“The Church is a lucid, balanced, and readable book—a work of integration that is always reasonable, well informed, honest, and deeply hopeful.”
In The Church, renowned religious historian and Vatican expert Richard P. McBrien offers a sweeping history of the evolution of the Roman Catholic Church, its influence and power in an ever-changing world. From Jesus’s apostle Peter to Pope Benedict XVI, The Church is a remarkable achievement that delves deeply into the past and the future of Christianity’s largest branch—in fact, the largest religious institution in the world—exploring its politics, doctrines, and the way the Roman Catholic Church views itself.
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About the Author
Richard P. McBrien is Crowley-O'Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. Educated at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, he has also served as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. A leading authority on Catholicism, he is the bestselling author of Catholicism, Lives of the Popes, and Lives of the Saints, as well as the general editor of The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism. Most recently a consultant for ABC News, McBrien offers regular commentary on all the major television networks. He is also a prizewinning syndicated columnist in the Catholic press.
What People are Saying About This
As always McBrien’s work is clear, concise and comprehensive in scope. Undoubtedly this book will become a standard ecclesiological reference point for students and teachers alike.
With characteristic clarity, Richard McBrien artfully tells the story of how Catholic theology developed over two millennia. In tracing the insights, conflicts, and fundamentals of Catholic thought, he has provided a superb resource for readers of all traditions.
This is a superb book, as usual. What would we do without this great honest man and his great honest writing?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In a clear and concise style the author shares his beliefs concerning the development of the principles of Vatican II. It is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the Catholic Church of the padt 50 years. It is by far the best in the field.
As a student of religious studies and now a graduate student with an interest in religion and politcs, McBrien's book offers a fantastic overview of Roman Catholic ecclesiology. Although some have critiqued the fact that McBrien's book does not bear an Imprimatur, this is likely because McBrien's work is protected under Ex Corde Ecclessiae. With this in mind, McBrien does justice to the Church's teaching by shedding light on the ecumenical facets of ecclesiology. In addition, his overview of the evolution of ecclesiology from the New Testament to the modern era provides the reader with a complete picture regarding ecclesiology and its various phases/periods. I would highly recommend this book for both experienced ecclesiologists/theologians as well as beginners who may be looking to dab their feet in some ecclesiology.
Survey of CatholicismFor someone who was not raised in the Catholic faith, Richard P. McBrien's "The Church" is an incredible survey of all the major events, ideas, and figures who have shaped Catholicism. Covering the period of the New Testament through until the present-day, the book is ambitious in its comprehensiveness which will no doubt disappoint those wanting a little more depth.The focus of McBrien is ecclesiology, or the theological study of the Church. That is to say the study of ideas about the "mystery" or "sacrament" of the "Church". Needless to say, there is a lot of terminology used throughout, but fear not, McBrien does an admirable job explaining each term and even includes an extensive glossary and index.I think the book synopsis is a little misleading. The book does not intend to answer some of those questions such as the Holocaust or Islam or the Inquisition. McBrien is fundamentally concerned with "ideas" and not history. For example, you won't read much about the evils of colonization, or the sexual exploitation scandals. McBrien acknowledges these monumental events, but again, the point of his book is about theology and not history.For example, modernism and the anti-modernist movement by Pope Pius X is discussed. Movements such as Feminist ecclesiology, Latino ecclesiology, African ecclesiology are explored. There is much discussion about ecumenism and issues of interfaith spirituality, the communion of the Church, the Eucharist and its role in the East-West Schism, the Protestant Reformation, Anglicanism, the counter-reformation, "Outside the Church, no salvation," social justice and liberation theology, papal infallibility, cult of papal personality, and more.In such a volume, it is inevitable that some aspect is left out or under-explained. If there is one area specifically I would like to see more coverage of is the idea of sainthood. McBrien covers many saints but doesn't specifically cover the institution of sainthood. Parts that are especially well covered are the Vatican Council, the apostilic succession, and the role of the global Church.Overall, I feel that this would be a good book for a survey undergrad course in the study of Catholic theology. I'd venture to say that for experienced and educated Catholics, the book will serve more as reference than for education. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and I recommend it for anyone wanting to know more about Catholicism.
Fr. McBrien is an outspoken dissident theologian that enjoys a great deal of popularity with the secular media, but not with Catholic Bishops. This book, like his other works, gives the impression it is teaching authentic Catholicism, but really teaches a heterodox version of Catholicism. This book does not have an Imprimatur.
I would not recommend this book to faithful Catholics.
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