Geerhardus Vos famously said that “eschatology precedes soteriology.” But does soteriology supercede ecclesiology?
The Second Great Awakening is often heavily criticized for its decidedly Arminian (even Pelagian) traits. And Calvinist-revivalists like George Whitfield are often held up as models of how to do revivalism well instead of reformation faithfully. Some aren’t exactly convinced.
But if to be Calvinist is to have an ecclesiology that utters the things Cavin did like,
There is no other entrance into life, save as she [the church] may conceive us in her womb, give us birth, nourish us from her breasts, and embrace us in her loving care to the end…
then what do we make of Whitefield’s outlook pertaining to matters of church government, ordination and liturgy:
It was best to preach the new birth, and the power of godliness, and not to insist so much on the form: for people would never be brought to one mind as to that; nor did Jesus Christ ever intend it.
There is good reason holy writ uses physiological analogies. Human hearts don’t tend to last very long when removed from behind rib cages and set upon dusty Durham trails. Many Calvinists seem inclined to follow after Whitefield and dismiss these sorts of points about the organic relationship between form and content for the sake of soul-winning at the expense of nurturing. But maybe they haven’t heard my wife sing “Like A Virgin” in operatic. If ever a joke made a serious point, that would have to rank in the Top Ten.