Is the Church a Gospel Coalition?

Because the Gospel Coalition isn’t a church.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. Todd,

    No doubt, but I think it’s fair to raise the question of ecclesiology. The old neo-evangelicals set up a trans-ecclesiastical movement that didn’t work out well. Should we keep trying to do that? Carl Henry is said to have come to regret that aspect of the movement.

  2. Dr. Clark,

    I agree. In fact I am very nervous about anything that smells of ecumenism. I have participated in both The Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel. I found the later to be much more helpful. I think it is because they are much more careful about who they invite into the circle. For instance, I would not be able to partner with Mark Driscoll.

    I do agree that when it comes to coalitions we must be very careful about our ecclesiology. Together for the Gospel has been extremely helpful in calling many pastor’s attention back to the centrality of the Gospel. This has been sorely needed within evangelicalism. That’s another topic altogether.

    One of the things I have appreciated about Together for the Gospel is that the men who formed it have made very clear at the conferences and in writing the things on which they would not be able to fully cooperate. So I think the T4G group has been much more cautious. I would like the Gospel Coalition to be equally cautious.

    • Hi Todd,

      I’ve noted the clarity of Lig and Mark on baptism. I guess I’m wondering (and have been) about the project of trying to keep alive the remnants of the old neo-evangelical alliance. It has some benefits but does it not send the message that, at the end of the day, church and sacraments are “secondary” issues? I agree that the GC fellows have been more churchly and sacramental (Mark has 9Marks!) than the old neo-evangelical alliance.

  3. Dr. Clark,

    I can only speak from my experience. At the two T4G conferences the centrality of the church in God’s redemptive plans was clearly affirmed. I cannot speak for anyone else but it never occured to me that T4G was in any way a substitute for the church. As you mentioned Duncan and Dever and I would certainly add Mahaney and Mohler are churchmen first and foremost.

    • Todd,

      No, I don’t think T4G thinks of itself as a substitute for the church. The problem Darryl is highlighting is that, for the sake of T4G, to some degree, the church and sacraments have to be marginalized. Is this appropriate? I guess the real question is: how essential are the doctrines of the church and sacraments to “the gospel”? Is the visible church and are the sacraments so secondary that they can be, for the purposes of making common cause, set aside — even by those who evidently have a very high view of the church and sacraments?

  4. I suppose I have never gotten the sense that the sacraments have been marginalized at T4G precisely because the leaders have been so careful to point out that they do not agree on baptism. Does anyone believe Dever or Mohler think baptism is unimportant? I think T4G has been something of a model for how Paedo and Credo baptists who are reformed in thier soteriology and committed to the centrality of the Gospel can love and encourage one another while still affirming their distinctives.

    I have never seen T4G as a “movement” that sets aside impotant matters. They are not producing Sunday School material, planting churches, or launching small groups. It is simply a gathering every other year for pastors to be affirmed in the task of keeping the gospel as the matter “of first importance.” As a credo baptist I have been tremendously helped in this by some of my paedo baptist bretheren.

    • It is simply a gathering every other year for pastors to be affirmed in the task of keeping the gospel as the matter “of first importance.”

      Isn’t that at least part of what a GA or Synod can does (only every year)?

      • I suppose so but I would hate to think that it was somehow inappropriate for me to come together with my paedo baptist brothers for encouragement and sharpening. It seems somehow not “gospelish” to refuse such an opportunity. Again, we aren’t talking about being yoked with unbelievers.

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