The Gospel and the Catholic Church
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Size: 5.5 x 8.5 inches
Pub Date: 2009
Item Number: 563894
Categories: Church History; Theology
This reissue of Archbishop Ramsey’s classic theological study of Anglican views of the church is important for students of ecumenism, and for those concerned with the relationship between Christ and the church in the New Testament. Although some of the book is dated, its conviction that “the church’s meaning lies in its fulfillment of the sufferings of Christ” and that “every part of its history is intelligible in terms of the Passion” remains perceptive and challenging.
Examining Scripture, doctrine, and history, Ramsey paints an intricate portrait of the church as an example of Christ’s death and resurrection. He explores Eastern orthodox doctrine; explains the purposes and preconditions of the Reformation; and calls for a renewal of liturgical worship and reconciliation within the communion of the saints.
Originally published in 1936 while he was serving as sub-warden of Lincoln Theological College, this was Ramsey’s first book. After more than seventy years, its wisdom concerning the relationship between Catholic and Evangelical, and the underlying complementarities and tensions which characterize the Anglican tradition, remains theologically sound and biblically astute.
"The Gospel and the Catholic Church has two main aims: (1) ecumenism, and (2) ecclesiology rooted in the person and work of Christ. Michael Ramsey's work is a healthy balance of exegesis from both Testaments, church history, and historical theology. In an irenic spirit, he brings helpful exhortation for both Traditional and Evangelical wings of Christianity, not excluding his own Anglicanism.
"Ramsey spends the beginning chapters working out an ecclesiology rooted in Christ's death and resurrection. From Isaiah's Servant Songs, he highlights the tension between viewing the Suffering Servant as God's people and as an individual. Noting the mystery of this tension, he then proceeds to (1) show how the Christ fulfilled both as the Messiah and as the New Israel; and (2) how his work on the Cross is the root of the essence and structure of the Church. Just as Christ's work for redemption was by submission to the Father and by the death of self-hood, so the true Church would grow out of this Spirit-filled, cruciform reality: 'The Church, therefore, is defined .. .in terms of Christ, whose Gospel created it and whose life is its indwelling life (56).'
"It should be noted that his perception of the divide between the more Traditional and the more Evangelical is unhelpfully mitigated, as if there is mere dialectical tiff between those focused on the Gospel and those focused on the Church of the Gospel. Also, one wonders how the preaching of the Gospel was not included as a distinct mark of the true church.
"In any case, Ramsey's felt connection with both traditions gives an appropriate tone of love and correction. More importantly, by the reworking of an ecclesiology rooted in the Evangel of 'God, Ramsey provides a legitimate groundwork for the potential home of a reconciled Church. No, in fact, Christ provided this groundwork, and Ramsey, as a faithful bishop, has built on that foundation."
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