Saturday, August 1, 2009

Review: "Corinthian Elders" by Jack Fortenberry

Yesterday I received the book "Corinthian Elders" to read and review. I sat down to read it, and in one sitting was able to do so. It's not a very long book, and people who enjoy reading - particularly the subject material will likely finish it very quickly.

I really appreciate the gist of Jack's "essay" on the role of elders in the local church - which is that we've gone off camber as The Church by embracing the teaching of men - even those who are good teachers. Jack does a good job of showing how this has been somewhat of a problem since the first century church when there were divisions because of individuals aligning themselves with Paul, Peter, and so on. Of course, these apostles were upright, good teachers, and could provide much insight into Jesus having spent time with him, etc. However, Paul still encouraged his readers to align themselves under the headship of Jesus Christ and not other men.

Jack does a good job summarizing the New Testament view of the New Covenant truth that The Spirit of God now resides in us and is able to communicate truth to us through the Scripture without the need of intermediaries who spoon-feed us or otherwise play a middle-man role in our walk with the Lord.

Further, a main theme in Jack's work is the Centrality and Supremacy of Jesus Christ. This is something that is showing up more and more in the thoughts and reflections of the saints which I believe is evidence of God at work! The Church has largely just paid lip service to Jesus Christ for nearly two thousand years and it's time for Jesus to actively be the head of His body in every aspect of The Church - including leadership. Jack makes the appeal for Jesus to be our head both personally and corporately.

Another aspect I appreciate about this book, and others like it, is it's ability to bring harmony to what often seem like opposing views. Specifically, the role of elders in the local church along with a consensus understanding of God's direction among the congregation. I think Jack does a great job highlighting the role of elder without giving it more or less value than the Scriptures allow.

Those accustomed to more institutional views of Church would likely struggle with the ideas expressed in this book because tradition is not easily dislodged from the soul. I am not saying all tradition is bad, but some traditions keep us from accepting the plain truths of scripture. I believe the truths that Jack has written about here are necessary to hear and must result in a change of thinking in some areas of our understanding.

If you're a person who longs to see Jesus lead His Church - not as a metaphor, but literally - you need to read this book. If you're a leader or otherwise involved in a local fellowship - read this book.