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|Title: Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future: Story, Tradition, and the Recovery of Community|
By: Steven R. Harmon
Number of Pages: 359
Vendor: Baylor University Press
Publication Date: 2016
|Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)|
Weight: 2 pounds
Stock No: WW585700
Baptists tend to be the "problem children" of the ecumenical movement. The Baptist obsession to realize a true church birthed a tradition of separation. While Baptists misgivings about ecumenism may stem from this fissiparous genealogy, it is equally true that the modern ecumenical movement itself increasingly lacks consensus about the pathway to a visible Christian unity.
In Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future, Steven R. Harmon explores the relationship of the Baptist calling to be a pilgrim community and the ecumenical movement. Harmon argues that neither vision can be fulfilled apart from a mutually receptive ecumenical engagement. As Harmon shows, Baptist communities and the churches from which they are separated need one another. Chief among the gifts Baptists have to offer the rest of the church are their pilgrim aversion to overly realized eschatologies of the church and their radical commitment to discerning the rule of Christ by means of the Scriptures. Baptists, in turn, must be willing to receive from other churches neglected aspects of the radical catholicity from which the Bible is inseparable.
Embedded in the Baptist vision and its historical embodiment are surprising openings for ecumenical convergence. Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future urges Baptists and their dialogue partners to recognize and embrace these ecumenically oriented facets of Baptist identity as indispensable provisions for their shared pilgrimage toward the fullness of the rule of Christ in their midst, which remains partial so long as Christs body remains divided.
An important work in Baptist studies
Harmons book offers the research and wisdom of a Baptist thinker at the forefront of ecumenical work. His methodical analysis of Baptist history and ecumenical documents, coupled with practical constructive proposals for congregations to change, has made this book original, essential, and necessary to the future of Baptist life.
A dense and richly documented book
Harmon's book is an achievement to be celebrated. Pastors, seminarians, and Baptists interested in pursuing the unity described by Jesus in John 17 would all profit from careful study of its contents. What is more important, implementation of the practices it commends would be a gift to the church.
Provocative, challenging, and forward-looking
[ Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future] is well documented with historical sources and [Harmons] personal experiences from a wide range of ecumenical dialogues.
A careful, thorough, and detailed study
A promising way forward for Baptists
[Harmons] work rests on the genuine hope of finding common ground across the body of Christ, ideally even the recovery of a cooperative Christian community that could see itself as part of one body, even as many denominations
Harmons Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future is a work that engages the current status of Baptist life in the wider context of the current ecclesial and ecumenical situation. It is not only the ambition of this book but its execution that establishes Harmon as the most accomplished Baptist ecumenist working in America today, and perhaps one of the most insightful ecumenists of any stripe, and it is thereby worthy of consideration not only by Baptists but also by all interested in the history and current state of ecumenical discussion.
Harmon has done Baptists a service in offering us an understanding of tradition which frames it as an invitation to conversation and an opportunity to grow.
Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future should be required reading for Baptist leaders.
Harmon displays an impressive background of reading and his participation in international ecumenical dialogue means he is well placed to argue the case for Baptist enthusiastic participation in our common ecumenical future. This is a book well worth reading.
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