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Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism: A Primer for Suspicious Protestants [Paperback]

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Item Number 143350  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   243
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6.04" Height: 0.68"
Weight:   0.79 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 1999
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  0802846688  
EAN  9780802846686  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
This one-of-a-kind book is meant to help Protestant Christians read and receive the early church fathers as an essential part of their faith. Written primarily for the evangelical, independent, and free church communities, who remain largely suspicious of church history and the relationship between scripture and tradition, Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism clearly explains why every branch of today's church is indebted to the doctrinal foundations laid by post-apostolic Christianity.

Publishers Description
A learned and uniquely constructive book that gently urges "suspicious" Christians to reclaim the patristic roots of their faith. Written to help Protestant Christians recognize the early church fathers as an essential part of their faith, this book is addressed primarily to the evangelical, independent, and free church communities, who remain largely suspicious of church history and the relationship between Scripture and tradition. D. H. Williams clearly explains why every branch of today's church owes its heritage to the doctrinal foundation laid by postapostolic Christianity. Based on solid historical scholarship, this volume shows that embracing the "catholic" roots of the faith will not lead to the loss of Protestant distinctiveness but is essential for preserving the Christian vision in our rapidly changing world.

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More About Daniel H. Williams

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Williams is assistant professor of patristics and historical theology, Loyola University of Chicago.

Daniel H. Williams has an academic affiliation as follows - Loyola University, Chicago.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Radical Moderation - Christian Catholicity  Mar 10, 2008
Williams is another voice in the chorus of Christians calling us to return to the Fathers. In a world threatened by the extremes, Williams calls us to a radical moderation, rooted in the Bible but guided by "the Tradition."

On the one hand, retrieving the Tradition expels the incoherent syncretism that liberal Protestantism tends toward. On the other hand, the Tradition resists the overt consumerism of conservative evangelical church growth. To be fair, both conservative and liberal Protestants engage in marketing religion as another item for consumption. Williams argues that such approaches put Protestants in danger of losing the content for which the original Reformers protested - the apostolic faith as written in Scripture and proclaimed in the Tradition of the Church in late antiquity.

To argue that D.H. Williams is "postmodern" is simply avoiding the issue. If consumer religion is modern, then Williams is post-modern. One reviewer suggests that Williams denies "ultimate truth" because Williams doesn't quote 1 Timothy's statement that "all Scripture is inspired by God." The same reviewer also dismisses the idea that the Bible can be twisted and made to say anything. This again misses the point. Williams affirms the inspiration of the Bible by God. His point is to explain how the earliest Christians recognized and affirmed together that inspiration.

Moreover, it seems amazing to me that any Protestant could deny that particular passages of Scripture could be twisted or misinterpreted. Was this not the case the Protestant Reformers made against the Roman Catholic church? Jesus himself corrects misinterpretations of the Old Testament. Early Christians encountered those claiming to be Christian who rearranged the picture of Jesus as proclaimed by the apostles and eventually written in the New Testament. Christians need some boundaries when reading the Bible. The Tradition - the faith passed on from the apostles themselves - is that guide. Retrieving that Tradition will enable all Christians, including evangelicals, to reclaim a sense of true catholicity.
Deepening roots of faith  Feb 28, 2008
Dr. Williams is an unusual teacher and author. In this work, he is able to accept key elements of would be opponents and make those elements his own. And not only does he borrow from the opposition, he sells his own side on the idea that they should do so as well. It is a rare individual who can so skillfully pull off such a feat. It is an honest scholar who is willing to make the attempt to face the assumptions and challenges of his own side. Much more so when the topics have more than 500 years of religious history as baggage.

Dr. Williams not only makes one of the best cases for the importance of searching the scriptures within the context of the traditions of the church fathers, he is also able to calm the fears of his fellow Protestants by taking them into that view demonstrating a great gift of diplomacy toward both Protestant and Catholic. Catholics will find little with which to disagree in this work and may find themselves cheering Dr. Williams on. But, they should not become too excited in that, in the end, Dr. Williams still insists on retaining certain Protestant distinctives, though he shies from defining too narrowly what they may be. Protestants may wonder if Dr. Williams has not already joined the opposition, yet they will find it difficult to deny the logic and historical analysis he brings to bear on the issues. For instance, his analysis of the "fallen Church" paradigm, wherein the claim is made that at some point after the Apostles the church fell into gross corruption and needed replacement rather than reform, is one of the most challenging this reviewer has seen. His conclusions that the fallen church paradigm is dubious at best will likely have a ripple effect through Protestant circles for some time.

As Protestants attempt to find their roots, they have a ready and gifted guide in Dr. Williams. This, along with his other works, can go a long way toward healing the wounds of the reformation. They will also go a long way to giving his Protestant brothers and sisters deeper roots in the ancient faith from which they seem to have jettisoned too soon in the heated debates of the past 500 years. Dr. Williams' work cannot be too highly recommended for both Catholics and Protestants.
Hybrid Faith  Nov 9, 2007
Altho Williams makes a compelling case for the Church Fathers, we have I believe, condensed Christianity to the essentials, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The once Catholic Church was not perfect. We all know that. And so it's changes were organic, stemming from greater growth and a need to establish the truth, not only in the message, but in the hierarchy as well.

