Friday, February 5, 2016

Michael Kinnamon on Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future

Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon
Michael Kinnamon, former General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the USA, offers this endorsement of my new book Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future: Story, Tradition, and the Recovery of Community (Baylor University Press):

"Steven Harmon challenges his own Baptist tradition to receive the gifts held in trust for the whole body of Christ by other churches, even as he implicitly challenges others to recognize the gifts that Baptists, with their 'pilgrim church theology,' bring to the wider church. I strongly endorse his essential premise: not only do Baptists need the ecumenical church, the rest of us need the full, mutually receptive engagement of Baptists if this movement for unity is to move. The book is creative, well researched, passionate, and practical."

Order Baptist identity and the Ecumenical Future from Baylor University Press or Amazon.

About the Book
Michael Kinnamon on Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future--Contents

What's inside my new book Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future: Story, Tradition, and the Recovery of Community? Here's the table of contents:

Part I: The Baptist Vision and the Ecumenical Moment
1. A Radical Baptist Proposal
2. Seizing the Ecumenical Moment

Part II: Baptists, Biblicism, and Catholicity
3. One Sacred Story
4. One Contested Tradition
5. Radically Biblical, Radically Catholic

Part III: Baptist Identity and Receptive Ecumenism
6. The End of Baptist Denominationalism
7. Receiving the Gift of Magisterium

Part IV: Baptist Theology and the Ecumenical Future
8. The Ecumenical Task of Theology
9. The Theology of a Pilgrim Church
10. The Baptist Eschatological Vision and the Ecumenical Future

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

International Baptist-Methodist dialogue continues in Germany

The Baptist World Alliance has issued the following press release regarding the continuation of the international dialogue between the Baptist World Alliance and the World Methodist Council this week in Elstal, Germany:

Baptists and Methodists hold third dialogue session in Germany

Participants at a preivous BWA/WMC dialogueThe Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and the World Methodist Council (WMC) will be engaged in the third session of the international theological dialogue between the two Christian World Communions. Both teams will meet at the Theological Seminary at Elstal, Germany, from February 3-10.
Previous sessions of the BWA/WMC dialogue were held in the United States in 2014 and in Singapore in 2015.
The week of meetings will cover the theme, “Making Disciples: Baptism as Christian Initiation” and will explore topics such as “Ecumenical conversations and agreements on baptism in Germany” and “Regional soundings on baptism from various parts of the world” such as Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, Latin America and North America.
Historical, theological, liturgical and ecumenical perspectives and understandings of baptism will be explored.
Relevant excerpts from international and regional ecumenical texts regarding baptism are being selected, collated and distributed, with participants encouraged to contribute material from their respective region.
Other activities will include a tour of the German capital of Berlin and a visit to the birthplace of Martin Luther. Protestants, Baptists included, will mark the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation in 2017.
Luther had nailed 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, German, in 1517, an act that sparked the Protestant Reformation movement and a major break from the Roman Catholic Church.
The BWA delegation comprises dialogue Co-chair Curtis Freeman, research professor of theology and director of the Baptist House of Studies at Duke University Divinity School in the United States; Deji Isaac Ayegboyin, professor of Church History and African Christianity and at the Department of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan in Nigeria; Valérie Duval-Poujol, professor of biblical exegesis at the Catholic Institute, Paris, France, and director for its Institute for Bible and Orientalism; Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University in the US; Stephen Holmes, senior lecturer in theology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland; and R. L. Hnuni, principal of Calcutta Bible Seminary in Kolkata, India.
Methodist representatives are dialogue Co-chair Tim Macquiban, minister of Wesley Church and superintendent minister in the United Kingdom; Paul W. Chilcote, academic dean and professor of historical theology and Wesleyan Studies at Ashland Theological Seminary in the US; Christine Gooden-Benguche, secretary, Jamaica District Conference, Methodist Church of the Caribbean and the Americas; Lauren Claire Matthew, minister in the Umngeni Circuit, Natal Coastal District in South Africa, district supervisor of studies of the General Committee of Education for Mission and president of the Youth and Young Adult Committee of the WMC; Ulrike Schuler, professor for Church History, Methodism, and Ecumenism at Reutlingen School of Theology in Germany; and Malcolm Tan, pastor, Barker Road Methodist Church in Singapore.
BWA director of Mission, Evangelism and Theological Reflection, Fausto Vasconcelos, who serves as co-secretary along with Paul Chilcote, will also be present.
Baptist World Alliance®
© February 2, 2016

Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future--About the Book

Here's the dust jacket flap "About the Book" description for my new book Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future: Story, Tradition, and the Recovery of Community:

Baptists tend to be the “problem children” of the ecumenical movement. The Baptist obsession to realize a true church birthed a tradition of separation. While Baptists’ misgivings about ecumenism may stem from this fissiparous genealogy, it is equally true that the modern ecumenical movement itself increasingly lacks consensus about the pathway to a visible Christian unity.

In Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future, Steven R. Harmon explores the relationship of the Baptist calling to be a pilgrim community and the ecumenical movement. Harmon argues that neither vision can be fulfilled apart from a mutually receptive ecumenical engagement. As Harmon shows, Baptist communities and the churches from which they are separated need one another. Chief among the gifts Baptists have to offer the rest of the church are their pilgrim aversion to overly realized eschatologies of the church and their radical commitment to discerning the rule of Christ by means of the Scriptures. Baptists, in turn, must be willing to receive from other churches neglected aspects of the radical catholicity from which the Bible is inseparable.

