Wednesday 15 April 2009

Ecclesiology: what to read?

I was extremely grateful for all your help with my recent request for readings on pneumatology. So I thought I’d ask for your help, learned friends, once again: what are the best things to read in a course on ecclesiology? It’s a first-year subject, so I’m aiming for a fairly broad range of topics (e.g. mission, liturgy, ecclesial ethics). And I’m aiming for a selection of texts from various times and traditions (I’m thinking of using Augustine’s City of God as the point of departure). Again, I’ll be selecting about 20 or 30 short readings – so any suggestions would be very welcome!

Incidentally, I was talking with a Catholic friend yesterday about course revisions. He told me that he was once appointed to teach a particular theology course – but after reading through the course outline and textbook, he decided: “I’m going to go to hell if I teach this.” I found this remark to be very instructive and very edifying.


Anonymous said...

Your Catholic friend sounds a bit paranoid...

Anonymous said...

Ha, first up! That means it can only get better from here. I found Bender's "Karl Barth's Christological Ecclesiology" an excellent intro into Barth's ecclesial thought. Healy's "Church, World and the Christian Life: Practical Prophetic Ecclesiology" is an interesting read. Hauerwas has plenty of short readings worth considering. But I'm sure you know that!

Damn! Beaten to the post!


Ben Hudson said...

I am working on an essay for a 3rd yr Doctrine course at the moment and I am finding Volf's "After our likeness - The church as the image of the trinity" very helpful.

Andrew Nicol said...

How about something from Robert Jenson? Perhaps 'Anima Ecclesiastica' from ST 2: The Works of God, or "Christ as Culture 1: Christ as Polity," article in IJST 5:3, 2003. Cheers

Chris TerryNelson said...

Glad you get to teach a course on this, Ben. Ecclesiology has been the best way to force students who perhaps don't even like theology (or who don't think they like theology) to do theology in a systematic way. I hope you're able to teach this survey of ecclesiology so that it gets them to think critically about how other doctrines are coming into play, what's doing "the heavy lifting," etc. Webster's essays on the church (which I know you'll end up using) are always good at exposing the internal theological structure.

Avery Cardinal Dulles's book "Models of the Church" is a good intro book, although its not a great book for thinking systematically about ecclesiology's relation to other loci. It's pretty much a look at contemporary ecclesiologies to date.

A must-use book for looking at what the Bible has to say about the Church is "Images of the Church" by Paul S. Minear. A great deal of useless ecclesiology would not be written if people read this book first.

For mission, I think your past posts on ecclesiology have used extensive bibliographies that would help with this topic, but just to name a few: "Transforming Mission" by David Bosch, "The Continuing Conversion of the Church" by Darrell Guder, all the ecclesiology sections of Barth in IV.1/2/3 (but if you want a nice short essay, do the chapter entitled "The Church" in "God Here and Now").

Moltmann's "The Church in the Power of the Spirit."

Schmemann's "For the Life of the World."

Yoder's "Body Politics" is short and sweet from what I've heard.

Calvin's Institutes...

And perhaps there's some new pop-theology book on the church that you could have students review at the end, something "emerging" perhaps, if ya know what I mean. Not sure what's happening down in Australia, but I'm sure there's something that will make for a good test-case at the end. Let them be theologians. Blessings in this course!

Anonymous said...

Something by Zizioulas,maybe?
Or how about FD Maurice--who's enjoying a revival

John Mark Inman said...

Bonhoeffer--Life Together

Van Gelder Essence of the Church.

Randy Frazee Connecting Church

Peter Carey said...





How about Hauerwas, Community of Character (and Watership Down as well? hmmm)?

To go along with your recent (excellent) series on Stringfellow, how about the Strinfellow "Reader" "A Keeper of the Word" (not totally Ecclesiology, but could be a jumping off point)

Raymond Brown, The Churches the Apostles Left Behind

Todd Brewer said...

