A Brutal Unity: The Spiritual Politics of the Christian Church

A Brutal Unity: The Spiritual Politics of the Christian Church

by Ephraim Radner

Hardcover(New Edition)

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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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781602586291
Publisher: Baylor University Press
Publication date: 10/15/2012
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 488
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 5.30(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Ephraim Radner is Professor of Historical Theology at Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto. He is the author or editor of seven books, including The Fate of Communion: The Agony of Anglicanism and the Future of a Global Church and Hope Among the Fragments: The Broken Church and Its Engagement of Scripture. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Table of Contents


1. Religious Violence and Christian Blasphemy

Postscript: The Tears of Peter

2. Division Is Murder

Postscript: Judas the Apostle

3. The Sins of the Church

Postscript: Loving Jerusalem

4. The Conciliar Ideal

Postscript: The Way Together

5. The Limits of Consensus

Postscript: The First Council

6. The Procedural Quest for Unity and Its Obstacles

Postscript: The Prophetic Contest

7. Conscience and Its Limits

Postscript: The Crucifixion of Conscience

8. Multiple Consciences and the Rise of Solidarity

Postscript: A Figural Phenomenology of the Church

9. The Unity of Sacrifice


What People are Saying About This

James K.A. Smith

...a remarkable book that deserves to be read and pondered from multiple angles.

Matthew Levering

Massively learned and beautifully written, this book has to be the best work ever written against the holiness and unity of the Church by a Christian theologian. Not one to mince words, Radner presents Judas as the mirror of the faithless, violent, and fractured Church. For Radner, the failure of liberalism arises from and reflects the failure of the Church to repent. But he does not end here: he argues that in God's creation of things separate from God, and in Christ's radical giving of himself, we find God's holiness and oneness as a gift for God's people and as an invitation to imitate God's asymmetrical giving. Those who disagree with Radner will thank him for pressing us to examine anew why Christians rightly confess the Church to be one and holy.

Peter Leithart

Ephraim Radner is one of those rare theologians whose work can be described as relentless. His most recent book, A Brutal Unity, may be his most relentless yet. Radner dismantles every self-congratulatory, self-protective ecclesiology that blinds Christians to what is self-evident to everyone else: The Church is shattered.

Timothy Longman

Radner provides a powerful theological reflection on division and Christian complicity in violence. Drawing on a wide array of Biblical, theological, and philosophical sources as well as numerous specific historic examples, he argues for a reconceptualization of Christian unity based not on forced consensus or procedural norms but on an understanding of the centrality of division to Christian life and a commitment to conscience, confrontation, and coexistence. A Brutal Unity should be essential reading for anyone concerned about social conflict and violence and how Christians can contribute more effectively to promoting peace.

Stanley Hauerwas

Radner's A Brutal Unity is at a book of startling insight, extraordinary erudition, and is replete with theological implications. His ability to help us see connections between Christian disunity and liberal political theory and practice should command the attention of Christian and non-Christian alike. A Brutal Unity is a stunning achievement.

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