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Evangelicals and Tradition: The Formative Influence of the Early Church (Evangelical Ressourcement: Ancient Sources for the Church's Future) Paperback – June 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

D. H. Williams (Ph.D., University of Toronto) is professor of religion in patristics and historical theology at Baylor University. He is the author of Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism and the editor of The Free Church and the Early Church.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic; 1st, No Additional Printing Listed edition (June 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801027136
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801027130
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #995,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

D. H. Williams, professor of patristics and historical theology at the Department of Religion, Baylor University. Ph.D. 1991 University of Toronto; Th.M. 1985 Princeton Seminary; M. Div. 1981 Northeastern College. Williams specializes in early Christian literature, ancient Greek and Roman religions, and the history of doctrine; the fourth century Trinitarian controversies; contemporary Christianity in China.

Fellow, Center for Religious Inquiry across the Disciplines, 2005-pres.

-----------------
Ph.D., University of Toronto, 1991

Major Fields: Patristic Literature and Theology; History of Christianity Minor Fields: Religions of Late Antiquity; Sociology of Religion

M.A., University of Toronto, 1986

Th.M., Princeton Theological Seminary, 1985

M.Div., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1981

B. A., Northeastern College, 1978
----------------
Prior to 2002 Williams was Associate Professor of Theology in Patristics and Historical Theology at Loyola University Chicago and pastured two churches in Rochester, NY and Pittsburgh, PA. He is member of the following academic societies:

American Society of Church History Development of Early Catholicism Seminar
Catholic Theological Society of America Ecclesiastical History Society
Groupe Suisse d'Etudes Patristiques International Assoc. for Patristic Studies
North American Patristic Society -
Member, Board of Directors 2002-05; Chair of Publications Committee 2000-05

At present, Williams is completing work on The Church's Bible: Commentary on Matthew as volume editor (Eerdmans Publishing), and a comprehensive survey of the early Christian apologetic literature.

Williams has been active in teaching in China since 2007. He has lectured at five major universities in mainland China, served as a plenary speaker at Renda's Summer Institute conferences, and has several articles published in the Journal for the Study of Christian Culture, including 作为东方宗教的基督教一中医教会的早期证据. In the summer 2009, he was Visiting Professor at the International Promotion of Chinese Language and Culture, at the People's University in Beijing. His book Retrieving the Tradition has been translated published in 2011 by China Social Sciences Press. He is presently co-director of the Center for Studies in Greek Thought at Shandong University in Jinan.


SELECT BOOKS:

Tradition, Scripture and Interpretation: A Sourcebook of the Ancient Church (Baker
Academic Books, 2006).

Evangelicals and Tradition: The Formative Influence of the Early Church (Baker
Academic Books, 2005).
Selection in Mars Hill Journal 76 (Sept/Oct. 2005)2006.

Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism: A Primer for Suspicious Protestants (Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999).
Selections in Mars Hill Audio Anthology, 2000.

Ambrose of Milan and the End of the Nicene Arian Conflicts (Oxford University
Press, 1995).

SELECT ARTICLES:

"A Catechetical Address on the Nicene Creed?" Harvard Theological Review (2010).

"Similis et Dissimilis: Gauging our Expectations of the Early Fathers," in Ancient Faith for the Church's Future , ed., J. Green (IVP Press, 2008).

"The Earliest 'Mere Christianity': The Rule of Faith," Christian History and Biography 105 (2008).

"Living the Good Life according to Augustine," Christianity Today, September, 2007.

"Monarchianism and Photinus as the Persistent Heretical Face of the Fourth Century", Harvard Theological Review 99 (2006), 187-206.

"Justification by Faith: A Patristic Doctrine," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 56 (2006), 649-667.

"The Patristic Tradition as Canon", Perspectives in Religious Studies 32 (2005), 357-79.

"American Protestantism and Vocation in Higher Education", Christianity and the Soul of the University: Faith as a Foundation for Intellectual Community, eds., D. V. Henry and M. D. Beaty (Baker Academic, 2005), 163-79.

"Do You Know Whom You Worship? The Council of Nicaea and Its Bitter Aftermath," Christian History and Biography 85 (2005), 445-61.

"The Diffusive Disintegration of Catholicity", Pro Ecclesia 23 (2003), 389-93.

"Scripture, Tradition and the Church: Reformation and Post-Reformation" in The Free
Church and the Early Church: Bridging the Historical and Theological Divide,
ed., D. H. Williams (Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002), 101-26.

"Defining Orthodoxy in Hilary of Poitiers' Commentarium in Mattheaum", Journal of Early Christian Studies 9 (2001), 151-171.

"The Search for Sola Scriptura in the Early Church", Interpretation 52 (1998), 338-350.

"Constantine, Nicaea and the 'Fall' of the Church", in Christian Origins: Theology, Rhetoric and Community, eds., L. Ayres and G. Jones (London: Routledge Press, 1998), 117-136.*

"Another Exception to Later Fourth Century 'Arian' Typologies: The Case of Germinius of Sirmium", The Journal of Early Christian Studies 4 (1996), 335-357.

