The Church Unfinished: Ecclesiology Through the Centuries / Edition 1

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Like human life, the Catholic or universal Church is lived forward but understood backward. To appreciate the Church's past, however, does not requirethat we simply repeat it. Using such a framework, this book puts the present period of the Church in vast historical context. It traces how the Church came from the "community of unexpected persons" whom Jesus gathered around himself and was then shaped, over the course of centuries, by human decisions made in the Spirit. The Church's catholicity is seen to involve an ever expanding memory, embracing the immense richness of past and present times, places, and cultures, and at the same time an openness to assimilating, and possibly being transformed by, a future history in which God offers new possibilities.

Vatican II's Constitution on the Church in the Modern World affirmed that God has endowed humans with a certain autonomy for shaping the world. The book asks whether that has implications for traditional presumptions about the order and structure of the Church. The tendency to presume that nothing new or unexpected could develop in the unfolding future of the Church might close us to the presence of the Spirit in our midst, and fail to recognize that our time, as much as any past time, is an opportunity for God's creative activity and grace.

The book thus proposes that the Church's leadership would do well to nurture a renewed eschatological attitude that embraces a genuine openness to the newness and surprise of the future, leaving room not only for continuity but also for the important elements of change and transformation. For, what the Church is, only the entirety of its history will fully reveal.
undergraduate and graduate courses on the Church or on the development of Christianity
readers who want to take the time and effort to learn more about the church


About the Author

Bernard Prusak, who holds STB and STL degrees from the Gregorian University in Rome, and a JCD, from the Lateran University, Rome, is professor for historical and systematic theology in the department of theology and religious studies at Villanova University.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809142866
  • Publisher: Paulist Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2004
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 403
  • Sales rank: 1,105,480
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Table of Contents


Chapter 1
Jesus' Community of the Unexpected, circa 28-30 A.D.
Unfolding Revelations of a Hidden Presence
Human Openness to a Quiet Invitation
Jesus Came Eating and Drinking
Inviting and Welcoming the Unexpected
God's Presence in a Temple Not Made by Human Hands
Shapes of Church--Varied Interpretations of Jesus
Ultimate Trust in the Quiet Power of Love
A Jesus Understood in Retrospect
Did Jesus Foresee the Church in His Future?
Continuing the Way of Jesus Who Came to Serve
Communities Facing the Future with Creative Fidelity
From Jesus to Church: the Nuances of Development
Church as Ongoing Sacrament Flowing from Jesus

Chapter 2
Shaping the Early Church: Human Decisions in the Spirit, circa 30-110 A.D.
A Community of New Possibility
EKKLESIA: The Assembly of God
A Network of Grassroots Assemblies
Unfolding Realization of Universal Mission
Communion as Shared Reception: A Foundation of Early Church Order
A Cosmic Body of Christ--Corporate Historical Sacrament
The Pluriformity of Early Leadership Patterns
Service for Unity, Not Power
Transitional Leadership for Another Generation
Mono-Episcopacy: The Personification of Ecclesial Unity

Chapter 3
The Jesus Movement as a Communion of Churches, 110-600 A.D.
One, Holy , Catholic, and Apostolic "Episcopal" Church
Synods and Councils as Expressions of Ecclesial Communion
The Church of Rome as Center of Unity
The Solidification of Papal Claims
A Church of Visible Sacraments and Invisible Holiness
Toward a Stratified, Hierarchical Church
Toward a Church of Stratified, Hierarchical Holiness
"Neither Slave nor Free..."--Unfinished Trajectories from Jesus
Confidence Amid the Passing of an Era

Chapter 4
A Changing Church--Struggling with Power, 600-1400, A.D.
Ecclesial Power as an Unintended Consequence of Service
A Changing Experience of Church "From Below"
Patterns of Popular Piety
A Diminishing Pastoral Role for Bishops
The Growth of Papal Administrative Power
The Pinnacle of Papal Power
The Persistence of Evangelical Ideals

Chapter 5
The Birth of Ecclesiology--Theology Responding to Crises, 1400-1900
From Body of Christ to Mystical Body: Changing Ideas of Church
Debates about Papal Power and the Authority of Councils
Defending the Papacy: Torquemada's Summa de Ecclesia
The Protestant Reformation: A Church Divided
The Ecclesiological Climate from the Council of Trent to Vatican I
Vatican I: An Authoritative Petrine Ministry
The Conditions of Papal Infallibility
Openness to "a Desire of New Things:--Rerum Novarum

Chapter 6
Vatican II: Toward a "New Order of Things," 1900-
Vatican II and Aggiornamento: Updating by Creative Retrieval
Back to the Future: Church as Worshiping Community
The Birth Pains of Vatican II's Theology of Church
Church as Sacrament of Unity
Church as the Priestly People of God
Church as a Communion of Churches: a Unity in Diversity
Toward Retrieving a Collegian Leadership of Pope and Bishops
The Ministries of Teaching, Sanctifying and Leading
The Mission of the Non-Ordained and Non-Vowed Faithful
The Eschatological Dimension f the Church
Themes Reprised in a Chorus of Documents
A Wider Horizon for the Church's Self-Understanding
The Reception of Vatican II's Theology of Church
The Unfinished Task of Theological Synthesis

Chapter 7
Restoring a Future to a World Church
A "This-Worldly" Eschatology
Gaudium et Spes
Foundations for a "This-Worldly" Eschatology
From Unmoved Mover to the Death of God
An Eschatological Catholicity
Looking Ahead

Epilogue: A Future for Women in the Church?
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