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I am currently reading N. T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. And I must say it is one of the most enjoyable reads in long while. I don’t remember the last time I’ve had so many “aha” moments about passages and concepts so familiar. Over and over again I found my assumptions delightfully challenged and reshaped.

This leads me to an important principle: It is beneficial (and enriching) to read authors from outside of our own traditions.

Lately, I have made a practice of intentionally reading people who write from within a different tradition than my own. And I have found it valuable for the following reasons:

  • it broadens my perspective of the church
  • it helps me to understand /relate to people within those traditions
  • it has potential to reveal blind spots within my own tradition
  • it removes unhelpful caricatures that flourish through “hearsay”
  • it teaches me how to disagree agreeably, if you know what I mean
  • it deepens my respect for the diversity of the body and reminds me that I don’t have to agree with everything someone says to be encouraged / edified by their work

The list could go on.

Here is a sample of some of the writers that I have read recently and the traditions they write from:

  • N.T. Wright – Anglican Communion (Church of England)
  • Karl Barth – Swiss Reformed (Confessing Church in Germany)
  • Walter Brueggemann – United Church of Christ
  • Richard B. Hays – United Methodist
  • T. F. Torrance – Church of Scotland
  • D. A. Carson – Evangelicalism [my own tradition]
  • John Webster – Anglican Communion (Church of England)
  • John Goldingay – Episcopal
  • Jürgen Moltmann – German Reformed

I have not read very much from the Orthodox tradition but I am eager to read something by Georges Florovsky or his pupil John D. Zizioulas, from within that tradition.