Recommended Reading on Ecclesiology

Ecclesiology, or the study of the church, is an important topic for all Christians. The New Testament is of course all about the creation of the church of Jesus Christ, and it is filled with instructions about church life, order, governance and so on (see for example the so-called Pastoral Epistles: 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus).

How believers are meant to live and function as a body is part of what ecclesiology covers. It also examines such things as church structure and church government; church leadership; worship and sacraments; and so on. Simply to ask just what is a real NT church is a vital question.

So many issues arise in this area, and as would be expected, plenty of ink has been spilt on these matters – many of which can be quite contentious indeed. Here then is an introductory bibliography which offers a few key titles. Many more of course could have been included, but these are some of the better ones I have found.

Needless to say they mainly reflect my own theological heritage, that is, the Protestant evangelical version of events. Many books are excluded on purpose. For example, there are heaps of recent books on a ‘new way of doing church’ and so on. Those I basically have not dealt with here.

Closely related to this is the whole recent phenomenon of the emerging church movement. There are plenty of books coming forth from this perspective. I have an entire category on this website devoted to the movement, offering critiques of it. Thus I am not a great fan of much of this, so the only books I offer here are more or less friendly critiques of it.

There is also the whole contentious issue of women in church leadership. That is a real hot potato topic with plenty of volumes from various perspectives. For that I have a separate bibliography so I will not feature it here. Hopefully I will post that very soon.

So here then are some titles (85 or so) which are worth being aware of. Happy reading.

Theology of the church
Berkouwer, G.C., The Church. Eerdmans, 1976.
Bloesch, Donald, The Church: Sacraments, Worship, Ministry, Mission. IVP, 2002.
Carson, D.A., The Church in the Bible and the World. Baker, 1987.
Clowney, Edmund, The Church. IVP, 1995.
Harper, Brad and Paul Louise Metzger, Exploring Ecclesiology: An Evangelical and Ecumenical Introduction. Brazos, 2009.
Husbands, Mark and Daniel Treier, eds., The Community of the Word: Toward an Evangelical Ecclesiology. IVP, 2005.
Jay, Eric, The Church. John Knox Press, 1977, 1978.
Jensen, Matt, Church: A Guide for the Perplexed. T & T Clark International, 2010.
Karkkainen, Veli-Matti, An Introduction to Ecclesiology: Ecumenical, Historical and Global Perspectives. IVP, 2002.
Minear, Paul, Images of the Church in the New Testament.  Westminster Press, 1960.
Stackhouse, John, Evangelical Ecclesiology: Reality or Illusion? Baker, 2003.
Vos, Geerhardus, The Kingdom and the Church. Eerdmans, 1951.
Watson, David, I Believe in the Church. Eerdmans, 1979.

In addition, see the relevant chapters in the various systematic theologies.

Other related titles
Brand, Norman, et. al. Eds., Perspectives on Church Government: Five Views of Church Polity. Broadman and Holman, 2004.
Clapp, Rodney, A Peculiar People. IVP, 1996.
Colson, Charles, The Body: Being Light in Darkness. Word, 1992.
Croteau, David, ed., Perspectives on Tithing: 4 Views. B&H, 2011.
DeYoung, Kevin and Greg Gilbert, What Is the Mission of the Church? Crossway, 2011.
DeYoung, Kevin and Ted Kluck, Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion. Moody, 2009.
Dever, Mark, The Church: The Gospel Made Visible. B&H Academic, 2012.
Dever, Mark, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. Crossway, 1997, 2004.
Dever, Mark, What Is a Healthy Church? Crossway, 2005, 2007.
Engle, Paul and Gary McIntosh, eds., Evaluating The Church Growth Movement: 5 Views. Zondervan, 2004.
Engle, Paul and Steven Cowan, eds., Who Runs the Church? 4 Views on Church Government. Zondervan, 2004.
Griffiths, Michael, Cinderella with Amnesia: A Practical Discussion of the Relevance of the Church.  IVP, 1972.
Guinness, Os, Dining with the Devil: The Megachurch Movement Flirts with Modernity.  Baker, 1993.
Guinness, Os and John Seel, eds., No God But God: Breaking with the Idols of Our Age. Moody, 1992.
Harris, Joshua, Stop Dating the Church!: Fall in Love with the Family of God. Multnomah, 2004.
Ladd, George, Crucial Questions about the Kingdom of God. Eerdmans, 1952.
Leeman, Jonathan, Church Membership. Crossway, 2012.
Schaeffer, Francis, The Church Before the Watching World.  IVP, 1971.
Snyder, Howard, The Problem of Wineskins: Church Structure in a Technological Age.  IVP, 1975.
Stedman, Ray, Body Life.  Regal Books, 1972.

Chapell, Bryan, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon. Baker, 1994, 2005.
Dever, Mark and Greg Gilbert, Preach: Theology Meets Practice. B&H, 2012.
Goldsworthy, Graeme, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching. Eerdmans, 2000.
Gordon, T. David, Why Johnny Can’t Preach. P&R, 2009.
Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn, Preaching and Preachers. Zondervan, 1972.
MacArthur, John, Rediscovering Expository Preaching. Thomas Nelson, 1992.
Mohler, R. Albert, He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World. Moody, 2008.
Mohler, R. Albert, et. al., Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching. Reformation Trust, 2002, 2008.
Piper, John, The Supremacy of God in Preaching. Baker, 1990, 2004.
Robinson, Haddon, Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages. Baker, 1980, 2001.
Stott, John, Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today. Eerdmans, 1994.

