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The Story of the Church: Revised and Expanded

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  • Posted July 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Personal Element of Church History

    This updated and expanded edition of Alfred McBride's 1996 work is an excellent resource for the classroom, individuals, and small groups. The author's goal is to bring to life the personal element of church history, "and let the message of the past assume greater relevance for our own day." The book's format provides for flexible use, though a start-to-finish approach is the clear intent. Four parts, the early church, the Middle Ages, the reformation, and the modern church (1800-2000), comprise thirty chapters that highlight key events. Text takes the form of fictional interviews, diaries, letters, and dialogues; short stories; and mini-dramas. Each chapter closes with questions for discussion and reflection, and most include sections on looking back and connecting to our times.

    The early church section addresses development of ritual. McBride creates a diary that might have been written by Aegeria, who witnessed and recorded the church's fourth-century initiation practices. In a sidebar, he explains that today's Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) "echoes Aegeria's description of baptismal customs in the early church." In the looking back section he describes customs such as standing on animal skins, the eight-sided baptistery, and triple immersion and links them to modern liturgical practices. Under the heading connecting to our times, McBride highlights official and personal ways for those born into the church to relate to the sacraments of initiation throughout their lives. Reflection questions for this chapter deal with community involvement in the baptismal process and understanding infant baptism.

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