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The Mercersburg Theology and the Quest for Reformed Catholicity: Paperback – June 27, 2009
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The Mercersburg Theology and the Quest for Reformed Catholicity
by W. Bradford Littlejohn
(Pickwick, 214 pages, $23.00)
“Can Protestants be Protestants, and yet also be committed to the unity of the church? Is there such a thing as a catholic Protestantism, a Protestant catholicism?” (xi). So asks Peter Leithart in his forward to Brad Littlejohn’s The Mercersburg Theology and the Quest for Reformed Catholicity. The answer in this book is a clear and unhesitant yes. This is largely a work of ressourcement, a fancy word that simply means, “going back to the sources”. Littlejohn enlightens us to the Mercersburg Theology, which as John mentioned a few posts ago, was a somewhat obscure 19th century theological movement led by John W. Nevin and Philip Schaff, the movement itself a work of ressourcement. In looking back to Patristic and Reformed sources, the main thrust of the Mercersburg theologians was to challenge the individualism, subjectivism, and sectarianism rampant in the American Reformed churches of their day, and to put forward instead a Christianity that had a central place for the sacraments and the visible church. The problems of their day are so not so different from our own, making their work, and Littlejohn’s introduction to them, very valuable indeed.
In chapters 1-3, Littlejohn does a masterful job putting the Mercersburg Theology in its historical context, showing us its relation to important philosophical movements which came before it, and then entertainingly recounting the interaction and debates that occurred between the Mercersburg men and Charles Hodge of Princeton University, a name much more familiar to Christians today.Read more ›