Exploring Ecclesiology

An Evangelical and Ecumenical Introduction

Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger;

In this introduction to ecclesiology, respected scholars Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger offer a solidly evangelical yet ecumenical survey of the church in mission and doctrine. Combining biblical, historical, and cultural analysis, this comprehensive text explores the church as a Trinitarian, eschatological, worshiping, sacramental, serving, ordered, cultural, and missional community. It also offers practical application, addressing contemporary church life issues such as women in ministry, evangelism, social action, consumerism in church growth trends, ecumenism, and the church in postmodern culture. The book will appeal to all who are interested in church doctrine, particularly undergraduates and seminarians.

Praise for Exploring Ecclesiology

“A marvelous volume on ecclesiology in the contemporary setting. I have not read a better introduction to ecclesiology and hope that it becomes a standard textbook in college and seminary classes as well as finding a wide readership outside of the academy. It is a splendid example of theology in service to the church.” —John R. Franke, Yellowstone Theological Institute

“This is an important new book. Evangelicals have often emphasized individual faith in Christ at the expense of the corporate character of the Christian community. This book shows why that dichotomy is false by pointing us toward a more holistic ecclesiology—the church biblical, trinitarian, sacramental, missional, and eschatological. This book needs to be read and heeded!” —Timothy George, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

“Harper and Metzger provide evangelical Protestants an ideal entrée into what has been the long-neglected stepsister of systematic theology in North America. A must-read for evangelicals who intuitively know that the church is not incidental or just instrumental to the Christian life.” —Barry Harvey, Baylor University

“Harper and Metzger have written an important evangelical and ecumenical introduction to ecclesiology. Being evangelicals themselves, they have managed to incorporate into their vision of the church important insights from both the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox theology and tradition. I believe that this is a book from which Orthodox students, theologians, and pastors have much to learn.” —Rev. Dr. Demetrios Bathrellos, Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, Cambridge

“An evangelical ecclesiology that takes the counter-cultural notion of divine communio as its starting point merits reading. That this book also examines race, sacraments, and Christian art will really grab the attention of a serious and plentiful readership. Metzger and Harper deserve the highest praise for pushing the envelope.” —Peter Casarella, DePaul University

“This book is great… I recommend this book to all and any who are in a church or are followers of Jesus but have a hard time with understanding church and why we must be a part of one and what that should look like.” —Nataliya Mikhaylova (read the full review at Amazon)

“It is excellent. It gives a great view from the Trinitarian view of what being a church means. I would suggest it for all those who want Jesus!” —Brandon J.H. Loo (read the full review at Amazon)

“I really enjoyed and appreciated this book. I am a pastor, and I have been wrestling through some of the evangelical church’s recent failings and wanderings. I find Harper and Metzger very helpful in thinking through a deeper way for the church to function… I recommend this book as a thoughtful and challenging vision of how the evangelical church can combat harmful consumerism and present a true vision of the gospel to the world.” —Daniel R. Franklin (read the full review at Amazon)

A brilliant look into the theological foundation of the Church, ‘Exploring Ecclesiology’ strikes at the heart of today’s need for the church. Because the church does not simply bear witness to its community – it ultimately bears witness to its God – the need of today is a profound understanding of what it means to be Church… A strong need exists today to better understand what it means to be the Church. Whilst Metzger and Harper claim their book simply ‘explores’ ecclesiology, the utter reality is that this book is a brilliant engagement with the core of what the Church is. The book disbands the ever-present dichotomy of practical and academic through its thorough engagement and fleshing out of such issues as leadership, community, individualism, cultural influences, missional life of the Church and the like… This is a must read for the Bride as well as all those who have ever wondered why Jesus is so enticing.” —Matthew S. Farlow (read the full review at Amazon)

“Very encouraging read about the church. I think non-seminary students would enjoy this book too.” —Timmy Dy (reviewed at GoodReads)

“Harper and Metzger keep their promises with an ecclesiology at once deeply ecumenical and sharply evangelical. They offer a richly Trinitarian and eschatological orientation even as they ground the doctrine of the church in an American context. As a generation of younger evangelicals discover ecclesiology—no, discover the church—I am happy and grateful to be able to refer them to this book.” —Matt Jenson, Biola University (reviewed at eBay)

Exploring Ecclesiology is true to its subtitle, being both vibrantly evangelical and admirably ecumenical; it is commendable for its depth, breadth, and erudition. Harper and Metzger’s sympathetic engagement with Catholic ecclesiology is challenging and reciprocal. I especially appreciate how the authors emphasize and explore the vital connection between ecclesiology and eschatology, something very beneficial to readers seeking to better appreciate how living the Faith in community today relates to the hope of entering fully into Trinitarian communion in the life to come.” —Carl E. Olson, Ignatius Insight (reviewed on eBay)

“For people who have wondered whether evangelicalism has a sufficient ecclesiology, this book will be a welcome addition to the conversation. The authors are not afraid to open up wider angles of reflection for evangelicals who are ready to develop a renewed, hearty ecclesiology. They offer a series of soundings toward an ecclesiology that can be both evangelical and ecumenical, both robust and contemporary. The book is especially important for the way it engages ecclesiology in a dialogue between the church’s gospel-shaped identity and the cultural circumstances in which it lives its witness to the gospel.” —George R. (reviewed on eBay)

“Over the past couple of years I have been stirred to learn more on the subject of ecclesiology. This book has become a primer for me… This is a book that needs to be digested thoroughly by every evangelical pastor in America.” —Daniel Thompson (read the full review at Apprentice 2 Jesus)

“Here’s a good textbook for a basic course in ‘Ecclesiology 101′ (or what used to be called ‘Church, Ministry and Sacraments’ back in my seminary days). Though written ‘densely’ in text-book fashion (a few good stories, lots of Bible texts, with some useful quotes and endnotes) it would also comprise an excellent study-guide for church leaders.” —Rowland Croucher (read the full review at John Mark Ministries)

“Harper and Metzger’s Exploring Ecclesiology is an excellent example of contextualized ecclesiology, exploring God’s intent for the church into a specific cultural setting, in our case Western society generally and North America particularly… For the typical scholar-practitioner… the entire book is refreshingly accessible.” —Dr. Carlus Gupton (read the full review at Life and Leadership)

“[Exploring Ecclesiology] should be on the shelf of every ecclesiologist, especially for those who believe that to do ecclesiology today demands that one have both a global and ecumenical perspective.” —Peter Beisheim (read the full review at Catholic Books Review)

“In a culture where individual expressions of faith are exalted and communal expressions are often neglected, it is important that evangelicals reclaim the doctrine of the church. A useful tool in that quest is the new book Exploring Ecclesiology (Brazos Press) by Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger. Though written for use as a college and seminary text, pastors will find much of value here in their own study of what God intends for His church.” —preaching.com

“Mark Noll, the former Wheaton historian who is now teaching at Notre Dame, jokes that “The main difference between us and the Catholics is ecclesiology. They have one and we don’t.” There is a new book which seeks to remedy that, and I am so taken with it that I’ll be using it as a textbook in Systematic 3 (eschatology, ecclesiology, and soteriology) when class starts next month.” —Mike Wittmer (read the full review at Don’t Stop Believing)

Reviewed by Jon Douglas Anderson in Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Volume 45, Issue 3 (2010), page 513

Reviewed by Stephen N. Williams in Evangelical Quarterly, Volume 82, Issue 4, page 364

Here We Are to Worship” in Christianity Today, August 2009 is a condensed excerpt of Exploring Ecclesiology

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