Monday, May 28, 2007

Ben Myers Starting a New Series on Tradition

As I work my way through several books on the history of Christianity--including Jaroslav Pelikan's masterpiece set on Christian doctrine, I realize that I have much to learn about Christian tradition. I was therefore thrilled when Ben Myers, who completed a PhD on seventeenth-century theology and literature, and is now doing postdoctoral research at the University of Queensland., announced a series on his Faith and Theology blog on tradition. What makes this especially interesting is that Ben will focus on different traditions--by using the stories of people who converted from one faith tradition to another. Here is Ben's announcement of the series:

Understanding the function of tradition remains a central task for theology today – and ecumenical progress requires an ever deeper understanding not only of one’s own tradition, but also of the internal “grammar” of other Christian traditions. But this is by no means easy. Indeed, as Gerhard Ebeling once remarked, relatively few Christians have ever had to made a real choice between traditions – in most cases, one’s own tradition simply maintains its own powerful self-evidentness in contrast to all other traditions.

Ebeling’s observation highlights the complex difficulties surrounding ecumenical understanding: if I have never encountered (say) the Roman Catholic tradition as a genuine possibility for faith, and so have never had to choose between this possibility and the possibility of my own tradition, then I’ve not yet really begun to understand the Roman Catholic tradition at all.

For this reason, we can learn a lot from people who have made a transition from one Christian tradition to another. Such people have experienced tradition itself – they have encountered both the non-self-evidentness of their own tradition, and the attractiveness and coherence of another tradition. So if we listen to the stories of people who have made such ecclesial transitions, it’s possible that the function of tradition will become a little more translucent, a little more thinkable.

With that in mind, we’re starting a new series here at F&T, entitled “Encounters with Tradition.” The series will feature guest-posts from several people who have made a transition from one Christian tradition to another – from Protestant to Catholic, from Baptist to Anglican, from evangelical to post-evangelical, and so on.

Perhaps these stories of diverse “encounters with tradition” will help us all to encounter our own (and other) traditions in a fresh way.

Read it all.

1 comment:

Ben Myers said...

Hi Chuck -- your own transition from Lutheran to Episcopalian sounds very interesting. Any chance you'd like to write a guest-post for the series? If so, please send me an email.

Cheers,
Ben