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The Church: The Gospel Made Visible (9Marks) Paperback – April 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


 “Mark Dever has rendered an invaluable service to the Body of Christ in this book. Its biblical grounding is sure, and its theological insights are spot on! Few address the issues of ecclesiology better than this pastor/theologian. This work will help us better understand what the church is and what the church does when it is faithful to Scripture.”
Daniel L. Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Mark Dever has taught me more about the church than any other living human being. He’s a keen observer and insightful practitioner. In The Church: The Gospel Made Visible, Dever helps us to see how the good news goes cinematic in the nitty-gritty lives of local congregations. What joy comes from recognizing the embodiment of the gospel in our very ordinary congregations!”
Thabiti Anyabwile, Senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Grand Cayman Islands

“The church today desperately needs to think more deeply about the church. That’s why I’m incredibly thankful for Mark Dever. No one writes as passionately, as winsomely, as biblically, or as practically about the church. This book is a wonderful example of all those traits. Even though my theology is different on a few important points like baptism and congregationalism, I always learn from Mark when he talks ecclesiology. If you love the church, you’ll love this book. And if the doctrine of the church sounds terribly unimportant, then you need to read this book even more.”
Kevin DeYoung, Senior pastor, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan

“I’m not sure that I know anyone who has read more on ecclesiology, from the whole breadth of the Christian tradition, than Mark Dever. So, his exegesis is not done in isolation but in conversation with twenty centuries of Christian thinking. As a Presbyterian, I would encourage non-Baptists and non-congregationalists to read and engage with Mark’s work, not only because it is so welldone, biblical, and helpful, but also because of a huge evangelical blind spot the book addresses. Ecclesiology is indisputably one of evangelicalism’s great weaknesses, in part because of subjectivism, individualism, and pragmatism. Mark offers a robust corrective to this, and even where you may disagree you will find yourself edified and instructed. Mark approaches this subject not simply as a skilled historical theologian and systematician, but also as a local church pastor who has fostered a vital and healthy embrace of biblical polity in his own congregation, with happy results. He is no “dry- land sailor” or impractical theoretician but a faithful shepherd. The growth and life and fruitfulness of his flock testify to this.”
Ligon Duncan, Senior minister, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi

“Trust me, if you talk with my friend Mark Dever for more than five minutes, the local church will come up in the conversation—not only because it is the focus of his impressive academic work, but because the church is to him as it was to Charles Spurgeon, ‘the dearest place on earth.’ Over many discussions Mark has taught me much about the church, and even in areas where we disagree, I’ve been affected by his passion for the church. This book allows you to have a similar conversation with Mark, and I have no doubt that your heart will be stirred with love for the church universal and for your local church in particular.”
C. J. Mahaney, President, Sovereign Grace Ministries

“For far too long, the church has suffered for its lack of attention to ecclesiology. Thankfully, that neglect has given way to a new age of rediscovery, and Mark Dever has been a key catalyst for the recovery of biblical ecclesiology. In this book, you will find a faithful, truthful, thrilling understanding of the church. But be warned: Once you read this book, you will never be satisfied until you are a part of a church that is growing into this kind of faithfulness and life.”
R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

About the Author

Mark Dever is senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC and president of 9Marks. He holds degrees from Duke University (B.A.), Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div.), The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Theol.), and Cambridge University (PH.D.).

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Product Details

  • Series: 9Marks
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: B&H Academic (April 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433677768
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433677762
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Have you been searching for a modern Baptist ecclesiology? Look no further. Mark Dever says in the opening pages that he decided to rewrite and expand his chapter from Akin's A Theology for the Church into book length because nothing has been produced like this from a Baptistic perspective. There just aren't any works that we can point people to. So, now you have a new resource. This is not a long book either. It's very manageable. Dever, a true scholar, made this book very accesible. Neither does he need many words to express what he has to say. The words he does use are powerful. It's one of those books that you will want to underline almost every sentence.

It's densely packed with insight from a pastor-theologian who has built his preaching ministry around the Word of God. Dever's passion is for healthy churches. He believes that God's Word is sufficient for every aspect of the church. This is the first part of the book. I. What Does the Bible Say? Here he gives us the biblical foundations of the church. Then he looks at historical issues related to the life of the church in II. What Has the Church Believed? Finally Dever answers in the final part III. How Does It All Fit Together? This is the modern application for church life.

