Disturbing Much Disturbing Many: Theology Provoked by the Basis of Union

Disturbing Much Disturbing Many: Theology Provoked by the Basis of Union

by Geoff Thompson


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The first report of the Joint Commission on Church Union, the body whose work led to the formation of the Uniting Church in Australia, was published in 1959 with the title The Faith of the Church. The Commission argued that any union between the then Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational Churches should not depend on 'ecclesiastical carpentry'. Something more than bits of Presbyterianism, Methodism and Congregationalism tacked on to each other was needed. Instead, a new church, it was argued, should emerge from a 'fresh confession of the faith of the church'. The Commission asked what was it that made the church the church and how could this be confessed in fresh terms? Yet this was a high-risk strategy. The three churches were warned: "If we go forward into a union on the basis of a fresh confession of the faith of the Church, we shall disturb much and disturb many". The commission maintained this approach; it finally yielded the Basis of Union, the document that became and remains the UCA's foundational text. The essays in this book assume that the posture of 'disturbance' runs through the Basis So understood, it retains its capacity to disturb, and by doing so, to enliven the pieties, theologies and institutions of the church as much now as it did in the 1970s. In various ways, the essays explore the theological background to the Basis of Union as well as bringing several of that documents key claims into conversation with some of the UCA's current theological debates, many of which might at first sight seem very distant from the concerns of the Basis. Some of the essays engage very closely with the text of the Basis; in most, however, the emphasis lies much more on the conversations provoked by engaging with it. Particular emphasis is placed on its core Christological claims. As a whole, the book demonstrates that these claims, far from being restrictive and limiting, are richly generative of theological conversation, discussion and debate. Issues discussed include conversations between the Basis and the 'historical Jesus', biblical hermeneutics, contextual theology, the Eucharist as an open table, sexuality, relativism, the commitment to scholarship and the mission of the post-Christendom church. Members of the Uniting Church will gain new insights into the theological orientation of the Basis and be resourced in new, and perhaps unexpected, ways for many of the debates and conversations presently underway in the church.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781532606175
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 08/11/2016
Pages: 292
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

Preface 1

1 'Disturbing Much, Disturbing Many': Confessing the Faith and Theological Foundations 5

2 The risen crucified one…and his strange way: Jesus Christ according to the Basis of Union 27

3 Christ, Church and Scripture: Doctrinal Reflections on Paragraph 5 of the Basis of Union 65

4 "…effective signs of the Gospel": Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and the Porous Walls of the Church 87

5 "…a unity which transcends": What's 'contextual' and what's Theological' about contextual theology'? 123

6 'Well, that's just your perspective': Guarding and Declaring the Right Understanding of the Faith in a Relativist Culture 149

7 Between the Basis and the Preamble: Problems and Possibilities 173

8 "…and the need for a constant appeal to Holy Scripture": Appealing to Scripture, Gentile Inclusion, and Re-imagining Homosexuality 189

9 The Church's Ministry of Scholarship: Its Basis and Function 231

10 'No longer an addendum': Ecclesiological fragments provoked by the Basis 249

Appendix: The Basis of Union, 1992 Edition 267

Index 279

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