Monday, January 11, 2010

Uncle Ben's Book Blog: The Church of God, Stuart Robinson

The full title of Robinson's book is The Church of God as an Essential Element of the Gospel, and the Idea, Structure, and Functions Thereof. It's a big title for a short book. The book has been reprinted from the 1858 original, with the addition of a brief life of Robinson by T. E. Peck. My copy was reprinted by the GPTS Press in 1995, but I think it is currently being reprinted by Solid Ground Christian Books. I can't verify that right now, because for whatever reason, I can't access the SGCB web site.

The book itself is divided into two major parts. The first part is Robinson's own discussion, which takes up about 130 pages. The second major part is an Appendix, containing a number of historical documents pertaining to Presbyterian ecclesiology and polity. These documents, otherwise difficult to find, are worth the price of the book in themselves. However, it is Robinson's discussion that makes this a lost classic. It is, as the title indicates, a defense of the idea that the church is an essential element of the gospel, and in particular the church, as it is found in the Bible, is intended by God for accomplishing the purpose of redemption. Further, it is a church that is Presbyterian in its government and in its worship.

Today's evangelical church has no ecclesiology. That is, in part, why so much of what is properly the work of the church is being done by para-church organizations. It is also why so much a what many churches get involved with is not really the responsibility of the church per se. This work of Robinson's is a valuable corrective to many of the problems facing today's church. It is unfortunate that most evangelicals have a low view of the church (which this book would correct). It is even more unfortunate that many who call themselves Presbyterian are ignorant not only of this book, but more importantly, what it teaches.

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