Christopher Morgan has put forth a steady stream of top-shelf edited volumes in the field of systematic theology. These volumes work very nicely in theology and doctrine courses, whether the courses are introductory in nature or upper-level electives. Morgan’s volumes model how to take complex ideas and mediate them in a lucid and compelling manner to pastors, college students, and seminarians. Morgan’s most recent volume is no exception.
In The Community of Jesus: A Theology of the Church (B&H, 2013), which Morgan (California Baptist) edited together with Kendell Easley (Union University), the authors provide compelling and coherent answers to questions about the nature and practice of the church.
In the introduction, Morgan and Easley note their different experiences in and with the church and how these experiences have shaped their approach. They also point out the significance of the numerous questions that attend any discussion of church: what about Baptism; the Lord’s Supper; church discipline; the relationship to Israel; denominations? These questions, they note, are important but are “ . . . best seen through a broader, salvation historical lens the theology of the church framed by a context of the nature and mission of God.” (xiii)
Instead of seeking to answer all the questions they opt to lay a theological foundation upon which the reader can build a fuller exposition of the church. This in turn speaks to many of the more applied questions. “Our focus is to work toward a biblical, historical, systematic, missional theology of the church.” (xiii) That is, The Community of Jesus is an integrative theology of the church that paves the way for other volumes to answer myriad questions about context and application.
Readers of BtT will be familiar with the contributing scholars. In the first five chapters, Paul House, Kendell Easley, David Dockery, Ray Van Neste, and Southeastern’s own Andreas Köstenberger lay out the biblical teachings––from OT to NT––which inform an evangelical Baptist ecclesiology. In the next four chapters James Patterson, Steve Wellum, Chris Morgan, and your scribe relate the biblical teachings to church history, salvation history, God’s glory, and God’s mission. The result is a smart, clear, and responsible text on the theology of the church.
This book will be a most helpful resource for pastors, teachers, and students alike. Pastors will benefit from the well-conceived plan of the book, which helps them connect the biblical, historical, systematic, and practical aspects of the church to their own ministry. Teachers will welcome the clear writing and concise treatments of large chunks of Scripture and history on this topic. And students, especially undergraduates, will learn to love the church and why this matters to God.