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Richard Longenecker: Community Formation in the Early Church and in the Church Today

It goes without saying that the church did not cease its existence at the end of the first century of the Christian era, nor did church leaders cease to write epistles and historical records. Indeed, the first three centuries after Christ present us with a plethora of writings from which we can gain a more complete understanding of how the various paradigms of church leadership and ministries were developed in those formative years, a topic covered by the two chapters which make up Section Three. Finally, the last section brings the reader back into the present-day, by a discussion of the three major types of church government and leadership present in protestantism today: episcopalian, presbyterian, and congregational. Although on the surface, these three would seem to be mutually exclusive, in actual fact they are very much related to and similar to each other, having the same aim: the glorification of the Head of the Body, Christ Jesus.

Both clergy and laity will benefit from this book. It places the church firmly on its theological, historical, and sociological foundations. This book shows how the threads of time and place do not necessarily separate us from the structures and congregants of 2000 years ago, but how those threads instead form a connection between all churches and all Christians past, present, and future. Instead of trying to snip off a small piece of the string for ourselves, we can instead follow it and allow it to draw us back ultimately to the one through whom it all began, and to whom we all owe our very existence.

Reviewed by Mike J. Knowles


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Category: Church History, Winter 2005

About the Author: Michael J. Knowles earned his Bachelor of Theology degree at Summit Pacific College in Abbotsford, BC, Canada, and has published numerous articles and book reviews. He and his family currently live in Washington state, where he teaches health education at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, and also works as a pharmacy technician in Bellingham.

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