Wallace Alston's book, The Church of the Living God is the second in a series of books I'm reading representing various ecclesiological proposals on the nature of the church. It is, in a way, a short catechism on the church, especially oriented out of and grounded in the Reformed tradition. It also reads like, and is, the work of a parish pastor.
It is also thoroughly Protestant in tone, quite a switch from reading Leonardo Boff. Strong emphasis on the visible/invisible church distinction, so that the marks of the church (one, holy, catholic, apostolic) only make sense as confessions of faith when the visible/invisible distinction is upheld. Wallace also adds a fifth mark of the church- missional.
Reading books about the church, I'm struck by just how diverse approaches to the topic tend to be. It's like picking up five books about prayer. Each one will come at the subject so differently that in the end, the concept remains as nebulous as it began.
Maybe one point of continuity runs so far throughout these works- all the writers love the church. As do I, for all its shortcomings. Alston and I share this with Augustine; the church we love is a corpus mixtum , but just so we love it, for the sake of Christ.