Between Congregation and Church : Denomination and Christian Life Together
Author(s): Barry A. Ensign-George
Denominations are one of the primary ways in which Christians attempt to live in a community based around God. Yet there is very little careful theological analysis of denomination available today.
Between Congregation and Church offers a constructive theological understanding of denomination, showing its role as an intermediary structure between congregation and church. It places denomination and other intermediary structures within the doctrine of the church. Barry Ensign-George reviews work by theologians and church historians that can contribute to a constructive theological understanding of denomination. The book highlights particular developments in the history of the church that established preconditions for the emergence of denomination. Exploration of unity and diversity is central to this analysis, and individual chapters offer theological analyses of the unity and the diversity to which the Christians are called. Finally, denomination has often been a vehicle for sin, and the relationship between denomination and sin is considered.
Between Congregation and Church addresses a major gap in contemporary theology: the failure to offer substantive theological analysis of denomination, a major way Christians together live their faith today.
“A very interesting theological perspective of denomination from the American vantage point ... It is thought-provoking for all who struggle to make sense of the divisions in the body of Christ. It may well give valuable help to those who are striving for ecclesiological unity with (or despite) denominational diversity.” —Church History and Religious Culture
“This book is important for anyone who studies ecclesiology. Ensign-George has identified a key question long ignored by theologians: namely, do denominations have a positive role to play in the church or are they only divisive? Religious liberty in North America has provided room for different reflection on this question than has been possible in Europe, and historians, more than theologians, have noticed this opportunity. Ensign-George corrects this oversight by offering a truly theological definition of denomination, that shows how it is an instrument for living out God's unity in diversity.” —SARAH HEANER LANCASTER, Methodist Theological School in Ohio, USA