By Honour and Dishonour

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I wrote the following for Evangelicals Now and it should appear there at some point………

By Honour and Dishonour – Ernest Brown – published by Evangelical Bookshop, Belfast, £15, 544 pages,  ISBN 978-0-952266-22-8

By Honour and Dishonour is the story of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ireland. The denomination is now 89 years old and Ernest Brown has written a fascinating book chronicling the ups and downs of the church. I realise it’s a hard sell to encourage people to buy a 500 page book about a denomination they possibly have never heard of. However I think there are 3 very good reasons why this is an important book.

Firstly, The EPC of Ireland grew out of the Heresy trial in 1927 of Prof Davey in the Presbyterian Church of Ireland. It’s fair to say those who stood for the truth got absolutely trounced by the denominational machine. They were left with nowhere to go other than to start their own denomination. There was a great cost to their separation. In our own day we are in the midst of ecclesiastical meltdown, we have seen similar results recently in the Church of Scotland, when Evangelicals have sought to stand for the truth in their denomination and one can envisage in the next 10 years Evangelicals within the Church of England facing similar difficulties.

Secondly, the book traces the life of a small denomination in how it traversed its’ early years, set priorities for itself and sought to live out consistently their confession. Ernest Brown is honest about the struggles and problems that the denomination has gone through and yet also see’s the fruit of how God has blessed them.

Thirdly, The EPC has not gone on from one triumph to another, today it has around 600 in it’s constituency. Brown writes ‘Does this suggest that the Lord has withhold his blessing at a very basic level? Churches look for growth and interpret it as evidence of God’s favour. Other local evangelical churches have grown much more within the same period. But  care is needed in assessing smallness in the work of God’s kingdom.’ P380. This book has reminded me that numerical growth is not the only type of growth we are to look for.
The book is well written, meticulously researched, even exciting in parts and is well worth the time and effort. Carl Trueman commends it saying “This is a delightful book, of interest beyond the bounds of the EPC”. The book is available from Evangelical Bookshop in Belfast.

 

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