Bookmarks ed. 6

  • Jamie Smith raises some provocative questions about the generational divide over issues of traditional belief and confessional subscription.

    I have a little hypothesis to float here, and I know it will be somewhat off-putting. But here goes: I think this is very much a generational issue. More specifically, I think this is a baby boomer problem. And for the past 20 years, the leadership of our denomination has been in the hands of baby boomers who absorbed an anti-institutionalism that was in the water in the late 60s and early 70s, which they then channeled toward the faith of their forebears–particularly their immigrant forebears. This gave us the disastrous attempts by the denomination to turn us into bland “community church” evangelicalism.

  • Check out this great piece by Molly Worthen on evangelical Anglophilia (from the wonderful new web journal Religion & Politics)

    American evangelicals’ fondness for Stott is part of a larger pattern, a special affection for Christian gurus of British extraction. Droves of American evangelicals stock their shelves with books by British Christian scholars such as N.T. Wright, a professor of New Testament and the former bishop of Durham, and J.I. Packer, a British-born theologian at Regent College in Vancouver. Despite ancient hostility toward Roman Catholicism, American evangelicals lionize the British Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton and raise their children on Catholic J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Since the mid-1960s—when the release of Tolkien’s books in U.S. paperback edition infected America with Frodo fever—evangelicals have enthusiastically joined in Middle Earth-inspired role-playing festivals and Tolkien appreciation societies, publishing books with titles like Finding God in the Lord of the Rings and Walking With Frodo: A Devotional Journey Through Lord of the Rings. I once attended an evangelical conference panel devoted to parsing Tolkien’s veiled Christian allegories. One speaker expounded at length on the Christology of Tom Bombadil—uncovering hidden religious symbols that might have surprised Tolkien himself.

  • Brad Littlejohn announces the inauguration of a great-looking new series of reissued works from the Mercersburg theologians. Check out the series’ website here.

    Encompassing the most comprehensive and (I hope) most reader-friendly edition of The Mystical Presence to date, and the first edition of the extraordinary essay “The Doctrine of the Reformed Church on the Lord’s Supper” in forty-five years, this “handsome new edition . . . deserves to be studied and savored by pastors and scholars alike” (George Hunsinger). Indeed, this volume promises to be a valuable contribution to studies not merely of Mercersburg and nineteenth-century American theology, but of Reformed eucharistic theology more broadly, as Nevin’s study of the subject remains a classic after 150 years.

  • Over at the online edition of Books & Culture, John Wilson offers a rejoinder to Ross Douthat’s new book, Bad Religion.

    “We” are not “a nation of heretics.” We are a nation of sinners. We haven’t become a nation of sinners; we’ve been that from the beginning. But “a nation of heretics”: that’s much sexier. Is it true that, over the last five decades, “the river of orthodoxy has gradually been drying up”? And has the “orthodox response” to the heresies Douthat highlights been feeble? On the contrary: all of the heresies he singles out have been explicitly rejected by a wide range of orthodox pastors, theologians, and popular writers. That these false teachings have nevertheless taken hold is not necessarily a sign that the orthodox witness has been inadequate. It may say more about the wickedness of the human heart.

  • The most recent issue of SJT contains John Perry’s review of Jennifer Herdt’s Putting on Virtue as well as Herdt’s response.

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