"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What's More Than Communion?

As I've mentioned before, I'm going at month's end to Baylor University in Texas to give a lecture at the Wilken Colloquium, this year devoted to the theme of eschatology. Later this summer a new book will emerge that also treats this theme in the context of the work of two major theologians, Western and Eastern, of our time, viz., John Milbank and John Zizioulas: Scott MacDougall, More Than Communion: Imagining an Eschatological Ecclesiology (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015), 288pp.

About this book we are told:
Scott MacDougall offers a proposal for recovering the 'more' to communion and ecclesiology to aid in imagining a church not beyond the world (as in Zizioulas) or over against the world (as in Milbank), but in and for the world in love and service. This concept is worked out in conversation with systematic theologians such as Jürgen Moltmann, Wolfhart Pannenberg, and Johannes Baptist Metz, and by engaging with a theology of Christian practices currently being developed by such as Dorothy C. Bass and Craig Dykstra. The potential for the church to become a vehicle for love and service can be realised when it anticipate God's promised perfection in the communions between God, humanity, and the rest of creation.
Zizioulas' and Milbank's theologies of the church are both marked by an overly realised sense of the impending end of the world (eschatology). As a result, their theology fails to acknowledge the potential for good the time-frame a theology of eschatology can have on influencing how people act. This focus on the impact of the ending of the world is further connected to both theologians' devaluation of material creation and history, privileging of institutions, the restrictive and closed concept of the church, and reduction of ecclesial practice essential to eucharist. 

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