HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Essential Handbook of Denominations and Ministries
Authors: by George Thomas Kurian and Sarah Claudine Day, Editors
Cover Designer: Heather Brewer
Publisher: Baker Books, 2017
Related website(s): http://www.bakerbooks.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Kurian, George Thomas, and Day, Sarah Claudine, Editors. The Essential Handbook of Denominations and Ministries (Published in 2017 by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, P. O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516). The subtitle says it all. “A Guide to Hundreds of Denominations and Ministries [with] a Summary of Their History, Beliefs, and Traditions, Includ[ing] Affiliated Educational, Media, and Ministry Organizations.” This book, which was given to me as a gift, is not one just to sit down and read through but is rather intended as a reference work. It is an easy-to-use guide to more than 200 of the largest denominations and 300 ministries in the United States. The entries for organizations include a brief history and summary, a contemporary profile, and discussion on doctrinal emphases, creeds, membership, and interdenominational and ecumenical alliances.
There are also three appendices with lists of archives, seminaries, and periodicals. Through the years gospel preachers have presented lessons which contrasted the teachings and practices of human denominations with those of the Lord’s church, and it is always handy to have a book like this to show what various religious organizations believe. For many years, Frank S. Mead’s 1951 Handbook of Denominations in the United States, published by Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, well served this purpose, but, while it is still useful, it is woefully outdated. That’s why it was felt that a new resource for church leaders was needed with more modern information about such organizations.
Not everyone will agree with the basis of the book which states, “Within the body of Christ there is unity of purpose, yet great diversity. We serve one Savior but in a myriad of different ministry contexts.” However, that concept is what denominationalism is all about. The Essential Handbook of Denominations and Ministries does not list each denomination in order. Rather, it lists most by categories (Adventist to Thomist) instead of all alphabetically, which may make it a little hard to locate what one is looking for (there is no index), and some denominations seem to be missing. However, for those which it contains, it does a good job of providing an overview, although for my purposes it could use a bit more discussion of theology.