Monday, September 20, 2010
For nearly a century, the Baptist doctrine of the church did not receive sustained consideration. Providentially, over the last decade or so, there have been a number of monographs and collections of essays dedicated to rediscovering and restating the Baptist understanding of the biblical witness about the community established and ruled by the Lord Jesus Christ. Into this growing conversation enters again a group of theologians affiliated with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, who have contributed essays to Upon This Rock: The Baptist Understanding of the Church. What makes this particular work unique is the sustained treatment given by ten authors to the doctrine of the church as delineated in the official Southern Baptist confession, the Baptist Faith and Message of 2000. Each author takes one aspect of the New Testament church and demonstrates its scriptural basis, its historical development and its contemporary application. It is this common confession that holds the book together as a unitary presentation.
Among the authors are David Allen, who defends the necessity of the autonomy of the local church; Bart Barber, who demonstrates why a denomination of churches is both biblical and useful; Emir F. Caner, who grounds the local church in the covenant of faith; Jason Duesing, who draws upon John A. Broadus to explain why Baptists must present their distinctive beliefs; James Leo Garrett, Jr., who explains why Baptist churches necessarily follow democratic processes under the Lordship of Christ; Byron McWilliams, who paints a compelling picture of the church and its officers from a pastor's perspective; Paige Patterson, who argues that churches should observe the two ordinances not as mere symbols but for the sake of sanctification; Thomas and Joy White, who consider the relation of gender and office; Thomas White, who distinguishes the universal and local church; and, Malcolm Yarnell, who explains the seminal ecclesiological passage of Matthew 16 through a sustained theological exposition. Upon This Rock: The Baptist Understanding of the Church, a new treatment of the New Testament church established long ago by our Lord and Savior, is now available.