What Does It Mean To Be Presbyterian?

Presbytopia by Ken Golden is a good place to start exploring the riches of Reformation theology and church life.

I appreciate this short book because it sticks to the basics; it is also concise and clear.  There are some  questions at the end of each chapter for discussion purposes.  Golden nicely summarized the truths of justification, the sovereignty of God’s grace in salvation, and the gospel-centered aspect of the means of grace.  There is no fluff or trendy jargon in this book: it says what it needs to say and then moves on.  Having taught membership classes before, I like the way this book is outlined/structured, and I’m glad it was written for average Christians.

 

As the pastor of a confessional Presbyterian church (an Orthodox Presbyterian Church) I often get questions about being Reformed or Presbyterian.  Why do Reformed/Presbyterian churches baptize infants?  Why do Reformed/Presbyterian churches have a certain type of liturgy (order of worship)?  What is a session?  Why do Reformed/Presbyterian churches emphasize preaching?  Why do Reformed/Presbyterian churches have regional churches instead of just local, independent churches?  These questions are often discussed over coffee or even in membership classes.  Speaking of the latter, Ken Golden’s new book just hit the stores: Presbytopia: What It Means to be Presbyterian.

This book is somewhat similar to Confessing Christ by Calvin Knox Cummings andWelcome to a Reformed Church by Danny Hyde (see also What is a Reformed Church? by Malcom Watts).  Presbytopia has three main parts: 1) Christian Essentials, 2) Reformed Distinctives, and 3) Means of Grace.   The first part is a short summary of the main truths of the historic Christian faith.  The second part is a brief introduction to the doctrines of grace (TULIP), Presbyterian church polity, and Reformed worship.  The final part of the book talks about preaching, the sacraments, and prayer.  There’s a glossary and a sample liturgy in the back of the book.

I appreciate this short book because it sticks to the basics; it is also concise and clear.  There are some  questions at the end of each chapter for discussion purposes.  Golden nicely summarized the truths of justification, the sovereignty of God’s grace in salvation, and the gospel-centered aspect of the means of grace.  There is no fluff or trendy jargon in this book: it says what it needs to say and then moves on.  Having taught membership classes before, I like the way this book is outlined/structured, and I’m glad it was written for average Christians.  It could be used for a high school Sunday School class, personal reading to learn more about Presbyterian churches, or as a discussion guide for membership classes.

If you’re looking for a straightforward and brief explanation of what it means to be a historic, confessional Presbyterian church, I recommend this one: Presbytopia by Ken Golden.  It’s a good place to start exploring the riches of Reformation theology and church life.

Ken Golden, Presbytopia (Ross-Shire: Christian Focus Publications, 2016).

Rev. Shane Lems is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and serves as pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Hammond, Wis. This article appeared on his blog and is used with permission.