Category Archives: Ecclesiology

Should we be concerned about the shrinking church in western Christianity?

I hear a lot of hand-wringing about the decline in church attendance in western nations, and I have often shared that concern. But Brett McCracken has redirected our concern considerably by looking at the situation from a different perspective than the one I often hear. He is speaking specifically of Christianity in the US, but I think that his diagnosis applies more broadly. What he proposes is that we are observing “the dying away of … Continue reading

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Will Pope Francis’s tenure see the end of the Reformation?

Division in the church is a great scandal and a hindrance to our witness (Jn 17:20-23), but can the breaches possibly be healed, even between the truly believing portions of the church in its major branches? Pope Francis hopes so and plans to move it along. This is something that will bear watching, as we pray that true unity in the faith will come to be evident. An interesting story is told by The Catholic … Continue reading

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Robert Millett clarifies some things about Mormonism

A few days ago, I passed on the fruit of Roger Olson’s study of Mormonism which has convinced him that some Mormons are saved but that Mormonism as a theology is not Christian. Today, Olson gave Robert Millett “the final word (for now).” If this issue interests you, this is a piece you will want to read carefully. I found it helpful, to some degree it confirms my earlier gratefulness at what God is doing … Continue reading

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Is Mormonism Christian?

Roger Olson has written a long post in answer to the question of whether Mormonism is Christian. That question will probably seem to many evangelicals to be hardly worth asking, but Olson’s answer is carefully nuanced and it grows out of much greater knowledge of Mormonism than most evangelicals possess. I commend the whole post to you if you are at all interested in what is happening within Mormonism, but here is the nub of its … Continue reading

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Do Calvinistic Baptists belong within the Reformed community of churches?

  Through the years, I have had a few conversations with members of Reformed churches about the wish of Calvinistic Baptists to be identified as “Reformed,” as in “Reformed Baptist.” Some of those Reformed or Presbyterian people have rejected as an oxymoron the name “Reformed Baptist” because Baptists do not follow a presbyterial polity or baptize the infant children of believers. We insist, rather, that only believers should be baptized. In proof of the inappropriateness … Continue reading

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A small “b” baptist perspective on the rebaptism of mature believers

Last year The Gospel Coalition ran an interesting series, in which they asked pastors and theologians why they changed their mind on baptism. Gavin Ortlund: Why I Changed My Mind About Baptism Sean Michael Lucas: Why I Changed My Mind About Baptizing Infants Liam Goligher: Why I Changed My Mind About Infant Baptism More recently, a piece by Bill Kynes, senior pastor of Cornerstore Evangelical Free Church, describes what he calls his “small ‘b’ baptist” perspective, and it … Continue reading

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The conundrum of Roman Catholicism

Reasons for encouragement about God’s work in the Roman Catholic Church I listened to an mp3 conversion of the video from the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast recently, and I enjoyed it very much. You can watch it here: This year’s guest speakers were his Eminence Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston and Robert P. George of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. This prayer breakfast, now in its 10th year, grew out of the … Continue reading

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What makes a person a “heretic,” and why should it matter to Baptists?

I often encounter the statement that a person or church is “heretical,” and I am troubled at how loosely the word is used. “Heresy” is a serious technical term, and we need to apply the term carefully and properly. So I welcomed a recent post by Scot McKnight in which he defines the term. The definition of “heresy” Before offering an accurate definition of “heresy,” McKnight identifies two incorrect senses in which the term is … Continue reading

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God is not finished with ethnic Israel: Hurtado’s response to Wright

N. T. Wright devoted a large proportion of his massive tome, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, to the relationship between the church and Israel, and he argues for a total replacement, what is often dubbed “supersessionism.” Larry Hurtado posits that Wright is correct on a couple of very important points: Repeatedly, Wright takes the view that Paul saw one family of Abraham, one redeemed people as the outcome of God’s redemptive work in/through Jesus.  … Continue reading

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The church is frustratingly ambiguous but it is essential nevertheless

“The church is like Noah’s ark; it stinks but you drown if you leave it.” I read that statement in someone’s blog post recently and it has been rattling around in my head as containing an important truth. That truth was fleshed out rather nicely in a Christianity Today article, written by Carolyn Arends (“Taste the Soup”) on Sept 26/12, but recently tagged by CT as one of its most-read articles. She observed that “there are … Continue reading

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