"Unity and Multiplicity in the New Testament Doctrine of the Church" by Ernst Kasemann, found in English in: New Testament Questions for Today.

Anonymous said...

Found a sweet article on Spurgeon's Ecclesiology by Gregory A. Wills.

bruce hamill said...

Just reading through the Faith and Order publication "the nature and purpose of the church" reminded me of the way in which ecclesiology is so often abstracted from soteriology - eg in the way we talk about the marks of teh church. My suggestion would be to show how views of church correspond to accounts of soteriology and how the divergences of ecumenical thought reflect a lack of ecumencial consensus on salvation. By the way that Faith and Order publication would be a nice easy starting point for teaching.

bruce hamill said...

By the way alongside Volf's book I would add his article on 'The Spirit and the Church' co-written with Maurice Lee, also chapter 5 of Stephen Longs book on church and social order entitled "Ekklesia: ordering desires" is good. John Webster did an essay "The church and the perfection of God" (forget which book) which is worth a look, Bill Cavanaugh's essay on "Church" in the new Blackwell volume on Political Theology is very good. Also the Jenson essay "Anima Ecclesiastica".

Nick said...

What about Afanasiev's "The Church of the Holy Spirit"?

Anonymous said...

I second (or third) Andrew and Bruce's highlighting Jenson's essay 'Anima Ecclesiastica'. I would also consider adding the following to the mix:

Colin E. Gunton (ed.), Trinity, Time, and Church: A Response to the Theology of Robert W. Jenson.

Colin E. Gunton and Daniel W. Hardy (eds.), On Being the Church: Essays on the Christian Community.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sanctorum Communio: A Theological Study of the Sociology of the Church.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together.

Donald G. Bloesch, The Church: Sacraments, Worship, Ministry, Mission.

Hans Küng, The Church.

John D. Zizioulas, Being As Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church.

Jürgen Moltmann, The Church in the Power of the Spirit.

Jürgen Moltmann, The Open Church: Invitation to a messianic life-style.

Miroslav Volf, After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity.

Nicholas M. Healy, Church, World and the Christian Life: Practical-Prophetic Ecclesiology.

Peter Leithart, Against Christianity.

Peter T. Forsyth, The Church and the Sacraments.

Thomas F. Torrance, Conflict and Agreement in the Church (2 Vols).

Eduard Schweizer, Church Order in the New Testament.

Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson (eds.) Marks of the Body of Christ

Colin E. Gunton, The Christian Faith: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine, Chapter 7.

braun ludavich said...

perhaps the best book to use is aurthur z. einfield's magnus opus teatise on the relation between karl barth's understanding of the 'unitas dei' versus wolfhart pannenberg's highly questionable doctrine of the ergonomic church as 'polis une ontologie'.

einfield, who would later impact the thought of donald bloesch, found a middle way via the supralapsarian thought of dutch-american reformed theologian herman hoeksema. (see richard mouw's einfield influenced work "he shines in all that's fair".)

Chris TerryNelson said...

I second Jason's list, especially Colin E. Gunton and Daniel W. Hardy (eds.), On Being the Church: Essays on the Christian Community. There's an essay in that book called something like "The Church as the Creature of the Word" by Christoph Schwöbel that is probably the most concise statement on the Reformed understanding of the church I've read.

R. E. Aguirre. said...

- Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J. considered Yves Congar the greatest Ecclesiologist in the history of the Church. Congar's double volume La Tradition et les traditions: Essai historique; Essai theologique) is a masterpiece and is summarized in shorter form as, The Meaning of Tradition (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004) which gives ecclesiology from a decidedly Catholic position.

- Kevin Giles gives an excellent treatment on ecclesiology from an Anglican perspective in, What on Earth is the Church? (Illinois: IVP, 1995).

- Richard Gaillardetz, Ecclesiology for a Global Church: A People Called and Sent (Theology in Global Perspective. Orbis Books, 2008) is a recent ecumenical discussion mapping out various trends in Ecclesiology both Catholic and Protestant.

