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Turning Around the Mainline: How Renewal Movements Are Changing the Church [Paperback]

By Thomas C. Oden (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   272
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.9" Width: 5.9" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   0.95 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 28, 2006
Publisher   Baker Publishing Group
ISBN  0801065763  
EAN  9780801065767  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Chronicles the amazing story of evangelical renewal movements within mainline Protestantism that are returning churches to orthodoxy.

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More About Thomas C. Oden

Thomas C. Oden Thomas C. Oden (PhD, Yale) is Director of the Center for Early African Christianity at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania and Henry Anson Buttz Professor of Theology and Ethics at Drew University. He is an ordained Methodist minister and the author of many books, including The Rebirth of Orthodoxy: Signs of New Life in Christianity, How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity, Doctrinal Standards in the Wesleyan Tradition, and Classic Christianity. Dr. Oden is also the general editor for the widely-used Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series.

Born Thomas Clark Oden (October 21, 1931) he is most reknown for his work as an American United Methodist theologian and religious author. He was born in Altus, Oklahoma. He has a B.A. degree from the University of Oklahoma (1953), a B.D from Southern Methodist University (1956), an M.A. from Yale University (1958), and a Ph.D. from Yale University (1960).

Oden is best known as a proponent of paleo-orthodoxy, an approach to theology that often relies on patristic sources. He has published a series of books that he says are tools for promoting "classical Christianity." Oden suggests that Christians need to rely upon the wisdom of the historical Church, particularly the early Church, rather than on modern scholarship and theology, which is often, in his view, tainted by political agendas.

He has written, "The term paleo-orthodoxy is employed to make clear that we are not talking about neo-orthodoxy. Paleo- becomes a necessary prefix only because the term orthodoxy has been preempted and to some degree tarnished by the modern tradition of neo-orthodoxy" (Requiem, p. 130). Oden says his mission is "to begin to prepare the postmodern Christian community for its third millennium by returning again to the careful study and respectful following of the central tradition of classical Christianity" (After Modernity...What?, p. 34). Oden is also active in the Confessing Movement in America, particularly within the United Methodist Church. He serves on the board of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

Thomas C. Oden has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching & Preaching

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General   [31520  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Evangelism > General   [2161  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Protestantism > General   [754  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A Case Study in Perseverance  Apr 18, 2006
Thomas Oden is the driving force behind Paleo-Orthodoxy, the blending of two concepts, right belief rooted in ancient and lasting consensus. For the last few generations, the leadership of mainline denominations has been the opposite of orthodox and has embraced ideas that are anything but ancient or consensual.

Over the last two centuries, there has been a gathering momentum in the mainline to see both scripture and the classical doctrine with a skeptical eye and to revise the teachings of the churches in accordance with modern assumptions. Thus national leaders could profess a "Christianity" that denied the resurrection of Christ, embrace radical political agendas and turn traditional morality completely upside down.

But this trend has been one that primarily affected the clergy, many of whom were educated in the radical sixties and have more recently ascended to denominational leadership. Such leaders have made sweeping decisions regarding doctrine, morality and church policy that have been baffling and often offensive to the orthodox laity and have managed to shut orthodox clergy out of positions of influence.

Thomas Oden sees hope for the mainline as a new generation begins to assert an old orthodoxy. What Oden documents is a number of parallel movements within mainline denominations like the United Methodist, Evangelical Lutheran and Anglican traditions in which laymen and clerics alike are becoming increasingly bold in challenging the leadership of mainline denominations to return to the historic Christian faith. They are slowly having an effect in chipping away at the monolithic control revisionists have held over older Protestant denominations.

In keeping with Oden's earlier works such as The Rebirth of Orthodoxy, he documents a movement that is trans-denominational, intergenerational, cross cultural, and is united by a commitment to reaffirm historic truth, particularly the doctrinal stance of the Nicene Creed and a historical consensus on the interpretation of scripture. Several chapters, tedious to read but necessary for background, amount to little more than selected quotations from orthodox counter movements in mainline churches which affirm belief in Trinitarian theology, biblical authority and traditional morality. And he notes that such "confessional" movements often find support in cooperation with each other across denominational lines.

He makes it clear that organizational unity between groups is not what is sought, for that has been the downfall of the old ecumenical movement which valued structural unity at the expense of truth. True fidelity to Christianity values the truth of doctrine and the unity of the church equally. The true faithful are willing to stay, in even liberal denominations, for the long haul, with the dual goals of spiritual unity and doctrinal truth both in mind, knowing that God is faithful to purify his church.

Such statementsm early in the book, are noble, but raise questions. One wonders, in reading his words, whether he would really recommend parents remain in a church where their small children are being indoctrinated by heretical teachers whose sexual practices fly in the face of two millennia of Christian morality. One wonders as well, if it is never permissible to "leave" a denomination, if Oden might be in danger of repudiating the Reformation itself.

But Oden does not say it is never permissible to leave a church tradition overrun with heresy. Rather, he suggests the ideal scenario is for the faithful to make it as easy as possible for the revisionists to leave. Heresy, he points out, means to "go one's own way". So the faithful should have as their goal to remain faithful and steadfast. It is the faithful who should gently show the innovators the way to the door.

The best chapters deal with the meaning of "confession", which includes confession of central tenets of faith and confession of our sins and failings. True Christians confess with the rest of the church of history, not as individuals or independent groups. So for Oden, the path forward does not lie with political negotiations or compromise. Rather it rests on confession of the same faith that has remained central to the vast majority of Christians since the first century. One need not seek perfect organizational unity to form orthodox alliances centered on the great creeds, the scriptures and the testimony of the early church.

In the end, his book is both a documentation of existing movements to reclaim denominations which have fallen far from the historic faith and a call to have the same courage displayed by Christians of earlier eras, where faithfulness to scripture and historic consensus cost many their blood. He is not naive, exposing the word games and obfuscation current revisionist leaders use to keep critics at bay. The faithful must be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.

The book may not seem to have much relevance to those not embroiled in mainline controversies. But such an assumption would be a mistake. Evangelicals in newer and more independent denominations face similar battles based in similar thought patterns. Those who value the best of the Protestant heritage should recognize the allies they have in older traditions and should take heed of the prophetic warning of what could easily happen to their own leadership.

Still, Oden's book points to hopeful possibilities, not rehearsal of negative setbacks. Christ will, in the end, purify his church. The faithful primarily need to remain faithful.

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