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The Church: A Theological and Historical Account

ISBN: 9781493402564

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Renowned evangelical theologian Gerald Bray provides a clear and coherent account of the church in biblical, historical, and theological perspective. He tells the story of the church in its many manifestations through time, starting with its appearance in the New Testament, moving through centuries of persecution and triumph, and discussing how and why the ancient church broke up at the Reformation. Along the way, Bray looks at the four classic marks of the church—its oneness, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity--and illustrates how each of these marks has been understood by different Christian traditions. The book concludes with a look at the ecumenical climate of today and suggests ways that the four characteristics of the church can and should be manifested in our present global context.

This accessible introduction to the church from an evangelical perspective explores ecclesiology through the lenses of church history and doctrine to reveal what it means for us today. Bray discusses the church as a living reality, offering practical ways churches and individuals can cooperate and live together.

Resource Experts
  • Provides a historical and theological introduction to the doctrine of the church
  • Surveys various interpretations of ecclesiology
  • Discusses the spiritual and practical identity of the church
  • The Origins of the Church
  • The New Testament Church
  • The Persecuted Church
  • The Imperial Church
  • The Crisis of the Imperial Church
  • What Is the Church?
  • What Should the Church Be?
  • Appendix: The Ecumenical Councils

Top Highlights

“The third response to the divisions of the Reformation was more radical. It came from people who believed that the traditional structures were either too corrupt to be reformed or unbiblical and therefore to be abolished on principle. Their aim was to reconstruct the church along New Testament lines, which they thought was possible on the basis of a careful study of the evidence.” (Page 177)

“That led the church to invent a place called ‘purgatory’ where the souls of the faithful departed would go and continue to work toward their ultimate salvation.” (Page 123)

“The church must be subject in all things to the Word of God, that is to say, to the teaching of Holy Scripture” (Page 219)

“must recognize that they belong to a universal fellowship” (Page 221)

“Jesus Christ is the head of the church, which is his body” (Page 218)

Solid, shrewd, and most thorough, this superlative survey of God’s people on earth past and present will be a boon not only for seminarians but also for many more of us besides. It is a truly outstanding performance.

—J. I. Packer, professor of theology, Regent College

Here is a fresh overview of the church and its history, theology, and current challenges in today’s world. Gerald Bray is an ordained evangelical Anglican, but he writes with such great sympathy and wisdom that this telling of the church’s story will edify the Lord’s people everywhere.

—Timothy George, founding dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University; general editor, Reformation Commentary on Scripture

Gerald Bray’s concisely titled book is in many ways a gold mine. Weaving together the diverse manifestations of the Christian church over twenty centuries, his narration is wonderfully accessible, even conversational, and filled with engaging details. As an ecumenical panorama of the church’s interaction with high and low theology, renewal and intransigence, politics and secular culture, the book is a model of fairness in its account of the virtues and vices of its members along with their achievements and excesses. Both central and peripheral characters are given due attention, and many surprising connections are noted in passing. As an observer of the trends and trajectories that have led to the denominational and postdenominational Christianity of our own day, Bray proves to be not only irenic and charitable but also sober and sensible in his assessments. Anyone who wonders whether ecclesiology matters—or even where it came from, in all its present diversity—should read this book.

—John L. Thompson, professor of historical theology and Gaylen and Susan Byker Professor of Reformed Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary

Gerald Bray

Dr. Gerald Bray is Research Professor of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, AL, and Distinguished Professor of Theology at Knox Theological Seminary, Fort Lauderdale, FL.

He was born and raised in Montreal, Canada, where he did his undergraduate work at McGill University. He completed his doctoral studies at the Sorbonne in Paris and went on to study theology in Cambridge. In 1978 he was ordained in the Church of England and served a parish in London for two years before going on to teach at Oak Hill College in London. He has been at Beeson since 1993.

Dr. Bray is the editor of the Anglican journal Churchman and has published a number of books, including the award-winning Biblical Interpretation: Past and Present (InterVarsity Press, 1996), Yours Is the Kingdom: A Systematic Theology of the Lord's Prayer(InterVarsity Press, 2007), God Is Love (Crossway, 2012), and his most recent work, God Has Spoken: A History of Christian Theology (Crossway, 2014).

Dr. Bray speaks several languages fluently. He has lived in Germany, Greece, and Russia, and he has taught in several European countries and Australia. He can often be found in one of the archives of the Church of England, researching parts of its history, on which he has also published a number of important works. He is also an avid swimmer and cyclist.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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    Shop July's Monthly Sale!


    Regular price: $27.99
    Save $8.40 (30%)