Monday, January 15, 2007

Book Recommendation-On Being Presbyterian by Sean Michael Lucas

That I was reading a book called, “On Being a Presbyterian” amused a newer attendee of our congregation. Certainly I should know what it means to be a Presbyterian-after all I have been one for many years. I advised the book was on loan from our pastor, and I was interested in seeing how the author stated things. It would also be a good review, and in the history portion it could provide new information. I would also know if it was a book I could recommend, and I highly recommend it.

The subtitle of the book also indicates the sections in it, “Our beliefs, practices, and stories.” Lucas is dean of faculty and assistant professor of church history at Covenant Theological Seminary, so he is no stranger or outsider to Presbyterianism, or the PCA.

In Part 1 he looks at Presbyterian Beliefs. He does look at what we would have in common with other Christians, but the bulk is looking at the distinctives. This section has 5 chapters, but it is not one for each of the letter of TULIP, as some might assume. The five points of Calvinism do appear, but in Chapter 2 where he explains the Presbyterian beliefs on grace. This is where they belong. They are part of the picture, but not the whole picture. The chapter subjects are God’s sovereignty, grace, covenant and kingdom, the Church and sacraments. The chapters are well done looks at these beliefs. He doesn’t merely state what the beliefs are, but looks at how they affect the others, and us.

Part 2 is on Presbyterian practices. These do involve beliefs, and so this section flows out of the last one. In the first chapter of this section Lucas explains why he uses the word piety, and what he means by it. It’s on how we practice our beliefs, but also who we base them on. It’s a well done look at how God is connected to them.

In Part 2 he also writes on worship and church government. The chapter on worship is refreshing in that he looks at all worship, not just music and singing. Too often we use worship too narrowly. This short look at worship is instructive in how worship is more. The chapter on church government is also instructive as some feel this distinctive is a bigger difference between Presbyterians and Baptists than sacraments.

Part 3 is on Presbyterian stories. He presents an interesting historical look at how we got from the Reformers to what we have in North America today. Calvin and Knox loom large n the first part. He looks at the divisions, reunions, and new denominations as well. It gives a clear picture at how we got where we are today.

I highly recommend this book for all Christians, not just Presbyterians. I would also recommend it to any who are interested in church history. Its more obvious benefits would be for those who are new to Presbyterianism, or those who are considering attending or joining a Presbyterian church. But Christians with no intention of being Presbyterian could also benefit by better understanding of their brothers and sisters. I would read the same sort of book written by non-Presbyterian Christians if they were available. (This one is published by P&R Publishing.)

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Blogger Joel said...

Ironically, during the time I attended a Presbyterian church, I had no idea how varied and intricate it could be. Most of what I know about Prebyterianism I've learned after the fact. I wish I'd known more then, as the church I was going to was one I was very happy in. (Although it was PCUSA, which I've heard negative things about since.)

BTW, I tagged you for a meme. Go ahead and ignore it if it will endanger your anonymity, but I hope it won't. :)

8:32 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Hi Bob,

Hope you are doing OK. Haven't heard from you on your blog in awhile and I was concerned that something is wrong.

Anyway take care and God bless you.

1:32 PM  
Blogger pilgrim said...


I'm not Bob...

Things have been busy around here so I haven't had much of a chance to post.

I'm okay & getting better--no relapses--just a lot to do.

6:40 PM  

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