So we’ve covered all seven of Dulles’ Models of the Church. Wasn’t that fun?!
I think they’re really useful in helping you/me/us in thinking about what Church should be. But, as per usual, there’s not really a final answer. It’s all about the tension.
Dulles puts it pretty well himself:
“By its very constitution the Church is a community of grace (Model 2) structured as a human society (Model 1). While sanctifying its own members, it offers praise and worship to God (Model 3). It is permanently charged with the responsibility of spreading the good news of the Gospel (Model 4) and of healing and consolidating the human community (Model 5)”
All the models are required to give us the most holistic view of the Church as possible. We’ll never get this completely right – flawed human beings, trying to do things together, is never going to result in perfection – but by God’s grace we can try.
In Matthew 16:18 Jesus says of the Church that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. There’s a Chris Tomlin song (Let God Arise) with the line “The Church will stand she will endure”. I believe that. Regardless of the boxes we put it in, or how much we err too far to one part of the purpose of the Church, she is the physical presence of God in the world today, he has a purpose for her and will not let her fail.