Scott Clark, over at Heidelblog, has some very interesting thoughts about ecclesiology, confessionalism and evangelical affiliations. Clark writes:
Our personal relations with others, as private persons, however, doesnâ€™t answer the ecclesiastical question. We have to love those non-Reformed congregations, but that love takes a different form on an ecclesiastical level than it does on a personal level.
Weâ€™re not helping congregations if we tell them, â€œReally, Word and sacrament ministry is no big deal. The means of grace are indifferent.â€ I donâ€™t see how a confessionally Reformed person can be an ecclesiastical pluralist (beyond the bounds of the Word as confessed by the Reformed and Presbyterian churches) If a congregation doesnâ€™t have the marks of a true church, it isnâ€™t a church. As a matter of fact, we have to accept the anomaly of christians in congregations without the marks. As a matter of ethics, however, we ought to encourage those Christians to unite themselves to congregations with the marks (Belgic 29).
In this regard I think itâ€™s helpful to speak about persons and congregations rather than speaking about the abstraction or universal â€œevangelicalâ€ without definition. A universal, to be meaningful, must have particulars. The only particular that is universal to all contemporary evangelicals is: â€œhas had an unmediated encounter with the risen Christâ€ or even â€œhas had an intense religious experience in a Christian context.â€
You can read the rest of the post here.