A single word taken for granted...

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Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
For my English class, we have a paper for which we're currently making topic proposals. The guideline is to write an essay to "question your assumptions about a single word that we may all take for granted." Although this was almost definitely not what the professor had in mind when she assigned the essay, I'm planning to analyze our modern culture's notions about the word "Presbyterian," and show how they most likely ignore the word's whole history and roots, which is mostly due to the PCUSA.

Are there any online essays you know of that trace the history of the development of the word "Presbyterian," and compare its historic meaning with what it is typically associated with today?
 

jfschultz

Puritan Board Junior
As a new freshman you might want to be careful to not be seen as taking pot shots at the PCUSA. Rhodes is a PCUSA school.
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
From the impressions I get so far, they're [i:38971400c7]technically[/i:38971400c7] and [i:38971400c7]historically[/i:38971400c7] affiliated with the PCUSA, but practically they're not a whole lot more a Christian college than is Harvard, which is also historically Christian. But thanks for the caution - I'll be careful to try and not use language to "slam" the PCUSA per se - just to examine and question what people today typically associate with the word in their minds, and that there is another side to its meaning. Historically, it has been identified with the Reformed faith, but I'm sure when you ask 10 people today what they associate with it, very few people would think of the reformers or Puritans. And it's that mental taking for granted of the word that I plan to point out.

P. S. John, me and two guys I met here, Walker and Ben, are planning to compare a few of the PCA churches in the area over the next few weeks. We already went to Second Presbyterian (EPC), and agree that we'd like to try to find a church more in-line with the Reformed faith, such as a PCA church. How do you get to Riveroaks from Rhodes?
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Here is just a suggestion, but I wonder if a less volatile and more interesting study (with better resources) would be to trace the usage of "Puritan" which went from being an intended insult, to a proud moniker, to having to do mostly with an ascetic view of sexuality. I think it would be easier to study.
 

blhowes

Puritan Board Professor
[quote:fc586413cc="Me Died Blue"]...just to examine and question what people today typically associate with the word in their minds, and that there is another side to its meaning... [/quote:fc586413cc]
Its interesting what some people associate with the word Presbyterian in their minds. When we first visited a local reformed congregational church, my mother-in-law thought we were visiting a Presbyterian church. She was so pleased because, to her, the Presbyterian church was much closer to the Romans Catholic church than the Baptist church we used to attend.

(I'm not sure exactly what similarities she was referring to, but most likely the fact that both baptize babies.)
 

Ianterrell

Puritan Board Sophomore
[quote:ee897a0532="fredtgreco"]Here is just a suggestion, but I wonder if a less volatile and more interesting study (with better resources) would be to trace the usage of "Puritan" which went from being an intended insult, to a proud moniker, to having to do mostly with an ascetic view of sexuality. I think it would be easier to study.[/quote:ee897a0532]

Good suggestion Fred. I was talking to a young Buddhist who was 'elated' about the description. lol she was being really mystical and pluralistic about it, but there was a door open to preach the gospel right there.
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Thanks for that suggestion, Fred. It's supposed to be more of a brainstorming essay than a research one, but I'll still compare the two ideas, and think about on which one to write.
 

jfschultz

Puritan Board Junior
[quote:e2277b6236="Me Died Blue"]From the impressions I get so far, they're [i:e2277b6236]technically[/i:e2277b6236] and [i:e2277b6236]historically[/i:e2277b6236] affiliated with the PCUSA, but practically they're not a whole lot more a Christian college than is Harvard, which is also historically Christian.[/quote:e2277b6236]

A perfect description of the mainline "protestant" denominations.

I think Fred has an excellent suggestion. Theologically it would show what Presbyterian is really about.
 

SmokingFlax

Puritan Board Sophomore
Well...I can tell you from my own myopic experience as a fundamentalist type of believer that I used to equate "presbyterian" with all of the other older denominations (Methodist, Episcopalian, Catholic, Northern Baptists, etc.) who trampled on God's Word to establish their own religiosity. It meant for me -complete cultural cowards and sell outs, women preachers, abortion is ok, and aw shucks maybe we really were wrong about homosexuality all of these centuries.

It wasn't until I started looking at history (and church history) that I came to see the most excellent strand of belief and thought in the presbyterian tradition.

Chris:

Lorraine Boettner has a really nice concise history of Calvinistic/Presbyterian influence on western culture that I'm almost positive is online. It doesn't deal so much with "the word" (presbyterian) but you might find some real nice ideas and/or food for thought for your paper in this essay.
 
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