Here is a list of where the doctrine of the church, particularly our topics, are dealt with in the Reformed Confessions:
- Belgic Confession, Articles 27-29
- Confession of Faith of the Calvinistic Methodists of Wales, Articles 35-37 (Note that Methodist here does not refer to the later denomination influenced by the theology of John Wesley)
- Second Helvetic Confession, Chapter 17
- Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 21, Question and Response 54 and 55
- French Confession, Articles 25-28 - This is particularly helpful on the marks of the church
- Irish Articles of Religion, Articles 68-70, 73
- The Scots' Confession of Faith, Chapters 16, 18 - This confession was largely written by John Knox and along with the Irish Articles and the 39 Articles of the Church of England served as a model for the Westminster Assembly
- Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapters 25-26
- Westminster Larger Catechism, Q&A 62-65
Here are some book recommendations for this week:
- The Church by Edmund Clowney - Clowney's book on the church in the Contours of Christian Theology series is probably the best book on ecclesiology that you will find. He engages almost all of the major topics in ecclesiology and does so from a confessional Presbyterian perspective. I think that his chapter on worship is particularly valuable. The only caution I want to give is that Clowney has an interesting and somewhat strange understanding of ordination and under that does argue that women should be permitted to serve as deaconnesses. I think that Clowney is wrong on this point though we'll address it in another week or two.
- The Teaching of Jesus Concerning the Kingdom of God and the Church by Geerhardus Vos - This book is more a biblical theological investigation of the church as founded by Jesus Christ and its relationship to the Kingdom of God. This is a very good book related to our redemptive-historical survey of the church. That said, as always I must warn that Vos can be difficult to read and so be prepared to go slowly through this one.
- The Church: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic by Richard Phillips, Philip Ryken, and Mark Dever - This is a good short book from three pastors on the attributes of the church as set forward in the Nicene Creed.
- The Handbook of Church Discipline: A Right and Privilege of Every Church Member by Jay Adams - I mainly bring this book up in reference to the marks of the church. This is a good, short book on the subject and is available in the church library.
- People and Place: A Covenant Ecclesiology by Michael Horton - I have to confess that I do not have this book yet though it is very high on my to buy list. It has been recommended by a number of scholars that I trust and I find Horton to be generally quite helpful on ecclesiology. That said, I would caution you to watch out for anything on "Two Kingdom" theology in here for the relationship between church and culture. Horton does endorse this view but I don't think that it is supported by our confessions or by historical Reformed and Presbyterian theology (truly speaking it is a Lutheran doctrine and not Reformed).
Here are citations of where you can read about these subjects in various Presbyterian and Reformed systematic theologies (the 19th Century theologians do not deal with ecclesiology outside of the sacraments):
- Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin - Ecclesiology is found in Book 4. The topics we dealt with are covered in Chapters 1, 2, 3, 12, and 14.
- Reformed Dogmatics by Herman Bavinck - Ecclesiology is in Volume 4, "Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation. Chapter 5 will deal with many of the topics that we just discussed.
- Concise Reformed Dogmatics by J. Van Genderen and W.H. Velema - The doctrine of the church is covered in chapter 13. As a side note, this book was only released in an English translation a few months ago but it is fantastic and I highly recommend it if you're looking for a good one volume systematic theology to have an as aide.
Here are some free articles that you can read online on these topics:
- "The Biblical Theology of the Church" by Edmund Clowney
- "The Church and Israel" by Michael Horton
- "The Holiness of the Church" by Hywel Jones
- "The True Church" by J.C. Ryle
- "The True Church with which as Mother of All the Godly We Must Keep Unity" by John Calvin - This is from Book 4 of the Institutes
- "The Church" by Richard Baxter
- "The Church Instituted" by William Ames
Here are some miscellaneous things that you should check out:
- Monergism books is offering a sale on the Puritan Paperback Bundle. It is temporarily 50% off. There are some great items in this set from people like John Owen, John Bunyan, Thomas Watson, Richard Sibbes, William Guthrie, Richard Baxter, Jeremiah Burroughs and many others. There are 37 books in the set so even 50% off it's still $155, which I know is out of most people's book budget. Still, something to consider.
- Here is a great article from Nick Batzig (the organizing pastor of New Covenant Presbyterian Church, a planting work of the PCA in Richmond Hill, GA) on the importance of Christ's obedience as the second and last Adam.
- Finally, here is a thoughtful essay by Carl Trueman on taking worship seriously and how it relates to the way that we view theology and the gospel. There's some thought provoking and humorous stuff here.