Review by Kirkus Book Review
The second volume (five more to come) in the great Lutheran scholar's monumental survey of religion in North America. Piepkorn died in 1973, his magnum opus not quite finished, and a team of theologians and church historians is now busy editing it for publication. Anyone familiar with Vol. I, which deals mainly with the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, will not be surprised by the breadth and objectivity of the work. In over a thousand pages Piepkorn studies six major confessional groups: Lutheran, Episcopal, Reformed and Presbyterian churches, ""churches with origins in the radical Reformation,"" Methodist churches, and ""other Protestant churches formed since the Reformation."" In each case he explains the origins of the church, the evolution of its leading doctrines, and its current institutional structure (including membership size, foreign missions, etc.). Each of the six major sections ends with a lengthy bibliography. Obviously Piepkorn faced a job of staggering size and complexity. He had to distinguish, for example, among 45 separate but related Baptist ""fellowships,"" ""associations,"" ""conventions,"" and ""conferences."" And he did, with clarity and, all things considered, economy. This is a reference book, of course, and so few people will read it from cover to cover. But, whether looking for specific information--on the Calvinist understanding of the lord's Supper or the address of the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Church--or simply musing over the incredible crazy quilt of American religious belief, readers are bound to find it rich and fascinating. An instant classic in its field, indispensable for the student of religion. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.