Whether or not we have splintered into differing bodies with varying beliefs, down the centuries Christ has remained head of the invisible Church. Not all are Israel...
I did not like this book, and cannot recommend it  Jul 4, 2007
I grew up in a deeply religious family, fascinated to listen to elders who were pastors and committed lay-people - men and women for whom, it seemed, the Fundamentals were compiled only last year, D.L. Moody led his crusades the year before, and the Protestant Reformation was easily within living memory. However, I grew up and these dear saints went on to their eternal reward. I moved to a new area, and when I called churches and asked them what denomination they were affiliated with, I was shocked to be told by the church secretary that he or she had no idea, but would look into it. Now, the "Seeker-Friendly" church movement has swamped the area and the great hymns were thrown on the trash-heap, as were the deep theological sermons that fed my soul. I actually sat in a famous evangelical church in Chicago and heared the pastor pray, "may our traditions not be an obstacle to someone coming to the Lord." The traditions that I loved were no longer something to be embraced and trumpeted, but an obstacle to be despised and overcome.

Well, with this radical change in the evangelical churches moving forward, a reaction is already building. Some people reject the new business and marketing-model church, and are seeking a church with deeper roots in the history of the Christian Church at large. This book, written by Daniel H. Williams, Professor of Religion in Patristics and Historical Theology in the Department of Religion of Baylor University, is part of that reaction.

Herein, Professor Williams argues that evangelicalism is in a state of theological and practical chaos that leaves it open to heresy and other dangers. He argues that, to save themselves from themselves, evangelicals must reject the Protestant Reformers rejection of Church Tradition, and embrace the teachings of the Early Church Fathers, who had guided and ordered the Christian Church during the first five centuries of its existence.

Prof. Williams appears to me to be part of the new "Postmodern" wing of the Christian Church, which tries to embrace the entirety of Church history, but also carries with it Postmodernism's rejection of ultimate truth. For example, his history of the authoring of the books of the Bible takes an entirely mechanistic view, not mentioning the Bible's claim for itself that it was, "given by inspiration of God." And most interesting, on page 74 he state that, "[Tertullian] knew that anyone could get the Bible to say anything..." As such, it appears that it is not profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, nor instruction in righteousness.

After that, I found the Professor's arguments rather muddy and hard to follow. He took several chapters to explain who the Church Fathers were, and how their teachings were brought into disrepute by the Roman Catholic Church's fraudulent "Donation of Constantine." But, I found the strands of his argument supporting the Fathers to be rather hard to follow. For example, the Inquisition was justified by the writings of St. Augustine - does he support that part of the Tradition or not, and if not then upon what basis does he reject it? Such questions were not addressed in this book.

Now, I am a life-long evangelical, with ties to the Baptist, Free-Church and Anabaptist churches, so I consider myself squarely in the group to whom Prof. Williams is talking. So, what did I think of the book? Overall, I found the Professor's arguments interesting, but not convincing. The book is too muddy and unpersuasive, and there is no passion in it - God himself does not put in a major appearance until page 217 (out of 219) where he says, "The church's Tradition and the traditioning process is indeed the work of God in the world."

In the early nineteenth century, the Anglican Church experienced the Oxford Movement, which sought to return "High Church" traditions to the Anglican Church. The Movement ended when its leaders rejected Anglicanism and converted to Roman Catholicism. Is Postmodern Christianity a new Oxford Movement? Frank Schaeffer, the son of the evangelican theologian and philosopher Francis Schaeffer, has converted to the Greek Orthodox Church, and others have converted to Roman Catholicism or Anglicanism. Only time will tell.

There is no doubt that evangelicalism is in crisis, but it is still not clear which way it will go, and this book is just not a good blueprint for a path out. I did not like this book, and cannot recommend it.
An Essential Positive Step in the Right Direction  Feb 19, 2006
Very Briefly, D. H. Williams has written a book that should be read by every Protestant. A Catholic friend once said to me that the fragmentation of Protestantism will eventually lead to there being one church for every Protestant. Sadly with the advent of George Barna's "Revolution" this sad prophecy seems to be well on its way to coming to pass. To compound this sad developement, some of today's most influential Protestant pastors and leaders are flat-out Heretics by the standards of catholic, orthodox early church creeds. We have T.D. Jakes who denies the trinity. We have Brian Mclaren who denies hell and the biblical prosciption against homosexuality. But who is there among us to declare that these teachers are wrong? Where there is no defined orthodoxy, there is no heresy. For anyone who believes in the reality of One Holy Apostolic Catholic Church, yet finds themselves swimming in the mucky chaos that is evangelicalism and yet desires to gain some clarity and objectivity, this book is an essential read.

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