BST – The Message of the Church
Star Rating: 1
Perhaps one of the most needed areas for serious recovery in the Western evangelical church is the doctrine of the church. For this reason, I approached the chapters of this book, in IVP’s Bible Speaks Today series, filled with a deep personal interest and not simply to read it as a reviewer.
The early chapters, 1-3, provide a stimulating backdrop to the author’s subject. He says, ‘To begin to understand the church we need a well-read Bible and a long timescale’ (p.19). Chapters 2 and 3 give a biblical, theological basis for the church, expounding passages from Ephesians, Genesis, Galatians and Colossians.
However, as you progress further, the author’s own particular brand of church — popular evangelical Anglicanism — becomes increasingly evident and pragmatism seems to trump careful exegesis of specific details.
Chris Green makes assertions on public worship like, ‘There is no biblical warrant for referring to our time together uniquely as “worship”’ (p.77). He proposes, in contemporary fashion, that ‘all of life is worship’, but this conclusion is not founded on sound exegesis or historical precedent.
Chapter 5 presents a refreshing exposition of the famous words of Jesus and Peter in Matthew 16:13-20, but sadly there are a range of significant omissions concerning the doctrine of the church. These include the Lord’s Day; the place of the moral law; the need for Reformed confessions; a clear model of eldership; the priority of preaching pure doctrine, and worship being regulated by Scripture.
Placing a pragmatic approach before theological principle is encapsulated in the final chapter, with its glowing commendation of Rick Warren’s The purpose driven church. Green asserts that, when he was a pastor, he believed ‘no other book had the explanatory simplicity of Warren’s’ (p.297).
In conclusion, this portrayal of the church is quite fluid, in practical terms, and it left me questioning many aspects of the presentation. There is still much work to be done in recovering a robust doctrine of the church in the West.