Sunday, September 27, 2009

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 29) - Coming Soon: Review of Donald Whitney

Although I had previously been exposed to a formal church membership doctrine, the first time I read a popular evangelical author on the subject was through a chapter in Donald Whitney's book, "Spiritual Disciplines Within The Church," in about 1997. At a newly formed church we were reviewing his book during a bible study just after a church merge.

My previous experience with a legalistic church's membership ideas - and the practical problems they caused - prompted me to be extra careful with Whitney's book. I'm glad I was, as I recently reviewed my own margin notes in the copy I had in my bookshelf for years. I caught a number of errors in Whitney's reasoning back then, but over these years I came to the place of being able to spot more. As my bible study reviewed his book, we as a group found some problems, too, with this chapter on church membership.

Whitney's original printing (I'm guessing my 1996 copy our bible study bought in '97 was the first printing) has been revised since then. The chapter in question can be read here at his "The Center For Biblical Spirituality" website. Whitney's material, in this book and others, has been widely influential in the Reformed world over the last fifteen years. This particular chapter has been referenced by others with whom I have taken issue in previous parts of this series.

My aim is to review his writing on church membership, most specifically from this chapter. I expect to do this over another dozen or two parts in this series [Update: I will likely alter the amount I write about Whitney's view, probably in the downward direction]. I will also include references from the original printing, as some of the author's points are re-worded or re-emphasized in the version on his website.

Get a head start on my series by reading his chapter here.

Read the entire series here.

Part 28 . . . . . . . . Part 30

1 comment:

  1. I read Whitney's points in the article that you linked to, and I'm looking forward to your review.