- Daniel Harrington, The Church According to the New Testament: What the Wisdom and Witness of Early Christianity Teach Us Today (Sheed & Ward, 2001) is a Catholic and ecumenical attempt to relate the witness of early (Catholic) ecclesiology to contemporary ecclesiology.

- The Gift of the Church: A Textbook on Ecclesiology in Honor of Patrick Granfield, O.S.B. (Michael Glazier Books, 2000) represents the best of Protestant and Catholic essays concerning the history of ecclesiology in a non-polemical fashion (for the most part).

- Bernard Prusak has written a history of ecclesiology specifically geared for under and graduate courses on the subject, The Church Unfinished: Ecclesiology Through the Centuries (Paulist Press, 2004).

- Paul Minear, Images of the Church in the New Testament (James Clark Co. 2007) ecclesiology from a congregationalist perspective.

R. E. Aguirre
Paradoseis Journal On-line

Tony Hunt said...

Hooker - Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity

Patrik said...

Cavanaugh's Torture and the Eucharist for sure.

Harvey has a small volume called "Another City" which gives a good introduction to that perspective.

Terry Wright said...

There's this book, due out soon:

Of course, I don't know what it's like. There's also the WCC paper, The Nature and Purpose of the Church.

Alex Abecina said...

How about a chapter from either:

Flesh of the Church, Flesh of Christ - Tillard.

Hope Among the Fragments - Radner

Splendour of the Church - de Lubac


Anonymous said...

Zizioulas is a must, but for an entry-level course I would recommend “The Church as Communion.” St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 38, no. 1 (1994): 3–16
"The Church," 120-164 in Lectures in Christian Dogmatics. Edited by Douglas Knight. London: T & T Clark, 2008 [this is a sweet little introduction to theology and a great point of entry into Zizioulas's theology - Douglas Knight should be commended for his work on it]


Unknown said...

Sorry if I'm repeating here but Hans Kung, The Catholic Church.
A bit different but its certainly a challenge to a pre-conceved ideas.

kim fabricius said...

George Herbert, The TempleWilliam Blake, “The Garden of Love”

T. S. Eliot, “Choruses from ‘The Rock’”

W. H. Auden, “Horae Canonicae”

Philip Larkin, “Church Going”

T. Gwenallt Jones, “The Church”, and “The Churches”

R. S. Thomas, “The Minister”

adlterlouw said...

Two titles not mentioned yet:
- Evelyn Underhill, Worship (1936) - ch.4, ch.11-15
- Gerd Theissen, The Religion of the Earliest Churches: Creating a Symbolic World (1999)

adlterlouw said...

One more title, about the church in the New Testament period:
- C.K. Barrett, Church, ministry and sacraments in the New Testament (1985)

Guy Davies said...

John Calvin, 'Institutes' Book IV.

John Owen, 'The True Nature of a Gospel Church', Works Vol. 16.

Edmund Clowney, 'The Church', Contours of Christian Theology, IVP.

Tom said...

Suggestions related to the mission of the church and especially its cross-cultural transmission of the faith are fewest (though certainly not unrepresented). For my money the works of Andrew Walls make an interesting contribution to understanding both the history and identity through time of the church. See especially any of the first four chapters of "The Missionary Movement in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission of Faith."

Anthony Douglas said...

Something must be wrong with your Australian readership for nobody to have yet mentioned either Donald Robinson or Broughton Knox.

So I'll suggest, although it's out of print, what I've found the most useful summary: Robinson's The Church of God: Its Form and Its Unity, Punchbowl, NSW: Jordan Books, 1965. But they wrote the same article many times for different contexts.

Micheal said...

James B. Torrance - Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace

Anonymous said...

What about Cyprian "On the Unity of the Catholic Church?"

Some Luther? Maybe "On the Councils and the Church." LW39

I think Lumen Gentium needs to be on the list.

Evan said...

