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Division, Diversity, and Unity

A Theology of Ecclesial Charisms


James E. Pedlar

The term «charism» is drawn originally from Pauline literature and refers to a gift given by the Spirit for the upbuilding of the body of Christ. Since the mid-twentieth century, Christians from a broad spectrum of theological positions have applied this term, in varying ways, to groups within the Church. However, no book thus far has provided a rigorous and sustained critical investigation of this idea of ecclesial charisms. In Division, Diversity, and Unity, James E. Pedlar provides such an investigation, drawing on biblical and systematic theology as well as literature on church renewal and ecumenism. Against those who justify denominational separation in order to preserve particular gifts of the Spirit, Pedlar insists that the theology of charisms supports visible, organic unity as the ecumenical ideal.
Division, Diversity, and Unity argues that the theology of ecclesial charisms can account for legitimately diverse specialized vocational movements in the Church but cannot account for a legitimate diversity of separated churches. Pedlar tests and develops his constructive proposal against the fascinating and conflicted histories of two evangelistic movements: the Paulist Fathers and The Salvation Army. While the proposed theology of ecclesial charisms stakes out a legitimate and important place in the Church for specialized movements, it excludes any attempt to justify the permanent separation of an ecclesial body on the basis of an appeal to an ecclesial charism.
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The publication of this book would not have been possible without the guidance, help and support of many teachers, colleagues, friends and family members. The book began as a doctoral dissertation at the Toronto School of Theology, under the guidance of Ephraim Radner. He was a generous advisor, who gave insightful feedback and sharpened my arguments at every point. His provocative theological perspective along with his extensive knowledge of historical theology pushed the project in directions I would not otherwise have considered. The basic idea of approaching ecclesial diversity through the concept of “charisms” came to me while taking a course with Margaret O’Gara. She played a very important part in shaping the project before her death in 2012, and I am saddened that I was not able to complete it in time to receive her comments on the finished product. Joseph Mangina was my teacher throughout my theological studies, and his guidance shaped this book, as well as my broader theological perspective, in many significant ways. Gilles Mongeau graciously agreed to step into Margaret’s place after her passing. I am thankful for the wisdom he shared with me concerning this topic and many others during my time on the staff of the Canadian Council of Churches. Several other colleagues at the Council shared in significant conversation about the project, including Mary Marrocco, Robert Steffer, and Paul Ladouceur. ← ix | x → William Portier’s comments as an external examiner on my dissertation were also of great value in clarifying aspects...

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