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The Coming Catholic Church: How the Faithful Are Shaping a New American Catholicism [Hardcover]

By David Gibson (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   368
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.18" Width: 6.34" Height: 1.17"
Weight:   1.42 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 2003
Publisher   HarperOne
ISBN  0060530707  
EAN  9780060530709  
UPC  099455022958  

Availability  0 units.

Alternate Formats List Price Our Price Item Number Availability
Hardcover $ 23.95 $ 20.36 161546
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Item Description...
Outline ReviewReligion journalist David Gibson delivers a controversial state of the union address for the Catholic Church. Although his writing style is journalistic, heavily infused with quotes from big-name sources in the Church, Gibson is not an objective reporter. He clearly believes that the current crisis is not about a lack of faith in Godbut, rather, a breakdown of trust in the Church's leadership. Of course, an obvious source of this breakdown is the leadership's failures to stop, prevent, or even publicly acknowledge the fact that Church personnel were sexually abusing children and young people. But he also believes that the ensuing crisis of 2002 was a kind of "perfect storm" where powerful forces of tension that "have been bearing down on Catholicism for decades" converged into an inventible, stormy clash.

Gibson is most controversial when portraying a seemingly indifferent and arrogant Church leadership that is reticent to hold itself accountable to its constituents. Ultimately, he stands most closely beside the diverse and devout lay people of the Church-seeing them as the instigators of vast and necessary reforms. Historically, change in the Catholic Church has come from the bottom up. But in earlier times that change was kick-started by its influential religious orders of monks and nuns as well as individual champions, such as Teresa of Avila and Hildegarde von Bingen. Nowadays, "with the numbers of nuns and brothers falling even faster than the priests," it is up to the laity to create the revolution from below, according to Gibson. He sees this laity leadership rising out of a movement that is in already in place in America, where the laity now read the Scriptures at Mass, distribute the Host to congregants, teach Catechism classes to the next generation and serve as chaplains in nursing homes and college campuses. While it's too soon after the storm to completely assess the damage or predict the course of the future--Gibson is certainly offering a conversation that this crisis-battered community needs to have. --Gail Hudson

Product Description

Award-winning religion journalist David Gibson presents a startlingly clear-eyed look at the impact of the sexual abuse scandals on the Catholic Church and how they have set off a revolution from below that is galvanizing North America's rank-and-file Catholics to bring positive changes to their Church.

The Catholic Church is at a crossroad. People on all sides are demanding change, but few are sure how that change can happen. Recent history suggests a powerful minority will block any reforms.

In this sweeping assessment of where the Church has been, and where it is going, David Gibson uses his insider's knowledge and sources to reveal the forces that are already transforming Catholicism -- from the laity to the besieged priesthood to the papacy itself. Laypeople, especially women, are taking larger roles in Church life as the number of priests continues to decline. Priests are redefining their calling as scandals and shortages spark changes not seen in a thousand years, including new openings for married priests. Bishops, under fire from every quarter, are struggling to reimagine how the Church can be governed, while the College of Cardinals are waging an intense -- and increasingly public -- debate over how the next papacy will be different from the current one.

The Catholic Church is always changing, but today the need for immediate reforms is more urgent than ever as Catholicism seeks to remain vital to American life and faithful to its authentic mission of following Jesus. In The Coming Catholic Church David Gibson examines the disputes that have polarized Catholicism and focuses on the new forces that are currently bringing Catholics together. From Church governance at the parish level and the selection of bishops to the way Catholics now view the rule of Rome, Gibson explains the transformations coming through both a revolution from below and an impending change at the top of the Church. This book is an expression of the heartfelt feelings and aspirations of all Catholics, from the people in the pew to the priests in the pulpit, as they struggle to renew their faith and their Church.

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More About David Gibson

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David Gibson (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is minister of Trinity Church in Aberdeen, Scotland. Previously he served as a staff worker for the Religious and Theological Studies Fellowship (part of UCCF) and as an assistant minister at High Church, Hilton, Aberdeen. Gibson is also a widely published author of articles and books such as Rich: The Reality of Encountering Jesus and Reading the Decree: Exegesis, Election and Christology in Calvin and Barth.

