When Society for Pentecostal Studies was at North Central University earlier this year, I purchased Exploring Ecclesiology: An Evangelical and Ecumenical Introduction by Brad Harper and Robert Louis Metzger. Over the past couple of years I have been stirred to learn more on the subject of ecclesiology. This book has become a primer for me. After 20 plus years in the ministry, I am finally getting around to defining my theology of the church! It’s about time!
Harper and Metzger are evangelicals and approach this subject with that background in mind. Their critiques of the evangelical church ring true. They know the system. This is far more meaningful for me because I know these critiques to be true. It is different hearing it from an evangelical who knows the system than a Catholic theologian who may not know the system at all.
Harper and Metzger are evangelical, but their ecclesiology is incredibly powerful. While evangelical theology is individualistic, these authors fly against the grain. From the opening paragraphs they make this clear: The church is our mother. (Sounds downright Catholic.)
What is vital is the life of the Church. As believers, and especially evangelicals, we have divided up the gospel and made it individualistic and consumer driven. We need to gather once again around the foundations of baptism, the Eucharist, the Word, and the creeds. We need our faith pared down to the simplicity of this gospel. We need to thoroughly engage our world through the power of the Spirit. The Church is where we learn our uniqueness in Christ. And we ARE unique. We ARE different. We need not apologize for it.
I have blogged somewhat extensively on different thoughts from this insightful book. This is a book that needs to be digested thoroughly by every evangelical pastor in America. We need to shake off consumerism and our ghetto mentalities. It is time to worship the incredible Savior and engage this world through sacramental living. We are unique. Let’s live like it.