The Unofficial Baptist Handbook

Lora-Ellen McKinney, Author
Lora-Ellen McKinney. Judson, $14.99 trade paper (172p) ISBN 978-0-8170-1721-7
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This slim resource is intended for people joining a Baptist church for the first time and unfamiliar with its traditions and culture. It is especially aimed at African-American Baptists, but those attending establishment downtown Baptist churches may find it informative, too. It explains the twin Baptist ordinances of baptism and communion, Baptist distinctives such as the priesthood of the believer and soul liberty, and Baptist history in England and the U.S. It also offers a Jeopardy!-like compendium of facts — famous Baptists (Nelson Rockefeller, Strom Thurmond, Al Gore) and Baptist inventors (the makers of condensed milk and boxed mac and cheese). Yet the book with its cheerful cartoons feels dated at a time when many contemporary Baptist churches are dropping the denominational name and shedding traditions as fast as possible. What percentage of Baptist churches still use dated and numbered tithing envelopes, for example? Likewise, some of the descriptions of spiritual practices, such as praying, are simplistic and uninspiring. ("Prayer is talking to God.") Still, anyone needing a handy way to find historic Baptist confessions and covenants (though not an overview of their significance) may find it useful. (Jan.)
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