From Reform to Renewal: Scotland’s Kirk, Century by Century – Review by Kerry Enright

Reform to RenewalFinlay MacDonald’s book From Reform to Renewal: Scotland’s Kirk, Century by Century is a help to discerning what it’s worth holding on to, and what needs letting go in the Presbyterian Church.

It is a lively, fascinating and accessible account of the history of the Church of Scotland since the Protestant Reformation. Full of intriguing stories, it is eminently readable and maintains interest. It helped me understand more of how our Church gained its shape and identity. Experiences generations ago, often repeated, have nourished a wisdom that alerts us to practices that too easily harm people and compromise integrity.

The author, Finlay Macdonald, is a respected former principal clerk and Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. He is a good storyteller.

New Zealand pragmatism, the attractiveness of secular gods and generational hubris can lead us to discount valuable inherited practices. Our Church deserves appreciative inquiry of our past, of how we came to value certain principles and practices. We will not understand them unless we know their history. We will not properly apply our Book of Order without appreciating the history behind it. Finlay Macdonald’s book is a good account of that history. It speaks of a broad Church seeking to be faithful to the way of Jesus Christ. It describes a sibling Church facing challenges like our own. I commend it wholeheartedly.

Macdonald, F, (2017) From Reform to Renewal: Scotland’s Kirk, Century by Century, Edinburgh, Scotland: Saint Andrew’s Press.

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