Jonathan Gibson (PhD, Cambridge University) is associate minister at Cambridge Presbyterian Church and assistant professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary. He is the author of historical and biblical articles in Themelios and Journal of Biblical Literature and regularly speaks at conferences in Australia and South Africa. Jonathan and his wife, Jackie, have two children.

J. I. Packer (DPhil, Oxford University) serves as the Board of Governors' Professor of Theology at Regent College. He is the author of numerous books, including the classic best-seller Knowing God. Packer served as general editor for the English Standard Version Bible and as theological editor for the ESV Study Bible.

Sinclair B. Ferguson (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of systematic theology at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas, and the former senior minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina. He is the author of several books, the most recent being By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me. Sinclair and his wife, Dorothy, have four grown children.

Paul Helm (MA, Worcester College) is a teaching fellow at Regent College in Vancouver. He previously taught philosophy at the University of Liverpool and was was the J. I. Packer Chair of Theology at Regent College. He also publishes online at Helm's Deep. Paul is married to Angela, and they have five children.

John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is the founder and teacher of and the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He served for 33 years as the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God, Don't Waste Your Life, This Momentary Marriage, Bloodlines, and Does God Desire All to Be Saved?

Thomas R. Schreiner (MDiv and ThM, Western Conservative Baptist Seminary; PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and associate dean of the school of theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Carl R. Trueman (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is the Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary and pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Ambler, Pennsylvania. He was editor of Themelios for nine years, has authored or edited more than a dozen books, and has contributed to multiple publications including the Dictionary of Historical Theology and The Cambridge Companion to Reformation Theology.

Lee Gatiss (PhD, Cambridge University) is the director of Church Society, a lecturer in church history at Union School of Theology, and a research fellow of the Jonathan Edwards Centre Africa at the University of the Free State, South Africa. He also serves as a member of the editorial board of Themelios and editor for the internet journal Theologian. Lee and his wife, Kerry, have three children.

Matthew S. Harmon (PhD, Wheaton College) is professor of New Testament studies at Grace College and Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. He was previously on staff with Cru for eight years and is the author of several books. Matthew and his wife, Kate, live in Warsaw, Indiana, and have two sons.

Michael A. G. Haykin (ThD, University of Toronto) is professor of church history and biblical spirituality at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. He has authored or edited more than twenty-five books, including Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church.

Stephen J. Wellum (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of Christian theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and editor of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. Stephen lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife, Karen, and their five children.

Garry Williams (DPhil, Oxford University) serves as the director of the John Owen Centre for Theological Study at London Theological Seminary in the United Kingdom, which provides theological teaching for pastors after their initial training. He is also a visiting professor of historical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Garry and his wife, Fiona, have four children.

David Gibson has published or released items in the following series...
  1. T&t Clark Studies in Systematic Theology

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
American Dreams  Jun 7, 2006
It seems the one constant in American Christianity is its parochialism. Whether it be those on the right who equate the faith once delivered to the saints with conservative American domestic and foreign policy or those on the left who believe the Church will be saved by becoming more of a liberal democracy, the attempt to have American cultural, political, and religious ideals hijack the Church for its ends goes along undaunted.

David Gibson adds to this heritage in The Coming Catholic Church - his view of how the sex scandals plaguing the Catholic priesthood has altered the playing field in the Catholic Church and is reshaping American Catholicism. Indeed, Gibson goes as far as to infer that the entire ecclesial model the Catholic Church has used for over a millennium is being rendered obsolete overnight by happenings in the United States and, to paraphrase an adage, "What is good for American Catholics is good for the Catholic Church."

The book is divided into three sections on the laity, the priesthood, and the hierarchy. The overall presentation is one of an enraged laity demanding the institution be made more democratic, the bishops resisting these demands, and the some well-meaning priests caught in the middle. Beginning with the understandable sense of betrayal and outrage felt by American Catholics as the widespread nature of the scandals and the American bishops' complicity in covering up misconduct by their clergy became known, Gibson uses this as a springboard for describing how the state of the American Catholic belief and practice - that can at best be described by the moniker "Cafeteria Catholic" - is set to revolutionize affairs in the Church.

