Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
EMJ 8:1 (Sum 99) p. 109
Kenneth Alan Daughters
Understanding the Church: The Biblical Ideal for the 21st Century compiled and edited by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III. Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., 1999. 235 pages. $12.99.
With a desire to help and build, and encourage unity and healing among assemblies in North America, the Grace Bible Chapel in St. Louis, Missouri sponsored a colloquium in May 1997. Six individuals were asked to present papers relating to the nature, life, and function of the New Testament Church and the implications and instructions for present-day churches that would follow the pattern given in Scripture. These papers have been published individually over a period of time in The Emmaus Journal. The book, Understanding the Church, brings these studies together in one volume.
The six authors (Jack Fish, Ted Grant, David MacLeod, Jack Spender, Jim Stahr, and Alex Strauch) might be seen as spread along the progressive—traditional continuum that is found in the assemblies of North America. However, the reader will find a remarkable affinity and like-mindedness in the teaching and emphases of these articles.
The first article, “The Primacy of Scripture and the Church,” by David MacLeod actually explains the reason for the above-mentioned like-mindedness. Each of the authors is committed to the primacy of Scripture in all matters of ecclesiology; and, as one would expect, the result is a remarkable affinity in the content of their articles. MacLeod’s comment is:
My conviction is that the only identity Open Brethren have that is worth keeping is that they are subject to the Bible alone. Their ecclesiology (doctrine of the Church) is valuable because it is rooted in and arises from Scripture (p. 14).
Early in MacLeod’s article there is a concise but exhaustive summary of the essentials of New Testament teaching about the Church. This excellent sum-
EMJ 8:1 (Sum 99) p. 110
mary is foundational to all of the succeeding articles.
A major segment of MacLeod’s article addresses “Biblical Authority and the Structure of the Church.” This well-documented material focuses directly on many of the features of Church life that have historically made Open Brethren assemblies distinct from many churches.
The article concludes with a call for the primacy and centrality of the Word of God in all of the activities of a local church that purports to be New Testament-like. This becomes both a check list and a challenge which are continued into the final section, “The Centrality of the Word in the Message of the Church.”
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