Since 1991, "a Brief Statement of Faith" has been a part of the BOOK OF CONFESSIONS of the Presbyterian Church USA. As a traditionalist and an evangelical Presbyterian, I never gave the statement much thought. In fact, I was probably predisposed to dismiss it. As a result, there is probably no better endorsement of BELONGING TO GOD than I am now a fan of "a Brief Statement of Faith."

The strengths of the book lie in the strengths of the statement itself. The analysis of the reign of God (kingdom of God) and the earthly ministry of Jesus was refreshing. Likewise the section on the Holy Spirit and the ministry of the Church was very helpful.

In the same way, the weakness of BELONGING TO GOD mirror the weaknesses of "a Brief Statement of Faith." I am disappointed with the book's analysis of the role of Scripture in the life of the Church. Scripture is quoted throughout the book, yet there is more in a few paragraphs about the proclaimed word of the sermon than the authority of the Scriptures themselves. Moreover, the authors' desire to use inclusive, non-gender language for God precludes discussion of the Christological relationship between God, the Father, and Jesus, the Son. Yes, God has maternal as well as paternal characteristics, but the name of Father is given by Jesus himself. Through the true Son of God, we become adopted sons and daughters of God.

Despite these flaws, there is much to commend the book. This thorough commentary on "a Brief Statement of Faith" provides a good introduction to reformed theology. Granted, the book is only a start, but it, coupled with more traditional resources, can provide a good foundation for ministry. I would recommend that all candidates for ministry study the book in preparation of their ordination exams.