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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Monday, September 08, 2003

Recommended Reading

I just finished reading a little book called The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms, written by Walter B. Shurden. I borrowed it from Jeff and Catherine last Saturday. Yes, hard though it may be to believe, it really is Jeff's book-- given to my Anglo-Catholic brother by loving in-laws to broaden his horizons.

It's a good little book; well-written, and easy to follow. My first reaction, upon finishing it, is to think that there's some Baptists out there who need to read it next! Provides a much more reasonable picture of Baptist faith and practice than the one that usually gets the press.

I can also see more clearly why Tripp and Cliff are at such loggerheads upon occasion. The concept of soul freedom, as Shurden explains it, flies directly in the face of the Orthodox understanding of the authority of the church. I need to think about this some more, but I seem to fall, in fine Anglican tradition, somewhere in the middle. I mean, I understand (and agree with) the importance of a personal faith, as it is apparently expressed in traditional Baptist theology; and I'm all about reading and studying Scripture, so as to own it, individually, rather than having some priest tell me what I Ought to Believe It Really Means. However, I also know and believe in the necessary commitment to the larger community that is the church, because I'm not foolish enough to think that my solo interpretation is going to be necessarily correct, either.

And here's another area where I struggle: I want to see "the church" as more than my local congregation, and more than my specific denomination; it's the Body of Christ that is the Universal Church-- the motley collection of sinners and believers that all professing Christians are, together.

I guess I can summarize one more thing I learned about myself in reading that book of Jeff's: I have a more catholic understanding of sacrament, but a more protestant understanding of salvation and polity.

Have I now thoroughly confused you? Good-- it's nice to know I'm not alone.


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