Sojourners and Strangersby Gregg R. Allison
Length: To read (496 pages)
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Not too long ago I read Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church, a book by Dr. Gregg R. Allison. It is a book that I had wanted to read for some time having had the opportunity to sit under a couple of classes taught by Dr. Allison at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and hearing his heart for Jesus and his love for the local church.
Perhaps I’ll share some more from this work in the future, but one thing I loved about this book was Dr. Allison’s 7 attributes of the local church. As Believers, we must have cultivate a greater love for the local church. It is at the very heart of New Testament worship, missions, sanctification, and the list goes on and on! Let’s hear a little form Dr. Allison about 7 attributes of the local church:
- Doxological: oriented to the glory of God
- Logocentric: focused on the Word of God – this is understood in two aspects. The local church is to be focused on Jesus the Word of God incarnate and to be focused on Scripture.
- Pneumadynamic: created, gathered, gifted, and empowered by the Holy Spirit
- Covenantal: gathered as members in new covenant relationship with God and in covenant relationship with each other
- Confessional: united by both personal confession of faith in Christ and common confession of the historic Christian faith
- Missional: identified as the body of divinely called and divinely sent ministers to proclaim the gospel and advance the kingdom of God
- Spatio-temporal/eschatological: assembled as a historical reality and possessing a certain hope and clear destiny while it lives the strangeness of ecclesial existence in the here and now
The first three attributes deal with the church’s origin and orientation. The church exists for the glory of God! Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone and head of the Body. The Spirit of God calls us out of death and into life and empowers us to live for Jesus and carry out His mission.
The final four attributes deal with the church’s “gathering and sending.” We are gathered under the new covenant and confess Christ as our only suitable all sufficient savior in accordance with historic orthodoxy. We are carry the message of the gospel this lost and dying world realizing that we have been called in a specific time and place as we await the blessed hope of Jesus’ return.
Therefore, I don’t think it’s necessary for a church to have a “vision statement” in the sense of needing to create a reason for why a local church exists. Here is our vision! This is what the church is and this is how and why it exists and these truths are rooted in Scripture. We need to remember that the church is precious to Christ. He loves Her and gave Himself up for her! I am in constant discussions with people who talk about loving Jesus, but who can’t stand the church.
That’s problematic. I don’t mean to suggest that the church is perfect, far from it! But the church is precious in the eyes of Jesus and we would do well to be intentional about studying more about Her so that we can labor to treat the church as Christ would have us to in order to fulfill His purposes for the church.
This book weighs in at about 471 pages, but I would recommend it to anyone who desires to grow in their understanding of and love for the local church. We have so many options of things to read this days, but I don’t think time will be wasted reading and learning about the local church.