Saturday, August 01, 2015

A Well-Ordered Church, William Boekestein and Daniel R. Hyde

In our day in the US, the church is thought little of, even by many Christians. Oh, they attend church but probably not with any regularity. In a recent study, for example, regular church attendance was defined as three times in eight weeks. In other words, a regular attender attended church less than half of the time. This fact, more than any other, indicates the low view of the church held and practiced by many Christians.

This book is an attempt to address that problem. It is a non-technical work on ecclesiology, the study of the church. Underlying the book is the view expressed in the title of a nineteenth century work by Stuart Robinson: The Church of God An Essential Element of the Gospel. The book is divided into four parts: the church’s identity, its authority, its ecumenicity, and its activity.

As to the church’s identity, the church belongs to Christ. He is its head, and in him the church finds its unity. As to the church’s authority, it comes from the Bible to the church through Christ’s appointed officers. As to the church’s ecumenicity, there is an internal ecumenicity, which is expressed in the mutual edification of churches within a denomination. There is also an external ecumenicity, in which churches of different denominations work together for the sake of the gospel. The activity of the church is multiform, including teaching, worship, witnessing, and discipline.

The book presents a standard Reformed view of the church. This is seen in two primary ways: first, in its references to the Scriptures as the basis for all principles regarding the church; and second, in its frequent reference to Reformed doctrinal confessions and catechisms. Each chapter is accompanied with questions for discussion and additional reading. There is an additional bibliography at the end of the book. Most of the additional reading material is non-technical, and easily understood by the average church member.

No one will agree with everything presented here. But the reader who is interested not only in the “what” of the church, and not only in the “why” of the church, but in his own relation to the church will find this a stimulating aid to his thinking about the church.

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