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A Brutal Unity

The Spiritual Politics of the Christian Church

Ephraim Radner

Publication Year: 2012

To describe the Church as "united" is a factual misnomer—even at its conception centuries ago. Ephraim Radner provides a robust rethinking of the doctrine of the church in light of Christianity's often violent and at times morally suspect history. He holds in tension the strange and transcendent oneness of God with the necessarily temporal and political function of the Church, and, in so doing, shows how the goals and failures of the liberal democratic state provide revelatory experiences that greatly enhance one's understanding of the nature of Christian unity.

Published by: Baylor University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii


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pp. iv

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pp. v-vi

I could not have written this book without important support and encouragement from several people. I can name only a few of those for whom I am deeply grateful: John Jones of Crossroad Publishing for first suggesting a project that grew into the present one; ...

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pp. 1-18

The point of this volume is simple enough: to live is to give up and give away parts of ourselves. This is not just a comment about the social character of our lives. Giving up parts of ourselves fuels our very being as persons: it is how we learn, it is how we think, it is how we grow, it is how we make decisions, it is how we love. ...

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1. Religious Violence and Christian Blasphemy

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pp. 19-62

It may seem odd to begin a discussion of ecclesiology, and of the nature of Church unity especially, with a discussion of the liberal state. But we must start this discussion by staking out a central ecclesiological claim that is bound to a political reality: that is, we must seek to identify the Church first of all as a killer, ...

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2. Division Is Murder

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pp. 63-120

“All the world, you say, lived peacefully among its Religions: each in its little corner undisturbed, following the faith of its fathers, free of debate among its member except when it came to enlarging empires and principalities! But then, with the coming of the 1500s, everything fell apart, and divided into Sects and Heresies ...

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3. The Sins of the Church

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pp. 121-168

We have already noted Pope John Paul II’s 1996 letter regarding the Church’s relation to the Rwandan genocide. In it he stated in a frequently quoted phrase that “the Church in itself cannot be held responsible for the guilt of its members that have acted against the evangelical law.”1 ...

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4. The Conciliar Ideal

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pp. 169-220

The unity that is the opposite of ecclesial division has been variously construed. Among its most common contemporary tropes of explication is that of “communion,” drawn from the New Testament Greek term koinonia.1 But what constitutes such unity ranges over several forms of commonality that draw lines of connection with divine realities ...

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5. The Limits of Consensus

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pp. 221-268

Conciliarism is only one model for defining and ordering ecclesial unity. But in fact, it constitutes an organizing model for something more fundamentally that is shared even by, let us say, “monarchical” approaches to unity: that is, “agreement.” ...

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6. The Procedural Quest for Unity and Its Obstacles

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pp. 269-310

The fashion by which Christian agreement has been reached has generally been “conciliar” in the broadest sense: some gathering, even if only in response to a previous dictate, that, through some process or other has its members—representative or not—“agree” with a final outcome of statement or practice. ...

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7. Conscience and Its Limits

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pp. 311-352

We ended our last chapter with a mention of John Hus, an example of a certain failure of “procedure.” It was a procedural failure, furthermore, that took place at the heart of the Western Church’s most notable attempt to canonize procedure’s efficacy in bringing about ecclesial unity, that is, the Council of Constance. ...

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8. Multiple Consciences and the Rise of Solidarity

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pp. 353-404

How then is the law of God to be apprehended and communicated? And is such a “law” given in agreement? Certainly, as Ratzinger writes, a “mere consensus” of (human) wills does not necessarily, nor might it ever, coincide with the truth. Yet in what way does the protest of one conscience against such consensus, ...

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9. The Unity of Sacrifice

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pp. 405-448

Taken from Mordecai Richler’s successful novel, the quote above marks a snippet of conversation between the dying uncle and his grasping and conflicted nephew. Perhaps Uncle Benjy’s claim about “men” is true as a hope, or at least an ideal. But if “boys will be boys, men are better at it”; ...

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pp. 449-468

The fullness of standing beside touches Christian unity on every level: in groups, in congregations, in ecclesial communions, and among them. But that “fullness” goes to the reach of the enemy. This has rendered confusing the practical distinctive of Christian unity. ...

Scripture Index

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pp. 469-474

Subject Index

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pp. 475-482

E-ISBN-13: 9781602586314
E-ISBN-10: 1602586314
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602586291
Print-ISBN-10: 1602586292

Page Count: 482
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1