Archives For Protestantism

 

“A Tale of Two Families

A review of
Conversions: Two Family Stories
From the Reformation
and Modern America.

by Craig Harline.

Review by Timothy Morriss.


Craig Harline - CONVERSIONSConversions: Two Family Stories
From the Reformation
and Modern America.

Craig Harline.
Hardback: Yale UP, 2011.
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Conversion involves radical change and stories of conversion, whether Augustine’s dramatic courtyard experience or a simple testimony delivered during a church service, are common markers of Christian identity.  This is especially true for evangelical Christians who focus intensely on the individual conversion experience as a marker of entrance into the faith.  But conversion narratives do not exist for evangelicals alone.  BYU historian Craig Harline’s book offers two stories of conversions away from Protestantism, and of the relationships these conversions establish and disrupt.

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A Review of
Greenhouses of Hope:
Congregations Growing Young Leaders
Who Will Change the World
.
Dori Grinenko Baker.
Paperback: Alban, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Bob Cornwall.
[This review originally appeared on the reviewer’s blog and is reprinted here with permission.]
From where will the leaders of the church tomorrow emerge? More specifically, in what context will the gifts and callings to ministry of the church’s future leaders be nurtured? The answers will be found in local congregations, both large and small, where seeds of faith are planted and visions of service are nurtured. Although there are many cases of this happening without intentionality – with young people catch a vision and pursue a calling, even if the local congregation and its clergy are uninvolved and unaware of their callings – there will be greater benefits to the church and to the world at large if congregations intentionally commit themselves to discerning and supporting calls to ministry. These kinds of communities are, as the title of this book suggests, “greenhouses of hope.” These are places where young leaders emerge, desiring to join with God in changing the world.

 

“God is still present and at work in our midst

A review of
REFRAMING HOPE: Vital Ministry in a New Generation
.
By Carol Howard Merritt

Reviewed by Bob Cornwall.

REFRAMING HOPE: Vital Ministry in a New Generation.
By Carol Howard Merritt.

Paperback: Alban Institute, 2010.

Buy now: [ Amazon ]

[ This review originally appeared on the reviewer’s blog.
It is reprinted here with permission. ]

REFRAMING HOPE - Carol Howard MerrittIt’s probably unnecessary for me to repeat the canard that Mainline Protestantism is an aging religious tradition. It’s true, the Mainline has been aging, and in many of our churches the elderly far outnumber the younger ones, but the Mainline isn’t simply a spiritual retirement home for hidebound traditionalists. There are many signs of renewed life, which give hope for the future. This is especially true if we pay attention to the younger adults who have either chosen to stay home in the Mainline, or found in the Mainline the spiritual home they had been seeking. The reasons for staying or joining vary. They range from the greater openness to the leadership of women to the presence of gays. It could also be the intellectual openness that is found in these traditions. And while it’s true that the preponderance of clergy is graying, there are a growing number of eloquent younger leaders whose voices have begun to ring out in the church. Among this group is the Rev. Carol Howard Merritt, a Presbyterian pastor, author, and broadcaster, who by her own self-description is a “loyal radical.” That self-description is an important note, because it signals a desire to be part of a tradition, but willing to challenge it when it becomes sedentary and moribund. There is a recognition that the church needs more than simply chaplains, but prophetic and visionary voices that point us into the future.

In this, her second book (the first being Tribal Church), Carol Howard Merritt offers us a portal through which we can look at the church as it stands today and then begin to see a trajectory upon which a renewed and revisioned church can begin taking its journey into the future. In days of yore, we looked to the elders of the community for sage advice, but now is a time to hear valuable words of wisdom from those who are agile and adept in their participation in the turbulence that marks the present era. Leaders, like Merritt, have their finger on the pulse on the current situation and have an understanding of the way in which these changes are affecting the church as it maneuvers in the early decades of the 21st century. If we’re willing to listen, we’ll discover that these changes make for a ministry that is both more difficult and more exciting.
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“Back-Stories and St. Benedict

A Review of
Unlearning Protestantism:
Sustaining Christian Community in An Unstable Age.
By Gerald W. Schlabach.

Reviewed by
Gregory A. Clark.

Unlearning Protestantism:
Sustaining Christian Community in An Unstable Age.
Gerald W. Schlabach.
Paperback: Brazos Press, 2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

UNLEARNING  PROTESTANTISM - Gerald SchlabachThe back-story is everything.

Alasdair MacIntyre’s  After Virtue laid down a broad and devastating critique of modernity, and his call for another, “very different” St. Benedict makes sense only against that critique.  Gerald Schlabach’s Unlearning Protestantism follows MacIntyre’s narrative with two differences:  first, the critique of modernity is tied to an analysis and critique of Protestantism, and second, the St. Benedict we need isn’t so different from the first.

The first two chapters of Unlearning Protestantism show that Protestantism has been one important force in the development of modernity.  Protestantism came to be through narration of the context called for deep and thorough reform, and we properly consider as virtues the qualities of character that enabled the reformers to act as they did.  But soon that drive for reform detached itself from the context and set itself up as a principle valid on its own merits.  Schlabach articulates “the protestant principle” in the language of Paul Tillich: “because all human institutions fall short of God’s standard, they are always subject to ‘prophetic’ critique and reform” (24).  Making the principle the basis for community life leads to “the Protestant dilemma”: all institutions, including Protestant churches, are always subject to critique, to being rejected, overthrown, or dismissed as superfluous.  Protestantism is the principle of instability.  The Enlightenment has seen itself as completing the Protestant Reformation ever since.  Schlabach’s second chapter, “The Matter of Continuity,” shows how the drive for perpetual reform played itself out in Mennonite “tradition of dissent” in the 20th century.

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