Saturday, December 5, 2015

For a Continuing Church

What has happened in history never stays in the past. It echos and ripples and reverberates throughout time.  That sounds cliche for two, legitimate reasons. 1) I am an average writer who is being somewhat lazy  and, more importantly, 2) it is just plain true.  History repeats itself and we are doomed to repeat our past if we don't learn from it and etc, etc.

     Our history is important. And before you look at a work about the foundation of the PCA and think it has no edifying benefit outside of that denomination, do not forget how universally sinful we humans are and how hopelessly unoriginal we tend to be. The failures and flaws that led to the formation of the PCA (as well as the failures and flaws within the process of formation and the years since) can be found in many (if not all) Christian denominations, churches, individual lives.

     The evolution of the Protestant liberal, a regression to a virtually Scripture-less, authority-less, Gospel-less, authority-less, Christ-less, "do good and be good"ianity, is a danger to be guarded againstt by all Christians.  The emergence of the PCA is an example of a rejection of this regression.  In that sense, Lucas's history of the PCA offers a service to the church at-large.

     But the primary ministry of this book will be to Christians more closely associated with the PCA. As someone brand-new to the PCA (and presbyterianism in general), I benefitted greatly from this work. This is a detailed historical work that was not necessarily written for a PCA-novice like me.  But, purposely or providentially, Lucas writes in a way that has great depth but does not leave the uninitiated gasping in the wake.

     History texts, for me, are generally vegetables.  You consume them more out of necessity than for pleasure. They are not as pleasant to the pallette as a sweet dessert or as fun to chew on as a perfectly grilled steak.  And sometimes you get a turnip. :-(  But a good cook can present vegetables in a way that makes them the star of a meal.  "Yes, banana pudding sounds great, but is there anymore broccoli?"  Ok, so maybe that doesn't happen all that often at the supper table, but For a Continuing Church is a history book that provides nutrion and pleasure.  It deserves a spot in seminary, church, and personal libraries (and it deserves a printing in hardback!). I would have loved to see a full timeline included of the key events.

     If you are a history buff or PCA minister, grabbing a copy of this is a nobrainer.  But I would encourage all PCA members and people interested in the ebb and flow of Christian life at a macro level to give this a read as well.

Double Disclaimer

1. I received a review copy of this book - standard fair.

2. I went into this work with just north of 0% knowledge of the history of PCA. I am certain, as with any history text, that there are many who will criticize the content of this work.  I am not in a position to do that. As far as this volume goes, I commend it for a number if reason. First, the presentation.  It is immensely approachable. Second, Lucas's credentials as an historian and the preponderance of citations make me have a good bit of faith in the content. Third, Lucas,from all indications, is a man of character who loves the Lord and desires to serve the church. I have no reservations taking For a Continuing Church to be an accurate assessment of the formation of the PCA and feel comfortable encouraging others to do likewise