Tag Archives: George Marsden

Doctrinalist, pietist, culturalist. How does your church lean?


English: Darlington Reformed Presbyterian Chur...

Darlington Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA), Darlington, PA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An interesting counterpart to Avery Dulles‘s “five models of church” (institution, mystical communion, servant, herald, sacrament) is the triad of church emphases laid out by Tim Keller in his paper “What’s So Great about the PCA?” (For those who don’t know, PCA = Presbyterian Church in America). Lots could be said about this article or this denomination, but I’m most interested in these qualities that Keller borrows from George Marsden and describes as facets of Presbyterianism in America, and indeed facets of the PCA, resulting in significant infradenomenational tensions:

The doctrinalist impulse puts the emphasis on the corporate and the objective. The stress is on ministry done through church courts—Session, Presbytery, and General Assembly‐‐ and on people being brought to Christ through objective ordinances and processes like baptism and catechism. Continue reading

To Jonathan Edwards: We’re sorry we threw you out–could you please come back?


As mentioned in the last post, Jonathan Edwards got thrown out of his own church. Nonetheless, he remains an important pastor-figure for today. Why? 2003 was the 300th anniversary of Edwards’s birth (he was born the same year as his co-conspirator in the birth of evangelicalism, John Wesley), and I reflected on the impact of Edwards on my own life, and his importance to the church. (What is Edwards’s claim on the title “father of evangelicalism”? See here. Why did he get kicked out of his own church? Here. How was he the original “ancient-future” evangelical? Here.)

300-Year-Old Man Returns to Lead His Church
Evangelicals need this grandfather figure more than ever.
By Chris Armstrong | posted 12/05/2003

A recent article by Jay Tolson in U.S. News has reminded me of one of the strangest and most rewarding friendships I have ever enjoyed—one that continues today.

He was a Puritan theologian who had been dead for several centuries and was still known more for his subtle and extensive work in academic philosophy than for his connection with America’s first “revival”—the so-called Great Awakening.

I was a young, newly minted, twentieth century Christian in a Pentecostal church, who had spent much of the previous year basking in a sequence of Spirit-led encounters with the living God. Continue reading