Item description for The Presbyterian Handbook by Geneva Press...
Overview Adapted from "The Lutheran Handbook," this resource offers a combination of reliable historical and theological information alongside some fun facts and practical tips on being a churchgoing follower of Jesus Christ. (Church Life)
Prepared in a style similar to the "Survivor's Guide" books, "The Presbyterian Handbook" provides historical and theological information about Presbyterian beliefs alongside fun-filled facts and practical tips on being a churchgoing follower of Jesus Christ. Complete with illustrations, the book presents a wonderful combination of vast truths, complex details, and bits of humor about Presbyterian understanding of the Christian life. This unique and incredibly handy resource is perfect for Presbyterian youth, adults, students, families, and all those interested in learning about much of what encompasses life in the church.
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Studio: Geneva Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.08" Width: 5" Height: 0.54" Weight: 0.5 lbs.
Release Date Feb 6, 2006
Publisher PRESBYTERIAN PUBLISHING #86
ISBN 0664502881 ISBN13 9780664502881
Reviews - What do customers think about The Presbyterian Handbook?
A helpful book for Presbyterians. Nov 3, 2006
This is easy-to-read and to understand. A helpful book for those who want to understand Presbyterian beliefs and practices.
Uneven, but full of decent insights Apr 5, 2006
About 200 pocket-sized pages. Unpretentious and casual, but in a self-conscious, studied way. It is openly derivative of the Worst-Case Scenario-style books. But it probably is about ten years too late. The cover is a simple dark blue with an cartoon of John Calvin in glasses. The subheadings are "Church Stuff", "Bible Stuff", "Everyday Stuff." It has the feel of your 60 year old, pleasant but annoying uncle, trying to be cool and funny to the teens at Thanksgiving.
The contributors include Donald McKim. The bibliography is mostly McKim, his old friend ('progressive evangelical,' recently turned homosexual rights advocate) Jack Rogers, and their crowd.
The content -- its tone and quality -- varys wildly from section to section. It feels sewn together from a load of contributors. At times it is very helpful and clear (such as where it explains the levels of Presbyterian church government), at other times extremely goofy, at others incomplete or wrong, at others irrelevent. The only consistent feature is that most sections are concise.
The theological values are basically middle of the road for PCUSA. That means what is defined as "THE Presbyterian" is occasionally unrecognizable to other (non-PCUSA) Presbyterians. But in general it is fairly supportive of the theological heritage and of the Scripture's importance and trustworthiness. My biggest complaint (other than some mild comments questioning the historicity of certain Biblical accounts) is the sometimes overly LOW view of the sacraments.
In any case, MANY, MANY decent tips, comments. I especially like a few of the charts (Bible translations) and lists (esp. Bible ones, like the 12 Apostles summaries, and practical tips for having a regular schedule of Bible reading. etc.).
A few random negative comments, some very picky, I know: * Dozens of topics big and small (How to pass the plate, what to bring to potlucks) YET ZERO on church discipline. * No index * P. 27 Under How to Sing a Praise Song, intentionally 1960s looking illustration bears the caption "Beware of especially passionate worshipers who might raise their hands too quickly." The goofy uncle trying to be funny again. * Pp. 35-36 -- WAY too brief of an explanation on baptism. The description as it stands does not address re-baptism. * P. 37 -- Lord's Supper -- states the cup is "usually grape juice." Uggh. Wish they had advocated for wine! * P. 39 -- States that traditionally Presb. celebrate quarterly or monthly. That may be true, but I wish they had at least mentioned that some have always celebrated weekly, including some of the Reformers. P. 47-48 on how to stay alert in the service (drink water before, but not too much, etc.). Hard to tell if its trying to be funny. P. 51 -- What to bring to a church potluck: Cereals: Southeast - cornflakes, Midwest - cornflakes, Northeast - cornflakes, West Coast: TOFU flakes. Desert - Cleveland - fudge brownies w/ fudge frosting; Kansas City - triple fudge w/ fudge sauce and a side of fudge. Los Angeles - TOFU fudge.... Painful. Uncle Floyd at open mike night at the local comedy club. P. 60 -- The section is entitled History's Six Most Notorious Heretics. But then the choices are a mixture of famous and obscure. How can Hatuey (-1511) be included in the top six? Well, because he is Native American. Similarly, Hypatia of Alexandria (370-415) makes the cut. Why? "Her mistakes were to prefer study to marriage, to know more than the bishop, and to be a female teacher of males." Maybe, but she actually happened to be a powerful and prominent Neo-Platonist pagan too, which had something to do with it. Similarly, Joan of Arc was not declared a heretic for just being a "better army leader than men," was she? Probably more about her political value, or maybe even the bizarre visions.
And here the truly unorthodox (Pelagius) are lumped together with the merely controversial (Luther).
p. 62-63: "How to Avoid Getting Burned at the Stake" section: mocks the concept of heresy.
p. 65: World Religions: list 22 groups, some with less than a million members, but not JWs or Mormons. Makes me think they have incorrectly lumped these two into the 'Xian' category.
p. 68: Family Tree of Xianity is a muddled, misleading mess
p. 69: Xian Denominations -- lumps together all Baptists into one, all Methodists into one, etc., YET Pentecostal/Charismatic AND Assemblies of God each get separate categories. Then the number for Adventist is given as just 100,000! 7th Day Adventists alone are almost a million, never mind the dozens of other Adventist groups. Lots of the numbers on this page are way, way, way off.
p. 70 -- comparative denominations chart: too many problems to list. Rip those pages out.
p. 107ff. "How to choose a spouse" etc.: Oprah-level psychobabble. Trite pop wisdom, with little reference to a Biblical worldview.
p. 189 -- states with indignaion to beware that some Reformation confessions of faith 'prohibited women from baptizing.' This, it explains, was an historic accident of the debates with Roman Catholics. Actually, all of the Reformers did not think women should preach or do any of the roles reserved for ministers. And every side of every debate agreed.
Helpfully ends with blank pages for "Notes & Stuff"
These are mostly negatives. There is lots and lots of good and helpful information in there too. I just don't think it is a reliable tool for the uninformed, nor adds much knowledge or perspective for the more informed.
A whole lot better (though just a tad more difficult) is Sean Michael Lucas' brand new On Being Presbyterian (2006).