My major problem with ecclesiology as it is performed these days is that it often remains (very beautiful, to be sure) theoretical abstractions that may connect with some aesthetic zeitgeist or other, but that don't move us very far past the Church as seen by a few well-read commentators. There needs to be a return to institutionally important documents, even if it's with the purpose of eventually criticizing them. I'm shocked that Lumen Gentium hasn't been mentioned here... that- or a section of that- simply needs to be a part of the reading of students of the Church. I think the suggestions of Braaten and Jensen makes sense, as they are more involved with some of these ecclesial ventures than some other theologians that write on ecclesiology. Same with Dulles and Congar.

Barth's The Church and the Churches is a good short work.

Mike Allen (a recent doctorate from Wheaton) also has a wonderful article in the European Journal of Theology on the invisibility of the Church... it's very concise and sharp, and would be a perfect summary for the doctrine: “The Church and the Churches: A Dogmatic Essay on Ecclesial Invisibility.” European Journal of Theology 16, no. 2 (2007): 113-119.

I believe that we read Schwoebel's chapter in Gunton's On Being the Church for an undergrad ecclesiology class... it was a great introduction to Reformation thought on the subject.

These suggestions are obviously pretty limited, mostly covering post-conciliar Catholic and magisterial/Barthian Protestantism. Others can give suggestions from elsewhere. I would say that I think there are better people to read than Volf and Zizioulas, and I like to think that my opinion on them is more objective than simply my personal disagreement. I worry sometimes that they cut too many corners in making the points that they make, and especially because they're so popular these days, I wonder if more detailed ecclesiologies might benefit your students more.

I'm also curious where you would pull from the City of God. Sounds like an interesting way to structure the course, but that's a massive work to draw from, and it's been interpreted in any number of ways... perhaps that ambiguity is exactly what would make it a good launching text.

Alejandro said...

Karkkainen's An Introduction to Ecclesiology: Ecumenical, Historical & Global PerspectivesVolf's After Our Likeness: The Church As the Image of the Trinity

Evan said...

...ah, someone DOES mention LG just as I'm posting... thank you, anonymous, a wise suggestion. And your other suggestions are good as well.

I know there is a LOT being published on ecclesiology these days, but I still think that there needs to be a grounding in all of this traditional stuff. It disciplines thinking about the Church and keeps people from flitting off to every new dead-end that pops up. I don't think one needs to agree with the oldies to benefit from them... they simply are the giants' shoulders upon which we stand.

Jason said...

Marva Dawn "Truly the Community"

Michael Horton "People and Place"

Kevin said...

The first two essays in Dumitru Staniloae's Theology and Church certainly deserve to be on this list: "Trinitarian Relations and the Life of the Church" and "The Holy Spirit and the Sobornicity of the Church."

Brad East said...

On a friendlier reader level, I was deeply influenced by Lee Camp's Yoderian Mere Discipleship. Especially for us free church types, its ecclesiology is wonderful.

Jared said...

Lots of good suggestions on here. I recommend the Volf and Hauerwas books very much. Someone also said "Another City" by Barry Harvey, which is a fairly easy read, but a good one. I'll also throw into the mix "A Peculiar People" by Rodney Clapp.

Mark said...

From a very Lutheran perspective, but with the benefit of being short and suscinct readings.

Formula of Concord - Epitome Art X

Augsburg Confesssion Artivle VII & VIII and possible V

And a guy worth reading, Hermann Sasse. There are a bunch, but a publically available one would be Doctrine of the Office of the Ministry.

One other American attempt at expressing and realizing those Lutheran confessional documents, Walther's Church and Ministry Theses.

Good short readings on the church and its ministry that should spur debate.

Josh said...

I recently finished a year of reading ecclesiology as part of my doctoral work at Fuller. Our reading list included:

Models of the Church, by Avery Dulles

The Great Giveaway, by David Fitch

Another City, by Barry Harvey

An Introduction to Ecclesiology, by Veli-Matti Karkkainen

The Local Church, Agent of Transformation, by Tetsunao Yamamori and Rene Padilla (eds.)

