Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Theologians urge Baptists to seek "visible unity"

L-R: Steven Harmon, Neville Callam, Curtis Freeman

The Religious Herald, a news journal founded as a newspaper serving Baptists in Virginia that in recent years has expanded its mission to providing "news, analysis and resources for Baptist in the mid-Atlantic," has posted a story on the workshop "Baptist Dialogue with Other Christians: So What?" that I led along with Curtis Freeman (Duke University Divinity School) and Neville Callam (General Secretary, Baptist World Alliance) at the annual General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina held at Trinity Baptist Church in Raleigh March 23-24. An excerpt from the opening of the article appears below:

Theologians urge Baptists to seek 'visible unity'
By Robert Dilday, Managing Editor
Tuesday, March 27, 2012

RALEIGH, N.C.—While spiritual unity among Christians is important, discovering tangible ways to express that unity are essential, say two theologians long involved in Baptist dialogues with other faith traditions.

Spiritual unity is “a place to begin,” said Steve Harmon, adjunct professor of Christian theology at the Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity in Boiling Springs, N.C. “[Christians] share one Spirit, an allegiance to one Lord. But we’re trying to find a way to live into a more visible form of unity. Cooperation is one form of visible unity. We want to find as many ways as possible to cooperate together.”

Harmon and Curtis Freeman, research professor of theology and director of the Baptist House of Studies at the Duke University Divinity School in Durham, N.C., led a workshop on Baptist dialogues with other Christians during the March 23-24 general assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina [http://www.cbfnc.org/]. It was one of about 75 breakout sessions on topics ranging from biblical studies and social justice to technology and church resources. (continue reading story on the Religious Herald site)

Update: Associated Baptist Press has posted a story incorporating reporting on the workshop session into a larger story on the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina General Assembly.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Baptist Dialogue with Other Christians: So What?

Several followers of Ecclesial Theology have asked if I might provide access to material from the workshop "Baptist Dialogue with Other Christians: So What?" that I presented along with Curtis Freeman (and in which Neville Callam, General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, was able to participate as a panelist) at the annual General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina last weekend in Raleigh. Here is a hyperlink to the handout for the workshop in PDF; the handout in turn includes hyperlinks to some of the ecumenical texts referenced therein.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ecumenism at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of NC General Assembly

The theme of the upcoming General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina, March 23-24 at Trinity Baptist Church in Raleigh, is "The Heart of Jesus: That They All May Be One (John 17:21)." In light of this ecumenical theme it's fitting that Neville Callam, General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, will preach in both worship services of the assembly and will lead a workshop on the ministry of the Baptist World Alliance. Ecclesial Theology has previously called attention to some of Callam's writings on ecumenism in Baptist perspective (see under Related Posts below).

At the assembly I will join Curtis Freeman, Director of the Baptist House of Studies at Duke University Divinity School, in leading the workshop session "Baptist Dialogue with Other Christians: So What?" (scheduled for 9:00 A.M. on Saturday). The assembly program book describes our workshop in this fashion: "Learn from veterans of ecumenical dialogues between the BWA and other Christian communions about the results of these conversations and their implications for local churches." I look forward to seeing some area followers of Ecclesial Theology at the General Assembly and in the workshop session.

Related posts:

Neville Callam on "Baptists and Church Unity"

Baptist World Alliance General Secretary on "God's Gift of Unity"

Remembering the Reformation rightly

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.