In The Rebirth of Orthodoxy, Thomas Oden describes the unexpected resurgence of a new Christian Orthodoxy—post-denominational, flexible, rooted in ancient beliefs, and remarkably relevant to the needs of our time.
Our generation has witnessed a stark reversal in our time: as modern secular and political ideologies continue to wane, communities of traditional faith are flourishing now more than ever. In Christianity, this resurgence shows itself in widespread efforts to reclaim the classic spiritual disciplines: close study of scripture, daily prayer, regular observance in a worshiping community, doctrinal integrity, and moral accountability. This rebirth is gathering across denominational lines and rejects the old partisan battle-lines of the past.
Oden contends the challenges of the new millennium are less political, than spiritual and moral. He sees the coming years as a pivotal period of opportunity, recovery, and rebuilding in which our faith heritage will regain relevance and power, even though it has been long disdained by media managers and the knowledge elites. The Rebirth of Orthodoxy is at once a description of a movement already underway, as well as a statement of its essential features.
“Before modern science, human cultures were oriented toward maintaining and enhancing the received wisdom of the past. But within modern times, doubt has arisen as to whether any wisdom of any past is worth salvaging. Modern science and its technologies have left us cynical about the value of anything in the past tense.” (Page 8)
“A readiness to suffer for the sake of the truth permeates the whole fabric of biblical teaching. It is not an optional part of the curriculum for equipping the faithful.23 Rather, it is what is meant by taking up the cross and following Jesus.” (Page 50)
“Because modern diversity has no time to listen to other generations, it risks a massive loss of wisdom.” (Page 115)
“Orthodoxy itself is nothing more or less than the ancient consensual tradition of Spirit-guided discernment of scripture” (Page 31)
“The orthodox rule: a text may be quoted apart from its context, but not against its context” (Page 103)
For the story Oden tells, the case he makes, and the challenge he issues here, I thank God. He documents aspects of a return to roots that is truly momentous. This book is a must-read for all concerned about God’s future in this world.
In a very perceptive way, Thomas Oden has articulated the crisis of faith in which many believers find themselves. His provocative response, in using the framework of Vincent of Lerins, can open the doors for dialogue between groups who in the past found little in common. Professor Oden’s personal conversion has enriched the entire Church.
—Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago
Thomas Oden’s The Rebirth of Orthodoxy has been very much influenced by what he has learned from his conversations with Jewish thinkers, both living and dead. Indeed because of what he has learned, he has much to teach Jewish thinkers who are involved in our own attempts to retrieve Jewish orthodoxy. In fact, he shows how much these parallel efforts have already intersected to the benefit of both Christian and Jewish orthodoxies.
—David Novak, Professor of Jewish Studies, University of Toronto