Embedded in the Baptist vision and its historical embodiment are surprising openings for ecumenical convergence. Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future urges Baptists and their dialogue partners to recognize and embrace these ecumenically oriented facets of Baptist identity as indispensable provisions for their shared pilgrimage toward the fullness of the rule of Christ in their midst, which remains partial so long as Christ’s body remains divided.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future releases March 1

My new book Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future: Story, Tradition, and the Recovery of Community will be released March 1 by Baylor University Press. A book description, table of contents, and endorsements are on the Baylor University Press site along with ordering information; it's available via Amazon as well. More details are forthcoming here at Ecclesial Theology between now and March 1.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Goodliff anticipates Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future

British Baptist minister Andy Goodliff includes my new book Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future: Story, Tradition, and the Recovery of Community among the 2016 book releases he's anticipating in his blog post "Some Book Delights forthcoming for 2016."

Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future will be released by Baylor University Press on March 1, 2016. In the meantime, the book may be pre-ordered from Baylor University Press and Amazon.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Further Conversations between Anglicans and Baptists

Representatives of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the Church of England met from 2011 through 2014 for a second series of ecumenical conversations between these two British ecclesial communions, following up on a previous series of conversations held from 1992 through 2005. In 2015 the joint commission to the second series of conversations published its report: Sharing the Faith at the Boundaries of Unity: Further Conversations between Anglicans and Baptists, ed. Paul S. Fiddes (Centre for Baptist History and Heritage Studies, vol. 12; Oxford: Regent's Park College, 2015). The 148-page report is now available online as a downloadable PDF (click on the hyperlinked title above). It builds upon both the report from the first series of conversations, Pushing at the Boundaries of Unity: Anglicans and Baptists in Conversation (London: Church House Publishing, 2005), and the report from an international dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Baptist World Alliance, Conversations Around the World 2000-2005: The Report of the International Conversations between the Anglican Communion and the Baptist World Alliance (London: Anglican Communion Office, 2005). Both of those book-length reports likewise are available online as downloadable PDFs (click on hyperlinked titles).

This paragraph from the introduction to the new report provides a sense of its unique approach:

Ecumenical reports frequently refer to 'conversations' between members of different communions. However, what they offer is not an account of the actual conversations themselves but a distilled account of their conclusions. Readers can often deduce what the cut and thrust of debate must have been that lies behind the 'agreed statement', but for the most part they have to guess at it. This report is different, deliberately. Just as the previous report 'pushed at the boundaries' that inhibit unity, this one also reaches beyond, even breaks, the normal framework of reports. It 'pushes the envelope' of a report in aiming to give the reader a taste of what the participants said to each other. In so doing it seeks to give insight into the life and ethos of each communion, rather than simply repeating established viewpoints (pp. 2-3).

I'm grateful for the report's reference to my book Towards Baptist Catholicity: Essays on Tradition and the Baptist Vision (Studies in Baptist History and Thought, vol. 27; Milton Keynes, UK: Paternoster, 2006) and to the report from the 2000-2005 Anglican-Baptist international conversations, for which I served as a member of the Baptist delegation for its North American phase.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Born in time

For some reason one of the most moving portions of the Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter's Basilica for me each year is the reading of the Kalends from the Roman Martyrology at the beginning of the service. I think it's because of its placement of the Incarnation in relationship to the events of history--the broad sweep of history, the particularities of the first century and its prevailing powers, and that of our own contemporary world situation--at the intersection of the hope of the Incarnation and the realities that provoke our Advent yearnings. Here's the text from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops site:

The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ from the Roman Martyrology


The announcement of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord from the Roman Martyrology draws upon Sacred Scripture to declare in a formal way the birth of Christ. It begins with creation and relates the birth of the Lord to the major events and personages of sacred and secular history. The particular events contained in the announcement help pastorally to situate the birth of Jesus in the context of salvation history.

This text, The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, may be chanted or recited, most appropriately on December 24, during the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours. It may also be chanted or recited before the beginning of Christmas Mass during the Night. It may not replace any part of the Mass. (The musical notation is found in Appendix I of the Roman Missal, Third Edition.)

The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ

The Twenty-fifth Day of December,

when ages beyond number had run their course
from the creation of the world,

when God in the beginning created heaven and earth,
and formed man in his own likeness;

when century upon century had passed
since the Almighty set his bow in the clouds after the Great Flood,
as a sign of covenant and peace;

in the twenty-first century since Abraham, our father in faith,
came out of Ur of the Chaldees;

in the thirteenth century since the People of Israel were led by Moses
in the Exodus from Egypt;

around the thousandth year since David was anointed King;

in the sixty-fifth week of the prophecy of Daniel;

in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;

in the year seven hundred and fifty-two
since the foundation of the City of Rome;

in the forty-second year of the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus,
the whole world being at peace,

JESUS CHRIST, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to consecrate the world by his most loving presence,
was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

and when nine months had passed since his conception,
was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah,
and was made man:

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

40% off Towards Baptist Catholicity--now only $21

Wipf & Stock, the American co-publisher of my book Towards Baptist Catholicity: Essays on Tradition and the Baptist Vision (published in the U.K. by Paternoster), offers a 40% off holiday sale through December 31 that applies to this book--retail $35.00, web price $28.00, but now $21.00 with discount. Follow hyperlinked title for ordering information; apply code "Noel" at checkout.