While the pundits and wallahs have not yet identified it as a full-blown trend, slowly but surely evangelicals are reconnecting with their medieval past. The reconnection with the early church can certainly be called a trend. But for those adventurous souls who wonder whether God really abandoned the church at the beginning of the medieval millennium (roughly 500 – 1500), to return only with Martin Luther, there are more and more books on the market exploring facets of the faith of the Middle Ages. Here are a few.
(Note: Amazon sales rankings are from a month or two ago; as I know from my days as a bookseller on Amazon Marketplace, any Amazon ranking in the five digits is selling briskly. Even those in the low six digits are selling at a reasonably good pace).
–Leighton Ford, Divine Intervention: Encountering God Through the Ancient Practice of Lectio Divina, sings the praises of monastic spirituality (Amazon sales rank #45,000) Continue reading
Further to my previous post on the new center for early church studies at Wheaton: In Spring, 2007, Wheaton College hosted a conference on how evangelicals are re-engaging with the wisdom of the early church. I attended the conference and wrote a feature article on it, published in Christianity Today in February 2008. The trends I describe here are certainly continuing, and the wise encouragements and warnings of the scholars who presented at that conference still apply. Let us rejoice in “treasures old” as well as new, and let us also display and use these treasures with discernment:
The Future Lies in the Past
Why evangelicals are connecting with the early church as they move into the 21st century.
Last spring, something was stirring under the white steeple of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College.
A motley group of young and clean-cut, goateed and pierced, white-haired and bespectacled filled the center’s Barrows Auditorium. They joined their voices to sing of “the saints who nobly fought of old” and “mystic communion with those whose rest is won.” A speaker walked an attentive crowd through prayers from the 5th-century Gelasian Sacramentary, recommending its forms as templates for worship in today’s Protestant churches. Another speaker highlighted the pastoral strengths of the medieval fourfold hermeneutic. Yet another gleefully passed on the news that Liberty University had observed the liturgical season of Lent. The t-word—that old Protestant nemesis, tradition—echoed through the halls.
Just what was going on in this veritable shrine to pragmatic evangelistic methods and no-nonsense, back-to-the-Bible Protestant conservatism? Had Catholics taken over? Continue reading
Posted in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants, Patron Saints for Postmoderns, Resources for Radical Living
Tagged ancient-future, D H Williams, Dallas Willard, early church, Eastern Orthodoxy, ecclesiology, evangelicalism, exegesis, patristics, Protestantism, Richard Foster, Robert Webber, Roman Catholicism, Spirituality, the 1970s, Wheaton College