The Church: The Gospel Made Visible – Mark Dever
My Rating –If You are Looking for Something – about Baptist view of church, Probably Not Worth Your Time – if you are already familiar with Baptist views
Level – short, easy read
This book could basically be a few sections in a Systematic Theology book. One section on Church Polity and the other on the Sacraments. For Polity, he argues for an Elder-led congregational model. As a Baptist he has a strong view of the local church as the be all and end all for the Christian. His nuanced view of ‘Elder-led’ versus ‘Elder-controlled’ is interesting and worth considering.
On the Sacraments, he take the typical protestant view of there only being two, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The latter being the basic Reformed view, with no transformation in the elements. He spends most his time on the former, which makes sense, as he is a Baptist. Credo or Believers baptism is the mode for which he argues. He doesn’t leave room for the idea that both (infant, also) are valid, but instead that you must choose and that it should be Believers baptism.
Dever is a compelling writer who puts his theology into fairly plain language. For someone interesting in learning more on these topics, but who isn’t familiar with Theological writing, this would be a great start. The only real problem I have with this book probably has more to do with the editor than the author. Many of the chapters appear to be expanded versions of either sermons, journal articles, or some other writings. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but there were literally parts that not only repeated themselves in thought or idea, but did so verbatim.
While I agree with most of what he says, I still find it hard to recommend this book, except in specific situation. Most people would be better off just going ahead and buying a Baptist Systematic Theology like Grudem or Erikson.