In this comprehensive volume Thomas N. Finger takes on the formidable task of making explicit the often implicit theology of the Anabaptist movement and then presenting, for the sake of the welfare of the whole contemporary Christian church, his own constructive theology.
In the first part Finger tells the story of the development of Anabaptist thought, helping the reader grasp both the unifying and diverse elements in that theological tradition. In the second and third parts Finger considers in more detail the major themes essential to Anabaptist theology, first considering the historic views and then presenting his own constructive effort. Within the Anabaptist perspective Finger offers a theology that highlights the three dimensions of its salvific center: the communal, the personal and the missional. The themes taken up in the final part form what Finger identifies as the convictional framework of that center; namely, Christology, anthropology and eschatology.
This book is a landmark contribution of Anabaptist theology for the whole church in biblical, historical and contemporary context.
“Still, Anabaptists underscored changed conduct so strongly that Protestants accused them making it salvation’s cause.12” (Page 113)
“First, the ‘essence of Christianity’ for Anabaptists was discipleship. Second, the church was a voluntary brotherhood. Third, an ‘ethic of love and nonresistance as applied to all human relationships’ was evident.3 For Bender the Swiss (excluding Hubmaier) represented normative Anabaptism. Thus Bender marginalized mystics and revolutionaries or ruled them out.” (Page 48)
“Hubmaier outlined the personal salvation process comprehensively.” (Page 114)
“According to postmodernity, which has become increasingly widespread over the last thirty years, behavior, knowledge and reason itself are significantly shaped by cultural, traditional, physical and emotional particularities.” (Page 15)
“Like Catholics, however, Anabaptists were most concerned about salvation’s goal (righteous character) and the process leading to it.” (Page 131)
While exploring the rich Anabaptist tradition, Thomas Finger is sensitive to contemporary theological concerns, especially those raised in ecumenical dialogues. There are valuable insights here not only for Protestants but also for Orthodox and Roman Catholics. This is a thoughtful and penetrating gift from a theologian in dialogue with his own tradition and with others.
—Thomas E. Fitzgerald, Professor of Church History and Historical Theology, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology
Dr. Finger has a firm grasp on Anabaptist history and theology, and has produced a thoroughly reliable guide to Anabaptist theology today. An especially important feature of his work is that he has set it firmly in the larger Christian theological tradition.
—Dr. Walter Klaassen, Emeritus Professor, Conrad Grebel College
The relevance of this exploration of Anabaptist history and theology for life in the twenty-first century is profound, imaginative and challenging. Thoroughly acquainted with the Anabaptist tradition as well as its contemporary exponents, Thomas Finger deftly draws together various strands of this particular story to deal with key issues facing all Christian traditions: the relation of faith and life, Jesus and community, normativity and postmodernity, piety and mission, church and world. Engaging an amazing breadth of conversation partners outside his own tradition, the author keeps his finger on the pulse of life in our often confusing world. Broad and deep, refreshingly relevant--this book is a splendid achievement.
—George Vandervelde, Th.D., Adjunct Professor in Ecumenism, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto
A Contemporary Anabaptist Theology represents an unparalleled contribution to today's Christian community; nowhere else can one find an up-to-date, erudite, comprehensive exposition of Anabaptist beliefs. It is a necessary addition to every student of radical Protestantism's library.
—Roger E. Olson, Professor of Theology, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University
In this latest work, Finger brings together his decades of participation in multipartner theological dialogue with fellow Christian communities and his own Anabaptist theological heritage, introducing the two theological worlds to one another and engaging similarities, differences and potential areas of increasing convergence and mutual enhancement. If you are from outside the Anabaptist world, you will find here lively access to Anabaptist history and contemporary Anabaptist discussion on a wide variety of theological issues, ranging from baptism, the Lord's Supper, the church's discipline of the believer and economic sharing, through the person and work of Jesus, to eschatology. If you are an Anabaptist, in this book Finger has offered you a transparent theological account of all that he has been sharing and learning in your name, for the benefit of all.
—Ann K. Riggs, Ph.D., Associate General Secretary for Faith and Order, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA
Tom Finger offers us an evangelical Anabaptist theology that represents the best of the tradition of radical catholicity. This is a much-needed work that does not sacrifice catholic creedal Christianity to a radical Anabaptist vision but shows how both can work together. It is a welcome contribution to the current discussion--an Anabaptist theology that doesn't forget to do theology.
—D. Stephen Long, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
With the publication of this magnum opus, Thomas Finger has secured his place on the forefront of constructive Anabaptist theological reflection for the new millennium. In critical, always perceptive, dialogue with the whole range of voices from Scripture, tradition and contemporary theological voices, Finger offers a fresh, compelling theological vision. Highly recommended for both novices and professional theologians across the ecumenical spectrum.
—Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Professor of Systematic Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary; Dozent of Ecumenics, University of Helsinki, Finland
Thomas Finger's book takes Anabaptist systematic theology to a new level of sophistication, in a way that engages a wider ecumenical community while remaining in sustained dialogue with the concrete history of the Anabaptist movement. The resultant conversation between historical and systematic elements is a fascinating model for how theology should be practiced--the more so in a postmodern age heedless of history. Particularly illuminating is Finger's exposition of the biblical theme of 'The Coming of the New Creation' as the organizing center for theology.
—Richard B. Hays, George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament, The Divinity School, Duke University