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A Brutal Unity
The Spiritual Politics of the Christian Church
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.
1. Religious Violence and Christian Blasphemy
2. Division Is Murder
3. The Sins of the Church
4. The Conciliar Ideal
5. The Limits of Consensus
6. The Procedural Quest for Unity and Its Obstacles
7. Conscience and Its Limits
8. Multiple Consciences and the Rise of Solidarity
9. The Unity of Sacrifice
"...a remarkable book that deserves to be read and pondered from multiple angles."
—James K.A. Smith, editor of Comment Magazine, Calvin College
"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."
—Matthew Levering, University of Dayton
"Radner's A Brutal Unity is 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."
—Stanley Hauerwas, Duke Divinity School
"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."
—Timothy Longman, Director, African Studies Center, Boston University and author of Christianity and Genocide in Rwanda
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 Toronto, Ontario.