Archives For Ecclesioolgy


“Communing in a
Vibrant Corporate Life”

A Review of
People and Place:
A Covenant Ecclesiology.

by Michael Horton.

 Reviewed by Kent Ellett.


People and Place:
A Covenant Ecclesiology.

Michael Horton.
Paperback: WJK Books, 2008.
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People and Place: A Covenant Ecclesiology is the fourth and final volume in Michael Horton’s contemporary restatement of Reformed systematic theology.   His work is erudite and ecumenical in scope, but Horton is bold, unwilling to give an inch of what he considers Reformed ground.  Over and against the “chaos of Evangelical individualism” Horton describes the Church as the locus of God’s special gracious activity amidst covenantal relationships.   Here is a champion of grace, who finds the church’s identity in preaching, baptizing and communing in a vibrant corporate life.   The reader will find in Horton not just a Reformed thinker, but a conversation partner of the first order.

        Engaging (or more often contending with) contemporary movements within evangelicalism, post-liberal narrative theologians, and traditional Anabaptist, Lutheran, Catholic and Orthodox traditions, Horton is particularly concerned to make sure that ecclesiology does not usurp Christology.  He fears that some doctrines of salvation take “participation language” too far and conflate Christ and the church.

        He traces what in his view is this deleterious theological tendency in Augustine’s conception of the “totus Christus” and the Eastern doctrine of deification.  Whether theologians spiritualize Jesus in order to make him just as present in the church as he ever was in the flesh (Origen and Schleiermacher) or by offering an over-realized eschatology that turns the Church into a “second incarnation” where the church becomes a self-justifying institution appealing to no higher authority than itself (the Roman tradition), Horton sees such thinking as disastrous.  For Horton, participationist soteriology and an over-realized eschatology that confuses Christ and church loom as ecclesial enemy number one and two in these pages. Continue Reading…