-empowered community of people formed in the image of Christ and called to fulfill God's mission in and for the world. Rather than offering a new method for church outreach, Cross insists on renewing the church's theology. Only a theological re-formation of the church can cultivate authentic practices of worship, discipleship, and ministry required for fulfilling the church's God-given mission in its dynamic twenty-first-century cultural context."

Steven M. Studebaker, professor of systematic and historical theology and Howard and Shirley Bentall Chair of Evangelical Thought, McMaster Divinity College

The Author

  1. Terry L. Cross

    Terry L. Cross

    Terry L. Cross (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is dean of the School of Religion and distinguished professor of theology at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, where he has taught for over twenty years. He previously served as a pastor for...

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