Friday, April 04, 2008

Rootless without Tradition

Sherman 's post on To Each His Own. struck a resonance in me because I have always felt that Protestantism in general and Evangelicalism is particular has been truncated by the throwing away of two thousand years of church history. This is especially true of the period of the early church, often defined as the church until the 5th century.

Recently I have been reading D.H. Williams (2005) Evangelicals and Traditions (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic). Williams is professor of religion in patristics and historical theology at Baylor University.

In this book, Williams argues convincingly that the apostolic and patristic traditions have contributed significantly to the development of the catholic (small c) church. The word catholic church means the whole church and encompass all of God's people. The biblical image for catholic is the body of Christ, the people of God, and the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Williams who is himself from the free church tradition, nevertheless felt that the distancing and downgrading by the Reformers of church traditions has actually made the Reformation rootless. He cited John Wesley as the first to realise this and reincorporate some of the traditions into the Methodism movement.

Here are some of Williams' suggested links for Patristic Studies


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Blogger Sze Zeng said...

I couldn't agree less with you, AT. And Baker Academic's Evangelical Ressourcement series is a very in-need literature for today's protestants.

So far, I have only browse through the one on High View on Scripture.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

then we are of one mind, sze zeng

4:34 PM  
Blogger Kar Yong said...

Ditto....I have always lamented that in my church, the tendency is to discard tradition and move on to something "new"....

10:57 AM  
Blogger Sze Zeng said...

In view of such 'traditionlessness' of the Protestant church, I hope, this third millennium will witness an unprecedented ecumenical movement that all Christians will again not only share but also to participate in individual traditions with each other.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi Sze Zeng,

That is my hope also. I was very encouraged at the beginning of this millennium. There was a breakdown of loyalty to denominations and more interactions between members of various denominations, and people even moving from one denomination to another.

There is also a revival with interest in the patristic and desert abbas and a willingnes to explore other traditions

The Protestant-Catholic dialogue was going well. Unfortunately, lately I was sadden by the Pope's comments on the "wounds' of the orthodox and the deeper "wounds' of the Protestants which may bode well for the dialogue to continue.

I do continue to have hope and do my part :)

8:50 PM  

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