Today, more than ever, people believe in a personal god, that’s even if they believe in a god at all. With the rise of what has become affectionately known as the “Nones”, the Church has gone by the wayside and left as a straggler on the train of cultural relevance. A Well-Ordered Church was written to reverse misunderstanding of what the church is and how operates in the world. They offer up a biblical picture of the place where “Christ is pleased to dwell by His Spirit and Word.”
The way the structure of the Church unfolds in this volume is interesting to me. They begin by showing the Identity of the Church through revealing who we are as an elect people of God, ordained before the foundations of the world. Nothing odd here yet. They continue by discussing the Authority of the Church, which I may remind the reader, is not a hugely popular idea in the church today. “To each his own” seems to be the motto inside the walls of our church buildings. Section Three is where it got a little blurry for me. Ecumenicity is not something espoused by our pastors often enough, so in that sense it was odd to see it, though I agree with the writers assessment. The Fourth section closes the volume out with exploring the Activity of the church.
The title of this volume does not get too in-depth with polity or church government, and was not intended for that purpose solely. It’s more of an introduction to the biblical mandate of fellowship among the members of Christ’ body. How that simple mandate plays out in today’s society is rocky at best. In times past there were much fewer options of what church you were going to join. There were roughly five mainline denominations which you could join. It seems that now if you meet at Starbucks with a few friends you can start a blog about the meetings and voila!, you have a new congregation.
In a short amount of pages Boekstein and Hyde are able to correct some of the misdirection that seems to happen from our pulpits. They write from a scriptural standpoint and allow the Word to speak for itself on matters of Church identity and activity. I appreciate this work but it left me wanting more. This work reminded me of another volume I read on the Church by Mark Dever who then took the material and applied it to a section of well-written volume on systematic theology. I wish these two authors would do the same.
On its own, Well-Ordered Church does exactly what it promises to do. It gives the readers an introduction as to what the Church is and how she should operate. For my tastes I would have preferred about 600 more pages with a lengthy section on the history of the Church, especially in America, and maybe sections on Polity and Government. Other than reading my own tastes into the volume, though, it does an excellent service for those God has called into his marvelous light we call the Church.