“The Christian life is a churched life.” This simple, yet profound statement under-girds a new series of books Church Basics edited by Jonathan Leeman from B&H. This series is aimed at the average church member and each book addresses a specific part of church life of which every church member ought to be both knowledgeable about and involved in.
Understanding Baptism answers basic questions like What is Baptism?, Who Should be Baptized?, and How Should Churches Practice Baptism? This book, as well as all those in the series, are written, and thus the questions are answered, by those who take a Baptistic understanding of church government, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. Even those Christians who have a different understanding of these church life issues will benefit from these books if they want to learn the other side and want to be challenged about their own position. Leeman defines baptism as follows: “Baptism is a church’s act of affirming and portraying a believer’s union with Christ by immersing him or her in water, and a believer’s act of publicly committing him or herself to Christ and his people, thereby uniting a believer to the church and marking off him or her from the world.” (6)
Understanding the Congregation’s Authority addresses basic issues about the congregations role in the church such as what Jesus expects of his disciples in the church, the role Adam had and how that relates to church members, and the role pastors play in a church members discipleship. Too often is our churches the pastors (and its even worse if there is only one full-time pastor) and elders (though this is not always the case with them) are expected to do the lion share of church ministry. But is this the case? Is a pastor supposed to master all ministries so that he can be the only one ministering to everyone else? This book argues no and provides a solidly biblical case for the every-member-a-minister mindset. This is congregationalism, which is to say that, while the elders lead a local church, the congregation rules the church because that’s their God-given responsibility.
Understanding the Lord’s Supper first presents a biblical theology of the Lord’s Supper and then answers questions like Who can Celebrate it?, Who can Administer it?, and How Should Christians Approach it? I encourage Christians to read this book and the book on baptism together and to read the book on baptism first. The baptism book will help you understand how baptism unites individual Christians together and this book on the Lords’ Supper will help you see how those united Christians express their unity to the world and reaffirm their unity with each other. Jamieson defines the Lord’s Supper as follows: “The Lords’s Supper is a church’s act of communing with Christ and each other and of commemorating Christ’s death by partaking of bread and wine, and a believer’s act of receiving Christ’s benefits and renewing his or her commitment to Christ and his people, thereby making the church one body and marking it off from the world.” (25)
The Church Basics series is decidedly Baptistic, solidly biblical, immediately practical, and church focused. This series seeks to ground its claims in Scripture and, though it addresses the topics from a certain viewpoint, it interacts with varying positions to show its differences, which only serves to strengthen its conclusions. This is an immensely helpful series that can benefit new believers as they seek or orient themselves to this new thing called the Church and it will further serve other Christians who are looking to grow in their knowledge of these issues so they can be better involved in their local church.
Other books in this series are as follows:
Understanding Church Leadership by Mark Dever
Understanding Church Discipline by Jonathan Leeman
Understanding The Great Commission and the Church by Mark Dever
I received these books for free from B&H for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”