You’ve been waiting, but the wait is over. B&H has released its collaborative work on church membership and church discipline. Those Who Must Give an Account: A Study of Church Membership and Church Discipline (B&H, 2012), edited by SEBTS’ own John Hammett and Ben Merkle, is hot off the presses.
As John Hammett notes, “church membership and church discipline have fallen on hard times in the past hundred years, especially in the North American context.” (p. 7) In light of this fact, the editors offer this book in the hopes of renewing and restoring healthy church membership and discipline in contemporary Baptist churches, offering guidance on how they should receive and minister to those for whom they will give an account (Heb. 13:7). The book consistently treats membership and discipline from three angles: biblical, historical, and practical.
Here is the book’s outline, complete with authors:
Introduction: Church Identity
1. “Church Membership, Church Discipline, and the Nature of the Church” (John S. Hammett)
Part 1: Church Membership-The Church as God’s Gathered People
2. The Biblical Basis for Church Membership (Benjamin L. Merkle)
3. A Historical Analysis of Church Membership (Nathan A. Finn)
4. The Practical Issues of Church Membership (Mark E. Dever)
Part 2: Church Discipline-The Church as God’s Holy People
5. The Biblical Basis for Church Discipline (Thomas R. Schreiner)
6. A Historical Analysis of Church Discipline (Gregory A. Wills)
7. The Practical Issues of Church Discipline (Andrew M. Davis)
Conclusion: Church Witness
8. The Missional Implications of Church Membership and Church Discipline (Bruce Riley Ashford and Danny Akin)
9. Those Who Must Give an Account: A Pastoral Reflection (Andrew M. Davis)
The book is well conceived (indicative of good editors) and well-executed. It grounds the practices of church membership and church discipline in the nature of the church, and shows how weak ecclesiology and weak ministry go hand-in-hand. As Hammett argues, “both are inherent in the nature of the church” so they must be understood in this light (p. 28). This book is an excellent one-stop introduction to membership and discipline, and should prove useful for students and pastors.