Item description for Evangelicals and Tradition: The Formative Influence of the Early Church (Evangelical Ressourcement: Ancient Sources for the Church's Future) by D. H. Williams...
Overview The past few years have seen a growing interest among evangelical leaders in the thought and life of the early Christian church. There is a desire to rediscover historical roots in the face of today's postmodern and increasingly post-denominational world. Evangelicals and Tradition is the first in a valuable new series of books edited by D. H. Williams. The series seeks to help today's church leaders recover the early church fathers' ancient understandings of Christian belief and practice for application to ministry in the twenty-first century. This first book traces the development and role of tradition in the early church, what kind of authority should be ascribed to tradition, and tradition's interaction with the Protestant hallmarks of "Scripture alone" and "by faith alone."
Publishers Description The past few years have seen a growing interest among evangelical leaders in the thought and life of the early Christian church. There is a desire to rediscover historical roots in the face of today's postmodern and increasingly post-denominational world. "Evangelicals and Tradition" is the first in a valuable new series of books edited by D. H. Williams. The series seeks to help today's church leaders recover the early church fathers' ancient understandings of Christian belief and practice for application to ministry in the twenty-first century. This first book traces the development and role of tradition in the early church, what kind of authority should be ascribed to tradition, and tradition's interaction with the Protestant hallmarks of "Scripture alone" and "by faith alone."
Citations And Professional Reviews Evangelicals and Tradition: The Formative Influence of the Early Church (Evangelical Ressourcement: Ancient Sources for the Church's Future) by D. H. Williams has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Library Journal - 05/01/2005 page 94
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Studio: Baker Academic
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.25" Width: 6" Height: 9" Weight: 0.7 lbs.
Release Date Jun 1, 2005
Publisher Baker Academic
Series Evangelical Ressourcement
Series Number 1
ISBN 0801027136 ISBN13 9780801027130
Availability 0 units.
More About D. H. Williams
D. H. Williams (Ph.D., University of Toronto) is professor of religion in patristics and historical theology at Baylor University. He is the author of Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism and the editor of The Free Church and the Early Church.
D. H. Williams has an academic affiliation as follows - University of British Columbia University of Cambridge University of B.
Reviews - What do customers think about Evangelicals and Tradition: The Formative Influence of the Early Church (Evangelical Ressourcement: Ancient Sources for the Church's Future)?
A helpful book for evangelicals to read Apr 11, 2008
D. H. Williams asserts that today's evangelical Protestants ignore or reject the traditions of the early Christian church, and these traditions are essential to correct practices of Christianity individually and in community. He writes his book in response to a "new openness to hearing the tradition" among evangelicals. This openness represents an "extraordinary work of the Spirit in our time." (15) Williams identifies a core perception among evangelicals that pits tradition as a "competing authority" to Scripture. (16) The book serves as Williams' attempt to persuade readers that the traditions of the early church complement Scripture and support Biblical authority. He writes with a sense of urgency recognizing that Christianity divorced from the early church tradition is susceptible to errors and heresies.
He rejects any notion of conflict between the Holy Spirit inspiration and revelation witnessed in the gospel and the Christian tradition seen in the teachings and practices of the early church. He defends this role of the tradition as the "canon of tradition" which does not challenge the authority of Scripture or stifle the ministry of the Spirit but serves as a guide to the church. He suggests that "A true interpretation of Scripture would always lead one to the tradition." (56) The tradition, including creeds and writings of the Fathers, would implicitly or explicitly acknowledge the supremacy of the Bible. The patristic tradition is not presented as infallible or unified in its writings; however, Williams calls this period "foundational to the Christian faith in normative ways that no other period of the church's history can claim." (50)
In presenting writings and summarizing the theology of patristic Fathers like Origen, Augustine, Ambrose, Clement, Tertullian, etc., Williams shows that the theology of the early church did not lack any revelation or insight. Their focus and methods may have varied based on their formational period and heresies they were confronting.
The constant striving for innovative ways to build churches and draw attention to churches among evangelicals has led to a disjointed, individualist Christianity. As Williams asserts, there is a definite rejection of authority among evangelicals, leaders and lay people. As in all things in the West, among evangelical churches a competitive nature exists that refuses conformity to a larger communion, ancient or modern. Williams sees the perceived conflict between tradition and spontaneity at the core of evangelicals' rejection of tradition in their practices. Evangelical pastors and ministers do not want to be "constrained" by rituals or sacraments when they see the success of ministry depending on individual Spirit led anointing expressed through preaching and ministry.
Williams makes his case by initiating the discussion that evangelicals ignore the early church tradition at their peril and loss. He effectively shows that ancient Christian tradition and Biblical authority are not combative but complementary to one another. I think he could have supported his case by showing specific or even general examples of how the ignorance of the tradition has undermined or harmed contemporary evangelicals in their doctrine or ministry.
I think placing more emphasis on the role of the Christian community in the early church to combat the individualist style of Christianity that pervades the evangelical churches today would help to raise awareness of the model of the early church tradition. I would have liked to see Williams include a section on specific ways that an evangelical church can incorporate traditions from the early church into its services and ministries. Including a reading list is not instructional enough for an evangelical pastor to know how to initiate the changes Williams would espouse.
Renewing the Protestants Nov 3, 2005
For those Protestants who have their reservations about the Christian tradition (largely quite "unProtestant") this book is for them. The author is himself a Baptist and an expert on both Church history and the Church Fathers. His goal is fourfold: 1) Demonstrate that Scripture and early tradition go hand in hand and that Scripture is part of tradition, given by the Church to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ correctly., 2) theology exists as a part of the worshipping community, and not as an abstraction. Without right worship, there is no right doctrine 3) our personal liberty in the Holy Spirit is a corporate liberty. That is, we exist as "members one of another" who cannot go off and "do our own thing" 4) the Protestant tradition must be reintegrated into the greater catholic tradition to properly understand itself and the Gospel. In short, the author doesn't try to make a Protestant into a Catholic, but to dispel the myths surrounding the Tradition to show the Protestant what it means to be a Christian in context.
I would recommend the author's other book, Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism: A Primer for Suspicious Protestants, more than this book, good as it is. Please see my other reviews for similar books on similar topics, mostly geared to the conversation between Protestants, Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox.