Exploring Ecclesiology

An Evangelical and Ecumenical Introduction

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"A substantial introduction to the theology of the church at once firmly evangelical but also appreciative of insights from the broader streams of historic orthodoxy. . . . It deserves a wide readership and a prominent place in the classroom and on the bookshelves of professors, pastors, and students."--Marcus Johnson, Trinity Journal 
In this introduction to ecclesiology, respected scholars Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger offer a solidly evangelical yet ecumenical survey of the church in mission and doctrine. Combining biblical, historical, and cultural analysis, this comprehensive text explores the church as a Trinitarian, eschatological, worshipping, sacramental, serving, ordered, cultural, and missional community. It also offers practical application, addressing contemporary church life issues such as women in ministry, evangelism, social action, consumerism in church growth trends, ecumenism, and the church in postmodern culture. The book will appeal to all who are interested in church doctrine, particularly undergraduates and seminarians.


"This is a marvelous volume on ecclesiology in the contemporary setting. Harper and Metzger have produced a text that surveys the broad range of issues related to the church with freshness, theological depth, and genuine insight. Indeed, I have not read a better introduction to ecclesiology and hope that it becomes a standard textbook in college and seminary classes and finds a wide readership outside of the academy. It is a splendid example of theology in service to the church."--John R. Franke, Yellowstone Theological Institute

"Harper and Metzger provide evangelical Protestants an ideal entrée into what has been the long-neglected stepsister of systematic theology in North America. The authors root ecclesiology in the life and missions of the triune God, nourish it with scripture and the rich tradition of the church catholic, and glean abundant fruit by engaging the crucial issues of our time and place. A must-read for evangelicals who intuitively know that the church is not incidental or just instrumental to the Christian life."--Barry Harvey, Baylor University

"Harper and Metzger keep their promises with an ecclesiology at once deeply ecumenical and sharply evangelical. They offer a richly Trinitarian and eschatological orientation even as they ground the doctrine of the church in an American context. As a generation of younger evangelicals discover ecclesiology--no, discover the church--I am happy and grateful to be able to refer them to this book."--Matt Jenson, Biola University

"Harper and Metzger have written an important evangelical and ecumenical introduction to ecclesiology. Being evangelicals themselves, they have managed to incorporate into their vision of the church important insights from both the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox theology and tradition. I found helpful many of the ways in which the authors used Trinitarian theology, worship, and eschatology in order to shape their ecclesiology. I believe that this is a book from which Orthodox students, theologians, and pastors have much to learn."--Rev. Dr. Demetrios Bathrellos, Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, Cambridge

"An evangelical ecclesiology that takes the counter-cultural notion of divine communio as its starting point merits reading. That this book also examines race, sacraments, and Christian art will really grab the attention of a serious and plentiful readership. Metzger and Harper deserve the highest praise for pushing the envelope--in the generous catholicity of their evangelical faith, in their sharp wisdom on US social and cultural ills, and as noteworthy Christian theologians."--Peter Casarella, DePaul University

"Exploring Ecclesiology is true to its subtitle, being both vibrantly evangelical and admirably ecumenical; it is commendable for its depth, breadth, and erudition. Harper and Metzger's sympathetic engagement with Catholic ecclesiology is challenging and reciprocal. I especially appreciate how the authors emphasize and explore the vital connection between ecclesiology and eschatology, something very beneficial to readers seeking to better appreciate how living the Faith in community today relates to the hope of entering fully into Trinitarian communion in the life to come."--Carl E. Olson, Ignatius Insight

"For people who have wondered whether evangelicalism has a sufficient ecclesiology, this book will be a welcome addition to the conversation. The authors are not afraid to open up wider angles of reflection for evangelicals who are ready to develop a renewed, hearty ecclesiology. They offer a series of soundings toward an ecclesiology that can be both evangelical and ecumenical, both robust and contemporary. The book is especially important for the way it engages ecclesiology in a dialogue between the church's gospel-shaped identity and the cultural circumstances in which it lives its witness to the gospel."--George R. Hunsberger, Western Theological Seminary

"In the 21st century, the institution of the church has become an easy target for criticism. We live in an era when there seems to be confusion about the character, nature, purpose, and relevance of the church. This perspective does not mean that we abandon our ecclesiology, but rather, that we need a deeper ecclesiology. Exploring Ecclesiology calls for a deeper understanding of the role of the church. Harper and Metzger provide a helpful resource for theologians, pastors, and lay leaders to engage in this much-needed dialogue."--Soong-Chan Rah, North Park Theological Seminary; author of The Next Evangelicalism

