The Church: A Guide for the Perplexed presents readers with an upper-level introduction to the Christian doctrine of the Church. This book is a rigorous comprehensive introduction to the doctrine of the Church by taking the tack of walking readers through the internal logic of ecclesiology. Rather than simply offering a compendium of perspectives on each issue that arises, the authors seek to teach and model thinking theologically, with the grain of scripture and ecclesial reflection, about the Church. The chapters are peppered with two to three excursuses per chapter which consider a particularly pertinent issue that arises from the doctrine's development (e.g. the move from Jesus to the Church, schism and the rise of denominations, sacramental mediation) or contemporary concerns (e.g. the question of other religions, contemporary ecumenical questions, the emerging church).
While the overall tone and content of the book articulate and invite discussion on the problematics of ecclesiology, these excurses will provide ample opportunity to examine and (where appropriate) untangle ecclesiological knots. Continuum's Guides for the Perplexed are clear, concise and accessible introductions to thinkers, writers, and subjects that students and readers can find especially challenging - or indeed downright bewildering. Concentrating specifically on what it is that makes the subject difficult to grasp, these books explain and explore key themes and ideas, guiding the reader towards a thorough understanding of demanding material.
This is an excellent and much-needed introduction to ecclesiology. The book is wide-ranging, engaging the most important classical sources and some of the most interesting contemporary theological voices. The authors consider ancient controversies and new movements like the Emerging Church, always steering a steady course between ecclesiological sloth and ecclesiological pride. This book is a model for how generous and critical theological conversation should be conducted.
—William T. Cavanaugh, senior research fellow, Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology, and Professor of Catholic Studies, DePaul University
The Church is indeed a guide—for both the perplexed and the apoplexed. Jenson and Wilhite offer an important theological tonic to those for whom "church" connotes scandal or abuse rather than good news and reconciliation. Writing from their own free church traditions but for the whole church, they provide a non-partisan overview of the doctrine of the church that is clear but never simplistic. They include several well-judged excurses on particularly important matters (e.g., the question of Jesus' founding the church, the development of the episcopacy, women's ordination, and the emerging church). Their main burden, however, is to weave a positive account of the nature, function, and origin of the church as the means by which the triune God asserts and advances the kingdom that arrived in Jesus. This wonderful collaboration provides further evidence that "wherever two or three are gathered in Christ's name," Christ is indeed in their midst.
—Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Blanchard Professor of Theology, Wheaton College Graduate School
This is simply a great introduction to the theology of the church, ecclesiology, that is neither an attempt to justify a particular conception of the church, nor narrow in its concerns.
In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by a world-class set of research and study tools. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.
Matt Jenson is a systematic theologian in the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University, La Mirada, CA. He is the author of The Gravity of Sin: Augustine, Luther and Barth on ‘homo incurvatus in se’ (T&T Clark, 2007).
David Wilhite is a historical theologian (patristics) at George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University, Waco, TX. He is the author of Tertullian the African: An Anthropological Reading of Tertullian's Context and Identities (Walter de Gruyter, 2007).