Academic journal article Baptist History and Heritage

Restore Unite, Recover Identity, and Refine Orthopraxy: The Believers' Priesthood in the Ecclesiology of James Leo Garrett, Jr

Academic journal article Baptist History and Heritage

Restore Unite, Recover Identity, and Refine Orthopraxy: The Believers' Priesthood in the Ecclesiology of James Leo Garrett, Jr

Article excerpt

Restore Unite, Recover Identity, and Refine Orthopraxy: The Believers' Priesthood in the Ecclesiology of James Leo Garrett, Jr. By Peter L. Tie. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2012. 141pp.

For more than half a century James Leo Garrett has blessed Baptists and many others with his ability to explore and explain Christian doctrine through the lens of Scripture and history. This work by Peter Tie adds to Garrett's gift to the church by bringing together his writings on ecclesiology under the rubric of the priesthood of believers and placing them in dialogue with more than a dozen theologians. Tie's purpose in writing is "to demonstrate that Garrett's notion of the priesthood of all believers pervades all of his major ecclesiological themes; promotes unity among the churches while defining Baptist distinctives; and preserves the intimate relation between orthodoxy ... and orthopraxy" (pp. 5-6). Few theologians can bring unity into a conversation on ecclesiology like Garrett, and few researchers can bring Garrett's writings together under one heading in such clear and concise fashion as Tie.

Tie introduces the reader to Garret's understanding of the priesthood of believers with a biblical and historical examination of the doctrine, followed by a section on the theological significance of the Christian priesthood. This introduction provides the foundation for the chapters that follow which Tie labels as the "mission, membership, ministry, and management of the church" (p. 20). Each chapter unfolds in similar fashion beginning with a discussion of Garret's views on the topic followed by analytical evaluations in light of the writings of other theologians.

Tie's presentation of Garrett's teaching on the mission of the church pairs evangelism, ecumemism, and ethics with universalization, mediation, and obligation. From this pairing, the ideas of ecumenism and mediation have the most potential to raise consternation among Baptists, and thus threaten the very unity that Garrett pursues. As Tie notes, however, Garrett's active involvement in promoting Christian unity through events such as the Second Vatican Council and organizations such as the Baptist World Alliance (pp. 25-26) have been undergirded by his admission that "real and basic doctrinal differences are to be 'honestly faced, rightly interpreted, and properly assessed"' (p. 26). Likewise, Baptists who hesitate at the prospect of mediation as it relates to the church will come to understand that Tie's intention is to highlight Garrett's call for all Christians--not just pastors, missionaries, or parachurch ministries--to participate as agents of the gospel of Christ in participation with the Holy Spirit (p. …

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