Friday, August 5, 2011

Towards Baptist Catholicity endorsements

“Steven Harmon has offered in this erudite study the perspective many thoughtful Baptists have been seeking. One overarching question shapes these essays: ‘Can Baptists be catholic?’ which Harmon answers with a resounding yes. Attentive to biblical authority, early Christian tradition, creeds, as well as the charism of Baptist life, this text pursues a reclamation project that honors the pre-Reformation commonality of western Christianity. Most significant is the author's dexterity in placing Trinitarian theology at the center of theological renewal for Baptists, weaving a nuanced understanding of biblical narrative with doctrinal construction. Rightly Harmon grounds an encompassing view of community within the communal life of God as Holy Trinity, an antidote to the endemic separatism of some forms of Baptist identity. Scholars and students will find rich construction and reflection in this collection, shaping the possibility of a new epoch of ‘catholic Baptists.’ I commend it highly.”
Molly T. Marshall, President and Professor of Theology and Spiritual Formation, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Kansas

“Harmon’s essays provide a welcome antidote to the poison of antitraditionalism imbibed by Christians influenced by the individualistic, anti-religious currents characteristic of modernity. Harmon not only shows how unacknowledged traditions covertly shape a Baptist tradition of anti-traditionalism, but also how critical and contstructive retrievals of ancient catholic theological, liturgical and exegetical traditions can illumine important elements of the Baptist vision now rather obscured. A must read in serious ecumenical theology for Christians concerned with living in and living out their faith traditions—whether Baptist, Catholic, or evangelical—in our era.”
Terrence W. Tilley, Professor and Chair, Theology Department, Fordham University, New York

“This is an extremely learned and important book by an author well-grounded in the history of theology. As a non-Baptist, I can only surmise its value and impact within the Baptist community. I should think its potential for re-thinking Baptist identity could be considerable. Speaking as an ecumenist, I would venture the opinion that Dr. Harmon's book could have a major role to play among all interested in the unity of the church. Its suggestion of a postmodern Baptist hermeneutic of tradition will interest many concerned about ecumenical advance.”
William G. Rusch, Executive Director, Foundation for a Conference on Faith and Order in North America and former Director of the Commission on Faith and Order of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.

“Any book which concludes with a chapter entitled ‘What keeps you from becoming a Catholic?’ promises to be nothing if not intriguing. Such promise is not disappointed in this fine collection of essays which render both the question and its committed response both meaningful and pressing. Baptists ought, both by their ecclesiology and their commitment to liberty, to be good at listening. Sadly (and illegitimately) a commitment to the integrity of the local church has sometimes muffled Baptist hearing of the broader Christian tradition as it has been confessed through the centuries. Prof. Harmon here demonstrates that this was not always the case and ought not now to be the case. Moreover, his skill as a patristics scholar gives clear shape to the manner in which a truly ‘catholic’ Baptist theology can be rooted and can develop. Here is one of an increasing number of voices, from both sides of the Atlantic, drawing Baptists again back to their roots in the connectedness and continuity of the Christian tradition. One can but hope and pray that these voices are heard and heeded.”
John E. Colwell, Professor of Christian Theology and Ethics, Spurgeon’s College, London

“This is the best book I have read connecting ecclesiology, ecumenism, and the Baptist tradition with the Gospel imperative for Christian unity. Steven Harmon’s proposal for a Baptist version of the Oxford Movement has revolutionary possibilities, in the Copernican sense of the word, and deserves to be taken seriously. Well researched and well argued—a work of scholarly acumen and theological verve.”
Timothy George, Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University and Executive Editor, Christianity Today

Towards Baptist Catholicity is a book for all Christians. This volume is evidence of the catholicising tendency in Christian theology that is informed and formed by the ecumenical movement and by the findings of interchurch dialogue. Ingredient to the ‘thick ecumenism’ of which Professor Steven Harmon speaks in the first chapter is the holistic interdisciplinary approach to the stand which a particular ecclesial community takes within the oikoumene. In so doing the author draws on tradition and scripture (in that order) to situate Baptist Christianity within the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Appeal is made to church fathers and mothers—past and present, formidably ecumenical—to support this stance. Attention is given to doctrine, worship, catechesis and discipleship. Towards Baptist Catholicity is not about one Christian denomination. It is about the church ecumenical, and the historical, theological and pastoral concerns which ensure the integrity to envision such a church and its faith, life and witness with and beyond confessional lines. To the question ‘What Keeps You from Becoming a Catholic?’ raised in the last chapter, this book is its own answer. One converts to the Lord, not to a denomination. The ‘ecclesial and ecumenical responsibility’ not only of Baptists but of all Christians is to be and become who we are in the Lord’s church.”
Sr. Lorelei F. Fuchs, SA, Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute, New York

Interested in Towards Baptist Catholicity? Order the book from Amazon.

Posts in this series:

Towards Baptist Catholicity's fifth anniversary

Towards Baptist Catholicity book description

Towards Baptist Catholicity endorsements

Towards Baptist Catholicity contents

Towards Baptist Catholicity reviews

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