Monday, March 5, 2012

Scott Bullard on McClendon and the "new Baptist sacramentalists"

Catching up on calling attention to a journal article of interest to readers of Ecclesial Theology: Scott W. Bullard, Chair of the Humanities Division and Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Judson College in Marion, Alabama and subject of a previous blog post on his doctoral dissertation "A Re-membering Sign: The Eucharist and Ecclesial Unity in Baptist Ecclesiologies" (Baylor University, 2009), has published "James William McClendon Jr., the New Baptist Sacramentalists, and the Unitive Function of the Eucharist" in Perspectives in Religious Studies 38, no. 3 (Fall 2011): 267-88. The abstract of the article follows:

This article seeks to call attention to the tenth anniversary of the death of Baptist theologian James Wm. McClendon, Jr., and to underline the prominence and influence of this theologian by revealing his impact upon a group of contemporary Baptist scholars referred to herein as the "new Baptist Sacramentalists." The article ultimately argues that McClendon's theology is not a "sacramental" one, but that it does push Baptists to reach beyond a "purely symbolic" understanding of the Lord's Supper, or eucharist. A few contemporary Baptists would later employ some of McClendon's claims as the building blocks of their own, sacramental, theologies.

For what it's worth, Bullard's article begins and ends with references to my book Towards Baptist Catholicity: Essays on Tradition and the Baptist Vision (Studies in Baptist History and Thought, vol. 27; Milton Keynes, U.K.: Paternoster, 2006 / Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock, 2006), with which Bullard interacts throughout the article and which he characterizes as a "widely read and controversial text" (p. 268). There's evidence to suggest that Bullard is right to characterize the book as "controversial"; I'm hoping the "widely read" description proves accurate as well.

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