Thursday, October 7, 2021

New book—Baptists, Catholics, and the Whole Church

My new book Baptists, Catholics, and the Whole Church: Partners in the Pilgrimage to Unity has been released by New City Press. Here's the book description from the publisher:

Within the whole church, Baptists and Catholics might seem to be ecclesiological and liturgical polar opposites. The two traditions are arguably more dissimilar from one another than each is from almost any other Christian tradition. Yet as veteran Baptist ecumenist Steven R. Harmon demonstrates in this book, they share much in common that can enable them to travel together as fellow pilgrims on the journey toward a more visibly united church. Baptists, Catholics, and the Whole Church: Reflections on the Pilgrimage to Unity challenges Baptists, Catholics, and other Christians to envision their own patterns of faith and practice as included in the convergences it presents and to dedicate themselves to deeper involvement in the quest for the unity Jesus prayed his followers would manifest.


And here's the table of contents:


Acknowledgements

Foreword (Fr. John Crossin, OSFS)

Introduction


1. From Anti-Catholicism to Fellow Pilgrims

2. What Do Baptists and Catholics Have in Common?

3. How Baptists Receive Gifts of Catholic (and catholic) Christianity

4. Ecumenical Healing of Ecclesial Memories

5. The Cruciformity of Communion

6. Unity as Christ’s Victory and Our Task


Appendices


1. Envisioning the Whole Church

2. Moral Discernment with the Whole Church


Bibliography

Index of Names and Subjects


If you're interested in ordering the book, here are some sources:


New City Press: https://www.newcitypress.com/baptists-catholics-and-the-whole-church.html


Amazon (USA): https://www.amazon.com/Baptists-Catholics-Whole-Church-Pilgrimage/dp/1565484975/


Amazon (Canada): https://www.amazon.ca/Baptists-Catholics-Whole-Church-Pilgrimage/dp/1565484975/


Parasource (Canada): https://www.parasource.com/baptists-catholics-and-the-whole-church-9781565484979


Amazon (UK): https://www.amazon.co.uk/Baptists-Catholics-Whole-Church-Pilgrimage/dp/1565484975/


The Book Depository (UK and much of Europe): https://www.bookdepository.com/Baptists-Catholics-Whole-Church-Steven-Harmon/9781565484979


Amazon (Australia): https://www.amazon.com.au/Baptists-Catholics-Whole-Church-Pilgrimage/dp/1565484975/


Booktopia (Australia): https://www.booktopia.com.au/baptists-catholics-and-the-whole-church-steven-harmon/book/9781565484979.html

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Theological reflections on the U.S. presidential inauguration

 

