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The Church Before the Watching World : A Practical Ecclesiology Paperback – 1971
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He wrote in the Introduction to this 1971 book, "This book is addressed to 20th century Christians as they face a very practical problem. As Christians we say we believe in truth and in the practice of truth, and yet we face much untruth in the visible church... The biblical teaching is clear. As the bride of Christ, the church is to keep itself pure and faithful. And this involves... two principles which seem at first to work against each other: (1) the principle of the practice of the purity of the visible church in regard to doctrine and life and (2) the principle of the practice of an observable love and oneness among ALL true Christians regardless of who and where they are.... The issues involved ... break down into several questions. (1) How has the present impurity in the churches come about and what is it? (2) Why should Christians and churches be concerned with doctrinal purity? (3) How can doctrinal purity in the church be maintained in practice?"
He recalls, "Several years ago I wrestled with the question of what was wrong with much of the church... I came to the conclusion that in the flesh we can stress purity without love or we can stress the love of God without purity, but that in the flesh we cannot stress both simultaneously." (Pg. 63) He observes, "As a Bible-believing Presbyterian I feel very close to true Christians from other traditions and... with other distinctives. I feel no separation in Christ... While I feel close to Bible-beileving Christians who are not Presbyterians, I am not close to non-Bible-believing Presbyterians. This is where the division lies." (Pg. 80-81)
He asserts, "We come now to a fourth limit: the absolute cliff concerning the holiness of God. God has a character and his holiness is part of his character. We do not believe, as some modern theologians would have it, that God's holiness only means his being God. Rather, it means that there are some things that conform to his nature and some things that do not. God's holiness, in other words, involves moral content." (Pg. 95) He adds, "And yet we must immediately respond that we fall off the opposite cliff if we forget that God is love... We can, therefore, fall into heresy in two ways. We can forget either God's holiness or his love, and we cannot say which of these is worse." (Pg. 96)
He notes in conclusion, "Finally, we come to the last absolute limit... There is such a thing as absolute right and absolute wrong in systems. Of course, in our generation the whole direction is toward being unwilling to say that any system is right or wrong. Even many who consider themselves evangelicals are embarrassed by the Reformers' saying that the Roman Catholic system as a system was wrong. But we must affirm the possibility of right and wrong with regard to systems and categories." (Pg. 103)
Schaeffer's comments are, for the most part, still pertinent and of interest to Christians today---even 40+ years later.
Schaeffer continuously quotes scripture as he tackles subjects such as the liberal theological shift over time from Christian orthodoxy; and the apostasy and unfaithfulness of our marriage to both Christ and our spouse; also the practice of community, which we tend to forget about. He completes this work with the absolute limits to where the Christian can go before going into the "doctrinal danger zone", but still allowing for freedom.
There is so much here, as it is with most of his works.
Wish you well