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Publication Date: 16 Nov 2017
Publisher: Apollos
Page Count: 300
Author: Kenneth J Stewart
ISBN-13: 9781783596072, 9781783596089

In Search of Ancient Roots

The Christian Past And The Evangelical Identity Crisis
By Kenneth J Stewart
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Summary
Some evangelical churches appear to be uninterested in their historical roots, and so can be liturgically and doctrinally unstable. Perceiving this disconnection between their Protestant faith and ancient Christianity, a number of evangelicals have abandoned Protestantism for traditions that seem to be clearly rooted in the early church.

Ken Stewart argues that the evangelical tradition’s track record of interaction with Christian antiquity is far healthier than is often assumed. He surveys five centuries of Protestant engagement with the ancient church, showing that Christians belonging to the evangelical churches of the Reformation consistently see their faith as connected to early Christianity. Stewart explores areas of positive engagement, including the Lord’s Supper and biblical interpretation, as well as areas that raise concerns, such as monasticism.

In Search of Ancient Roots shows that Christian antiquity is the heritage of all orthodox Christians, and that evangelicals have the resources in their history to claim their place at the ecumenical table.

‘A must-read for every person struggling with the question, “What does evangelicalism have to do with history?”’
Leonardo De Chirico, Director of Reformanda Initiative
About the Author
Kenneth J. Stewart is Professor of Theological Studies at Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, Georgia, USA. His books include Ten Myths About Calvinism, Restoring the Reformation and The Emergence of Evangelicalism, and he is a contributor to various reference works.
Press Reviews

This book shakes us free from naive and romantic notions that Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy are the best expressions of early Christianity. For evangelicals attracted by that fantasy, it is an urgent wake-up call to examine the full facts and rediscover the deep historic roots and spiritual riches of their own tradition.

- Andrew Atherstone, Latimer Research Fellow, Wycliffe Hall, University of Oxford

If evangelicalism is to have a coherent future, it needs to understand not only its own past but also the past of the church catholic. In this collection of essays, Ken Stewart brings his typical combination of insight, conviction, charity, and catholicity to bear on evangelicalism's relationship to history. You do not have to agree with all of his conclusions to agree with his basic thesis—we need history—and to be challenged by the range of interlocutors he chooses—from the ancient church fathers to Cardinal Newman and beyond. This collection should provide professors and pastors with much food for thought.

- Carl R. Trueman, Westminster Theological Seminary

This remarkable book seeks to trace the deep roots and determine the DNA of evangelical Protestantism. Using his considerable and profound knowledge of a vast terrain, Dr. Ken Stewart digs deep to show that evangelicalism is firmly rooted in Scripture, the early church, and historical Christianity. His archaeology of doctrine and liturgy argues against the recent loss of confidence and self-identity of evangelical Protestants who may be tempted to seek more 'stable' pastures or to wander with historical amnesia into cul-de-sacs. Instead, evangelical Protestants are urged to share the confidence of their Protestant-era forebears who knew their ancient pedigree and stood on sturdy ground. This is an important and timely book.

- Robert M. Solomon, bishop emeritus, The Methodist Church in Singapore

Present-day evangelicalism has a strange relationship with history. On the one extreme, there are those who endorse a 'gap theory' whereby their experience of the Christian life has little if anything to do with any sense of historical continuity. On the other extreme, recent fascinations with romantic and selective appropriations of 'tradition' show how easy it is to uncritically embrace beliefs and practices that are idiosyncratic with regards to Scripture. What is at stake is the historical nature of evangelicalism as such. As a learned historian and acute theologian, Kenneth Stewart helps the reader come to terms with the diachronic dimension of evangelicalism that runs through church history, taking different shades and colors but ultimately responding to the same principles of biblical faithfulness and spiritual involvement. This book is a vigorous and rigorous rebuttal to John Henry Newman, according to whom 'to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.' Stewart is convinced that to be deep in history one does not need to turn to Rome (becoming Roman Catholic) or to Antioch (becoming Orthodox). His case is convincing. A must-read for every person struggling with the question, 'What does evangelicalism have to do with history?'

- Leonardo De Chirico, pastor, Breccia de Roma, lecturer in historical theology, Istituto di Formazione Evangelica e Documentazione, Padova, Italy, director of Reformanda Initiative

Ken Stewart's In Search of Ancient Roots is a panoply of well-argued, well-documented, and well-written chapters centering on evangelicalism's engagement with its own pre-Reformation past. He provides a compelling case not only for the deep roots of evangelical movements throughout history but also for evangelicalism's attention to its historical Christian roots as the norm rather than the exception. Stewart also provides exceptional discussions on important practical matters facing evangelicals as they begin to engage with church history—matters like the frequency of the Lord's Supper, the apostolicity of infant baptism, the interpretation of Scripture, and justification by faith. In the process, Stewart also takes on many of the exaggerated claims made by evangelical converts to Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy regarding the historical priority of those ancient traditions. Any evangelical should read this book before abandoning the orthodox, Protestant, evangelical faith for traditions that claim to be more authentically connected to Christianity's ancient roots. In all of these cases, Stewart's work becomes a conversation-starter rather than a conversation-ender. He is refreshingly irenic and candid. I enthusiastically recommend this book to anybody interested in the Christian past and evangelical identity as well as those who need to reflect deeply on the vital questions Stewart raises for today.

- Michael J. Svigel, chair and professor of theological studies, Dallas Theological Seminary, author of RetroChristianity

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