For those interested, here are the remarks I delivered for today's pre-inauguration panel discussion "Making Sense of Rhetoric and Reality on American Democracy's Big Day" at Gardner-Webb University. I’ve been introduced as a theology professor. I define my discipline this way: theology is thinking with intentionality about God and that with which God is in relationship—which is everything in the universe. There’s nothing that doesn’t have some relationship to God and God’s intentions for the world, and that includes the political order. And since God created us in the image of God as social creatures, created for relationship in community, and politics has to do with the ordering of our relationships in community, politics merits special attention in the task of doing theology. So, let’s do some theological reflection on this momentous occasion for the American expression of the political order. When Christian theologians think intentionally about God and God’s world, they do so in light of the Bible and the Christian tradition. I offer for our consideration a word from each of those authoritative sources for Christian theology. From the Bible, the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah’s words to the people of God living in exile in Babylon. Jeremiah 29:7: “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” From the early Christian tradition, the Epistle to Diognetus written sometime in the 2nd century AD: “[Christians] live in their respective countries, but only as resident aliens; they participate in all things as citizens, and they endure all things as foreigners. Every foreign territory is a homeland for them, every homeland foreign territory.” Both Jeremiah and the Epistle to Diognetus portray the people of God as a community in exile. This suggests to me a few things about my participation in the political order as a Christian. It means that I’m living in exile not only when I think the political order opposes Christian values, but also when I think the political order is more consistent with Christian values. I have opinions about expressions of the political order I believe are more consistent with the way of Jesus Christ. I’ve voted for candidates and donated to their campaigns; I’ve served as a precinct representative to the county convention of a particular political party. But it is not my political home. My political home is the kingdom of God, the community toward which God is transforming the world. If I’m always living in exile in the midst of a particular expression of the political order, it means that I should be a patriot in the sense of seeking the welfare of my country. But it also means that I cannot be a nationalist in the sense of not seeking just as intently the welfare of other countries, which are also places where the people of God are living in exile. “Every foreign territory is a homeland, every homeland foreign territory.” Now some theological reflection on terms in our panel topic, starting with “rhetoric.” We often associate “rhetoric” with heated rhetoric. We’ve certainly had lots of that. But in its more positive sense, rhetoric is simply the means of persuasion. The present political moment is an opportunity for persuasion of a nation instead of power through populist authoritarianism. We’ve elected a politically centrist president with a long track record of working across the aisle. We have an evenly divided Senate and a closely divided House. This state of affairs can invite persuasion toward consensus and power-sharing, involving everyone in finding mutually agreeable solutions instead of a majority dominating and a minority losing out. What does this have to do with theology? The gospel is about persuasion rather than coercion; it persuades rather than coerces people to join God in what God is doing in the world, which is God’s work of persuading the world toward the realization of God’s creative purposes, and it seeks to involve everyone willingly in this work. If this new chapter in the American political order ushers in a politics dependent on persuasion, Christians can celebrate it as something analogous to the persuasion of the gospel. “Reality.” While the intent behind the wording of the panel theme may have been to contrast reality with what is merely rhetorical, the term “reality” is theologically significant in more than one way. Christian faith believes in a reality that is more than meets the eye. There’s more than meets the eye about any expression of the political order. But while Christians believe that ultimate reality is disclosed by Jesus Christ—a belief that requires trust in what cannot be seen or proven with rational certainty—the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus at the center of Christian faith happened within “reality” in the sense of what does meet the eye. It happened within the created material order, and it happened in history. This means that Christians of all people should prize the science that helps us understand more fully the workings of the world God created. It means that Christians of all people should earnestly desire to learn from history in all its painful complexity. In the midst of a global pandemic, an ecological emergency, and a racial reckoning, Christians can have common cause with an administration that seems willing to be guided by rigorous science and to acknowledge both the shame and the successes of the American story. “American Democracy.” I’m a Baptist theologian, and Gardner-Webb has Baptist roots. In these connections I note that there are aspects of democracy in the way Baptist churches ideally approach the task of discerning how to be a faithful community of followers of Jesus Christ in a particular time and place, with every member having a voice in this discernment. That may be among the reasons Baptists have tended to flourish under democracies earlier in their history. In the American experiment, Baptists like Roger Williams made significant contributions to shaping a democracy committed to maintaining freedom of religion through a religiously neutral civil order. American democracy has been threatened recently, but it has proven resilient. I hope the new administration will strengthen it. As a Baptist ecumenical theologian involved especially in ecumenical dialogue between Baptists and Catholics, I close by noting that we will have a Catholic President and a Baptist Vice President. President Biden is likely to be the most active churchgoer among presidents of recent decades, and Vice President Harris has a story that includes becoming a Baptist by choice. I hope and pray that their Christian faith will guide their administration.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Sources of Light: Resources for Baptist Churches Practicing Theology contents


Here's what's inside Sources of Light: Resources for Baptist Churches Practicing Theology, ed. Amy L. Chilton and Steven R. Harmon, which releases from Mercer University Press on May 1. 

Read about and order the book at https://www.mupress.org/Sources-of-Light-Resources-for-Baptist-Churches-Practicing-Theology-P1052.aspx.



1          Introduction: Imagining Radical Baptist Practices of Local Church Theology
            Steven R. Harmon and Amy L. Chilton

Part I
LIGHT FROM OUR LIFE-IN-CONTEXT

2          Light from Liberative Theologies
            Amy L. Chilton
3          Light from Black Theologies
            Noel Leo Erskine
4          Light from Hispanic/Latin@ Theologies
Nora O. Lozano
5          Light from Asian Theologies
            Atola Longkumer
6          Mistaking White for Light: Awakening to a Truthful Search for the Light
Mikael N. Broadway
7          Light from Modern and Contemporary Women’s Religious Experiences
Courtney Pace
8          Light from Feminist Theologies
Susan M. Shaw
9          Light from Womanist Theologies
Khalia J. Williams
10         Light from LGBTQ+ Lives
Cody J. Sanders
11         Light from Refugee and Immigrant Perspectives
May May Latt
12         Light from People with Disabilities
Jason D. Whitt
13         Light from Interreligious Sources
Raimundo C. Barreto, Jr.
14         Light from Ecological Theologies
Rebecca Horner Shenton

