incorrect. It is no more true than that hands and feet are voluntarily united in the human body for the purposes of locomotion and work. The church is formed from within. Christ, present by the Holy Ghost, regenerating men by the sovereign action of the Spirit and organizing them into himself as the living center, is the only principle that can explain the existence of the church. The Head and the body are therefore One ? one in fact and one in name. He whom God anointed and filled with the Holy Ghost is called ?the Christ? ( <620501>1 John 5:1 ? ?Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God?); and the church which is his body and fullness is also called ?the Christ? ( <461212>1 Corinthians 12:12 ? ?all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is the Christ?).
Dorner includes under his doctrine of the church:
(1) The genesis of the church through the new birth of the Spirit or Regeneration.
(2) The growth and persistence of the church through the continuous operation of the Spirit in the means of grace, or Ecclesiology proper, as others call it.
(3) The completion of the church, or Eschatology. While this scheme seems designed to favor a theory of baptismal regeneration, we must commend its recognition of the fact that the doctrine of the church grows out of the doctrine of regeneration and is determined in its nature by it. If regeneration has always conversion for its obverse side and if Conversion always includes faith in Christ, it is vain to speak of regeneration without faith. And if union with the church is but the outward expression of a preceding union with Christ, which involves regeneration and conversion then involuntary church membership is an absurdity and a misrepresentation of the whole method of salvation.
?The value of compulsory religion may be illustrated from David Hume?s experience. A godly matron of the Canongate, so runs the story, when Hume sank in the mud in her vicinity and, on account of his obesity, could not get out, compelled the skeptic to say the Lord?s Prayer before she would help him. Amos Kendall, on the other hand, concluded in his old age that he had not been acting on Christ?s plan for saving the world, and so, of his own accord, connected himself with the church. Martineau, Study, 1:319 ? ?Till we come to the State and the Church, we do not reach the highest organism of human life, into the perfect working of which all the disinterested affections and moral enthusiasms and noble ambitions flow.?
<- Previous Table of Contents Next ->
Was this article helpful?