The Being of Churches: Neo-Congregational Polity

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What is a church? Are denominations churches? Who may ordain Gospel ministers? How do we determine what a church gathering looks like? These are questions of polity, the principles and foundations for church organisation and conduct.

Description

What is a church? Are denominations churches? Who has the authority to ordain ministers of the Gospel? How do we determine what a church gathering should look like? These are questions of “polity”,” or the principles and foundations for the organisation and conduct of a church. Nearly 400 years ago, Christians in New England produced a clear articulation of polity based on the Bible, called The Cambridge Platform of Discipline. This document offers much insight into the way God would have churches act. In this book, the author engages with the Bible in the tradition of the Cambridge Platform to offer a new congregational polity, an account of the being and conduct of churches that retrieves the best insights of the Cambridge Platform while attempting to improve upon it in light of the later failings of American congregationalism and the 400 years of Christian reflection on the church that has followed that document.

It is the author’s prayer that this book would help churches engage with the Bible as they think about what it means to be a church and would have the tools to do so with faithfulness and clarity.

Contents

Table of Contents   iii
Acknowledgments   v
Analytic Outline   vii
Introduction   1
I. Of the Church and Churches   19
II. Of Local Church Membership (Cf. CPD XII)   75
III. Of Ecclesiastical Authority and Church Officers   93
IV. Gatherings, Ordinances, and the Word of God   129
V. Discipline   173
VI. Inter-Church Relations   187
VII. The Relationship of Congregations Qua Congregations to the State   197
Conclusion   205
Appendix 1: The Cambridge Platform of Discipline (1649), in Modernised English   207
Appendix 2: The Burial Hill Declaration (1865), In Modernised English   243
Works Cited    247
About Teleioteti   252

 

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