Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Divinity (MDiv)



First Advisor/Committee Member

Douglas M. Koskela, Ph.D., Professor of Theology


Church; Theology, Doctrinal; Metaphor--Religious aspects--Christianity; Russell, Letty M.; Moltmann, Jürgen; ecclesiology; place setting


The ways in which the Church perceives and envisions its ecclesiology inevitably form its ecclesial expressions, which in turn convey its interpretation of the gospel to a watching world. Therefore, in pursuit of an interpretation of and a metaphor for the Church that emphasizes and embodies the theological tenet of divine inclusivity, this paper defends the argument that "a guiding ecclesiological image embodies an ecclesiological vision and gives rise to particular streams of congregational praxis." The author develops and supports this thesis by examining the ecclesial imagery and related ecclesiological interpretations utilized by two twentieth-century theologians in their systematic treatments of the doctrine of the Church. Letty M. Russell's work, Church in the Round, and the ecclesial imagery used therein, and Jurgen Moltmann's work, The Church in the Power of the Holy Spirit, and the ecclesial imagery used therein, are described and evaluated to this end. Russell's interpretation of the Church as a "round table" and Moltmann's interpretation of the Church as "the messianic fellowship in the messianic feast" are explored, along with each image's attendant ecclesiological understandings and practical implications for ecclesial life. The author also proposes her own ecclesial image, that of the Church as "place setters" at God's feasting table, and describes the inclusive ecclesiology and the related congregational expressions connected with this interpretation of the Church.


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