Of these, either Dulles or Karkkainen would be sufficient as a primer (I preferred Karkkainen, as Dulles was dry).

The Fitch book (in which he presents a "postmodern evangelical ecclesiology") is a devastating critique of garden-variety evangelical ecclesiology.

The Harvey book is short and well-written; it offers an Anabaptist/missional ecclesiology (the "contrast society" view). Harvey is a member of the Ekklesia Project, along with Hauerwas and others.

Yamamori and Padilla (et al.) offer a Latin American perspective, with an emphasis on mission.

Yoder offers a Mennonite perspective, with an emphasis on ethics (it's a brief book that can be read in one or two sittings, and it includes a stinging critique of the theology of vocation of the so-called "Magisterial Reformers").

The Essence of the Church, by Craig Van Gelder, is also brief and readable (he writes from a Lutheran and missional perspective, and is most concerned with connecting missiology and ecclesiology).

Like someone else above, I enjoyed reading Rodney Clapp's A Peculiar People (Clapp is always readable); but I wouldn't call this book academic.

Also in agreement with someone above, I found Lee Camp's Mere Discipleship to be a powerful read. However, I would say that it is more directly about discipleship than ecclesiology (yes, I know that Christian discipleship requires Christian community).

And surely no one would question including Bonhoeffer's Life Together.

paul said...

Something to represent patristic thought would surely be good: R.F. Evans' One and Holy: The Church in Latin Patristic Thought (1972), or R. Murray's Symbols of Church and Kingdom: A Study in Early Syriac Tradition ((1975) are good orientations.

There's a lot of excellent material in the various documents of ecumenical dialogues, which are also handy windows into current theological issues and methodologies: for example, Round 10 of the the Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue, The Church as Koinonia of Salvation: Its Structures and Ministries (2004; available on the web).

Anonymous said...

There's a peculiar substance in the lives of individuals as part of about reading some of the live of the saints?

Tony Hunt said...

How could I forget George Herbert's "Church Militant?"

matt tapie said...

De Lubac, Corpus Mysticum

McPartlan, Eucharist Makes the Church

Cavanaugh, Theopolitical Imagination

roger flyer said...

I'm still listening to Led Zep IV.

Anonymous said...

I havent read through the comments, so if these havent already been suggested, please check out:
-Hans Kung, The Church.

-George Hunsinger, The Eucharist and Ecumenism (2008) would have much in there that is very relevant to a module in Ecclesiology. Its a gem!

Christian Collins Winn said...

Wow, what a great list so far! I can echo a few of the suggestions, like the Volf volume and Healy's work. I also found Michael Jinkins little book, The Church Faces Death to be very interesting, as well as Marva Dawn's work on Powers, Weakness and the Tabernacling of God. I think some of the best stuff is really embedded in larger works many of which have already been mentioned (Calvin, Barth, etc.), but one I don't think I have seen is Bonhoeffer's discipleship in which the visibility of the community is discussed. Lastly, Leonardo Boff's short Holy Trinity, Perfect Community and Gerhard Lohfink's Jesus and Community are both quite good, especially the latter.

PS: Maybe listening to Zep's "Houses of the Holy" will provide further inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Living Gently in a Violent World

Vanier and Hauerwas

Would also read some monastics from Benedict to Merton.

What does it mean to be a community that lives together, witnessing with their lives and proclaiming with their lips.

Maybe even Martyrs of Atlas.

Erin said...

Hi Ben,
If it's not too much trouble would you be willing to either post the lists you settle on for both pneumatology and ecclesiology - or even the class reading assignments/ syllabi? Hope that's not too forward/

That way I won't have to scratch my head about what to read next :)

Macrina Walker said...

I don't see the Letters of Saint Ignatius of Antioch mentioned anywhere here!

Zachary R. Thompson said...

