Friday, March 23, 2012

Book Review: Journeys of Faith

"Journeys of Faith: Evangelicalism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Anglicanism", ed. Robert L. Plummer

I picked this book up because I read a few interesting excerpts on the web and some reviews, and because as someone interested in Patristics I have more than the usual encounters with Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Also, I was genuinely interested in reading personal accounts of denominational-conversion.

The book falls into 4 sections, each with 3 chapters, the first a personal narration of the author's journey from Evangelicalism to EO, RC, Ang, and in one case from RC to Evangelicalism. This is followed by a rejoinder from the denominational tradition left, and a final rejoineder from the original author.

I particularly enjoyed reading the account of the conversion to EO. This is probably the journey that holds the most personal 'appeal'; all four accounts give a good sense of the 'why' for each person, though when you come to the theological hurdles, one feels less convinced.

I was particularly interested to see how the key issue in the first three journeys often involved the question of authority, and interpretation. Those journeying away from evangelicalism often felt the need for an authority that settled the canon, determined the creeds, and set the bounds of intepreting Scripture. The rejoinder to the RC -> Evang conversion provided a very robust and forceful attack on the doctrine of sola scriptura. Nevertheless, I remain unconvinced that Scripture itself cannot be the final authority. The whole doctrine of Church and Tradition must ultimately arise from Scripture, and so while the Evangelical's 'task' in holding to the authority of Scripture while recognising the 'problem' of manifold interpretation seems sticky, it is in fact no more rationally difficult than the RC or EO circular appeal to Tradition/Church as the ultimate authority, since it too is circular and open to interpretation.

All in all a solid read, and of value for both evangelicals and others to gain a greater understanding of why Christians move between different traditions.

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