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BookNote – Thomas Witherow

Rev Principal Michael McClenahan


The recent publication of I Will Build My Church: Selected Writings on Church Polity, Baptism, and the Sabbath (ed) Jonathan Gibson (Glenside, 2021) provides us with a delightful republication of some key works by Thomas Witherow, and an excellent biography by Dr Gibson.

Thomas Witherow was a distinguished PCI minister, Professor of church history and pastoral theology at Magee College, and Moderator of the General Assembly. His life was marked by deep Christian commitment and a remarkable turn of phrase. He is well-known for the catchy line ‘There is such a thing as being a Presbyterian without being a Christian, and it is possible to be a Christian without being a Presbyterian. Depend upon it, it is best to be both.’

In addition to the biography the volume contains some wonderful photographs of his family, including one of six of his seven daughters. The girls outnumbered the boys 7-3.

Witherow writes with a directness and simplicity that means his work remains accessible to the modern reader. The works are pastoral and polemical - they are anything but dull. This volume is warmly commended and for those close to Belfast available in good bookshops.

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