What does it mean for a church to be Presbyterian?
Helpful Resources for learning more about the Presbyterian Church and its government:
- How Jesus Runs the Church by Guy Prentiss Waters. This is a great, accessible book into how a Presbyterian church is organized and led. Waters provides helpful explanations for many terms that are unfamiliar to most readers. He also interacts with many less accessible works from earlier theologians and ministers.
- Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church in America - Is this the most exciting thing you will ever read? Probably not. It is the constitution of our denomination and is binding on all churches and church officers. It is very helpful if you want to learn how membership works or how we nominate, elect, and ordain church officers. It explains how we administer discipline and even how we should worship. You can only get this directly from the PCA bookstore or you can download the app on any app store platform. I honestly prefer the app since it is automatically updated to the latest version approved by the General Assembly.
- I Will Build My Church: Selected Writings on Church Polity, Baptism, and the Sabbath by Thomas Witherow. This was the text I used to discuss the Six Principles of the Apostolic Church. Witherow was a Presbyterian minister in Northern Ireland. His chapter on "The Apostolic Church" is worth the price of the book. I find him to be very accessible and still relevant for today's debates between which form of church government is most biblical.
- The Church of Christ by James Bannerman. This is often considered the most exhaustive and thorough explanation of the church from a Presbyterian and Reformed perspective. If you are serious about learning more about ecclesiology (theology of the church) this is the book you should get. It is not accessible though for the average reader so tread lightly. Or better, ask one of your pastors if they would read it with you!
- The Collected Works of Thomas Peck vol 2 by Thomas Peck. Peck was a Southern Presbyterian minister and seminary professor in the mid to late 1800's. In the second volume of his collected work, he has some helpful articles on the nature of the Church, the church's relation to the state, and an explanation of church courts. Since the PCA was formed out of the Southern Church, there are many connections between Peck's writings on the church and what is found in our BCO. Like Bannerman, he is not as accessible as the other authors listed and is recommended for those who want to dig deep into this subject.
Podcast and lectures
- Polity Matters - this is a newer podcast hosted by three PCA Teaching Elders. Every episode they discuss a section from the PCA Book of Church Order. I have really enjoyed this podcast! I have learned so much from these brothers and highly commend it to all who want to geek out on Presbyterianism.
- Clearly Reformed - This is the teaching ministry of Kevin DeYoung a PCA pastor in Charlotte, NC. Kevin is a prolific author and recently consolidated his articles, sermons, podcasts, and teaching lectures into one convenient website. If you search "church" you will find several lectures he gave at RTS Charlotte on the nature, power, and discipline of the Church.
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