"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Changing Churches

One of the most influential essays I read in the late 1990s was by the priest Richard John Neuhaus of blessed memory: "The Unhappy Fate of Optional Orthodoxy." Using John Shelton Reed's book Glorious Battle: The Cultural Politics of Victorian Anglo-Catholicism as his point de départ, Neuhaus, with his usual wonderful style, made many good points, but his central thesis was that in the liberal realignment of Christianity at the end of the twentieth century, orthodoxy and catholicity were no longer viable in Lutheran and Anglican traditions especially: they could only be underwritten by Orthodoxy and Catholicism. Projects of "traditionalist" Lutherans or "continuing" Anglicans were doomed to incoherence, schism, infighting, and failure. As anyone who has followed the unhappy agonies of the Anglican Communion in the last decade and more must admit, Neuhaus was right. 

Such unhappy developments in many Protestant traditions have often led to the growth in both Catholicism and Orthodoxy in recent years as many people leave for either Rome or Constantinople in search of apostolic Christianity. (Amy Slagle treats converts to Orthodoxy in her recent splendid book, which I discussed here.) In the coming weeks, I hope to feature an interview with the two authors of a new book detailing their own exodus from Lutheranism: one for Catholicism and the other for Orthodoxy. New from Eerdmans we have Mickey Mattox and A.G. Roeber, Changing Churches: An Orthodox, Catholic, and Lutheran Theological Conversation (February 2012), 368pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
Sharp controversies — about biblical authority, the ordination of women, evangelical "worship styles," and the struggle for homosexual "inclusion" — have rocked the Lutheran church in recent decades. In Changing Churches two men who once communed at the same Lutheran Eucharistic table explain their similar but different decisions to leave the Lutheran faith tradition — one for Orthodoxy, the other for Roman Catholicism.
Here Mickey L. Mattox and A. G. Roeber address the most difficult questions Protestants face when considering such a conversion, including views on justification, grace, divinization, the church and its authority, women and ministry, papal infallibility, the role of Mary, and homosexuality. They also discuss the long-standing ecumenical division between Rome and the Orthodox patriarchates, acknowledging the difficult issues that still confront those traditions from within and divide them from one another.
As I say, stay tuned for an interview with Mattox and Roeber. 

1 comment:

  1. When you do interview them, please suggest that they make their book available for Kindle!

    I put it on my wishlist. But if it were nine or ten bucks cheaper for Kindle, I would have bought it straight off.
    Susan Peterson


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