I’ve been reading Thomas C. Oden for a few years, and his newest book, Turning around the Mainline, continues his theme of renewal within the mainline denominations in the USA and Canada and the return to classical orthodoxy. Some highlights of this book that once again is brimming over with hope:
In 1993 and 1994 Oden, with some others, began to map out how to renew mainline denominations and how to gather together those within the mainline who are orthodox. Oden has collected information of what he calls the “Confessing Movement.”
Oden puts on the table many familiar themes — the theological implosion of the institutional and denominational leaders, the seminaries, and the sponsored publications.
He charts the major renewal theological statements in a series of chapters that collect a variety of confessional statements from a variety of groups from a variety of mainline denominations.
Oden is all for a classical “mere Christianity” and for orthodox ecumenical interaction, but not for dialogue that refuses to ask questions about theological truth.
He provides hope for the many, many (and some of them former students of mine from the TEDS days) who have said they’d rather stick with their mother church through thick and thin than leave the fold.
An interesting parallel for me: while many in the emerging movement are discovering the breadth of the gospel and its social vision, these Confessing Christians are fighting hard for a theological orthodoxy in the middle of many who have only a social vision.