Part II
LIGHT FROM OUR LIFE-IN-COMMUNITY

15         Light from Ancient Confessions of Faith
            Curtis W. Freeman
16         Light from Pre-Reformation Women’s Theological Contributions
Kate Hanch
17         Light from the Confessions of the European Reformations
Rady Roldán-Figueroa
18         Light from Baptist Confessions of Faith
            Stephen R. Holmes
19         Light from Catholic Magisterial Sources
Coleman Fannin
20         Light for Navigating Moral Disagreement
Myles Werntz
21         Light from Saintly Sources
Derek C. Hatch
22         Light from Traditional Liturgical Sources
Philip E. Thompson
23         Light from Contemporary Liturgical Sources
Jennifer W. Davidson
24         Light from/for Ecumenical Convergence
            Steven R. Harmon
25         Conclusion: Light from Converted Listening
            Amy L. Chilton and Steven R. Harmon

Nancy Bedford endorses Sources of Light: Resources for Baptist Churches Practicing Theology


Nancy E. Bedford, Georgia Harkness Professor of Theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, has offered the following words of praise for Sources of Light: Resources for Baptist Churches Practicing Theology, ed. Amy L. Chilton and Steven R. Harmon (Mercer University Press, 2020):

“The diverse voices in this book come together wonderfully to illuminate the value of taking specific communities of faith seriously as subjects of theology, even while challenging them to look beyond themselves to communities—both past and present—who both shed light and cast shadows on what it means to practice theology. The book is a splendid gift of love from Baptists to all those who care about the church, regardless of confessional leanings.”


Order Sources of Light from the Mercer University Press site (or call 478-301-2880) using coupon code MUPNEWS for a 20% discount and free shipping.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Bill Leonard endorses Sources of Light: Resources for Baptist Churches Practicing Theology


Bill J. Leonard, Founding Dean and Professor of Divinity Emeritus at Wake Forest University Divinity School, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has offered the following words of praise for Sources of Light: Resources for Baptist Churches Practicing Theology, ed. Amy L. Chilton and Steven R. Harmon (Mercer University Press, 2020):

"This well-organized, well-focused study brings together a diverse group of scholars who address Christian and Baptist identity as a guide for congregations and individuals. These insightful essays cover a wide range of topics and issues confronting the 21st-century church…a timely contribution to Christian communities."


Order Sources of Light from the Mercer University Press site (or call 478-301-2880) using coupon code MUPNEWS for a 20% discount and free shipping.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Lina Toth endorses Sources of Light: Resources for Baptist Churches Practicing Theology


Lina Toth (Andronoviene), Assistant Principal and Lecturer in Practical Theology at Scottish Baptist College, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, Scotland, has offered the following words of praise for Sources of Light: Resources for Baptist Churches Practicing Theology, ed. Amy L. Chilton and Steven R. Harmon (Mercer University Press, 2020):

“This book provides a stimulating introduction to a whole range of theological lenses, offering multiple starting points for an in-depth exploration as well as providing an overall ‘map’ of the diversity within Christ’s body. It offers models of healthy theological engagement from a Baptist perspective and will be of help to anyone engaged in guiding theological practice. Every reader (and community of readers) is bound to be surprised and challenged by some unexpected source of light presented here.” 


Order Sources of Light from the Mercer University Press site (or call 478-301-2880) using coupon code MUPNEWS for a 20% discount and free shipping.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Paul Baxley endorses Sources of Light: Resources for Baptist Churches Practicing Theology


Paul Baxley, Executive Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, has offered the following words of praise for Sources of Light: Resources for Baptist Churches Practicing Theology, ed. Amy L. Chilton and Steven R. Harmon (Mercer University Press, 2020):

“For those of us who believe that local congregations are uniquely equipped by the Holy Spirit and empowered by the Risen Jesus to offer a compelling witness to God’s love in this broken world, and who also know that individual congregations deeply need community with the global church in order to flourish through participation in the life of the Triune God, Sources of Light provides both a powerful challenge and significant resources. By inviting congregations and their leaders to a much more substantial theological practice through listening to voices and testimonies from all across Christ’s church, Amy Chilton and Steve Harmon have offered us a way to see difference not as an occasion for fear, but instead an opportunity for discernment, love, and greater faithfulness.”


Order Sources of Light from the Mercer University Press site (or call 478-301-2880) using coupon code MUPNEWS for a 20% discount and free shipping.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Jerusha Matsen Neal endorses Sources of Light: Resources for Baptist Churches Practicing Theology


Jerusha Matsen Neal, Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Duke University Divinity School, has offered the following words of praise for Sources of Light: Resources for Baptist Churches Practicing Theology, ed. Amy L. Chilton and Steven R. Harmon (Mercer University Press, 2020):

Sources of Light does more than celebrate the breadth and particularity of the Spirit's work in local congregations. It provides a tool box for robust practices of congregational discernment. The book is an invaluable resource for preachers who want to invite congregations past insular theological cul-de-sacs and into the broad expanse of God's faithful witness. Listening and responding to that witness is the challenge and joy of our Baptist inheritance.”


Order Sources of Light from the Mercer University Press site (or call 478-301-2880) using coupon code MUPNEWS for a 20% discount and free shipping.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Sources of Light: Resources for Baptist Churches Practicing Theology releases May 1

Sources of Light: Resources for Baptist Churches Practicing Theology, which I co-edited and co-authored with Amy L. Chilton, will be released by Mercer University Press on May 1.

Here's the book description on the publisher's site:


"Baptist theologians Amy L. Chilton and Steven R. Harmon maintain that the congregational freedom cherished by Baptists makes it possible for their local churches to engage in a practice of theology informed by a full range of voices speaking from the whole church beyond the local church, past and present. In their coedited book SOURCES OF LIGHT, a diverse group of twenty-three Baptist theologians engage in a collaborative attempt to imagine how Baptist communities might draw on the resources of the whole church more intentionally in their congregational practice of theology. These resources include theologies that attend to the social locations of followers of Jesus Christ--not only in terms of ethnic and gender identity, sexual orientation, citizenship status, and physical ability, but also in relation to the wider interreligious and ecological contexts of the contemporary church. They also include the church's efforts to bring its life together under the rule of Christ in its practices of confessing and teaching the faith, navigating moral disagreement, identifying saintly examples for living the Christian life, ordering its life as a worshiping community, and seeking more visible forms of Christian unity across the divisions of the church. This book commends listening deeply to these voices as an ecclesial practice through which the Spirit of God enlightens the church of Christ, whose rule draws the church into deeper participation in the life of the Triune God, forming the church for practices that offer the gift of Trinitarian communion to a fractured world. Contributors include: Amy L. Chilton, Noel Leo Erskine, Nora O. Lozano, Atola Longkumer, Mikeal N. Broadway, Courtney Pace, Susan M. Shaw, Khalia J. Williams, Cody J. Sanders, May May Latt, Jason D. Whitt, Raimundo C. Barretto, Jr., Rebecca Horner Shenton, Curtis W. Freeman, Kate Hanch, Rady Roldán-Figueroa, Stephen R. Holmes, Coleman Fannin, Myles Werntz, Derek C. Hatch, Philip E. Thompson, Jennifer W. Davidson, and Steven R. Harmon."


When ordering from the Mercer University Press site, use coupon code MUPNEWS for a 20% discount and free shipping (U.S. continental addresses only), or call toll-free at 866-895-1472 or direct at 478-301-2880 to place your order by phone (Visa or MasterCard only).

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Announcing Sources of Light: Resources for Baptist Churches Practicing Theology

The National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion​ has announced the publication of Sources of Light: Resources for Baptist Churches Practicing Theology, which Amy L. Chilton and I co-edited and co-authored along with 21 other contributors. The book is the third volume in the Perspectives on Baptist Identities series sponsored by the NABPR and will be released by Mercer University Press​ this May. As the release date nears, Ecclesial Theology will share more information about the book; in the meantime, see the NABPR web site for details.