Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Little More About That Book

A while back I announced some exciting news, specifically that I am going to be working on a solo book project. At the time I was kind of vague but I am ready to give some additional details.

The book is going to be tentatively titled: Reuniting the Step-Brothers Of The Reformation. That title might be a bit unwieldy so it is subject to change and is a less than clever play on the title of the polemic work by Leonard Verduin The Reformers and Their Stepchildren, I don't see the Anabaptists as the stepchildren of the Reformers, rather I see the Reformers and the Anabaptists as estranged stepbrothers in dire need of a reconciliation.

The genesis of this book project was a blog post I wrote back in October 2013, What The Anabaptists Can Learn From Their Reformed Brethren. My point at the time was that these two groups, the Reformed and the Anabaptists, while historically at odds with one another, have a lot of teach and learn from one another and both groups are poorer for their historic antipathy. I was encouraged by Dave Black to consider expanding on those initial thoughts and after a lengthy period of hashing it over I have finally decided to move forward with the partnership of Energion Publications as my publisher.

My goal and my desire is to spark a conversation between two groups that have historically been at odds, the Reformed and the Anabaptists.

It is my belief that these two groups are the most significant and most representative of the descendants of the Protestant Reformation. Reuniting in a meaningful way these two groups is not an insignificant hurdle. The history of antipathy between these two streams of the faith goes way back.Tracing their lineage directly to the earliest days of the Reformation movement, these two groups represent the most central facets of that era but they have also been at odds since the earliest days, often violently.

The driving for behind my desire to see these two groups find common ground or at least have open communication is two-fold.

The first reason is more pragmatic in nature. The general state of the faith in the West and particularly America demands that the church come together. We stand at the brink of a seismic shift in the culture surrounding the church and most of the church, I might say virtually all of the church, is utterly unprepared for what is coming. The shock, anger and bewilderment of most of the church is understandable but it is also unhelpful. I think that both the Reformed and the Anabaptists have their own unique strengths to teach one another that I believe are critical to how the church will face the years to come.

The second reason is a little more difficult to explain. Since the split between these groups, followed quickly by one-sided persecution and mutual denunciation, the Reformed and the Anabaptists have developed largely in isolation from one another. In between the two is the great, mushy middle of American evangelicalism with all the negatives that accompany it. In growing more or less disconnected from one another the two great traditions that flowed from the Reformation have had little impact on one another and both are poorer as a result.  It is high time for these two tribes to interact with one another, test their assumptions and both grow as a result. I am actually starting to see some of this happening thanks to the internet and I am also seeing some predictable backlash against it. I hope to add my voice to those who wish to see this conversation happen. I am under no illusion that Presbyterians and Mennonites will suddenly start to merge churches but there still is so much that they can learn from and encourage one another in.

If I am being honest, there is a third reason. I am someone who finds myself astride both streams of the church and, while I am not unwelcome, I am also certainly not comfortable in either. I love the Anabaptists for their understanding of the church and their commitment to non-resistance. I love the Reformed for their robust theological scholarship and boldness. Perhaps if we can get past some of  the old enmity and suspicion we can also see more crossing over and cooperation between the two.

More details will follow in the weeks and months to come. I expect the publication date to be sometime in early 2016 but I would also like to post thoughts on my blog and incorporate those conversations into this book as I go. It should be an exciting journey, the first of hopefully many more to come.

Finally, what would an announcement dealing with reuniting be without a little Peaches & Herb?

1 comment:

Dwight Gingrich said...

Arthur, this sounds fascinating. I identify less with Reformed soteriology than you do, but strongly agree that both church traditions have much to learn from each other. And more unity between true believers is essential, to put it mildly. So many blessings as you write!

(I've been enjoying reading through your recent posts this morning.)