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Title: The conception of the Church in Richard Baxter and John Bunyan : a comparison and contrast
Author: McCan, Robert L.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1955
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The doctrine of the church is the most live theological issue of this era. There is a trend today toward a restudy of the church in seventeenth-century England, as that too was a creative and formative period. There has not been an age since Baxter and Bunyan until the present when a new understanding of the church seemed so vital. The task of theology is to bring the reality of God in Christ into the existential situation of each succeeding age. The scientific developments of our time, which combine rapid transportation with atomic weapons give a new urgency to Christ's demands for unity in His church, and witness to the world. Today a world community is not only desirablej it is essential. In the midst of this urgent call from the world the church sends out a flickering light, partly because we who compose its membership are not united ourselves* We cannot preach love and brotherhood when they do not exist within the body of Christ. In our disunity, we cannot unite a torn world. It is impossible to understand the modem situation in which the church confronts its disunity without a fresh study of the beginnings of the sects. To understand the churches called Baptist, Congregational and Presbyterian in the United States, it is essential that one has a clear picture of the forces and reactions at work in seventeenth-century English church life. The American church pattern can "he traced directly to this period. We can understand our strength, as well as our prejudices, only as we see ourselves in the mirror of this history. Only now are we leaving the stage of reaction against the abuses of that day and beginning to explore the possibilities of a new and more profitable union. Richard Baxter and John Buryan produced conceptions of the church that are as relevant for our day as for their own. leaders of the world church today recognise that a sense of spiritual unity is basic to life in Christ. They realise too that any organised structure of the church must be comprehensive* There can be unity onl; in the essential recognition of the Lordship of Jesus Christ, with freedom to grow in an understanding on all inessentials. The churches today are re recovering the element of love as the basis for Christian discipleship, and are seeking, as did Baxter and Bunyan, to spread its healing power. It would be folly to return to rigid church patterns» that would ultimately abnegate the gains won by these great saints of the past; it would be squally a mistake to continue to battle in a war that has long been won. Baxter and Bunyan would speak a final word of warning from across the centuries. We should beware of any Utopian dreams that to restore unity would in itself answer the problems confronting mankind today. These men saw the church as a means as troll as an end. The church was designed by Christ not to be ministered unto, but to minister. The living Spirit of Christ must find new and positive expression in Worship, evangelism, and social righteousness before our unity will mean victory.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available