Basden, Paul, ed., Exploring the Worship Spectrum: Six Views. Zondervan, 2004.
Best, Harold, Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts. IVP, 2003.
Carson, D.A., ed., Worship by the Book. Zondervan, 2002.
Chapell, Bryon, Christ-Centered Worship. Baker, 2009.
Frame, John, Worship In Spirit and Truth. P&R, 1996.
Peterson, Eugene, Engaging With God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. IVP, 2002.

Church discipline
Adams, Jay, Handbook of Church Discipline. Zondervan, 1986.
Baker, Don, Beyond Forgiveness. Multnomah, 1984.
Bargerhuff, Eric, Love That Rescues: God’s Fatherly Love in the Practice of Church Discipline. Wipf and Stock, 2010.
Hammett, John and Benjamin Merkle, eds., Those Who Must Give an Account. B&H Academic, 2012.
Leeman, Jonathan, Church Discipline. Crossway, 2012.
Leeman, Jonathan, The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love: Reintroducing the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline. Crossway, 2010.
Murray, Stuart, Church Discipline. Sovereign World, 1995.
White, John and Ken Blue, Church Discipline That Heals. IVP, 1985.
Wray, Daniel, Biblical Church Discipline. Banner of Truth, 1978.

Armstrong, John, ed., Understanding Four Views on Baptism. Zondervan, 2007.
Armstrong, John, ed., Understanding Four Views on the Lord’s Supper. Zondervan, 2007.
Beasley-Murray, Baptism in the New Testament. Eerdmans, 1973.
Bridge, Donald, Communion, The Meal That Unites? Harold Shaw, 1983.
Bridge, Donald and David Phypers, The Water that Divides. Mentor, 1977.
Davis, Thomas, This Is My Body: The Presence of Christ in Reformation Thought. Baker, 2008.
Ferguson, Everett, Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries. Eerdmans, 2009.
Jewett, Paul, Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace. Eerdmans, 1978.
Kline, Meredith, By Oath Consigned. Eerdmans, 1968.
Letham, Robert, The Lord’s Supper. P&R, 2001.
Schreiner, Thomas and Shawn Wright, eds., Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ. B&H, 2006.
Schreiner, Thomas and Matthew Crawford, eds., The Lord’s Supper: Remembering and Proclaiming Christ Until He Comes. B&H, 2011.
Smith, Gordon, ed., The Lord’s Supper: Five Views. IVP, 2008.
Vander Zee, Leonard, Christ, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper: Recovering the Sacraments for Evangelical Worship. IVP, 2004.
Witherington, Ben, Making a Meal of It: Rethinking the Theology of the Lord’s Supper. Baylor University Press, 2008.
Witherington, Ben, Troubled Waters: Rethinking the Theology of Baptism. Baylor University Press, 2007.
Wright, David, ed., Baptism: Three Views. IVP, 2009.

Critiques of the emerging church
Carson, D.A., Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church. Zondervan, 2005.
DeYoung, Kevin and Ted Kluck, Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be). Moody, 2008.
Henard, William and Adam Greenway, eds., Evangelicals Engaging Emergent. Broadman & Holman, 2009.
Johnson, Gary and Ronald Gleason, eds., Reforming or Conforming? Post-Conservative Evangelicals and the Emerging Church. Crossway, 2008.
Smith, R. Scott, Truth and the New Kind of Christian. Crossway, 2005.

Various views on the emerging church
Sweet, Leonard, The Church in Emerging Culture: Five Perspectives. Zondervan, 2003.
Webber, Robert, ed., Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches: Five Perspectives. Zondervan, 2007.

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3 Replies to “Recommended Reading on Ecclesiology”

  1. Hi Bill,

    I’m interested on reading a book on ecclesiology that you may be able to direct me toward.

    There is a recent movement within missiology, especially work amongst Muslims, called the Insider Movement.

    A recent doctoral dissertation has been released by Doug Coleman critiquing this movement, and one of his chapters focuses particularly on their ecclesiology (e.g. saving faith is seperate from religious adherance). It is a great primer to the topic.

    I really want to dig deeper into this issue though, to help me come to terms with the nature of the Church in the New Testament, it’s requirements etc. This would benefit my own ministry, theology and methodology greatly.

    So is there a particular book in your list (or another) that you would recommend for this particular area? I’m preferably looking for something on Kindle since my host country is not particularly receptive to our work, and therefore limits my library capabilities.

    Mark Topping

  2. Thanks Mark. I must admit that my reading on current issues in missiology has dropped away somewhat over the years. I once was rather up on it all, but not so much lately. So I may need to sniff around for a bit before I get back to you.
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  3. Hi Mark,
    One book I am currently reading that I have found helpful that talks about been a missional church and also discusses theology and contexualisation is ‘centre church’ by Timothy Keller. A lot of books will just talk about theology or practice of doing church but this book does both and its solidly evangelical and reformed but not in rigid type of way.
    Steve Nicholas.

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