The Reformation as Renewal: Retrieving the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church by Matthew Barrett
Chapter 2: Spiritual Assent and Mystical Dissent
Chapter 3: Faith Seeking Understanding
Due to various factors, I am going to make these summaries shorter. I hope they clarify some important matters and motivate you to go deeper into the Protestant tradition.
I will again be adding some of my own reflections…
In chapter 2, Barrett covers various monastic orders and mystical movements of the medieval period. A few thoughts…
It is all too easy for us Protestants to discount or discard all together the best of the monastic and mystical traditions. My two short, yet good recommendations to correct this problem are:
The Rule of St. Benedict and Of the Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis (William C. Creasy, ed.)
In closing out chapter 2, we must remember that the late Middle Ages was hardly a “spiritual graveyard, lifeless and full of darkness.” (Barrett, p. 69)
Chapter 3 covers one of my favorite topics: faith seeking understanding. Too many conservative Christians in the West are confused about what biblical faith is and what faith entails. Biblical faith is neither a subjective wish-fulfillment nor is it mathematical certitude. People like Augustine and Anselm invite us to appreciate that there is both struggle and increasing clarity that comes from trusting in God.
A seminal book for me, and one that I regularly recommend is: Lesslie Newbigin’s Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship. Newbigin makes a compelling case that many Christians view faith as almost mathematical certainty or on the other side of things, as simply a subjective choice.
If you are looking for a clear introduction to church history, I would recommend Church History in Plain Language, fifth edition, by Bruce L. Shelley.