This book discusses the question that the author regards as central in the present ecumenical debate: the nature of the Church itself. He thus describes the plan of the book: The First chapter sketches the present context of the discussion and touches on the Biblical meaning of the word "Church." The next three chapters examine the three answers to the central question, which may be roughly categorized as Protestant, Catholic, Pentecostal. The last two chapters argue that the Church is only to be understood in a perspective that is at once eschatological and missionary, the perspective of the ends of the earth.
Bishop Newbigin's evaluations are provacative, scholarly, and filled with profound passion and insight. He is concerned with the searching questions men today are asking: Is there in truth a family of God on earth to which I can belong, a place where all men can be truly at home? If so, where is it to be found and how is it that those who claim to be spokesmen of that holy fellowship are themselves at war with one another as to the fundamentals of its nature? I think there is no more urgent theological task than to try to give plain and simple answers. This he does, drawing deeply upon biblical sources.