Revisioning the Church: Ecclesial Freedom in the New Paradigm

Revisioning the Church: Ecclesial Freedom in the New Paradigm

Revisioning the Church: Ecclesial Freedom in the New Paradigm

Revisioning the Church: Ecclesial Freedom in the New Paradigm

Synopsis

"This book embraces a wide spectrum of contemporary movements, filters them through the biblical record, and produces a model of the church that can make an impact and last for a long time. It is excellent for scholars, pastors, and congregational study." -Carl S. Dudley, McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, Illinois.

Excerpt

In recent years I have taught a course required of students in the Divinity School at Vanderbilt University entitled “The Nature of the Church and Its Ministries.” This was an assignment I took on with considerable trepidation since the literature on the church with which I was familiar was rather dull and conventional and the topic had never been at the center of my own agenda.

I was surprised to discover that through the teaching of this course, I quickly became engaged in a number of controversial issues of importance for contemporary theology—issues related to the conflict between traditionalists and (post)modernists, to the prospect of a rebirth of the church in the Latin American base communities, to current struggles in the Catholic church over authority and ordination, to the women-church movement, to the impact of religious pluralism, and to current crises in ministry. I found myself attempting to work out a comprehensive theological understanding of the ecclesial community in light of these controversies—a vision of ecclesia that might function as both a critical and a productive paradigm in the life of actual churches.

My thoughts about these questions have been helped immensely by a number of Vanderbilt colleagues who, along with several visitors to the Divinity School, presented guest lectures to the course. Where I have drawn upon their ideas directly I have indicated this in the notes. I am especially thankful to Sallie McFague for reading with a critical eye and improving in many ways the book manuscript that grew out of my course lectures, and to Davis Perkins and Barry Blose, of Fortress Press, for their helpful suggestions and thoughtful editing.

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