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Though the people of God have existed from the beginning of the human race one thinks especially of the people of Israel who lived under the old covenant , the church adhering to the new covenant did not exist prior to the first coming of Jesus Christ. He is the Redeemer who accomplished salvation through his atoning death and resurrection for the people of God who compose the church. It is through the gospel, and a response to it of repentance from sin and faith in Christ, that Christians have been saved and by this term I mean all aspects of the mighty work of God that are commonly regarded as comprising salvation, including election, effective calling, regeneration, justification, union with Christ, adoption, sanctification, and perseverance.

An additional aspect of the salvific work of God — one that is often overlooked but relates directly to the identity of the members of the church — is the incorporation of Christians into the body of Christ as he baptizes them with the Holy Spirit. Accordingly, all who are "in Christ" are de facto "in the church" and constitute its members. The church consists of two interrelated elements, commonly referred to as the "universal" church and "local" churches. The universal church is the company of all Christians stretching from its inception accomplished by the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, and created by the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to Christ's second coming at the end of this present age or, more specifically, the rapture of the church prior to his return.

It incorporates both the deceased believers who are currently in the presence of Christ in heaven and the living believers scattered throughout the world. Whereas the former aspect of the universal church is gathered together as the "heavenly" church, the latter aspect does not assemble, does not possess a structure or organization, does not have human leaders, and does not have a specific space-time address.

These intangibles do not render the universal church any less real, however, as the next point demonstrates. This universal church at least its living members is manifested by Christ, its head, and the Spirit and manifests itself through Christians associating themselves with one another in local churches, which are characterized by seven attributes. The first three are characteristics regarding the origin and orientation of the church: it is 1 doxological, or oriented to the glory of God; 2 logocentric, or centered on the incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ, and the inspired Word of God, Scripture; and 3 pneumadynamic, or created, gathered, gifted, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Local churches are led by qualified and publicly recognized men who are called pastors or elders or bishops or overseers who have the responsibilities of teaching sound doctrine, governing under the headship of Christ , praying especially for the sick , and shepherding leading through exemplary lifestyles.

These assemblies are also served by deacons, qualified and publicly recognized men and women who serve Jesus Christ in the many church ministries. Because of divine grace and provision, local churches possess both purity and unity; because of sin, however, they must also pursue greater purity and maintain unity through both divine aid and Spirit-empowered human effort.

The Doctrine of the Church

When their members persist in sin, churches exercise discipline for the purposes of restoring erring members and rectifying entrenched sinful situations, restraining such sin-saturated realities, and preserving the honor of Christ and their own reputation. Churches also develop strong connections with other churches for the purposes of cooperative and more effective ministry, the sharing of resources, mutual accountability, and the like. And they celebrate the two ordinances of their covenantal relationship with God through Christ: the initiatory new covenant rite of baptism and the continuing new covenant rite of the Lord's Supper.

Church members are equipped with gifts, given by the Holy Spirit, and they exercise those spiritual gifts in carrying out the ministries of the church. These ministries are: worshiping the triune God, proclaiming his Word through the preaching of Scripture, engaging non-Christians with the gospel, discipling their members through education and sharing in community life, caring for people through prayer and giving, and standing both for and against the world by helping the poor and marginalized through holistic ministries and denouncing the evils wrought by sin.

From this definition one can see my basic orientation to ecclesiology: from the ontology or nature of the church flow the church's functions. As will be discussed later, a third category of approaches to this doctrine — teleological approaches — exists. I will subsume this category under my ontological orientation for reasons to be discussed then.

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My task throughout this book is to explain and support this doctrine of the church. Before embarking on this task, however, I must address a number of foundational issues.

These introductory matters will set forth how I will construct my ecclesiology. Accordingly, ecclesiology is the study of the church, and this doctrine treats the issues of the church's definition, covenantal relationship with God, relationship to Israel and the kingdom of God, characteristics, governance, ordinances, and ministries. As a doctrine of evangelical theology, ecclesiology considers biblical affirmations about the church and synthesizes all those teachings into a coherent whole, thereby setting forth what evangelicals are to believe today about the church.

Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church by Gregg R. Allison

This systematic theology of the church is developed in conjunction with other disciplines. Biblical theology describes the progressive revelation found in Scripture by examining the theology of its various groupings e. It also traces the many themes in these biblical groupings and notes their development over time. Historical theology is the study of the interpretation of Scripture and the formulation of doctrine by the church of the past. The preceding section emphasized the importance of Scripture in the construction of ecclesiology.

