Monday, April 21, 2014

New On the Nightstand

Stark, Rodney, The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries, quoted by Felipe Assis, the Crossbridge Senior pastor, in a recent sermon.  (Felipe's sermons are extraordinarily good.  Here is a link to podcasts of them.  The one yesterday, Keep Calm, the best Easter sermon in my memory, was vintage Assis.)

Bainton, Roland H., Erasmus of Christendom.  More Reformation reading.  And because Bainton wrote it.  From Bainton's preface:

             I have long been drawn to Erasmus on a number of counts. I share his aversion to contention, his abhorrence of war, his wistful skepticism with respect to that which transcends the verifiable; at the same time I am warmed by the glow of his piety. I am convinced of the soundness of the place assigned by him to the classical alongside of the Judaeo-Christian in the heritage of the Western world. I relish his whimsicality and satire. I endorse his conviction that language is still the best medium for the transmission of thought, language not merely read but heard with cadence and rhythm as well as clarity and precision.
            Yet I should probably never have undertaken this assignment were Erasmus lacking in contemporary relevance. He is important for the dialogue which he desired never to see closed between Catholics and Protestants. He is important for the strategy of reform, violent or non-violent. He was resolved to abstain from violence alike of word and deed, but was not sure that significant reform could be achieved sine tumultu. He would neither incite nor abet it. The more intolerant grew the contenders, the more he recoiled and strove to mediate. He ended as the battered liberal. Can it ever be otherwise? This is precisely the problem of our time.

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