"Brad Harper and Paul Metzger have provided a thoughtful introduction to ecclesiology that is biblically grounded, historically informed, ecumenically engaged, and culturally relevant. It is a worthy textbook for introducing and furthering current discussion about the church and does so in a way that is accessible, broad-ranging, and practical in speaking to the concrete concerns within ecclesial life. Exploring Ecclesiology marks an important milestone in the renewal of interest in the doctrine of the church within evangelicalism."--Kimlyn J. Bender, University of Sioux Falls

"In Exploring Ecclesiology Harper and Metzger unpack some of the most vexing questions and important issues regarding the nature and purpose of the church. Their accessible style combined with a clear structure helps the reader stay focused on the issues at hand. Each chapter which develops a different theological area is complimented by a chapter which elaborates the implications of their theology using present day analogies and examples. Their clear commitment to speak in an unapologetic manner into the particular ethos of evangelical Christianity will challenge and at times provoke their readers. In particular their desire to work out of a Trinitarian and relational ethos directly confronts the individualism and privatization of faith evident in much of Western Christianity. Theirs is a challenge which needs to be taken seriously as it is grounded in reference to and appreciation of theologians from a wide variety of backgrounds and eras."--Rev. Dr. Peter M B Robinson, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto

"The church--harlot or mother? Experienced as the first by many, this impressive work seeks to encourage the latter judgment by providing an extensive and constructive evangelical theology of the church. Finally, we have an ecclesiology that is not reactionary, separatist, denominationally narrow, impractical, or out of touch with the postmodern world."--Barry L. Callen, Anderson University

"This is an important new book. Evangelicals have often emphasized individual faith in Christ at the expense of the corporate character of the Christian community. This book shows why that dichotomy is false by pointing us toward a more holistic ecclesiology--the church biblical, trinitarian, sacramental, missional, and eschatological. This book needs to be read and heeded!"--Timothy George, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

The Authors

  1. Brad Harper

    Brad Harper

    Brad Harper (PhD, St. Louis University) is professor of theology at Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon. He is the college adviser for The Institute for Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins and the book review editor for Cultural Encounters: A...

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  2. Paul Louis Metzger

    Paul Louis Metzger

    Paul Louis Metzger (PhD, King's College London) is professor of Christian theology and theology of culture at Multnomah Biblical Seminary and director of its Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins. He is the editor of the journal...

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"In a culture where individual expressions of faith are exalted and communal expressions are often neglected, it is important that evangelicals reclaim the doctrine of the church. A useful tool in that quest is the new book Exploring Ecclesiology. . . . Though written for use as a college and seminary text, pastors will find much of value here in their own study of what God intends for His church."--PreachingNow

"This is an important resource for contemporary Church members and ministers. . . . The book is a significant contribution to the study of ecclesiology. It is obviously written out of a love for Christ and the Church, with passion for a more faithful fulfillment of the call of the Triune God. It is theology in service to the Church."--Brian Haymes, Baptist Times

"I am so taken with [Exploring Ecclesiology] that I'll be using it as a textbook in Systematic 3 (eschatology, ecclesiology, and soteriology). . . . [It] is a terrific fit for what I teach. . . . I have been searching for a worthy evangelical ecclesiology, and am delighted that this one supplies an integrating capstone to the other subjects I teach."--Mark Wittmer, mikewittmer.wordpress.com

"Those who recognize and lament the admittedly rather thin contemporary state of evangelical ecclesiology now have reason for optimism. Harper and Metzger . . . have offered a substantial introduction to the theology of the church at once firmly evangelical but also appreciative of insights from the broader streams of historic orthodoxy. . . . The authors interlay eight theologically technical chapters that describe the identity and purpose of the church with concrete, culturally-relevant engagements with contemporary issues. Thus, we have a work grounded in rich theological insight without failing to incorporate a practical, pastoral sensitivity. . . . On the whole this text is extremely satisfying and thought-provoking. . . . It deserves a wide readership and a prominent place in the classroom and on the bookshelves of professors, pastors, and students."--Marcus Johnson, Trinity Journal

"Here's a good textbook for a basic course in Ecclesiology 101. . . . Though written densely in textbook fashion (a few good stories, lots of Bible texts, with some useful quotes and endnotes) it would also make an excellent study guide for church leaders. . . . There's a good balance between history and postmodern concepts, and a fairly strong social concern/justice message throughout the book. . . . The book emphasizes corporate as well as individual faith. It has a more 'holistic' approach than most books in its genre."--Insights

"This is a well-researched book and clearly helps to organize us on moving forward in this generation towards a richer ecclesiology. . . . I think we can learn and benefit from Exploring Ecclesiology."--Jack C. Whytock, Haddington House Journal

"This is an excellent and stimulating work suitable for both college and seminary students."--Scott Harrower, Trinity Journal