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The Church: Evolution of Catholicism, paperback

Author(s): Richard P. McBrien

ISBN13: 9780061245251

ISBN10: 0061245259


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  • From the struggles of the very first Christians to the challenges and scandals of today, the Catholic Church has wrestled with how to organize itself, express its beliefs, and nurture its members. The Church has grown from a handful of disciples in the first century to over one billion members in the twenty-first, resulting in profound changes that demand a theological response. In this sweeping history, renowned scholar Richard McBrien reveals the evolution of the Churchs relationship to the divine, its leadership of the faithful, and its role as a global religion. The Church answers the questions raised by this extraordinary history, including:

    Where did the idea of the popes infallibility come from?
    Why are priests celibate and women barred from the priesthood?
    What inspired the Inquisition?
    What was the position of the Catholic Church on Hitlers policies in World War II?
    What is the Churchs relationship to Islam?
    How will the growth of the Church in South America, Africa, and Asia shape its future?

    McBrien helps the reader understand the evolution of the Catholic Churchs understanding of itself through the centuries, its leadership, and its relationship to national governments and world religions. From Jesuss apostle Peter to Pope Benedict XVI, The Church explains in laypersons terms the evolution of the Catholic Church, its power, its scope, its theology, and its influence.

  • Richard P. McBrien

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    'The Church is a lucid, balanced, and readable book, a work of integration that is always reasonable, well informed, honest, and deeply hopeful.'

    - Commonweal

    "Encyclopedic, sound, readable, interesting, and honest. McBrien bridges the generations, the centuries, and the theologies of the Church. And we shall be a better people of God because of it."

    - JOAN CHITTISTER, OSB, author of Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope

    "Useful, engaging, magisterial in scope, and well-documented, this is a valuable resource for knowing what is meant by `The Church: "

    - ELIZABETH JOHNSON, Distinguished Professor of Theology, Fordham University

    "A balanced, learned, yet eminently accessible analysis of the tradition from earliest times to the present:

    - JOHN W OMALLEY, S.J., professor of theology, Georgetown University

    "In this immensely deep, timely, and accessible book, McBrien probes the meaning of the Church through the centuries. It is a must for all Christians."

    - LORD GEORGE L. CAREY, former Archbishop of Canterbury

    "A remarkably successful blend of biblical and historical learning and wise insights from a distinguished Catholic theologian. There is no better guide to recent developments in ecclesiology than McBrien.

    -DANIEL J. HARRINGTON, S.J., professor of New Testament, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

    "In this one volume McBrien has provided a well-organized and readable account of the history and theology of the Catholic Church, following its evolution from the New Testament to the current papacy."

    -FRANCIS A. SULLIVAN, author of The Church We Believe In

    In The Church, renowned religious historian and Vatican expert Richard P. McBrien offers a sweeping history of the evolution of the Roman Catholic Church, its influence and power in an ever-changing world. From Jesuss apostle Peter to Pope Benedict XVI, The Church is a remarkable achievement that delves deeply into the past and the future of Christianitys largest branch, in fact, the largest religious institution in the world, exploring its politics, doctrines, and the way the Roman Catholic Church views itself.

    McBriens outspoken media commentaries on Catholic polity and pronouncements have earned him a loyal following and not a few critics. A theology professor at the University of Notre Dame, he has written 25 books including Catholicism, a 1,344-page theological survey. His newest study looks at one branch of theology, ecclesiology, which he defines as "theological reflection on the nature, mission, ministries, and structures of the Church." In good academic fashion, McBrien organizes his material thoroughly, with frequent introductions, summaries, lists and cross-references that make this an ideal textbook. At the same time, he writes clearly and passionately on topics of general concern such as papal authority, the churchs social and political involvement, interfaith relations and the role of the laity. An ardent admirer of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), McBrien sets its documents and discussions at the heart of his presentation. Much of the rest of the book, including one breathless 30-page romp through 18 centuries, is either historical context for the Council or a discussion of its effects on the contemporary church.

    - Publishers Weekly

    McBriens (theology, Univ. of Notre Dame) encyclopedic text examining Roman Catholicism from both a historical and a pastoral perspective is destined to be the definitive theological work on the topic. McBrien provided a solid base for this balanced and critical treatment of church life in several of his earlier titles, among them Catholicism, Lives of the Popes, and Lives of the Saints. Here, drawing from biblical and patristic sources, he lays out the fundamental issues appropriate to our understanding of ecclesiology, then specifically engages the various historical epochs (e.g., the schism between East and West, the Protestant Reformation, the Counter-Reformation, and issues of papal primacy and infallibility during Vatican I and Vatican II). Monumental in scope, the work clearly articulates the evolving self-understanding of this unique religious bodys role and mission. Complete with 70 pages of detailed notes, a helpful glossary, a bibliography, and a useful index, this superlative, splendidly written text is accessible not only to students and scholars but to anyone interested in understanding the Catholic Churchs history and theology from a modern global perspective. Recommended for all libraries.

    - John-Leonard Berg - Library Journal


The Church: Evolution of Catholicism, paperback

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