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ePub Towards Baptist Catholicity: Essays on Tradition and the Baptist Vision (Studies in Baptist History and Thought) download

by Steven R. Harmon

ePub Towards Baptist Catholicity: Essays on Tradition and the Baptist Vision (Studies in Baptist History and Thought) download
Author:
Steven R. Harmon
ISBN13:
978-1597528320
ISBN:
1597528323
Language:
Publisher:
Wipf & Stock Pub (August 1, 2006)
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World
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1144 kb
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1982 kb
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Rating:
4.4
Votes:
374

Steve Harmon has taken a great leap forward in his bold appropriation of the tradition of the Church universal as an integral resource for renewal in Baptist churches

Steve Harmon has taken a great leap forward in his bold appropriation of the tradition of the Church universal as an integral resource for renewal in Baptist churches. He shows how Baptists might conceive of a derivative authority for tradition while maintaining the primacy of Scripture, highlights our implicit allegiance to Nicaea and Chalcedon in our confessions, and offers al paradigms for ressourcement by way of engagement with the early church fathers and mothers.

Towards Baptist Catholicity book.

Title: Towards Baptist Catholicity By: Steven R. Harmon Format: Hardcover Number of Pages: 324 Vendor . Harmon Format: Hardcover Number of Pages: 324 Vendor: Wipf & Stock Publication Date: 2006. Dimensions: . 0 X . 5 (inches) ISBN: 1498248489 ISBN-13: 9781498248488 Series: Paternoster Studies in Baptist History and Thought Stock No: WW248488.

Towards Baptist Catholicity: Essays on Tradition and the Baptist Vision Steven R. Harmon Snippet view - 2006. About the author (2001). Andrew Louth is professor emeritus of patristic and Byzantine studies at Durham University, England, and visiting professor of Eastern Orthodox theology at the Amsterdam Centre of Eastern Orthodox Theology (ACEOT), in the Faculty of Theology, the Free University, Amsterdam. He is also a priest of the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Sourozh (Moscow Patriarchate), serving the parish in Durham.

I present these findings with the conviction that, though Gill remains an imperfect representative of a Baptist catholicity, his often neglected writings provide historical precedent for contemporary discussions that seek to engage Baptists with the broader church tradition.

Towards Baptist Catholicity: Essays on Tradition and the Baptist Vision

see Harmon, Steven . Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future: Story, Tradition, and the Recovery o. .

73 I have commended to Baptists the practice of reciting the ancient creeds as an act of worship, offering a Baptist ecclesiological rationale for the practice and citing precedents within the Baptist tradition for doing so; see Harmon, Steven . Towards Baptist Catholicity: Essays on Tradition and the Baptist Vision, Studies in Baptist History and Thought 27 (Milton Keynes, UK: Paternoster, 2006).

Towards Baptist Catholicity contends that the reconstruction of the Baptist vision requires a retrieval of the ancient ecumenical traditions. 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.

Towards Baptist Catholicity contends that the reconstruction of the Baptist vision requires a retrieval of the ancient . 1. More Than a Symbol William H. Brackney (foreword), Stanley K. Fowler Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2007. Baptist Identities Anthony R. Cross (Ed., Toivo Pilli (Ed., Ian M. Randall (Ed. Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2006 . More than a Symbol Stanley K. Fowler Paternoster, 2006 .

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 was all news to me, a lifelong member of Baptist churches. Wow, have I been cheated out of my heritage, and I did not even get a pot of stew out of the deal!