"Polemics and Politics in Ambrose of Milan's De fide", Journal of Theological Studies N.S. 46 (1995), 519-531.

Reprinted in Recent Studies in Early Christianity: A Collection of Scholarly Essays, ed., E. Ferguson (New York/London: Garland Publishing, 1999).

"The Anti Arian Campaigns of Hilary of Poitiers and the Liber Contra Auxentium", Church History 61 (1992), 7 22.

---------------------------
University Research Grant, Baylor University, 2009.

University Research Leave, Baylor University, Fall 2006.

Institute for Studies in Religion Grant, Fall 2006.

University Research Grant, Baylor University (Summer-Fall, 2004).

University Teacher's Fellowship, The National Endowment for the Humanities (Fall, 2000).

Research Grant, Loyola University Endowment for the Humanities (Summer, 1997).

American Academy of Religion Research Grant (Spring, 1990).
--------------------
Seminar Courses Offered:

"Apostolic Fathers"
"Early Latin Theologians"
"The Nicene-Arian Conflicts"
"Neo-Nicene Christianity"
"Orthodoxy and Heresy"
Development in the Thought of Augustine

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For those Protestants who have their reservations about the Christian tradition (largely quite "unProtestant") this book is for them. The author is himself a Baptist and an expert on both Church history and the Church Fathers. His goal is fourfold: 1) Demonstrate that Scripture and early tradition go hand in hand and that Scripture is part of tradition, given by the Church to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ correctly., 2) theology exists as a part of the worshipping community, and not as an abstraction. Without right worship, there is no right doctrine 3) our personal liberty in the Holy Spirit is a corporate liberty. That is, we exist as "members one of another" who cannot go off and "do our own thing" 4) the Protestant tradition must be reintegrated into the greater catholic tradition to properly understand itself and the Gospel. In short, the author doesn't try to make a Protestant into a Catholic, but to dispel the myths surrounding the Tradition to show the Protestant what it means to be a Christian in context.

I would recommend the author's other book, Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism: A Primer for Suspicious Protestants and A High View of Scripture? The Authority of the Bible and the Formation of the New Testament Canon (Evangelical Ressourcement: Ancient Sources for the Church's Future). Please see my other reviews for similar books on similar topics, mostly geared to the conversation between Protestants, Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. Changing Churches: An Orthodox, Catholic, and Lutheran Theological Conversation may be of interest as well.
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D. H. Williams asserts that today's evangelical Protestants ignore or reject the traditions of the early Christian church, and these traditions are essential to correct practices of Christianity individually and in community. He writes his book in response to a "new openness to hearing the tradition" among evangelicals. This openness represents an "extraordinary work of the Spirit in our time." (15) Williams identifies a core perception among evangelicals that pits tradition as a "competing authority" to Scripture. (16) The book serves as Williams' attempt to persuade readers that the traditions of the early church complement Scripture and support Biblical authority. He writes with a sense of urgency recognizing that Christianity divorced from the early church tradition is susceptible to errors and heresies.

He rejects any notion of conflict between the Holy Spirit inspiration and revelation witnessed in the gospel and the Christian tradition seen in the teachings and practices of the early church. He defends this role of the tradition as the "canon of tradition" which does not challenge the authority of Scripture or stifle the ministry of the Spirit but serves as a guide to the church. He suggests that "A true interpretation of Scripture would always lead one to the tradition." (56) The tradition, including creeds and writings of the Fathers, would implicitly or explicitly acknowledge the supremacy of the Bible. The patristic tradition is not presented as infallible or unified in its writings; however, Williams calls this period "foundational to the Christian faith in normative ways that no other period of the church's history can claim.
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I remember being raised to think that 'tradition' was equal to 'papist' back in my Lutheran days. For those Protestants who have their reservations about the Christian tradition (largely quite "unProtestant") this book is for them. The author is himself a Baptist and an expert on both Church history and the Church Fathers. His goal is fourfold: 1) Demonstrate that Scripture and early tradition go hand in hand and that Scripture is part of tradition, given by the Church to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ correctly., 2) theology exists as a part of the worshipping community, and not as an abstraction. Without right worship, there is no right doctrine 3) our personal liberty in the Holy Spirit is a corporate liberty. That is, we exist as "members one of another" who cannot go off and "do our own thing" 4) the Protestant tradition must be reintegrated into the greater catholic tradition to properly understand itself and the Gospel. In short, the author doesn't try to make a Protestant into a Catholic, but to dispel the myths surrounding the Tradition to show the Protestant what it means to be a Christian in context.

I would recommend the author's other book, Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism: A Primer for Suspicious Protestants, more than this book, good as it is. Please see my other reviews for similar books on similar topics, mostly geared to the conversation between Protestants, Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox.

Don't get fooled into thinking that the past of the Church is murky and unknowable. There are very few unknowns about it, just read the sources and start doing your homework. Enjoy!
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