Such attention to the Word of God is a hallmark of evangelical theology and flows from, inter alia, the Protestant affirmation of the sufficiency of Scripture. As Wayne Grudem explains, "The sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly.

The answer will fall somewhere in three different camps. In Sojourners and Strangers , Gregg Allison clears the ground by presenting a thoroughly biblical ecclesiology, at once comprehensive in scope and sensitive to nuance. A welcome addition to an important series. Gregg Allison has grasped this thorny nettle and produced a book that presents both the basic principles that unite us and the controversies that continue to produce different ecclesial formations.

He maintains his own conservative, Reformed Baptist convictions while being fair to those who hold other views, making his book a valuable contribution to our understanding of this vitally important subject. As a pastor, my highest calling is to honor Jesus by shepherding his flock.

Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of The Church

As a theologian, my highest calling is to laud Jesus publically as the hope of the world. Quite frankly, I need help as I deal with real life difficulties that I could not fictionally create. Even more, this timely tour-de-force ecclesiology displays a love for the church and is written for the church! This excellent book is biblically faithful, historically informed, and pastorally relevant. One need not agree with Allison on every point of interpretation to profit immensely from his insights.

I struggle to think of another volume on the subject that combines both theological depth and practical wisdom in such readable fashion as does Allison.

Is the Reformation Over? - Gregg Allison and Michael Reeves

I cannot recommend it too highly. Gregg Allison has done a masterful job of writing a thorough yet practical analysis of the church. Allison brings such breadth and depth to the beauty of the church by tracing every section through the early church, Catholic Church, Reformation, and into our contemporary culture and times.

All will not agree with the positions taken by Gregg Allison in Sojourners and Strangers , but all will profit from his detailed study. He is especially thorough in his treatment of polity and the ordinances, and goes down some seldom-explored paths in his opening sections. At points, his arguments require careful reading, but often open up new perspectives. I commend it to students of ecclesiology. This work will make a major theological contribution to the expanding literature on the doctrine of the church. His expertise in historical theology and his experience in leadership in a variety of types of churches enrich his profound biblical insights.

It is a must read for all who are serious about leadership in the church of Jesus Christ. See All Customer Reviews.

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Shop Books. Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. About the Author Gregg R. Show More. These experiences shape our theology of God, humanity, sin, salvation, and other doctrines. Continues… Excerpted from "Sojourners and Strangers" by. Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. Even more, this timely tour-de-force ecclesiology displays a love for the church and is written for the church!

This excellent book is biblically faithful, historically informed, and pastorally relevant. One need not agree with Allison on every point of interpretation to profit immensely from his insights. I struggle to think of another volume on the subject that combines both theological depth and practical wisdom in such readable fashion as does Allison.

I cannot recommend it too highly. Gregg Allison has done a masterful job of writing a thorough yet practical analysis of the church. Allison brings such breadth and depth to the beauty of the church by tracing every section through the early church, Catholic Church, Reformation, and into our contemporary culture and times. All will not agree with the positions taken by Gregg Allison in Sojourners and Strangers , but all will profit from his detailed study.

He is especially thorough in his treatment of polity and the ordinances, and goes down some seldom-explored paths in his opening sections.

Sojourners and Strangers

At points, his arguments require careful reading, but often open up new perspectives. I commend it to students of ecclesiology. Interacting with various ecclesiological perspectives throughout church history and today, he provides a balanced, biblical, and up-to-date treatment of topics from the characteristics of the church, to church government, to church ministry—all informed by his understanding of the paradoxical nature of the church as both part of the world and yet looking to another Kingdom. This work will make a major theological contribution to the expanding literature on the doctrine of the church.

His expertise in historical theology and his experience in leadership in a variety of types of churches enrich his profound biblical insights. It is a must read for all who are serious about leadership in the church of Jesus Christ. Download a pdf of the excerpt. Part One: Foundational Issues 1. Introduction to Ecclesiology 2. The Church of the New Covenant. Characteristics Regarding the Origin and Orientation of the Church 4. Characteristics Regarding the Gathering and Sending of the Church. Church Discipline. The Offices of the Church 8. Types of Church Government 9.

A Model of Church Governance. Part Five: The Ordinances of the Church Baptism Part Six: The Ministries of the Church The Ministries of the Church