The church is at the very center of God’s redemptive purposes. Gregg Allison is quick to articulate this great reality in The Church: An Introduction. Dr. Allison’s work is the newest installment in Crossway’s Short Studies in Systematic Theology series, one that has been commended unreservedly by this writer.
Dr. Allison pours a sturdy ecclesiological foundation in part one and demonstrates the great need to ground this subject in the triune God. Almost immediately, the author distinguishes himself as set apart from a Classical Dispensational understanding of Scripture:
In summary, both the Old and New Testament present the one people of God in two aspects: as the people of Israel in old covenant relationship with him. Believers constitute the one people of God … Specifically, this redeemed people of God consists of two aspects: the people of Israel in old covenant relationship with him and the people of the church in new covenant relationship with him. Believers constitute the one people of God.
God redeems a people for his own possession, and his Spirit dwells among his people. Once again, Allison drives home the reality and importance of the church: “There is one people of God, who from eternity past has graciously elected all those who will believe in him by faith and walk with him in obedience, worship, love, and service.”
Next, the author focuses on the ecclesiastical framework.
Mere Ecclesiology and More Ecclesiology
Various elements of the church are explored in some detail, including the leadership, government, and ordinances of the church. As with the other topics in the Short Studies in Systematic Theology series, these are covered in a basic manner but never in a simplistic way.
More than anything else, I appreciate the tone of Dr. Allision. His books are theologically rich and practical. Both beginners and veterans of the Christian faith will benefit from this excellent discussion.