285: Presbyterians and American Culture by Bradley Longfield

by Gerard


285.1: Longfield, Bradley J. Presbyterians and American Culture: A History. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013. 203 pp. ISBN 978-0-664-23156-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 280: Christian denominations
  • 285: Presbyterian churches, Reformed churches centered in America, Congregational churches, or Puritanism
  • 285.1: Presbyterian churches of United States origin

Bradley J. Longfield’s Presbyterians and American Culture is a deep dive into the formation and metamorphosis of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. While mildly scholarly in tone, it traces the formation of the church in America to the First Presbytery of 1706 and then to the modern day formation of the Presbyterian Church of the United States in 1983. Between those dates, the church has split and re-combined many times, and each iteration gave birth to a new tradition of Presbyterianism in the United States, each with their own set of guiding principles and beliefs.

Presbyterianism is generally considered an Old World religion, adhering closely to the Calvinist tradition. In the US, concentrations of Presbyterians can be found in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Presbyterian culture, much like the other mainline Protestant denominations had an interesting effect on the social fabric of America and vice versa. America’s struggle with the issue of slavery in the 19th century lead to a fracture of the church that took decades to heal. Longfield’s tapestry of each of the divisions of the church and their eventual recombination provides a lens through which we can look at American history. If you’re a student of American religious history or want to know more about the Presbyterian church, then this book is just right for you.