Drawing on the wisdom and teaching experience of highly respected theologians, the Engaging Theology series builds a firm foundation for graduate study and other ministry formation programs. Each of the six volumes—Scripture, Jesus, God, Discipleship, Anthropology, and Church—is concerned with retrieving, carefully evaluating, and constructively interpreting the Christian tradition. Comprehensive in scope and accessibly written, these volumes, used together or independently, will stimulate rich theological reflection and discussion. More important, the series will create and sustain the passion of the next generation of theologians and church leaders.
Paul Lakeland’s recent award-winning books on the place of the laity in the contemporary Roman Catholic Church have prepared him well to take on this "ecclesiology from below." While paying close attention to the classical "marks of the Church," Lakeland's focus is on what we can learn about the nature of the Church as living communion by examining the values and practices of ordinary believers. Following the advice of Bernard Lonergan, Lakeland adopts a resolutely inductive approach to ecclesial reflection. He explores ten questions that the Church must address, both those that affect the internal workings of the faith community and those that have to do with its relationships to other groups, religious and secular. Finally, he offers a constructive proposal for a contextual ecclesiology of the U.S. Catholic Church that utilizes the images of hospice, pilgrim, immigrant, and pioneer.
Paul Lakeland is the Aloysius P. Kelley SJ Professor of Catholic Studies, and director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University. He is active in the American Academy of Religion, the Catholic Theological Society of America, and the Workgroup for Constructive Theology. His two most recent writings, both winners of Catholic Press Association awards, are The Liberation of the Laity: In Search of an Accountable Church and Catholicism at the Crossroads: How the Laity Can Save the Church.
. . . this is not your average cookie-cutter intro text, but rather a knowledgeable, philosophically interesting, and at points original account of the Catholic Church written in difficult times.
American Catholic Studies
Church is a learned, stimulating, and forward-looking book that will engage both scholarly and general audiences. The author calls for those engaged in parish ministry, and especially church leaders, to re-vision the concept of `church,' practice discernment, and be open to change.
Catholic Book Club
Paul Lakeland's Church: Living Communion seizes the moment of a church on the brink of change and points the direction forward. He defines the church realistically through its marks, and leads us through the serious internal and external challenges to its authentic witness. Attentive to the laity, he then builds a practical strategy for moving beyond survival to revival. All this in limpid accessible prose: brilliance in simplicity. This authoritative book will appeal to everyone who has a stake in the Catholic Church in North America today.
Roger Haight, SJ, Scholar in Residence, Union Theological Seminary
This is a teaching moment in the Church and this is a teachable book on the Church. In this eminently readable book, Paul Lakeland offers his readers only what they need to know to think and talk intelligently about the identity and mission of the Church. With honesty, he describes the challenges facing the Church that perplex and polarize in a way suitable for debate in the classroom and in reading groups. He invites his readers to develop an inductive approach to ecclesiology, and in the process he promotes the cultivation of practical wisdom that can help communities respond to these challenges with genuine hope.
Bradford Hinze, Professor of Theology, Fordham University
Church is a learned, stimulating, and forward-looking book that will engage both scholarly and general audiences.
Lakeland has written a comprehensive, constructive, and compelling work of ecclesiology.
Paul Lakeland's brilliant account of ecclesiology may well come to be recognized as the first truly twenty-first-century analysis of the Church. His study addresses the events and insights of the last decade and then transposes into a new key historical-critical readings of the New Testament, themes from Vatican II, ecumenical consensus statements, Lonergan's methodology, and postmodern concerns. In an engaging, refreshing style, he also faces up to the Church's failings in hard-hitting language, marked by stark realism. Finally, he gently poses ten challenges to the Church, which he deems eternal.
Michael A. Fahey, SJ, Professor, Boston College
Church is an engaging and enlightening read that should not be missed for would-be Church leaders.
Midwest Book Review