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Jesus was an Episcopalian – book review

Jesus Was An Episcopalian (And You Can Be One Too!): A Newcomer’s Guide to the Episcopal Church (Paperback)
by Rev. Chris Yaw (Author) 168 pages
Publisher: LeaderResources (July 24, 2008)

There is one main suggestion that I have for this book: Chris Yaw needs to bring out another version with the title changed to Jesus Was An Anglican. In the midst of far too much gloomy, inward-looking Anglicanism (sorry – Episcopalianism), this book is a breath of fresh air. A book I would unreservedly hand to someone interested in “Anglican” or “Episcopalian”. There are genuinely laugh-out-loud moments. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu writes, “Yes, the Lord has a sense of humor, that is why God created Anglicans! Thank you my friend for this light-hearted and generous invitation to inquirers.”

” How lovely! It has so many nice quotes from the Prayer Book.” Episcopalian after reading the Bible

Nowhere does the book descend to the stuffiness that some might associate with Anglicans/Episcopalians. I appreciate its missional starting point – the book begins not from history or internal structures, but with God using us to make a difference in the world. It is honest about the birth pangs into a new context. It is serious about the significance of being allowed (called!) to use our brains. (With its quote that 53% of Americans “believe God created humans in their present form exactly as described in the Bible” – by the way only 1% more than believe in astrology – the use of one’s mind in discerning a variety of genres in the Bible may be a difficulty for some).

denominationsWhen it does come to history, I’m appreciative that Chris Yaw doesn’t start, as too many do, at Henry VIII, but instead starts with the founder of the church being Jesus. Comfortable as I am with the mixed motives and mess of church history, I, for one, have little interest in belonging to a church founded relatively recently by an English king. (“Old Catholics” also provide a helpful critique of the “Branch theory of Christianity”)

Structure, theology, and specifically Anglican approaches are well covered. The plethora of Episcopalian terminology is clearly and simply defined. Layout and images are clear, helpful, and appropriate.

This book is ideal for a number of contexts: individual reading for ideas and illustrations (I used a point from it, and let people know about the book in my Christ the King sermon yesterday), study groups, those interested in and/or new to Anglicanism/Epicopalianism. An intelligent, fun, fair, positive introduction to a prophetic denomination that is far far more influential than our numbers would suggest. I recommend it.

Chris Yaw runs a blog: Through a mirror dimly
You can even buy “Jesus was an Episcopalian” shirts, caps, and mugs!

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