Monday, March 15, 2010

Unlearning Protestantism - First Impressions

Why is a good Protestant boy like me reading a book called Unlearning Protestantism: Sustaining Christian Community in an Unstable Age?  When I first heard about it at sales conference I was assured that the author, Gerald W. Schlabach, was not attempting to convert Protestants to Catholicism.  Sure enough here's how the book starts:
"This book is not about encouraging people to abandon Protestant churches.  It is not a pamphlet to persuade Protestants to become Roman Catholic.  Rather it is about virtues that all Christian communities need to sustain their communal lives, whatever their ecclesial location."  (9)
As I read through the first chapter statements like this kept my attention and made me want to read on:
"What all of us need are the practices and virtues that make it possible to reform, protest, and even dissent out of love for one's Christian community--even while sustaining a doggedly loyal commitment to 'hang in there' with those among whom we disagree." (32, emphasis his) 
And, coming off the heels of McLaren it was refreshing to read these words:
"It is one thing to say that every human institution and tradition must be continually vulnerable to prophetic critique and correction.  It is another thing to hold all tradition suspect as a matter of principle.  A church then must either face the unstable prospect of perpetually starting over or pass along its convictions through traditions that go covertly by some other name."  (35) 
I like what I've read so far and look forward to what's ahead.  See also the recent starred review in Publishers WeeklyUnlearning Protestantism is from Brazos Press.  It has 288 pages and sells for $28.99.

Gerald W. Schlabach (PhD, University of Notre Dame) is professor of theology and director of the Justice and Peace Studies program at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the founder and director of Bridgefolk, a movement of Mennonites and Roman Catholics who come together to celebrate each other's traditions, explore each other's practices, and honor each other's contribution to the mission of Christ's church.

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