THE CHURCH: ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLICWritten by Richard D. Phillips, Philip G. Ryken, and Mark Dever Reviewed By Graham Beynon
This is a series of essays originally given at, a conference entitled ‘Chirst and his Church’. As the title indicates the essays look at the doctrine of the church through the fourfold description of the Nicene Creed. There are also introductory and concluding essays.
The material is easy to read with little technical discussion. The essays are well presented and well argued. As a result this book is to be recommended as a very helpful introduction or summary of the church. However it breaks little new ground, nor does it engage with contemporary discussions over ecclesiology.
The essay on unity, for example, is a good summary of the area with some challenging thoughts on the attitudes of humility required over our disagreements. However, it does little to delimit the boundaries of doctrine that define our unity. Similarly the analysis on holiness outlines the doctrine well but doesn’t then engage with some the challenges it raises, say of church discipline. Perhaps the best essay is that on catholicity, simply because it is applied more rigorously with helpful comments about our tendencies towards provincialism and sectarianism, and the differences between church and para-church.
What this book aims to do it does well, and so if you’d like an easy to read, and well put reminder of the doctrine of the church, or you’d like to recommend an introduction on the topic, then it is for you. But don’t turn to it for more than that.
Graham Beynon is pastor of Grace Church in Cambridge, UK and director of independent ministry training at Oak Hill Theological College in London.