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The Church: The Evolution of Catholicism [Hardcover]

By Richard P. Mcbrien (Author)
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Item Number 94184  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   528
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.22" Width: 6.72" Height: 1.57"
Weight:   1.68 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Sep 30, 2008
Publisher   HarperOne
ISBN  0061245216  
EAN  9780061245213  

Availability  0 units.

Alternate Formats List Price Our Price Item Number Availability
Hardcover $ 29.95 $ 25.46 94184
Paperback $ 19.99 $ 16.99 709538 In Stock
Item Description...
Reveals the evolution of the Church's relationship to the divine, its leadership of the faithful, and its role as a global religion.

Publishers Description

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 Church's 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 pope's 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 Hitler's policies in World War II?
  • What is the Church's 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 Church's understanding of itself through the centuries, its leadership, and its relationship to national governments and world religions. From Jesus's apostle Peter to Pope Benedict XVI, The Church explains in layperson's terms the evolution of the Catholic Church, its power, its scope, its theology, and its influence.

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More About Richard P. Mcbrien

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Richard P. McBrien is Crowley-O'Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. Educated at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, he has also served as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. A leading authority on Catholicism, he is the bestselling author of Catholicism, Lives of the Popes, and Lives of the Saints, as well as the general editor of The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism. Most recently a consultant for ABC News, McBrien offers regular commentary on all the major television networks. He is also a prizewinning syndicated columnist in the Catholic press.

Richard P. McBrien currently resides in South Bend, in the state of Indiana.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > General   [5549  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism   [888  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Theology > General   [4167  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Catholic   [0  similar products]
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Ecclesiology   [1097  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A timely and meaningful book  May 23, 2010
This book should be read by everyone who would like an insightful understanding of the Church's past and where it may go. Written by one of the greatest Catholic theologians living today, it is presented in a clear, lively prose. Well worth the purchase.
Well written but full of liberal bias  Jul 11, 2009
What a pity McBrien, who is a wonderful writer and possesses great depth of scholarship, prefers his liberal bias to full belief in the church Jesus left the world. Although he defines himself as "representative of the mainstream of contemporary Catholic theology and biblical scholarship" (p xxiii) this is simply false.

"There is no explicit basis for the doctrine of papal infallibility in the New Testament" (p 102) he insists, having forgotten the promise that the Holy Spirit would abide with us forever and teach us the truth. God knows it wasn't the keen intelligence or humble sanctity of Catholics we could rely on. Proof positive that the Catholic church is a divine institution is that it has survived Catholics. And 2000 years of them, at that. Truly, a miracle.

But not for McBrien, who actually argues that "Jesus's preaching of the Reign of God as imminent suggests that he did not anticipate a long interval between his own ministry and the final completion of the Kingdom" (p 31). Is McBrien serious? Does he really believe God Himself did not what was going to happen?

Moreover, how can he call himself a Catholic and have missed the fact that, for the last 2000 years or so, the Catholic church has declared itself the kingdom of God on earth? That's managing to miss a staggering number of books on the subject.

Although McBrien has clearly read widely, it is also plain that he has mostly read those who try to find errors in Catholicism. This is apparently how he can make some huge mistakes. For example, he says that Ignatius of Antioch is the first real witness to the primacy of Rome. No, that would be the earlier writing, circa 95 AD, of 1 Clement.

Much of what he writes, the long litany of accusations against the church, simply follow standard Protestant claims. For example, he argues that Peter's role was "often shared...with James and John" (p 95). Peter was the acknowledged leader, period. John refused to even enter the tomb ahead of Peter.

McBrien points out that Peter's role in the Council of Jerusalem was not papal. Yes, it was. After Peter speaks James merely stands up to agree with him.

McBrien seems torn between loving the church and despising her. He sighs deeply over "what is to be said about Catholicism in the light of its the twelfth century of...the Inquisition...and the founding of the world's first universities" (p 73).

What can be said? How about this: Henry Kamen's recent investigation into the Inquisition has debunked much of the old, Protestant black legend about it. But clearly McBrien has never read much on the subject.

And as for the universities...why yes, Catholicism did invent them. And it began real science for the first time in human history, and it created the first free hospitals for the poor in the west, and on and on. It created a revolution in morality and argued from the first that all human beings had souls and were important. But much of this McBrien seems not to know.

McBrien asks, in regard to the early church, "Has the church always had the capacity to recognize the truth?" (p 65).

