Presbyterian Salsa: Westminster's Recipe for the "Communion of Saints"

If the French are right that "the sauce is everything," it took Latin cuisine to prove it. Salsa (Spanish for "sauce") has become the leading condiment in the world. How can plain ketchup compare with the combination of hot and spicy peppers, with their varieties of fruity, smoky, and woodsy tones, along with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lime, to create just the right panache of zest, aroma, and finish to perk up any palate? Similarly, the church is an ingenious blend of spiritual gifts and graces, a variety of strengths and experiences, which give her a robust depth and complexity. We confess this reality when we say, reciting the Apostles' Creed, "I believe ... in the communion of the saints." Historically, the church has viewed the doctrine of the communion of the saints as vital to its self-understanding. For example, our Confession of Faith devotes a whole chapter to the subject. In contemporary theological discussions on the doctrine of the church, "community" has taken center stage. The word ... Read more

Our Collapsing Ecclesiology

It's Sunday morning. You wake up, prepare a hot beverage, eat breakfast, and finish your morning routine. Now what? Go to church? Maybe, maybe not. Attending public worship services has become optional for a growing number of professing Christians, as has commitment to the visible, institutional church. It has been widely reported that a number of high-profile evangelicals only rarely attend church services. They may have "accountability" groups, prayer groups, or small-group Bible studies, in which they participate. But the local, visible church is optional for them and many, many others. There is "a gated community in the evangelical world," USA Today has announced. "Many of the nation's most powerful believers ... won't be found in the pews ... creating a growing gap between them and 'the people.' " [1] Julia Duin sees a wider problem involving low-profile evangelicals as well, prompting her book-length response, Quitting Church. [2] George Barna all but proposes the abolition of the ... Read more

The Home Church

As the modern "home church" movement continues to gain momentum and threaten the peace and unity of congregations in every denomination, it behooves all who love Christ's church to speak the truth in love to home church advocates. Therefore, I offer this pastoral advice: Distinguish and Appreciate If by "home churching" a person simply means that his congregation meets in someone's house, then we must regard this as a perfectly acceptable practice and perhaps even preferable if the congregation is small and struggling financially. However, if by "home churching" that person means that he has abandoned the "institutional church" and has begun to assume the prerogatives or exercise the functions of the special officers of the church (pastor, elder, or deacon), then he is in serious error. While the home church movement is misguided, we should at least appreciate that the average home church advocate desires an "authentic New Testament experience" of Christian fellowship and worship. He has ... Read more

The Church and Economic Recovery

It was the Depression and times were hard. The entire nation (not to mention the world) wondered what could be done to fix things. Unemployment was high, business was bad, goods were expensive, and people were worried. Public confidence in the possibility of "better times" was gone. Big-city newspapers published panel discussions dealing with the situation. "Experts" everywhere weighed in on what should be done. So it was on November 11, 1932, that the American Academy of Political and Social Science held a symposium, inviting three experts to address this matter. They were a prominent labor-management consultant, a Jewish scholar, and a Christian scholar. The Christian scholar was Professor J. Gresham Machen, and his address stands today, not only as a remarkable warning against the "nanny state," but also as a beacon for a proper view of the church in such a troublesome climate. Machen knew the times (1 Chron. 12:32; Luke 19:44), and his message was a clear and concise light into a very dark and ... Read more


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