A Multiethnic Church in Principle (Ryken)

The Communion of Saints: Living in Fellowship with the People of God

While studying the biblical concept of the church family I found chapter 11 of The Communion of Saints to be quite helpful. The chapter is called “All in the Family”. Here’s one section of it that I highlighted. (Note: I added the Scripture references because Ryken had mentioned them before these paragraphs.)

If Jews and Gentiles are one in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:14-16), then every Christian church is in principle a multiethnic church. The reason I say ‘in principle’ is because some churches are not located in multiethnic communities. Since the communion of the saints does not operate on a quota system, such churches do not need to find token Christians of a different color.

However, every Christian church is in principle a multiethnic church. Imagine, for example, a village church made up entirely of members from a local African tribe. It is not a multiethnic church in reality. But because it is multiethnic in principle it will become a multiethnic church as soon as it has the opportunity. Now imagine that you are a Swede from Stockholm. If you move to the African village, will you start your own church? Of course not! The communion of the saints is to be extended to all those who, in every place, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 1:2). So your African brothers and sisters will welcome you into their communion. It would be unthinkable for them to do otherwise. They have always been a multiethnic church in principle. Now they will welcome the opportunity to become a multiethnic church in reality. They know that in Christ, black and white Christians are all in the family.

Philip Graham Ryken, The Communion of the Saints, p. 141-142.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015