A New Old Book on Tradition

by Steve Ray on December 3, 2004

My friend Mark Brumley, President of Ignatius Press, writes:

Theology students, apologetics enthusiasts, and others interested in theology often ask me, “What’s a good book on Tradition?” 

Tradition is one of those ideas that people often get muddled—including many apologists.  In part that’s because there are so many different meanings to the word.  Apologists commonly (and rightly) distinguish between what is often called “capital ‘T’ Tradition” and “lower case ‘t’ tradition”, the former being divine and the latter human. That distinction is helpful, but not sufficient.  There’s a lot more to the theological notion of Tradition (and tradition).

Probably the best, relatively short work on the subject is Yves Congar’s The Meaning of Tradition.  This is an accessible, more coherent presentation of the material Congar put together in his massive two-volume work, Tradition and Traditions.

Ignatius Press has just re-published Congar’s classic volume, I am delighted to report. Cardinal Avery Dulles’ insightful Foreword to the new Ignatius Press edition is now available online at IgnatiusInsight.com: http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features/carddulles_foreword_dec04.asp.

Check it out and please help spread the word to apologists and others who are interested in the subject. And—at the risk of sounding like Columbo—just one more thing: Ignatius Press has also recently published Louis Bouyer’s The Word, Church, and Sacraments in Protestantism and Catholicism.  There is no other book in English in print today that so succinctly explains in a friendly way the key differences between Protestants and Catholics on these subjects.  Bouyer shows how many Catholics and Protestants misunderstand Catholic teaching about the Bible, the authority of the Church, and the Sacraments.

 Every theology student and apologist who participates in Catholic/Protestant discussions on these subjects needs to read this book.  Bouyer is lucid, and he is fair to both sides of the discussion, even though he is himself a convert from Protestantism.  You get neither pabulum nor polemics, but a patient exposition of the subject.  Bouyer is a master.

 I can’t recommend these books highly enough. 

 Mark Brumley

 (Note from Steve: I just ordered them both!)

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