Friday, December 28, 2007

Recognizing the Church

Thomas Howard's writings have challenged me as few others have. He is the brother of Elisabeth Elliott, the amazing woman who has challenged and encouraged the evangelical community for the past few decades. The Howards, all six children, were raised in an evangelical household with the family focus on Scripture, prayer, and worship. And currently all six are still active in the Christian faith, with Elisabeth and Thomas being thoughtful and prolific writers who have deeply affected the modern church.

But Thomas' faith has taken a more ancient direction than that of his famous sister. In his book Evangelical Is Not Enough, a work that absolutely changed my life and perception of the Church, Thomas Howard clearly articulates the shift in his faith from the evangelical model to Anglicanism, where he remained for twenty-three years. In another of his books, On Being Catholic (which I have not yet read), he further explains his additional faith journey from Anglicanism to Roman Catholic practice.

Because of his journey from evangelical to Catholic practice, Thomas Howard is uniquely suited to comment on the weaknesses and strengths of both modes of worship and faith. The root of his journey can be seen in one central question: what is "The Church"? And in his 1993 essay for Touchstone Magazine on "Recognizing the Church," Howard presents much food for thought about the role of the worldwide Church, Protestant and Catholic. I found the essay a thoughtful yet challenging piece that I will probably "chew on" for quite some time. I think his questions and possible answers are such as should be addressed by those in all Christian traditions, particularly by evangelical pastors. The article can be read here: Recognizing the Church.

So "chew" away on this "meat" for the heart, soul, and faith. Enjoy!

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