Mike Horton, drawing on Miroslav Volf (in After Our Likeness), has a profound critique of free church (evangelical church) ecclesiologies, something which Stanley Grenz has written on. Here’s a summary of Horton’s interaction with the two in his recent People and Place (from pages 176-177). I’ll post Horton’s own words in a day or two.
Grenz says the Ana/Baptist congregationalism “asserts that the true church is essentially people standing in voluntary covenant with God” (from his Theology for the Community of God, p. 609). “Because the coming together of believers in mutual covenant constitutes the church, it is the covenant community of individuals” (Ibid., 614).
Here’s Volf’s critique of such Ana/Baptist congregationalism or individualism:
“Whether they want to or not, Free Churches often function as ‘homogeneous units’ specializing in the specific needs of specific social classes and cultural circles, and then in mutual competition try to sell their commodity at dumping prices to the religious consumer in the supermarket of life projects; the customer is king and the one best suited to evaluate his or her own religious needs and from whom nothing more is required than a bit of loyalty and as much money as possible. If the Free Churches want to contribute to the salvation of Christendom, they themselves must first be healed” (Volf, After Our Likeness, 18).
Wow. That’s scathing. I’m with Volf here, on this quote, though his aforementioned book defends free church ecclesiologies along the lines of Grenz. Stay tuned for more, this time from Horton’s fine covenantal (rather than individual/contractual) emphasis.