Friday, November 11, 2016

Ecumenical thoughts on post-election unity

Some thoughts from an ecumenist about the post-election call for American national "unity":

According to Ephesians 4, "making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (v. 3) entails "speaking the truth in love" (v. 15), which contributes to the body's growth toward mature unity (vv. 15-16).

The history of the modern ecumenical movement includes failures to do that (for example, the failure of the Conference on Life and Work to denounce the Reichskirche and recognize the Confessing Church as the authentic church in Germany, which greatly frustrated Dietrich Bonhoeffer) as well as more faithful acts (for example, the efforts of the World Council of Churches' Programme to Combat Racism in relation to the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches' expulsion of that church, with both forms of truth-speaking leading to eventual restoration of that church to ecumenical fellowship).

All this may be applied to this moment in our national civil life and the days ahead. Speaking truth is a way of embodying love for our national community. When people are publicly grieving and lamenting and calling for justice and engaging in acts of nonviolent protest, they are loving their national community and making their own contributions to its unity--not a quick and ultimately false unity superimposed on division and its causes, but a unity forged out of our earnest and honest contestation of what sort of community we are going to have. Let the truth-speakers speak, and let us enter into genuine dialogue with them.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Pacific Journal of Baptist Research issue explores Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future

National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion plenary
book symposium panel session, Waco, Texas, May 24, 2016
The new issue of the Pacific Journal of Baptist Research (vol. 11, no. 2 [November 2016]) is devoted to a book symposium exploring my new book Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future: Story, Tradition, and the Recovery of Community (Baylor University Press, 2016]). The four essays and my response to them are lightly revised versions of presentations made in a plenary panel session at a joint meeting of the National Association of Baptist Professor of Religion and the Baptist History and Heritage Society held on the campus of Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas, May 23-25, 2016. The contents of the issue appear below:

Adam C. English     2
David E. Wilhite     3
Baptists, Catholicity, and Visible Unity: A Response to Steven Harmon
Amy L. Chilton Thompson     12
Response to Steven R. Harmon’s Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future: Story, Tradition, and the Recovery of Community
Courtney Pace     16
Baptists, Catholicity, and Missing Voices: A Response to Steven Harmon
Andrew Smith     20
Description, Prescription, and the Ecumenical Possibilities of Baptist Identity: Reading Steven Harmon’s Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future
Steven R. Harmon     24
Locating the Unity of Christ’s Rule: A Response to Respondents to Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future 
Panelists (L-R): David E. Wilhite, Amy L. Chilton Thompson,
Courtney Pace, Andrew Christopher Smith
The issue is edited and introduced by Dr. Adam C. English, Chair of the Department of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Theology and Philosophy at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina, who also moderated the NABPR/BHHS panel discussion. Contributors of the review essays are Dr. David E. Wilhite, Associate Professor of Christian Theology at Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary; Dr. Amy L. Chilton Thompson, Adjunct Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California and Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California; Dr. Courtney Pace, Assistant Professor of Church History at Memphis Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee; and Dr. Andrew Christopher Smith, Assistant Professor of Religion at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee.

Read the full November 2016 issue of the Pacific Journal of Baptist Research as a downloadable PDF file here.

Interested in reading Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future? Order from Baylor University Press or via Amazon.