Tag Archives: Michael Horton

Are We Planting Churches or Campuses?

I have recently been having several conversations with people about multi-site churches and it reminded me of a paper I wrote in seminary about this topic. I hope it is useful in getting us thinking about what is a church.

INTRODUCTION

I grew up outside of Washington D.C and until recently my old neighborhood was the home of some serious tobacco farming. For several years of my childhood our house was literally surrounded by a tobacco farm. I remember walking home from school and seeing farmers tilling the soil, planting the seeds, and gathering the tobacco leaves. It was clear to me that my neighbors knew what they were doing. If I asked them anything about tobacco farming they could have told me more than I ever wanted to know. Imagine if one day while I was walking home I asked each of the different farmers what they were planting in the ground. What do you think are the chances that I would have got a different answer from each of them? Each farmer may have different farming methods, but they would never even slightly disagree about what they are planting, right?

Yet, I wonder if I could say the same thing about most pastors and church planters. If I went and asked a large group of pastors and church planters what they are planting, would I get different answers from each one of them? Now, I know that defining and identifying a church is much more complicated and subjective than defining and identifying a tobacco plant. However, I am concerned that many pastors and church planters today are redefining what is a church. All you need to do is begin listening to those pastors and planters who have been advocating the recent multi-site church planting model. If you listen closely to what they are saying about the church and then compare it to what the bible says about the church the differences will be clear.

What I hope communicate in this post is twofold:

1) Provide a biblical and historical definition of the church.

2) Compare that definition with a definition of a multi-site church by quoting the men who are advocating the practice. Continue reading

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Is Your Bible A Sealed Book?

Some people have said law and gospel “is just a Lutheran axiom.”[1] Martin Luther was without a doubt one of the most influential spokesman God used to teach the world about the double use of the law in his commentary of Galatians.

John Calvin

However, “when discussing Law and Gospel in connection with systematic or dogmatic theology [John Calvin] is in perfect agreement with Luther’s approach.”[2] Calvin is one of many in the Reformed tradition who is in agreement with Luther.

Zacharius Ursinus

Zacharius Ursinus, the primary author of the Heidelberg Catechism, states: “The doctrine of the church consists of two parts: the Law and the Gospel; in which we have comprehended the sum and substance of the sacred Scriptures…The law and gospel are the chief and general divisions of Holy Scriptures.”[3]

Louis Berkhof

Additionally, in Louis Berkhof’s “Systematic Theology” he explains this was the norm ever since the Reformation began. “The churches of the Reformation from the very beginning distinguished between the law and the gospel as the two parts of the Word of God as a means of grace.”[4]

The Puritans

This preaching continued from some of the great Puritan preachers like Richard Sibbes, Thomas Cartwright, Thomas Watson, John Owen, and Thomas Goodwin. [The law-gospel distinction] is replete in the sermons and theological treatises of Episcopal Puritans such as Perkins, Richard Sibbes, and Archbishop Ussher; Presbyterian Puritans such as Thomas Cartwright and Thomas Watson; and Independents such as John Owen and Thomas Goodwin.”[5]

C.F.W. Walther

In 1884 to 1885, every Friday evening C.F.W. Walther gave lectures on preaching that have now been published and become a classic work for those in Lutheran and Reformed churches. Walther may have said it best, “The true knowledge of the distinction between the Law and the Gospel is not only a glorious light, affording the correct understanding of the entire Holy Scriptures, but without this knowledge Scripture is and remains a sealed book.”[6]

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Filed under Book Quotes, Church History, Law and Gospel, Scripture