In considering my ecclesiology, I am both impressed and confused by Bruce Epperly’s presentation of process theology and the role of the church. Is it possible to use language that, at once, is both singularly specific, yet exudes universal appeal? As Epperly presents it, process ecclesiology is very clear on two things: one, the vocation of the church, and two, the existence of God's salvation outside the church. “While the church is called to be the center of creative transformation, God’s vision of transformation extends far beyond the walls of the church to embrace and inspire the spiritual and ritualistic practices of other religious traditions, new spiritual movements, and the lives of seekers, agnostics, and atheists. The church cannot claim to be the only medium of divine revelation. If divine inspiration is omnipresent, there are no God-free zones in a process world.” The very language that Epperly uses to describe “God’s vision,” is language that is only understood in the context of the "Christian" church. “The church’s vocation” described in terms of the church being “the living and evolving body of Christ,” is Christian specific, applicable only to Christian churches. An appeal to Jesus, is an appeal to a particular salvation for a particular people. If “God’s aim at beauty, truth, and wholeness” is fulfilled in many ways for many people, then it makes no sense to appeal to the universal by using language that is deeply Christian specific. Epperly's use of such language suggests a very WASPy universalism, which is not very universal at all. Yet, Epperly suggests that, “In a God-saturated world, the church’s vocation is not to be sole possessor of truth, but to invite people to experience God’s vision for their lives and communities. The church, from the vantage point of process theology, is profoundly relational, embrac!ing the wider culture, emerging technologies, multiple media and intelligences, and insights of new spiritual movements as well as traditional faiths, in light of God’s vision of shalom, beauty, and justice.” I get it, and I agree, that the future is all about jettisoning dogmas based on the notion of absolute truths. However, Epperly's appeal to “God's vision" as a universal aim, presents a huge contradiction. It reeks of Western Christian triumphalism. If we are going to give full nod to the church as being profoundly relational, embracing a multitude of intelligences, insights, and movements, then a language devoid of Christian bias must be used when appealing to a universal truth beyond the walls of the church. Rather, let us be grounded in Christianity from the get go. Let us be comfortable with our location in the "Christian" church where language of God and Christ are familiar. Let us understand the specific importance of our Christian identity, and be upfront about it, before venturing outside the walls of the church in pursuit of the universal. Our Christian language is not broad enough to speak of universals. Let Christians be comfortable with the language that works for Christians, but let it remain within the walls of the Christian church.
Based on my reading of Epperly, I have attempted here to construct my own ecclesiology:
The Christian Church understands that God’s salvation – the creative, transformative, dynamic aim towards peace, beauty, justice, healing and wholeness for both the individual and community – can occur outside of the Christian context. The Christian Church rejects the notion that it is the sole possessor of truth, nor does it accept that it is the only medium of divine revelation. Thus, the Christian Church remains radically open to the ever-emerging future, standing in relationship with all people of all faiths and all philosophies, embracing the wider culture and its varied intelligences, knowing that humanity shares the same journey and collective future. Rather than a synthesis of shared faith, the Christian Church recognizes that the salvific message particular to the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth is important to itself, but is only one part of a larger whole, spoken of in a multitude of faiths, practices, beliefs, and traditions both religious and non-religious. The call and vocation of the Christian Church, then, is specific to being the living and ever-evolving body of Christ, offering an invitation to all humanity to awaken to the wider vision of God’s Aim, and to partake in the co-creative work of God’s universal transformative hope. As such, the Church offers this invitation with genuine humility, recognizing the importance of collective engagement and respect, and so, remains radically ecumenical, interreligious, dialogic, and hospitable.
Wow, I sound like a Unitarian Universalist!
 Epperly, Bruce G., Process Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed (New York: T&T Clark, 2011) P.122
 Epperly, Bruce G., Process Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed (New York: T&T Clark, 2011) P.123