The hermeneutical core of Lindbeck’s theology is an ecclesiastical concern rather than a doctrinal one. It is substantiated by two kinds of evidence: internal and external evidences. Internal evidence indicates that throughout Lindbeck’s life, an ecclesiastical concern has been developing and actively working. External evidence implies that an ecclesiastical concern is at the core of postliberalism and the Yale school in which Lindbeck has been involved. In this respect, his theology can be defined as an ecclesiology.
Lindbeck’s ecclesiology has some characteristics: a unitive ecumenicity-centred ecclesiology, a diachronic approach to the unity of the church, a theological legitimacy-seeking ecclesiology, a nonsupersessionist Israel-like ecclesiology, and an ecclesiology based on postliberalism.
Reformed ecumenicity can be proposed as a standard for assessing Lindbeck’s ecclesiology. It has two aspects: classical and contextualizing. Classical means Calvinism-rooted, and contextualizing refers to making the text relevant to the context without changing its message.
The following are Reformed assessments of Lindbeck’s ecclesiology. First, Lindbeck refers to the visible church as an institution, while Calvin sees it as an organism. Second, convergence ecumenicity which Lindbeck seeks, aims at ‘return to Rome’ instead of ‘return to the Scripture.’ Third, his quest for the nature of doctrine is a bold and challenging one in that he attempts to modify the introduction of systematic theology in order to defend his ecclesiology. Fourth, he seeks a nonsupersessionist Israel-like ecclesiology. Reformed Covenant theology also objects supersessionism or replacement theology. Lastly, unlike postliberalism which places one-sided emphasis on the particularity of religious traditions, Reformed theology emphasizes equally the universality and the particularity of religions, based on the idea of God’s general and special revelations.
In a Reformed view, Lindbeck’s ecclesial ethics is assessed as follows. It attempts to overcome theological liberals’ universalistic and reductionist tendency by emphasizing the particularity of religions. It also focuses on the intratextual and performative aspects of Christian ethics. Its notion of incommensurability, however, has difficulty in explaining the continuity between the world of the Bible and the extra-biblical world, and between religions. In contrast, Reformed theology can solve the problem by using the idea of revelatory continuity.