Thomas Oden’s Memoir Coming My Way

Book coming my way through library – “A Change of Heart: A Personal and Theological Memoir,” by Thomas Oden.

I have huge respect for Oden and his recovery of the church fathers for the church today. He is the editor of IVP’s Ancient Christian Commentary series and a seminal thinker for what he calls “Paleo-Orthodoxy.” In the ACC series he only goes outside of the ancient fathers when he has to in order to illuminate a text. I think it is surprising to most how little one has to go outside of the fathers to explicate a text.

One of the things that I most appreciate about Oden, as well, is that he sticks with the consensus of the church for the first five centuries. One will observe that as the Protestant church emerges the larger part of their confessional statements are their particular brand of soteriology. The fine-tuning of soteriology gets, well, very fine-tuned, shall we say. The more the fine-tuning the larger the confessional statement and the more heated the debate and the more denominations we have. It can get way overdone.

One of the things Oden avoids is the heavy predestinarianism of Augustine, something which was newer in the church and something the councils following him would not affirm. I think there is wisdom there.

Oden’s particular journey was away from radical liberalism as a Methodist to an orthodoxy rooted in the early church consensus. I am in agreement with that instinct. Oden knows theology inside and out and has a way of keeping outside of the thick jungle of theological wrangling.

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