Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Fascinating Memoir of Theological Journey to Wilderness and Back

I read recently Thomas Oden's memoir " A Change of Heart". Oden was a leading theological liberal progressive or radical in the 1960''s. Having abandoned every semblance of Christian orthodoxy he was led to "the feverish search for something else to justify a denuded Christian faith." He tells the story of his journey to the theological far country until 40 and then he has spent the second forty years serving the historic orthodox Christian Faith. He makes some very candid admissions about the mindset of a theological radical liberal like himself.
He says: " I had been enamoured with novelty, candidly, I had been in love with heresy."
He worked for years within the Methodist church USA, serving in theological educations and denominational committees. So he worked within churches with people who held the faith he had abandoned. How did he work alongside many orthodox church members while holding different views? He confesses: "The trick was to learn to sound Christian while undermining traditional orthodoxy."
Oden tells the long story of how he grew disillusioned with theological liberalism and discovered the truth and power of historic classical orthodoxy. It was the early church fathers who had addressed the questions he had been asking. Oden saw in his own career what this radical emptying of Christian Faith diminished and virtually destroyed the mainstream theological seminaries of the U.S. he saw how vibrant churches thrived in orthodoxy:"The more traditional, the more flourishing".


This memoir should be compulsory reading for all theological teachers, students and denominational leaders. It has a lot of relevance and prophetic application to our own church and others like it.