Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Use of Protestant Authors

A recent post here on NT Wright has spurred some interesting discussion about the use of Protestant authors.  So, I thought it would be interesting to see which non-Catholic writers you, my readers, like to use or refer to when doing study or devotions.  This does not necessarily mean that you endorse every aspect of a particular Protestant author's commentary, but perhaps you have been able to find good fruit in the use of some non-Catholic works.  (Of course, one could argue that there are a number of Catholic authors out there that you would need to be as much if not more discerning in how you use them compared to many a Protestant author.)

I'll start us off with a Protestant author that I have been using quite a bit of during the past year.  Many of you, I am sure, are familiar with singer/songwriter Michael Card.  Well, along a successful thirty year career in Christian music, Michael also received his B.A. and M.A. in Biblical Studies studying under Dr. William Lane at Western Kentucky University.  He has composed a number of books over the past decade that find a middle ground between devotional and scholarly.  In particular, I really enjoyed his 2009 book called A Better Freedom: Finding Life as Slaves of Christ which explores the biblical imagery of slavery and how it related to Christian discipleship.  It was a wonderful read and I highly recommend it.

Recently though, Michael has commenced a new series of books, published by InterVarsity Press, called the Biblical Imagination Series.  The goal of this series is to "Bridge the Gap Between Heart & Mind" when reading the Scriptures.  

As the website puts it: "There is a bridge between the heart and mind: the imagination, the means by which the Spirit begins to undo what was disintegrated by the Fall. When we allow our imaginations to be recaptured by the Holy Spirit, the facts we know in our heads come to life in our hearts. When we hear these words of Jesus something inside us shudders. We wince at the thought of someone - anyone - who has the ability to see and hear, and yet stubbornly refuses to perceive and understand. And, truth be told, our greatest fear is that we might be just that person. But what does biblical imagination look like and ask? How do we apply facts in our heads to aches in our hearts? What is missing in our understanding that leads to a more biblical response to the Spirit of God?"

Each volume, which covers are particular Biblical book, is accompanied by a music album from Michael Card that explores many of the themes that are highlighted in the book.  So far, the available volumes are Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  Along with the books and music, Michael also leads conferences devoted to promoting Biblical imagination.  

This past year I used Michael's book on Mark not only for devotions, but I also incorporated a couple of his insights into my Catholic Biblical School of Michigan classes on Mark.  So, I have found his work exceedingly helpful and look forward to diving in to Matthew, which I just downloaded on my Kindle.  Michael's volume on the Gospel of John is due out sometime next year.


Diakonos said...

Realizing the need to use Protestant authors with a discerning Catholic mind, I have been greatly helped and influenced by:

David Alan Black and his "Why Four Gospels?" book which as he states is fundamentally an exposition of the work of the late scripture scholar, Dom Bernard Orchard, OSB. This work uphold the academic and historical basis for Matthew as the first Gospel rather than Mark and gives interesting theories for Luke and John as well.

William Barclay and his Daily Bible commentary series have been excellent. I first learned of him from a talk by Venerable Fulton Sheen back in college c. 1980 or so. I think these works were the fiest to help me see Jesus and the Gospel in the light of his times and culture.

And of course, NT Wright in so many ways: his emphasis upon the role of the Kingdom in Jesus' preaching; his apologetics in the face of the Jesus of History v. Christ of Faith debates; his "Everyone" series...so many things.

I am starting to hear things about Phillip Yancey and am thinking of picking up his book, "The Jesus I Never Knew"...anyone have a word for or against this book/author?

Biblical Catholic said...

The problem with that particular video isn't the fact that NT Wright is a Protestant, but that he begins the video with a really lame anti-Catholic talking point....

Deep South Reader said...

While it is true that Protestants have contributed greatly to Christian academia...the question will always be "with all their study and research, why are they still Protestant?" As long as someone approaches Christian revelation with the a priori position of "well, the Catholics MUST be wrong", how are they objective about other topics? Say what you want about Catholic behavior, say what you want about Catholic homilies not "inspiring" you (because that's what it's all about, eh?), but Catholic theology is the only (completely) intellectually and theologically sound faith. (If it's not, then the Petrine promise has failed).

Timothy said...

Well, all that may be true, but it doesn't diminish the fact that we can learn from our Protestant brothers in the area of the Scriptures. Dei Verbum even encourages Protestant participation in the development of translations of the Bible. I just don't think we should avoid the good things that come out of the Protestant world, precisely since they received the Bible from the Catholic Church.

Russ said...


I read Mr. Yancey's The Jesus I Never Knew about 5-6 years ago and couldn't put it down. I started reading it in a bookstore and ended up buying it. He is a man who is serious about his faith (I think he's Evangelical?) and isn't afraid to ask questions, and more importantly, isn't afraid of the answers he might find, if that makes sense. I've read a couple of other books of his since then, and experienced the same "problem" as before, I couldn't put them down. He is a very good writer and has a sharp, inquisitive mind. Hope that helped.

Diakonos said...

Thanks, Russ! I have heard the same from a couple of priests and deacons here.

Anonymous said...

As a former Protestant, I have continued to use Protestant scholars as a source of information. Primarily, in historical Jesus studies. For example; Richard Bauckham's "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses" and Larry Hurtado's "Lord Jesus Christ" and "The Earliest Christian Artifacts."

When it comes to things that are more theological, I stick with Catholic authors.