les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Book review - A Well-Ordered Church, by Daniel Hyde and William Boekestein

Subtitled: Laying a Solid Foundation for a Vibrant Church

This is a good book which addresses the question of the nature, structure, function and government of the church from a solidly presbyterian standpoint. It is pretty comprehensive, addressing issues which you may not find addressed in many other books of this type - questions like the involvement of a local church with other local churches in its vicinity, of shared confessional convictions or not. The table of contents is reproduced below :

Introduction
Part One: Identity
One: The Church’s Relation to Christ
Part Two: Authority
Two: Not Human Preference But Divine Revelation
Three: Christ Ministers Through Officers
Part Three: Ecumenicity
Four: Within a Denomination
Five: Outside of a Denomination
Part Four: Activity
Six: A Teaching Church
Seven: A Worshiping Church
Eight: The Practice of Our Worship
Nine: A Witnessing Church
Ten: The Practice of a Witnessing Church
Eleven: A Repenting Church
Conclusion: The Need for God-Glorifying Church Governance
Afterword by Dr. Michael Horton
Foundational Principles of Reformed Church Government

Obviously, those who do not hold to a presbyterian form of Church government will take issue with much of the stance adopted in the book. For this reviewer the commitment to denominational structures marks the book out as not coming from a Welsh stable, as does the separation between worship and teaching. In my background we are suspicious of denominations and we see the hearing and reception of God's word in the worship service as an integral part of the worship we bring. But not everyone sees things through Welsh eyes.

The book makes frequent reference to the various presbyterian confessional documents and this is very useful. I am not sure that this book would win over someone who did not already hold "reformed" convictions, however. From time to time the tone can be perhaps a little strident - for example I was perturbed to read this statement : To borrow the language of the game of chess, we are the Lord’s pawns. That is, we exist to further his purpose. I am not sure this a helpful way to speak of God's sovereignty. Let's not borrow the language of the game of chess, which could easily cause offence, if we can use the language of Scripture and say "we are the Lord's clay, and he the potter."

In the chapter on ecumenicity I would have liked to see some reference to the family of reformed confessions - Westminster, 1689 Baptist, Savoy, etc. Our forefathers acknowledged one another's existence and rejoiced in their doctrinal closeness.

So a useful book on presbyterian church government from a US presbyterian stable. Read and reflect.

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