A little known lecture given by then Bishop of Monmouth The Rt Revd Rowan Williams. It is entitled Mission & Christology, JC Jones Memorial Lecture 1994. I found a copy at Emory University. I don't know if it is published elsewhere but it is indispensable and only about 20 pages. It would be a great way to set the tone for the course.

Zack Thompson
Atl, Ga

Ben Myers said...

Thanks, folks: you're wonderful! There are so many great suggestions here — I really appreciate it.

Erin, I'd be glad to post the reading lists for these courses once I've drawn them up.

And does anyone know if this Rowan Williams lecture (the one Zachary mentions, "mission and christology") has been published elsewhere?

Thanks again, y'all.

Peter Carey said...

The lecture Zachary mentioned is listed in Mike Higton's excellent online Bibliography of Rowan Williams, and he lists the citation as:
1994b Mission and Christology, J C Jones Memorial Lecture 1994, Brynmawr: Welsh Members Council, Church Mission Society

It seems it also was on amazon in the uk, but not available now. You may be able to get it via the old fashioned interlibrary loan (like we used to have to do in the late 80s)...

...I was able to read the Archbishop's unpublished dissertation that way...

Good luck, I would love to read that lecture as well...



Matt Jenson said...

I've found Webster's essay "On Evangelical Ecclesiology", Bonhoeffer's "Discipleship" and Newbigin's "The Household of God" all very helpful.

Saint Egregious said...

An ecclesiology class that sent you to hell would indeed be most edifying of all.
Brothers Karamazov would top my list. Is there room in Alyosha's pious heart for Ivan's hell? Now there's an ecclesiological question worth pursuing.

andrewbourne said...

For a simple undergraduate text Richard McBrien`s `The Church` will probably tick all the boxes

Lionel Andrades said...

Thursday, November 17, 2011
The Society of St. Pius X needs to announce that the baptism of desire is not an exception to the dogma and that everyone with no exception needs to convert into the Church for salvation.Otherwise it is an impediment for saying the Latin Mass. It is the actual rejection of a dogma which Pope Pius XII called an ‘infallible statement’. SSPX must recognize that it is an impediment for offering Holy Mass according to Canon Law.

Similar to the SSPX, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), former SSPX members, are rejecting the dogma and Vatican Council II (LG 14, AG 7) which says all need to enter the Church with Catholic Faith and the baptism of water. For the FSSP all in the present time need to enter the Church except for those in invincible ignorance and the baptism of desire.

I do not know if the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Vatican will consider the SSPX and FSSP error an impediment to offering Mass since the Paulist Fathers at the Church of Santa Susanna in Rome reject the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus. They claim Vatican Council II has changed this teaching and they provide a theology of religions on their website. They offer Mass in English, ordain their priests and the Vatican gives them canonical status.There are no demands made on them by the Vatican as is the case for the SSPX.

Fr. Peter Scott writes on the SSPX website that unlike the modernists they believe in the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus. Yes- as compared to the Paulist Fathers in Rome. However there are priests who offer the Novus Ordo Mass who say they respect the dogma however those in invincible ignorance and the baptism of desire are exceptions to the dogma. Sounds familiar?

Fr. Peter Scott criticizes the modernist ecclesiology in a letter to Bishop Raymond Boland, of the diocese of Kansas City, USA. Yet the SSPX is using the same ecclesiology as the priests who offer the Novus Ordo Mass. If the SSPX priests assume that the baptism of desire contradicts the dogma then they also imply that the baptism of desire is visible for us and is as explicit as the baptism of water.I do not like to write all this since in many ways I admire the SSPX but it is unfortunate that they are using the same ecclesiology as in the Novus Ordo Mass.

Fr. Peter Scott and Fr. Francois Laisney of the SSPX assume in written reports on their website, and in a book by Fr. Laisney, that the baptism of desire is visible and explicit and so is an exception to the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.The SSPX needs to issue a clarification on this subject-Lionel Andrades

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