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Towards Baptist Catholicity



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Towards Baptist Catholicity by Steven R Harmon
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Towards Baptist Catholicity: Essays on Tradition and the Baptist Vision contends that the reconstruction of the Baptist vision in the wake of modernity's dissolution requires a retrieval of the ancient ecumenical tradition that forms Christian identity through liturgical rehearsal and ecclesial practice. Themes explored include catholic identity as an emerging trend in Baptist theology, tradition as a theological category in Baptist perspective, the relationship between Baptist confessions of faith and the patristic tradition, the importance of Trinitarian catholicity for Baptist faith and practice, catholicity in biblical interpretation, Karl Barth as a paradigm for a Baptist and evangelical retrieval of the patristic theological tradition, worship as a principal bearer of tradition, and the role of Baptist higher education in shaping the Christian vision. This book submits that the proposed movement towards catholicity is neither a betrayal of cherished Baptist principles nor the introduction of alien elements into the Baptist tradition. Rather, the envisioned retrieval of catholicity in the liturgy, theology, and catechesis of Baptist churches is rooted in a recovery of the surprisingly catholic ecclesial outlook of the earliest Baptists, an outlook that has become obscured by more recent modern reinterpretations of the Baptist vision and that provides Baptist precedent of a more intentional movement towards Baptist catholicity today. ""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 is Dean of Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, and an executive editor of Christianity Today ""Harmon's essays provide a welcome antidote to the poison of anti-traditionalism imbibed in 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 constructive 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, University of Dayton ""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 rethinking Baptist identity could be considerable. Speaking as an ecumenist, I would venture to 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 Steven R. Harmon teaches Christian Theology at Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. A member of the Baptist World Alliance delegations to the international theological conversations with the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches and a plenary member of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, he is the author of Towards Baptist Catholicity: Essays on Tradition and the Baptist Vision (2006). He blogs about his work in ecumenical theology at www.eccl
Release date Australia
August 1st, 2006
Foreword by Paul Avis
Wipf & Stock Publishers
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