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Reforming Wayward Reformers

Renewal movements are winning the battle against mainliners, says Thomas Oden.
2006This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

Picture a broad battlefield. Arrayed on one side are the big mainline denominations. They are undisciplined, hemorrhaging members, and theologically starving.

On the other in newfound coalition are the Confessing Christians from within these mainline groups. With growing numbers and accomplishments, they plan to hold their ground and win back even more.

Tom Oden, a self-confessed former Bultmannian, has long been setting up the command structure and marshalling the Confessing troops. Here he is a combination of herald, troubadour, and chronicler of the gathered forces as they engage the entrenched mainline hegemony.

Oden is blunt, pulling no punches about the "implosion" of mainline churches. He is confident, almost verging on triumphalism. He is comprehensive, showing readers a broad array of renewal groups, theological statements, and battle tactics. And he is encouraging, rallying the evangelical troops.

Related Elsewhere:

Turning Around the Mainline is available from and other book retailers.

The book began as a CT cover story.

Articles by Tom Oden include:

Pope 'Broadened the Way' for Evangelicals and Catholics | Theologian Tom Oden sees continued cooperation ahead. (April 5, 2005)
Death Watch | One of the world's earliest Christian cultures totters on the edge of extinction. (January 1, 2003)
The Not-So-New Ecumenism | A recent initiative is structured to exclude evangelicals in the mainline (August 5, 2002)
Mainstreaming the Mainline | Methodist evangelicals pull a once 'incurably liberal' denomination back toward the orthodox center. (August 7, 2000)
The Real Reformers are Traditionalists | If there is no immune system to resist heresy, ...
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