Anglicanism and the Christian Church: Theological Resources in Historical Perspective

Article excerpt

Anglicanism and the Christian Church: Theological Resources in Historical Perspective. By Paul Avis. Revised and expanded edition. London and New York: T&T Clark, 2002. xxi + 393 pp. £35.00/ $65.00 (cloth); £18.99/$29.95 (paper).

Readers who know the 1989 edition of this good book will welcome the author's thorough and expansive 2002 revision, not because the earlier one needed repair but because the revision provides even more insightful content. The intervening years have enriched the author's already thoughtful perspective.

Paul Avis is the general secretary of the Council on Christian Unity of the Ceneral Synod of the Church of England and director of the Centre for the Study of the Christian Church at the University of Exeter. He has written energetically and knowingly on a variety of subjects, including God and the Creative Imagination: Metaphor, Symbol, and Myth in Religion and. Theology (London and New York: Routledge, 1999). The volume under consideration here intends to serve as "a study of Anglican ecclesial identity, selfdefinition and apologetic" (p. xix). This is very like the first edition. What distinguishes the current revision, a work that the author intends to "supercede" its predecessor (p. x), is his greater attention to the Anglican evangelical and liberal traditions, the addition of two new chapters that extend his attention to the end of the twentieth century, and his careful reconsideration of the insights and nuances that filled the first edition.

Anglicanism and the Christian Church is essentially an exposition of three nearly sequential ecclesiological "paradigms"-the Erastian paradigm associated with the energies of the Reformation and evident in the Church of England well into the twentieth century; the apostolic paradigm, a companion and overlay to the Erastian paradigm and the gift and heritage of the Tractarians; and the baptismal paradigm, the product and companion of the ecumenical awakening and theological renewal of the later twentieth century. Avis brings to these considerations a broad scholarship and an ecumenical sensitivity that show not only in his thoughtful treatment of Luther and Lutheran influence in Anglican theological evolution but also in his fixing on the baptismal paradigm as the one appropriate and necessary to our times, the "authentic paradigm," as he describes it in his newly refreshed final chapter. …


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