December 15, 2017

Two Book Recomendations For My Post-Evangelical Friends

Two recent releases from Inter-Varsity Press will be of interest to those readers who identify with post-evangelicalism.

The first is the Pocket Dictionary of Church History by Fuller Seminary’s Nathan Feldmeth. It comes in at just over 150 pages.

IVP has recently released a series of Pocket Dictionaries that make useful, but longer, reference material available to those looking for a smaller, and cheaper alternative. (Check out the Pocket Guide to Apologetics. Excellent.)

I know that many of us have accommodated too much to “Googling” our reference needs. Sources wuch as Wikipedia are of unpredictable and uneven quality. A single source for brief, essential information is needed by many Christians who want to give a fair historical awareness to their teaching, writing and speaking.

Feldmeth’s Pocket Dictionary is impressive. The articles have a comprehensive view of church history touching on all the major traditions and denominations. Dates and essential content are conveyed in readable, clear prose. For a small source, the research and arrangement are very impressive. Anyone needing to take account of persons, movements, events and doctrines will find good material in the Pocket Dictionary. (And it’s small enough that you’ll never know it’s in your book bag.)

The second resource is Jason Brian Santos’s introduction to the Taize community in France. Entitled A Community Called Taize, this is a book that should be of interest to all post-evangelicals, as Taize is the most successful ecumenical community in the world.

(I would call Taize “post-Roman Catholic” myself, but there is much in its ecumenical experience that should inspire any post-evangelical.)
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Santos is a typical evangelical who has found himself drawn into the forms of prayer and worship that have developed at Taize over the years. Ironically and tragically, Santos found himself at Taize the first time when its founder and spiritual head, Brother Roger, was murdered by a deranged pilgrim during a worship service. This tragedy allowed Santos a rare glimpse of the stability and depth of the Taize community.

Taize has a history that is unknown to many of those who know it only as a contemporary worship and prayer movement attracting and influencing many young people. Santos gives the history and development of Brother Roger’s spiritual journey and vision for Taize, but he also shows how Taize has grown far beyond that original vision to become one of the the truly unique spiritual centers of the world.

Santos has a special interest in promoting pilgrimage to Taize, and he has much good information for those undertaking the journey. He also wants to facilitate the Taize prayer and worship experience among churches and Christians in the west.

I was particularly interested in how Taize navigates the ecumenical issues that are part of such a community and ministry. Many may be surprised to discover that Taize does not overlook these differences or rhetorically erase them. They take them very seriously and accommodate them in wonderfully creative ways. (Many will be surprised at the response of the Catholic Church to the ecumenism practiced at Taize.)

Post-evangelicals and ecumenical Christians of every kind have much to learn from the simple spirituality and community vision of the Taize movement. A Community Called Taize is a much-needed and welcomed resource on this significant part of the body of Christ and what it has to teach us today.

Yes, I got free copies, but I quickly gave them away.

Comments

  1. taize is truly a unique and incredible place–in six months of traveling europe it was by far the richest and best experience i had. i highly recommend a pilgrimage there. and i’m looking forward to checking out that book–thanks for the recommendation.

  2. Taize is indeed a special experience for anyone who gets the chance to visit. I was there for a week in Summer ’03 and I would love to go back.

  3. Phil Craig says:

    Hello,

    I have not visited Taize. My impression has been that it sacrifices any meaningful/propositional/theological content for the sake of providing a universal experience. Is there anything in that impression?

    Phil

  4. I see that Taize has events for people other than those in their 20s now. This is good. The first time I heard anything about them, it looked like they focused only on young adults. That may be fine for a particular ministry in a big church, but I was a little disappointed that something on a global and ecumenical scale would have such limits, considering the benefits of all ages in the church coming together.

    As for the church history book, does it cover the spread of the faith all over the world, or is it focused primarily on Western Christianity with a little bit about the Orthodox and the Byzantine empire? Zondervan has their “Handbook to the History of Christianity,” but it’s not as brief, weighing in at 560 pages.