Thursday, July 16, 2009

The making of split-P soup

Seeking a Better Country tells the story of 300 years of American Presbyterianism. From its beginning in 1706 until the present day there has been no golden age for the Presbyterian church in this country but instead a struggle, at times acrimonious, to define a Presbyterian identity and then to hold fast to it.

Most often the denomination has been split by a large group of Presbyterians neglecting the confession of faith and adopting the methods of the broader Christian Church (e.g. Revivalism), or it has all-together abandoned the historic Christian faith (e.g. Liberalism).

Sometimes the reason for splitting and forming another Presbyterian denomination doesn't seem to rise to the level warranted for such an action. And the longest lasting split to-date began largely over slavery and its abolition. The consequences of all the divisions leaves us with the split-P soup we have today.

The book itself is not dry, even though it is a denominational history. In fact, it explains and informs the major events and personalities in American Presbyterianism in an interesting and at times startling way.

To bring this post to an end, the book closes by identifying the three types of Presbyterians today: confessionals, evangelicals, and mainliners. The first two are found mainly in the "sideline" denominations (PCA, OPC, etc) with the confessionals emphasizing theology and the evangelicals focusing on activism. The mainliners (e.g. PCUSA) have, by and large, drifted far from confessional moorings. But the history of all three camps is a mix of folly and insight, failure and accomplishment.

No comments: