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Ecclesiology

Authentic Christian faith: individual but not individualistic

The saddest words in the whole New Testament have to be John the Baptist’s plea from his prison cell to Jesus: “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another? (See Luke 7:19-23). Layton Friesen (“Could you lend me some faith?” The Messenger, Nov/13, p. 18) I resonate with […]

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Ecclesiology

Is “Reformed Baptist” an oxymoron?

I was a Baptist when I came to believe in a Calvinistic soteriology, in a theological shift that was triggered by reading John Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied, so I quickly found myself in sympathetic fellowship with people who called themselves “Reformed Baptists” or sovereign grace Baptists. I got into reading publications from the Banner […]

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Ecclesiology

Baptism of “believers and their children”: A surprising covenantal discontinuity.

When I was studying at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, I had a number of very interesting conversations about baptism with Norman Shepherd, with whom I took a couple of seminars. I was at a Presbyterian seminary because I wanted to study in a context where Reformed theology was a shared conviction. As a Baptist, I […]

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Ecclesiology Providence

The church in the Middle East: God’s puzzling providence and irresistible Spirit

Jesus said: “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18). He has been doing this for almost 2 millennia now, and the process has made an extraordinary study for church historians. I was impressed anew by the complexity of this work of our Lord, earlier this […]

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Ecclesiology Mission

The Church: Issues relative to Islam and the Chinese context

When Christians think about the religious situation in the world today, perhaps no religion has a more prominent place in our thinking than Islam. On the one hand, Islamic contexts have become a very large concern for Christians because of the severe resistance, opposition and persecution Christians experience in so many countries or regions where […]

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Ecclesiology

Baptism and church membership revisited

Last March, I wrote about “an open approach to church membership” and described a proposal that was being put forward by leadership at Bethlehem Baptist Church, in Minneapolis. I concluded my comments with this statement: All in all, I think that the elders at Bethlehem Baptist have struck a very nice balance and I wish […]

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Ecclesiology

Is a form of church government prescribed by the New Testament?

In the comment thread on my post about the validity of the autonomy of local churches, Chris Wettstein wrote: “I agree that church ‘structure should serve mission’ – however, since the mission of the church is the same in every generation & culture, I don’t see this as an argument against upholding (as norms) the […]

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Ecclesiology

How spiritually beneficial is participation in the Lord’s Supper?

John Wesley on the importance of Communion In a recent blog post, Louis McBride writes about the delight he experienced while reading Ben Witherington’s book, A Shared Christian Life. Louis quoted a section in which Witherington talks about the importance that John Wesley placed on our participation in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper with […]

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Ecclesiology

Should local churches be autonomous?

In my childhood as a missionary kid, I grew up without a denominational connection. I was baptized in the swimming pool of my MK school in South India, having been examined by the elders of a Brethren Assembly, but it was a joint service with the non-denominational church in which I worshipped for much of […]

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Books Ecclesiology Spirituality

On being Evangelical, Reformed and Baptist

Michael Horton’s presentation Michael Horton begins chapter 6 of For Calvinism,  by explaining why the Calvinist view of the Christian life is neither an antinomian nor a legalist perspective, despite its often being charged with both of these errors. “New covenant saints are still obligated to obey the moral law” (124), and we do not […]