In the Great Stream
Imagining Churches of Christ in the Christian Tradition
by Leonard Allen
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Pub Date 20 Jul 2021 | Archive Date 07 Dec 2021
Find Your Bearings and Chart a New Path
All throughout the modern period, there has
been a steady campaign for people to “think for
themselves” without tradition’s distorting restraint. As
a result, many Christians now blindly sip a watered-down faith, marketed as “no creed but the Bible.” But,
as Leonard Allen shows, we are always traditioning—
even if one doesn’t believe in tradition. And in this
time of theological uncertainty and confusion, that
process calls for new intentionality and seriousness.
In the Great Stream will show you what the
Great Tradition is, and how it can be our ally
providing weight, ballast, and bearings to all those
who seek to live out—and to hand on—the faith.
Discover the vital recoveries that we need to make
that draw on classic Christian orthodoxy. These older
ways are the key to renewing our hearts and our
“This book offers a paradigm-stretching interpretation of the restorationist impulse in Christian life and thought. Well researched and engagingly argued. Enthusiastically recommended!”
— Timothy George, Distinguished Professor, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University; general editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture
“Leonard Allen has long been a trusted guide for those of us in Churches of Christ, helping us understand the (often) subterranean cultural influences and beliefs that led to both the strengths and vulnerabilities of the American Restoration Movement. I’d love to put a copy of In the Great Stream in the hands of every young minister in this heritage. The book is a primer on the defining convictions of Churches of Christ; it is a stern warning of the shortcomings of a group devoid of rich appreciation for historic Christianity. Allen provides a hopeful call to imagine again the ways of Restoration as we live out the vision of the Triune God: anchored in scripture, centered in the Christian story, empowered by the Holy Spirit, bonded together with so many others in the Great Stream in a patient mission with God.”
—Mike Cope, Director of Ministry Outreach, Pepperdine University
“Is tradition a blessing or a burden? Yes! Are creeds a blessing or a burden? Yes! Leonard Allen has been thinking through this double yes for decades in the context of Churches of Christ and In the Great Stream is the culmination of Leonard Allen’s life’s work. Rather than deny that we have any part in the Great Tradition of church history, In the Great Stream offers readers a celebration of the ongoing work of the Spirit for a world that desperately needs churches and Christians who know fully who they are and how God brought us to our present place. A book for our time? Oh, YES!”
—Randy Harris, author of Living Jesus, Daring Faith
“In the Great Stream is just on time for the rising generation of leaders in Churches of Christ. Many of us have known that theological tradition is both inevitable and essential for the sustenance of ecclesial communities, but we haven’t quite known where to start with that knowledge, or what to do with our own traditions, as we forge ahead. Leonard Allen provides us with a solid navigational chart—one that directs us toward the rich texture of the past which is ours to claim, yet allows for our preserving the best of our own traditioned identities along the way. I hope that we will all read and re-read this book together.”
—Lauren Smelser White, assistant Professor of Theology, Lipscomb University
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Average rating from 1 member
Leonard Allen writes to call the non-creedal churches to clearly and intentionally align and identify themselves with the Great Tradition - classic orthodoxy as marked out by the "rule of faith" and the universal creeds of the early church. The reason for writing this book is that Allen believes the non-creedal churches, with their traditional disregard for tradition, are ill-equipped to deal with the current post-Christian cultural climate. I wholeheartedly agree with him.
Although writing specifically for the Stone-Campbell Movement/Churches of Christ, Allen's call is crucially pertinent to all of the church movements that trace their roots back to Anabaptism in Europe and Seperatist Puritanism in England - these include the Baptists, the Assemblies of God and many other Pentecostals. All of these churches carry within their history a rejection of tradition. The irony of this is that even though these churches passionately dismiss tradition, they unavoidably pass on their own poorly examined traditions! As an Ordained Minister with the Assemblies of God movement, I found Allen's analysis immediately and directly applicable to our situation.
Leonard Allen writes in a style that is accessible and with passion and reason. For all ministers and leaders in churches that have cried "no creed but the Bible", this is a book that will inform, challenge, and inspire you. This is a book for all who care about the future, the strength and purity of the Church, I recommend this book without hesitation.