This work is a collection of essays, written from a Southern Baptist perspective, on the topic of biblical local-church leadership. Most of the essays focus on the pastor/elders and how the New Testament church leadership differs from that of the Old Testament.
In the introductory chapter, James Hamilton, Jr. looks at the Second Temple period and compared the leadership structure to the Christian church. He does draw a serious distinction between the Old Testament elders and those of the New Testament church.
Chapters 2-4 deal with church leadership in the New Testament. Andreas Kostenberger looks at shepherding in the Gospels. Next, Benjamin Merkle examines elders and overseers in Acts and the Pauline letters. Finally, Thomas Schreiner looks at the Pastoral and General Epistles. Schreiner obviously deals with 1 Timothy and Titus passages on the qualifications of elders. Schreiner holds to the traditional view that an elder must be male, but he is open to divorced and remarried men serving, based on the circumstances. He also presents a very good argument that Paul refers to women deacons.
Chapters 5-9 look at elder leadership throughout history. Michael Haykin and Gregg Allison cover the development of the Papacy. Nathan Finn compares leadership in the Presbyterian model with that of the Baptist church. Jason Duesing provides a chapter of a overview of the leadership structure in the Church of England. Finally, Shawn Wright provides a very interesting chapter on the plurality of elders in the Baptist church. I found it interesting to see how early Baptist n England held to a plurality of elders and how this was abandoned over time.
The final two chapters provide application of the Biblical text to the modern church. Bruce Ware and Andrew Davis hold to a very conservative view regarding a plurality of elders in a congregational system.
While there is nothing really new in this work, I would recommend it to anyone interested in a discussion of the Biblical basis for church leadership. Those who hold to the modern “women in ministry” model will be sorely disappointed.
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