How can he call himself a Catholic and not know the answer? We humans are full of errors. All humans err, even those who become bishops or pope. But when the pope speaks ex cathedra, when, in fact, the Holy Spirit speaks, the church cannot err. And knowing and acknowledging that fact is what makes one a Catholic.
The Church--a BIG read  Jun 26, 2009
It is a big and fascinating book which tells you more than you can possibly absorb even in a great number of sittings! We read it in a parish discussion group and I plan to keep it on my bookshelves to serve as a reference book for its incredible footnote references and bibliography. The writing is clear and marches right along. Lots of new (to me) ideas and facts. All in all, valuable but not an easy read.
The Church: The Evolution of Catholicism  Apr 24, 2009
This book includes insights into the history of Catholicism and how it's evolution was affected by diverse philosophies throughout the world through the centuries.
The Evolution of Dissent  Jan 28, 2009
I don't have time to waste reading literature that is at odds with orthodox Catholic teaching, so I didn't spend more than an hour reading Fr. Richard McBrien's new book The Church: The Evolution of Catholicism. First off, no one should trust a book regarding doctrine that does not have an Imprimatur. An Imprimatur is an official declaration by a bishop that a work is free from error in matters of doctrine and morals. In rare cases this declaration by a bishop can be overruled by the Vatican (papal primacy). The Church: The Evolution of Catholicism does not have an Imprimatur.

After skimming over the introduction, I went straight to the section Peter and the Papacy. The first odd thing I found was the term Vicar of Peter. This is the first time I had ever seen this term, so I Googled it. I didn't find any Catholic sites that used the term; however, I did find a number of Protestant Fundamentalist sites that say the pope should not be called the Vicar of Christ but the Vicar of Peter.

Fr. McBrien goes on to say:

"Peter could not have had successors: first, as the traditional co-founder with Paul of the apostolic see of Rome (although, more precisely, they are the co-founders of the apostolic authority of Rome); and, second, as one of the Twelve who were personal witnesses of the Risen Lord. These are unique, nonrepeatable, and nontransmittable aspects of Peter's apostleship."

I've read arguments like this before, but not by people claiming to be Catholic; again, words like this usually come from Protestant Fundamentalists.

I decided to see just what Fr. McBrien thought of papal primacy, so I checked the index for "keys of the kingdom." This is what I found:

"This brings us to the especially sensitive topic of the primacy, which exists in churches other than the Catholic, but in different forms. Quoting St. Augustine, the document points out that the Lord did not give the keys only to one man, but to "the church in its unity." Peter's preeminence was rooted in his representing and sustaining the Church's universality and unity. It is the whole Church, Augustine insisted, "which has received the keys of the kingdom in heaven." When Christ spoke directly to Peter, Peter "at that time stood for the universal church" (III.46, quoting from Augustine's Sermon 295, on the feast of the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul)."

Primacy is only a "sensitive topic" for those who, like Fr. McBrien, don't fully accept papal primacy.

Fr. McBrien's quoting of St. Augustine didn't sit well with me, so I got out my breviary and went to June 29:

"As you are aware, Jesus chose his disciples before his passion and called them apostles; and among these almost everywhere Peter alone deserved to represent the entire Church. And because of that role which he alone had, he merited to hear the word: To you I shall give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. For it was not one man who received the keys, but the entire Church considered as one. Now insofar as he represented the unity and universality of the Church, Peter's preeminence is clear from the words: To you I give, for what was given was given to all. For the fact that it was the Church that received the keys of the kingdom of God is clear from what the Lord says elsewhere to all the apostles: Receive the Holy Sprit, adding immediately, whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven, and whose sins you retain, they are retained."

The differences are subtle, but important. It sounds like Fr. McBrien is suggesting that Peter received the keys on behalf of the Church, where as St. Augustine is really saying that Peter received the keys because "he stood for the Church's universality and unity" (a different translation of St. Augustine's Sermon 295). The words of St. Ambrose seem fitting here, "Where there is Peter, there is the Church!"

Fr. McBrien's misinterpretation of St. Augustine once again sounds like a Protestant Fundamentalist. Why is it that a "Catholic" theologian at times sounds more like a Protestant Fundamentalist? It could be that he is not really teaching authentic Catholic doctrine. The term heterodox comes to mind.

It is "Catholics" like Fr. McBrien that cause me a lot of grief. Some Protestant Fundamentalists will see what he writes, and then come to me and say, "See, this is what the Catholic Church teaches." Then I have to try to convince them that the Catholic Church really does not teach these things, which may prove to be difficult because Fr. McBrien is the Crowley-O'Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame and I'm an unschooled nobody.

I don't want to give the impression that this book is made up solely of Protestant Fundamentalist ideas. There are some ideas, such as the ordination of women, that are contrary to both orthodox Catholicism and Protestant Fundamentalism. As well, there are many ideas that are truly Catholic, which, unfortunately, adds to the confusion of the uninformed reader as to which ideas are orthodox and which ideas are heterodox.

In short, I would not recommend this book to faithful Catholics.

It is fitting that I write this today, the Feast of Sts. Timothy and Titus, for which the antiphon of the Canticle of Zechariah is a follows:

"Proclaim the message, insist on it in season and out of season, refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience, but do all with patience and sound doctrine."

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