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Baptist Foundations: Church Government for an Anti-Institutional Age

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Ours is an anti-polity age, perhaps more than any other time in the history of the church. Yet polity remains as important now as it was in the New Testament.

What then is a right or biblical polity? The contributors to this volume make an exegetical and theological case for a Baptist polity. Right polity, they argue, is congregationalism, elder leadership, diaconal service, regenerate church membership, church discipline, and a Baptist approach to the ordinances.

Each section explores the pastoral applications of these arguments. How do congregationalism and elder leadership work together? When should a church practice church discipline? How can one church work with another in matters of membership and discipline?

To be read sequentially or used as a reference guide, Baptist Foundations provides a contemporary treatment of Baptist church government and structures, the first of its kind in decades.

  • Approaches the issues surrounding church government in an age of antipolity
  • Presents an apologetic for the topic of polity to demonstrate its importance, as it establishes the local church, guards the Gospel, shapes Christian discipleship and strengthens a church's witness
  • Examines the ways in which God intends to bless His peole through the structures of the church

Top Highlights

“The difference between a local church and a group of Christians is nothing more or less than church polity. To argue for polity is to argue for the existence of the local church.” (source)

“Synoptics six themes will be noted: (1) the connection of the Lord’s Supper with Passover, (2) the figural character of the meal, (3) the covenantal dimensions of the Eucharist, (4) the emphasis upon atonement, (5) the eschatological slant in the accounts, and (6) the communal nature of the meal.” (source)

“Second, it requires Christians both to understand the relationship between the gospel and obedience and to work to know their fellow members.” (source)

“Second, polity is important because it guards the what and the who of the gospel—what the gospel message is and who the gospel believers are.” (source)

“Baptist confessions of faith have normally allotted considerable space to ecclesiology, as ten examples indicate” (source)

In Baptist Foundations, Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman offer a treasure trove of wisdom and practical advice regarding a highly neglected subject: ecclesiology and church governance. Church leaders will find themselves returning to these essays repeatedly for guidance on topics such as elder, deacons, membership, baptism, and the Lord's supper.

Thomas S. Kidd, professor of History, Baylor University

Historically informed, exegetically careful, and theologically substantial, Baptist Foundations tackles perennial issues in ecclesiology with verve and conviction. The church's nature, polity, ordinances, leadership, and attributes are ably treated and pastorally applied. Baptist pastors, ministry students, reflective church leaders, and professors will benefit from this significant volume

Christopher W. Morgan, dean and professor of Theology, School of Christian Ministries, California Baptist University

This edited volume by Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman is much needed and fills a growing hole in the thinking and experience of present-day Baptists. This book will be valuable for every minister, and especially for seminarians, as they reflect upon and put into practice what it means to be a part of the church of the living Christ. Addressing issues of ordinances, organizational structures, and polity, the authors provide a powerful resource for those who want to live faithfully under the authority of the local church as the people of God

Robert B. Sloan, president, Houston Baptist University


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    Digital list price: $39.99
    Save $10.00 (25%)