  • Steven Harmon’s book is a call for Baptists to re-examine their traditional roots in Protestantism and to consider embracing the traditions of even the “Mother” church in the reconstruction of the Baptist vision. He sets the focus in chapter one by calling on statements from the early church, the Middle Ages, and the early twentieth century which seem to carry the theme that all churches of Christ belong to that one general (catholic) church. He points out that while Baptists have relied on what he calls a radicalized Sola Scriptura hermeneutic for understanding of scripture, the foundations of Baptist doctrine have depended on traditional interpretation for such doctrines as the Trinity and the deity of Christ. As a means of substantiation, Harmon lists numerous contemporary Baptist theologians who are likewise embracing tradition as a source of theological understanding. In contrast to Sola Scriptura, he states that “…catholic Baptist theologians explicitly recognize tradition as a source of theological authority.” He also opens the door to the use of creeds, liturgies, and the expanded use of sacraments (as opposed to ordinances) in Baptist worship. He suggests an increase in ecumenism, then lists more names of those who agree. Harmon does offer the substance of the reasons why Baptists formed their own churches, that is freedom of thought and practice, but implies that it is time to turn again and embrace the traditions of old.
    Chapter two presents a North American Baptist perspective of authority, acknowledging the ultimate seat of authority in the Triune God and the derivative authority of the scriptures—but with an adjustment. Harmon introduces the term Suprema Scriptura, preferring that to Sola Scriptura as more descriptive. He also argues again for the acceptance and use of creeds in Baptist liturgy, reinforcing the role of tradition as an authoritative source for Baptist doctrine. Harmon acknowledges that the embracing of tradition as a source of spiritual authority is popular only in Baptist academia, but believes that as more Baptist pastors embrace tradition and convey this light to their congregations Baptists will be able to avail themselves of the richness of the universal church.
    In chapter three Harmon assails Baptist a-traditionalism comparing it to postmodern deconstructionism and the philosophical interpretations of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. He coins the term deconstructionist hermeneutics implying that even the scriptures are not exempt from the “hermeneutics of suspicion.” He reiterates his assertion that Baptists claim Sola Scriptura but practice Suprema Scriptura by embracing the canon of scripture and the doctrine of the Trinity and Deity of Christ. He also praises the 1943 issuance by Pope Pius XII of Divino Afflante, the 1965 issuance by the Second Vatican Council of Dei Verbum, and the 1993 issuance of The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church approved by Pope John Paul II, as documents which extend the hope of examination of traditional Catholic doctrine in the light of scripture. He assumes the endorsement of prominent theologians and thinkers such as Thomas Oden, Karl Barth, and Alasdair MacIntyre in the embracing of traditional thought. Harmon speaks of the “Authority of the Community,” which means the community of the church throughout history.
    Chapters four and five revisit the argument that Baptists depend on the traditions of the patriarchs in acceptance of the canon and by holding to the doctrine of the Trinity and by the issuance of confessions and Theses and in answering the many heresies that arose during the early centuries. He briefly explains some of these heresies and recounts the arguments of the patriarchs to combat them.
    Chapter six gives emphasis to the abundance of writings and early commentaries on the book of Hebrews. His contention is that a comprehensive study of the book of Hebrews means embracing the patristic tradition of interpretation by the study of these early writings, in particular the homilies and commentaries of John Chrysostom. He also comments on Hebrews 6:1-8, which speaks of apostasy versus the Calvinistic Baptist doctrine of “once saved, always saved,” which is almost a universally accepted Baptist doctrine.
    Chapter seven revisits the assumed endorsement of well-known theologians in the pursuit of patristic and community tradition in the formation of the new Baptist hermeneutics and vision.
    Chapter eight suggests that Baptists would benefit from embracing community traditions when seeking an understanding of theology and worship and their interdependence. He contends that Baptist worship is deficient because Baptists do not pay enough attention to other churches’ worship. He comments on the introduction of contemporary music styles into Baptist worship, but deems both old and new as insufficient without incorporating the traditions of the wider community.
    Chapter nine discusses the issues of division and the reluctance to confront issues in the academic environment. Harmon points out that internal conflicts within denominations are perhaps more prevalent than those between denominations.
    Chapter ten discusses his own issues of why he should or should not convert to a more liturgical church such a Catholic, Orthodox or Anglican.
    Conclusion
    Steven Harmon’s presentation is a bit of a surprise, considering the openness in many Baptist Churches over the past few decades to the working of the Holy Spirit in terms of the supernatural gifts. The questions raised by the consideration of Harmon’s ideas deserve answers and a rebuttal. First, it must be understood that tradition is not the real problem in the formulation or understanding of doctrine, it is the authority of that tradition given it by leaders and the intransigence of that tradition in correction of doctrine which results from incorrect interpretation or application. Traditions are desirable and scriptural as long as they remain subservient reminders. Once authority is given to them they have every potential to become tyrants and dictators that stand in opposition to the will and work of God in the church. For example, the last several decades have witnessed the shameful and embarrassing exposition of the prevalence of pedophiles in the Catholic priesthood. This is a situation created by the Catholic Church’s doctrine of a celibate clergy. No such Biblical injunction can be found; the doctrine rests on the assumed example of Paul, who clearly states it as his choice, and the proclamations of the first and second Lateran Councils in 1123 and 1139. The result of this tradition has been the creation of this cesspool of perversion which the Catholic Church has neither the will nor strength to correct. They are bound by the authority of tradition which declares the words of the Pope to be the infallible word of God and, of course, God does not change His mind.
    Among the many traditions incorporated into Catholic and Protestant doctrine, to which would Harmon turn for enlightenment to help us reconstruct the Baptist vision? Should we embrace the doctrine of infant baptism along with the concept that it is the physical act of baptism which brings about salvation? Is that concept not one of the agents responsible for diluting the Body of Christ with the unregenerate? Baptists have shed their blood or been drowned to defend the doctrine of believers’ baptism. Should we now abandon that victory? Harmon actually suggests that infant baptism is valid on page 126 of his book.
    Should we also reconsider the value of the sacraments in salvation? Should we add the requirement that the sacraments be performed so that salvation can have its full effect? If we establish that the sacraments constitute a necessary part of salvation, should we then revisit the doctrine of purgatory to deal with all the negligent parishioners who weren’t careful or were unable to make it to all the ceremonies that are required? After all, God does not want any to perish. Would it not be reasonable then to institute the doctrine of the “Participation of the Living,” as an act of love in the salvation of those who have departed, to monetarily contribute to their relief from the pains of Purgatory?
    Should we revisit the traditions of the “Community,” which, in order to assure righteous government, brings the church under the benevolent umbrella of the civil authorities? Surely a righteous government is preferable to being ruled by the ungodly. I think not.
    Traditions had become a bondage for the religious community in Jesus’ time and became a factor in the Pharisee’s motivation to have Jesus crucified. Jesus himself accused the Pharisees of invalidating the word of God for the sake of their traditions. As previously stated, traditions must remain subservient to the living Word of God and exist only as reminders of God’s works. Tradition in understanding and interpretation must always be subservient to living revelation of God’s Word and God’s will.
    What is it that causes the hearts of men to long for the warmth and security of tradition? Is it not the cold absence of the Spirit of God or the lack of obedience to His will that drives us to seek reassurance at a place God used to be?

