Given the way many in the West have read the New Testament in the last century, the church might be regarded as an afterthought at best. But at the worst, it can be viewed as an unnecessary, perhaps even problematic, institutionalization of genuine faith especially in our post-denominational context. These perspectives fly in the face of the robust ecclesiological concerns and commitments of the New Testament documents when read as witnesses from, to, and for congregations of God’s people.
For Wall, the problem is spiritual because fewer go to find God in church. Why the church? Because this peculiar fellowship of saints, whose loving communion is with the risen One, has been appointed by the triune God as God's herald. With its sacred vocation, every demonstration of the church’s oneness, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity—each eschatological mark enabled and brought to maturity by God’s grace—is the concrete means to address our theological crisis. This book will contribute to New Testament studies but also serve related discussions in theology and church history. Reframing New Testament Theology is a series that fulfills the need for brief, substantive, yet highly accessible introductions to central questions and themes raised by New Testament study.
"Greater clarity and emphasis on a doctrine of the church is an urgent task for Protestant churches, and Rob Wall has provided a cogent and powerful analysis of New Testament resources for such a doctrine."
--Scott J. Jones, Bishop, Great Plains Area, The United Methodist Church
"This book is particularly significant and relevant for Wesleyan and Methodist people who are heirs to a tradition that had its beginning as an evangelical movement within a church, then became a church, then through a complicated history evolved into a worldwide family of churches."
– Rex D. Matthews, Associate Professor in the Practice of Historical Theology, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
"Why the Church? is a work of theological interpretation and canonical criticism that is impressive in its own right and also a model of how such thematic study can be done. Biblical theology, like Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver, has too often been tied down by a thousand higher-critical quibbles and qualifications, like so many Lilliputian cords. In this volume . . . Gulliver breaks free."
-- N. Clayton Croy, Professor of New Testament, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, OH
"Rob Wall shows beautifully how and why a careful reading of scripture, and especially the New Testament, challenges individualistic interpretations of Christian faith and points us to the church as the context for learning and living faithfully." --L. Gregory Jones, Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Jr. Professor of Christian Ministry, Duke Divinity School, Durham, NC
“In this fascinating monograph, Rob Wall brings his skills as theologian, interpreter, and minister to bear, producing a most helpful volume on the church. Reading the New Testament documents through a canonical lens, Wall traces the themes of the church as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Through his superb engagement with the biblical text, he demonstrates that these are not superimposed upon the New Testament writings but arise rather naturally from them. Reflecting on these and related themes by means of the energetic embrace of scripture for which he is known, Wall provides the reader with a relevant, thoughtful, and at times prophetic study of the church in its contemporary postmodern context. This book by a leading Wesleyan New Testament scholar is a welcome gift for all those interested in exploring this topic academically and pastorally.” —John Christopher Thomas, Clarence J. Abbott Professor of Biblical Studies, Pentecostal Theological Seminary, Cleveland, TN