Published on March 1, 2016 by Todd Scacewater

P&R, 2015 | 368 pages

The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) wields an influence that is disproportionate to its age (formed December, 1973), and its story of rising Southern conservative concerns deserves telling. Its story is an important chapter in the history of American evangelicalism, of interest to evangelicals of all stripes – Presbyterian or not. Its commitment to the Westminster Standards, the Great Commission, and the inerrancy of Scripture help to establish it as a conservative yet “mainline” denomination marked by a commitment to biblical authority, theological orthodoxy, experiential piety, and missionary zeal. And through its significant role in the contemporary resurgence of Calvinism its influence is felt well beyond its own borders.

For a Continuing Church is a history not just of the PCA but of American Presbyterianism in the 20th century, and Sean Michael Lucas tells the fascinating story well.


Table of Contents

Foreword by Ligon Duncan

  1. Introduction: The Roots of the Presbyterian Church in America
  2. “The Odor of ‘New Theology’”: The Rise of Southern Presbyterian Progressive Thought
  3. “Reasons for a Separate Existence”: Conservatives’ Defense of the Spiritual Mission and Confessional Integrity of the Church
  4. “How Far Will the Progressives Go?” The Coalescing of Conservative Dissent
  5. “Red and Yellow, Black and White”: Southern Presbyterian Conservatives and the Crises of Postwar America
  6. “Can Two Walk Together Unless They Be Agreed?” Defeating Reunion with Northern Presbyterians
  7. “The Only Hope for America”: Southern Presbyterians, Billy Graham, and the Mission of the Church
  8. Concerned Presbyterians: Southern Presbyterian Conservatives and the Crises of the 1960s
  9. “The Faith of Our Fathers”: The Central Issue for Southern Presbyterian Conservatives
  10. “The Right to Present and Be Represented”: Southern Presbyterian Conservatives Organize an Institutional Response
  11. A Continuing Church: The Creation of the Presbyterian Church in America

Epilogue: Presbyterian Identity and the Presbyterian Church in America, 1973–2013



“This is a story that had to be told, and Sean Lucas has told it with the skill and care of a historian and the warmth and concern of a pastor. Dr. Lucas is thorough, honest, fair, and accurate in unfolding the history of a complex movement that includes mixed motives, different hopes, complicated relationships, and inner controversies. In spite of the failures of the Presbyterian Church in America (‘the purest churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error’), its history is a good story, indeed a wonderful story, of God’s grace and blessing on a group of southern Presbyterians who were committed, despite the cost, to establishing and maintaining ‘a continuing church,’ true to the Bible, faithful to Reformed theology, and obedient to the Great Commission. If you want to understand the Presbyterian Church in America, you must read this book.”

David B. Calhoun, Professor Emeritus of Church History
Covenant Theological Seminary


“Don’t let the title fool you. This is about far more than the PCA. This book is nothing less than a history of Presbyterianism in the twentieth century—with all its theological wrangling, all its political maneuvering, all its failings, and all its faithfulness. This is certainly a story worth telling, and Sean tells it very well.”

Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church
East Lansing, Michigan


“This book offers the first comprehensive story of southern conservative Presbyterianism—a most important and too-often-neglected part of the larger story of American Christianity. It is full of both inspiring moments and cautionary tales. It is as church history should be: a faithful and engaging retelling of the church’s past in the service of her present and future calling.”

Stephen J. Nichols, President, Reformation Bible College
Chief Academic Officer, Ligonier Ministries

Buy the books

For a Continuing Church: The Roots of the Presbyterian Church in America

P&R, 2015 | 368 pages

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