Presbyterian history is a subject which is usually ignored by many, even by those who identify as Presbyterian. Yet if one ignores this topic they fail to understand why they have the tradition they practice or why certain confessions are in their constitution, while others are ignored. One of the greatest books on this subject is the Presbyterian Creed: A Confessional Tradition in America 1729 – 1870 (Studies in Christian History and Thought)
, which focuses on the idea subscriptionism to the Westminster Confession of faith in the Presbyterian Church. This seminal work comes from the pen of distinguished scholar S. Donald Fortson III, a noted professor of church history at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. This work is an expansion and revision on his doctrinal dissertation.
1729 – 1870 was a tempestuous with time in the history of America having the events which led to and continuing through the American Civil War, all which had countless repercussions on the American Presbyterian church. With Fortson and scholarly approach and cunning wit he navigates through a time of History which from a Presbyterian perspective goes a largely unstudied.
Fortson does an admirable job of detailing the events of the adoption of the confession, the Old Side/New Side Schism, the Old School/New School Schism, to the reunion of the Old School New School factions which lead to the eventual foundation of the PC(US). This tempestuous time in history was when brother fought against brother, spiritual families fought against each other and large spiritual battles were found in every home yet Church Government still continued to act and establish policy, one of which was the Adopting Act of 1729. The Adopting Act of 1729 required full subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith rather than what was “Essential and Necessary”.
Unfortunately these problems exist even now, there is even a full range of disagreements over this subject matter, and it is quite riveting to say the least. The way Fortson illustrates thsee accounts makes the reader feel as if they were sitting in the corner while these events took place. This is one of the best readings on the subject matter I have ever seen having the content being top notch and the information well Source inaccurate. Fortune is at the top of his game in this work I highly recommend it to Presbyterian scholars and Presbyterian pastors who want to know more about the Presbyterian tradition they are in and how their own denomination was formed.
This book was provided to me free of charge from Paternoster Publishing in exchange for an unbiased, honest review.
The Presbyterian Creed: A Confessional Tradition in America 1729-1870 (Studies in Christian History and Thought)
© 2016 by S. Donald Fortson III
Page Count: 304 Pages