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Division, Diversity, and Unity

A Theology of Ecclesial Charisms

Series:

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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Advance Praise for Division, Diversity, and Unity

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“James E. Pedlar’s Division, Diversity, and Unity synthesizes resources from biblical studies, ecumenism, theologies of charism, especially as developed among Catholic religious orders since Vatican II, and sociology into a creative and fresh constructive theology of ecclesial charisms. The Salvation Army and the Paulist Fathers offer Pedlar two very disparate and intriguing historical test cases. His argument that a theology of ecclesial charisms supports specialized vocational movements within the church but not separate churches is sure to provoke ecumenical discussion and help revive hopes for the ecumenical goal of visible, organic Christian unity.”

William L. Portier, Mary Ann Spearin Chair of Catholic Theology, University of Dayton

“James E. Pedlar provides something rarely seen in ecumenical literature: robust theology that is grounded in the actual life of churches. His lucid treatment of ecclesial charism as a reality designed for the whole Church, in its unity, rather than as the ground and justification for church division, is challenging and compelling. Watching his biblical and systematic arguments play themselves out in the lives of Catholic and Salvation Army mission is exciting and sobering, and should cause a rethinking of several major missionary and ecumenical assumptions in our day. This is a stellar and important contribution.”

Ephraim Radner, Professor of Historical Theology, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto

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