Historically, the doctrine of the church has always been a subject of robust discussion and debate. This is understandable since it encompasses so many issues about Christian praxis such as worship, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the Great Commission. Today is no different. Ecclesiology continues to elicit significant attention among biblical scholars and theologians alike. This is why we are devoting our Fall 2022 edition of CTR to the topic. Each article is authored by a scholar who addresses various facets of this important subject including pertinent matters that are historical, theological, exegetical, and cultural.
Our lead article is by Caroline Buie (Ph.D., Dallas Theological Seminary) who serves as Director of Educational Technology and Adjunct Professor of Theology at Criswell College in Dallas, TX. Buie provides a fresh survey of the Shepherd of Hermas, a famous work in the corpus of the Apostolic Fathers. Specifically, she examines major themes that emerge to describe the theological nature of the church as God’s people.
Our second article is by Heath H. Kahlbau (Ph.D., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) who is Professor of Biblical History and Theology at Birmingham Theological Seminary in Birmingham, AL. Kahlbau provides a fascinating study showing how the ancient episcopal model of church government overlaps with certain features of church polity that exist today in Anglican Chapels of Ease as well as regional megachurches that have multi-site locations.
The third article is written by Jeremy M. Kimble (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) who is Associate Professor of Theology at Cedarville University in Cedarville, OH. Kimble discusses ways in which acts performed collectively by the church are to help believers understand their present identity in Christ through the lens of their future eschatological inheritance. The specific examples he covers to make his case include church membership, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, catechesis and conference, and church discipline.
Our fourth contribution is by Jason K. Lee (Ph.D., University of Aberdeen) who is Professor of Theological Studies at Cedarville University in Cedarville, OH. Lee contends that because New Testament churches by definition are made up of confessing believers, it is also the case that “believers’ churches” should acknowledge that their identity is defined and even created by Scripture. Thus, churches should understand themselves as “textual communities.” Lee then expands on this idea by discussing key theological implications that exist in the ongoing relationship between Scripture and God’s people.
The fifth entry is authored by Marvin Jones (Ph.D., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) who is the President of Montana Christian College in Kalispell, MT. Jones tours the historical landscape of the Reformation to highlight some of the major disagreements that Protestant traditions maintained regarding the nature of church membership and the relationship between the church and the state. From here, he shows how some of these discussions about ecclesiology bequeath lessons that Southern Baptists should remember as they face an assortment of theological and cultural controversies today.
Finally, our last article is by Ray Van Neste (Ph.D., University of Aberdeen) who is Dean of the School of Theology & Missions as well as Professor of Biblical Studies at Union University in Jackson, TN. Van Neste completes our edition with a timely lecture on the true nature of pastoral ministry. He does so by examining some of the basic points that the Apostle Paul mentions to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:14–26.
Following these articles are fifteen book reviews which can inform readers about works that can improve their theological libraries. Also remember past issues of CTR can be accessed online at atla.com. Your local university or seminary can provide you with a password.