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A Theology of Disagreement

New Testament Ethics for Ecclesial Conflicts

A Theology of Disagreement

New Testament Ethics for Ecclesial Conflicts

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Paperback / softback


Publisher: SCM Press
ISBN: 9780334060451
Number of Pages: 240
Published: 30/05/2021
Width: 13.5 cm
Height: 21.6 cm

Even the most casual contemporary observer of Christianity must recognise that the notion of Christian community being identifiable through the mutual love of its members is difficult to reconcile with the schismatic reality of current ecclesial life. Nonetheless, disagreement remains an ethical subject neglected by theologians.

In A Theology of Disagreement Christopher Landau examines how New Testament texts inform Christian approaches to ecclesial conflict. Examining both occasions of disagreement, and instances prompting thematic reflection on disagreement, Landau proposes a new theological ethic for the facing of disagreement among Christians, rooted in an appeal to the significance of the double love command and the ‘fruit of the Spirit’.

Timely and necessary, the book issues a challenge to the church to move towards Loving Disagreement.

Acknowledgements v

Introduction vii

Part 1 Disagreement in the New Testament

1. The Paradox of Jesus: Both Biographical Paradigm and Moral Teacher 3

2. Johannine Perspectives on Loving Unity 25

3. Disagreements Faced on Mission within the Acts of the Apostles 44

4. Pauline Ethics of Relationship within the Body of Christ 61

5. The Priority of Holy Speech and Conduct in Other New Testament Texts 85

Part 2 Disagreeing Christianly: Constructing a New Testament Ethic of Disagreement

Introduction to Part 2 105

6. The Recovery of the Double Love Command in New Testament Ethics 107

7. Living Out the Double Love Command: A New Theology of Disagreement 125

Part 3 Ecclesiological Implications of a Theology of Disagreement

Introduction to Part 3 139

8. Public Theological Witness: Theological Ethics for Christians Disagreeing in Public 141

9. Pneumatology: Invoking the Holy Spirit in Christian Disagreement 157

10. Liturgy: The Place of Worship in the Pursuit of Loving Disagreement 174

Conclusion 190

Bibliography 199

Index of Bible References 209

Index of Names and Subjects 211

Christopher Landau

Revd Dr Christopher Landau is a chaplain to postgraduate students in Oxford. He is a former BBC World Service religious affairs correspondent.

'We can’t agree on what the church is, what authority means, what role Jesus has in ethics or how to resolve disputes. So we shout all the louder. Into this cacophony Christopher Landau brings humility, lucidity and a desire to interweave theological, liturgical and ethical approaches. Graham Greene said the believer will fight another believer over a shade of difference; the doubter doubts alone. Landau’s contribution addresses both our quest for truth and our passion to be right, leaving us wiser, more likely to let the Holy Spirit make our disagreements fruitful – and less alone.' -- Samuel Wells, Vicar, St Martin-in-the-Fields