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The Papacy in Schism: Benedict's War on the Church
Understanding the Protestant Church Today
The Protestant Academy: Retrieving the Reformation Heritage of Liberation
God of Life, Lead Us to Justice and Peace
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Extraordinary Public Witness
Authority, Women, and Apostolic Succession
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Opposing the Religious Right
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An Open Letter to President George W. Bush and Senator John F. Kerry
The Civic Gospel of Evangelicalism
The Unchristian Coalition Exhibits Intolerance and Hate
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Postmodern Worship and Mission
Welcoming the Stranger: A Public Theology of Worship and Evangelism
The Decline of Religious Orders
World Citizens, World Church
(See also the sections on The New Protestantism, 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, and Adult Forums)
There is a great need today to develop a concept of "The Protestant Church." There is a need for the primary Protestants to identify themselves with one another as Protestants. The primary Protestants are the Methodists and the Lutherans, the Presbyterians and the United Church of Christ, the Episcopalians and the American Baptists. The world simply cannot understand us Protestants if we stay separate in our religious ghettos.
Our many competing voices cancel one another out. The public nature of modern communications requires new institutional formats by which we make known our beliefs and commitments. The world needs what we have to offer but our many divisions means that the word doesn't get out. This is not another call for a revamped ecumenism, it is a call to form effective means by which to engage in the mission of the church in our time. We need what may be called a "Second-Stage Protestantism" in this country. We will be talking about this concept in pages in this section. After five hundred years of living separate lives it is time for Protestants to come together in a new second-stage of witness and ministry.
This section also contains material related to ministry, pastoral practice, congregational programs, and the public involvements and policy proposals of national and international church bodies. We are especially interested in what it means to be a "public church" in a divided and troubled world.
Our focus is on the major faith expressions we call the Primary Protestants: the protestant members of the National and World Council of Churches. When in various places we refer to the "ecumencial church" or the public church this is what we mean. Unfortunately, this means we believe that the efforts over the last decades to create unity with the Roman Catholic Church have been a waste of time, have failed, and have hindered the formation of a full Protestant Church. The Roman Church has now on social issues allied itself with a retrograde form of Christian faith, the religious right.
The religious right has been the energy of the backlash politics against the gains of black people and women in the 1960s. We believe that what has become known as the Religious Right in the United States, the Southern Baptists, the Assemblies of God, and related so-called non-denominational bible churches, have become an alien form of Christianity, not representing the historic and orthodox Protestant understandings of faith and life. They have become commercialized and Americanized forms of religious faith and have identified themselves with one political party to the degree that they fail to witness to the grace and mercy of loving God. They want to use the power of the state to coerce faith and ethics in ways totally against the central teachings of Protestantism. The modern media have had a large role in fostering the success of these television preachers and revivalist religion. The Primary Protestants must now clearly distinquish themselves from this false form of Christianity, especially now when the energy of backlash politics is petering out and a new era of cooperation and responsibility has come to the United States in the 2008 election.
Here are some web resources:
Sightings. The one best place on the web for current commentary on the church and public life is this regular column by church historian Martin Marty at the University of Chicago.
World Faith News. A data base of full text official news releases and other documents, including policy statements, from the news offices of national and world faith groups.
Ecumenical News International. Go here for latest world church news stories.
World Council of Churches. Includes directories of world church organizations and programs.
The Holy See. The website of the Vatican.
National Council of Churches in the USA. US directories of church bodies are available here.
Catholic.net. Access to leading Catholic magazines and newspapers, papal encyclicals, Church documents, helpful devotional services.
OpenSourceTheology. An interesting effort to rethink evangelical theology leading to an "emerging church".
Yearbook of Canadian and American Churches. This is the standard reference on church membership statistics.
Hartford Institute for Religion Research. One of the best places for research on religion in society.
Religion in American History. Teacher resources from the National Humanities Center.
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