  • Prof. Harmon's book is an important book for Baptists, other free church protestants and Christians of other persuasions who wonder about their Baptist sisters and brothers. He displays his fidelity to the Baptist tradition precisely in his dissenting from some of our problematic tendecies to ignore ecclesial history and theology. In his essays, Harmon provides concrete ways that Baptists can become more "catholic", both in theology and in worship. Harmon "makes wise the simple" by writing in clear, accessible prose which is never simplistic. This book is a must read for Baptist pastors, theologians, students, and lay people who want to know how their tradition relates to/ can be a part of the church's larger tradition. Those who think they disagree with Harmon, be warned: you just might be persuaded by him if you give this book the reading it deserves. I look forward to much more from this promising theologian.

  • Steve Harmon has taken a great leap forward in his bold appropriation of the tradition of the Church universal as an integral resource for renewal in Baptist churches. He shows how Baptists might conceive of a derivative authority for tradition while maintaining the primacy of Scripture, highlights our implicit allegiance to Nicaea and Chalcedon in our confessions, and offers Protestant/evangelical paradigms for ressourcement by way of engagement with the early church fathers and mothers. Harmon shows that tradition does not eliminate dissent - a cherished Baptist practice! - but rather sets the boundaries within which dissent is actually a constructive task.

    This reviewer is ever thankful for this recent work by Harmon as well as the writings of Philip Thompson, Elizabeth Newman, Curtis Freeman, John Colwell, Paul Fiddes, D.H. Williams, Timothy George, and others. These current voices in Baptist theology and historiography demonstrate that one doesn't need to swim the Tiber or Bosporus to feel at home in the grand current of Christianity throughout the ages. More immediately, they provide insights into Baptist identity which transcend the stale and shop-worn divide between "biblical conservatives" and "freedom-loving moderates." It's time to move on!

    So why not five stars? This is an important book, but because of the sophisticated style of writing it may be fairly inaccessible to many Baptists, both laity and pastors. I believe that its fruits would require a lot of "translation" to be applied in most local churches, especially since the typical theological dialect for Baptists is very different from that of persons and communities which explicitly value little-c catholicity. That being said, Harmon's chapter on corporate worship is very accessible and can be reproduced for church committees considering how they may incorporate practices that would enrich Sunday morning.

    It is my hope that more and more Baptists will read this book and take it seriously, and that more and more Christians in the "traditional" communions will read it and take US seriously as well!

  • I purchased this book on a risk, so when it arrived I figured it may be just another liberal weak knee literary mumbo-jumbo. What a pleasant surprise, the book is scholarly and gives some very well research points of view which make logical sense. I not only enjoyed the first read, I'm back for a second round.