While I did initially expect the book to be longer, Dever packs it with footnotes and points the reader to many reference sources. It's a great primer on Ecclesiology. I would recommend it if you're familiar with Dever's previous works on healthy churches because this treatment of the church seems to be more of a complete thought, more well-rounded. And, if you're not familiar with Dever this would be the best place to start.
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Format: Paperback
Mark Dever is Baptist, not Anglican, but this is a curates egg of a book.

I am a Dever fan and over the past few years have found him and his 9 Marks [...] organisation tremendously helpful. He has helped me to sharpen up my ecclesiology and to think more carefully through such subjects as church membership and discipline. The church I pastor is historically Baptist, so I also have that direct connection with Dever.

In The Church Dever seeks to set out a clear doctrine of the church, and as such this is a very useful book. I shall certainly be recommending it when I teach ecclesiology in our leadership training program. In three sections Dever explores what the Bible says about the church; what the church has believed about the church; and how this should all fit together in the local congregation. It is all good stuff, and zips along nicely, giving plenty of material while not getting too bogged down in detail.

Dever has a real passion for the church, as all Christians should. He has devoted his life to serving a local congregation and his love for the body of Christ shines through. I am with him all the way on this. As the first sentence of the first chapter puts it, "The church is the body of people called by God's grace through faith in Christ to glorify him together by serving him in his world." Amen!

So, so far so good.

Where I found The Church less satisfying is that it reads very much like a detailed membership course for people looking to join Dever's church. It could do with being more engaging and lyric, while no less factual. Also, almost inevitably, Dever comes to the conclusion that the ideal expression of the local church is the type of church that he leads!
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I thought the book was well researched and supported by Scripture. I enjoyed the historical overview and the author's noting of many critical points in the history of the church. My impression is the author holds a "Baptist" viewpoint, doctrinally speaking, but I would not label it as "heavy handed" or exclusive by any means. (I do not identify as Baptist) His addressing the ordinance of baptism could be construed as avoiding one of the more prolific practices of many Baptist churches today, the issue of "the sinner's prayer" and how it relates to conversion, separate from baptism. (Some readers will think that not addressing this critically goes without saying, while others might find it curiously absent). That aside, I still found the book a balanced presentation of the role of the church that offers solid insight to its structure and practices.

There is much Truth to be reminded of for today's Church and the author makes his case by applying a broad range of Scripture and recalling the relationship of God with His children. Don't expect anecdotes, contemporary illustrations or "5 Steps to Have a Biblical Church", it's not that kind of a book. It is more systematic rather than "self help"or philosophical. At it heart it is rather thorough examination of the historical Church, it's divine purpose and the call to be firmly rooted in the Scriptures as it represents the Glory of God to the world today.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The Church: The Gospel Made Visible is a highly accessible book by Mark Dever that examines the doctrine of the church. Why study the doctrine of the church? According to Dever, "wrong ecclesial teaching and practices obscure the gospel while right ecclesial teaching and practices clarify it." This is where the subtitle of the book comes from. Dever contends that a properly functioning church makes the gospel visible to the world. He continues this thought throughout the book, again stating that, "many Protestants have begun to think that because the church is not essential to the gospel, it is not important to the gospel. This is an unbiblical, false, and dangerous conclusion. Our churches are the proof of the gospel. In the gatherings of the church, the Christian Scriptures are read. In the ordinances of the church, the work of Christ is depicted. In the life of the church, the character of God himself should be evident. A church seriously compromised in character would seem to make the gospel itself irrelevant....Take away the church and you take away the visible manifestation of the gospel in the world." The church is vitally important to believers Dever helps the reader to see what a biblicaly grounded (Baptist) church looks like.

Dever has divided this book into three parts: What Does the Bible Say?, What Has the Church Believed?, And How Does It All Fit Together?. In part one Dever looks at what the Bible says about the church, discussing: the nature of the church, the attributes of the church, the marks of the church, its membership, polity, discipline, purpose and hope. In this section Dever traces out how in both the Old and New Testaments here has always been a people of God.
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