"Ecclesiology has for too long been the poor relation in evangelical and even Reformed circles. Recent years have witnessed a welcome reaction against such neglect but much of this has not been well-grounded either biblically or historically. Thus, it is a pleasure to commend Guy Waters' book as a sound, biblical, accessible guide to the nature of the church. Written by a churchman for the church, it can be read with profit by office-bearers, Sunday school teachers and any believer who wants a deeper grasp of what it means to be a member of Christ's church on earth."
Though Dr. Waters rightly laments that we live in an age of low ecclesiology, this book contributes significantly towards its recovery. Waters makes a contemporary case for Presbyterian polity that is ably defended from Scripture and carefully annotated from sources in the Reformed tradition, especially the robust ecclesiology of southern Presbyterian voices. His commendation of the Reformed understanding of church power, church offices, and church courts is a compelling reminder that the health of the church is inescapably tied to its polity, and that submission to biblical church government is essential to the rightly ordered Christian life.
For much of the contemporary evangelical world, the idea that our Lord established a visible church is either unknown or dismissed. Those of us, however, who continue to believe that when Jesus said "tell it to the church" he envisioned and intended the establishment of an organized institution will thank Dr Waters for this thoughtful work.
It is all too often forgotten that Reformed Christianity requires Reformed churches, and that Reformed churches, to be truly biblical, should be presbyterian in their government. Guy Waters has rightly recognized that there is a lack of good contemporary material explaining and defending this idea, and in this book he provides a wonderful remedy. Prof. Waters does an excellent job drawing upon the theological insight of our Presbyterian forefathers and combining it with his own expertise as one of the Reformed community's finest contemporary biblical scholars. Particularly helpful are the way he ties the general tenets Reformed ecclesiology to the particulars of presbyterian polity and his clear and nuanced explanation of the nature and boundaries of church authority. I heartily recommend this book and hope that for many years it will strengthen our understanding and practice of biblical church government under the authority of Christ and the Scriptures alone.
In the nineteenth century practically every professor at a Presbyterian seminary wrote about pastoral theology and ecclesiology. Why seminary faculty no longer do so is a mystery but Guy Waters has attempted a remedy to his conundrum by drawing on the wealth of material that Presbyterian theologians crafted for the sake of their communions. They were not simply arguing for the importance of Presbyterian polity but were also looking to Scripture for instruction on how Christ wanted his church ordered. This is a timely book that should be read by all officers in the church (and those who aspire to office). It may even launch a twenty-first century recovery of the ecclesiology that Presbyterians defended and maintained as part of their effort to build churches that are Reformed according to the Word.