While Gibson does a solid job detailing the anger of many Catholics in America about the scandal, he then makes the unwarranted assumption that this will lead to a wholesale change in the Church. There is no evidence supporting a mass desire for change in Catholic doctrine among the faithful. The anger is over sexual misconduct and the irresponsibility of the bishops in not removing known sexual predators from the ranks of priests. While those calling for the ordiantion of women and other changes in Catholic doctrine are trying to add their causes to the cries for change, subsequent events demonstrate that such an expansion of the cause to things not related to the problem will not find much of an audience beyond those already committed to that cause.

Oddly enough, Gibson early in the book reminds Americans of the universality of the Catholic Church. Yet he fails to heed his own warnings that they not expect the Church to represent an American viewpoint. Apparently forgetting this point, he spends much of the remainder of the book defending the thesis that the problems of the American Church demand changes in the worldwide structure of Catholicism.

While certainly not a radical, Gibson does fall into the category of the pleasantly liberal Catholic who wishes the Church was more democratic and modern. Like many liberal Catholics, he ties the scandal to calls for reform that would amount to the Church repudiating traditional Catholic doctrine. Yet these "reforms" would do little more than turn the Catholic Church into another faceless liberal Protestant sect. As recent history can attest, these changes have led to disintegration and not renewal whenever they have been employed.

Also left unmentioned in Gibson's thesis is that the fact that almost all of these cases involved predators who committed homosexual acts. The thought that the scandal might be a problem involving homosexuality would no doubt fall on deaf ears with good liberals like Gibson, but, given recent developments, this is obviously well understood at the Vatican.

Gibson also fails to take into account those places where the Church in America is most healthy. While religious orders that have liberalized are grey and dying, those that have taken a traditional path are healthy and growing. Dioceses that adopted the more liberalizing tendencies in the past few decades are having the most trouble while those that are most conservative are among the healthiest. In addition, new converts are coming from Evangelical Protestantism and are invigorating the Church. The post-Vatican II American Catholicism that relies on some vaguely defined "Spirit of Vatican II" that appears nowhere in the Vatican II documents is largely a baby-boomer phenomenon that is destined to die with them.

Gibson closes his book looking towards the future and pinning his dreams on the hope that the successor of Pope John Paul II would finish the job begun at Vatican II, thwart the efforts of those backward traditionalists, and usher in the Church that any Western progressive thinker could respect. How ironic it was that when the great Polish pope did pass on to blessed memory, it was Cardinal Ratzinger - who comes off in the book as the staunchest of all conservative forces - that received the nod as Pope Benedict XVI.

With The Coming Catholic Church, Gibson does a fine job describing the perilous predicament within which the Catholic Church due to both the actions of sexual predators among its priests and the inaction of bishops in removing these monsters from service in the Church. However, by attempting to piggyback a whole list of unrelated issues to the crisis without any supporting evidence, Gibson's efforts come off as motivated more by a desire for his church's social respectability than its adherence to the truth.
Very Interesting, very well-written!  Mar 19, 2006
David Gibson's book, The Coming Catholic Church, is very interesting and very well written. He is obviously very knowledgable on the subject. I look forward to his next book!
The Coming Catholic Church  Dec 20, 2004
I found this book wonderfully thought-provoking. I agree with the author that the church needs change, and he presents the obstacles and challenges we as church will face in the coming years. Should be required reading for the laity in America, as well as our bishops, priests and seminarians.
The John Dominic Crossan of Catholic journalists  Sep 5, 2004
Well, let's see. This is a really stupid book [...]It makes me understand why journalists are generally considered to be scum.

For example, the author ridicules Mary Ann Glendon, a perfectly respectable Harvard law professor, celebrated author, and conservative Catholic, while giving a free pass to "Catholics for a Free Choice," a group whose name is a contradiction in terms, kinda like if there were a group called "Cannibals Against the Consumption of Human Flesh."

You know what really irks me about this book? The author's supposed objectivity and fairness. Yes, he quotes both conservative Catholics and liberal Catholics, but not in any kind of even-handed way. As in the above case, conservative Catholics are always put in a negative light, whereas liberal Catholics (with a few key exceptions, when they are so far out that only a Matthew Fox or Margaret Starbird would affirm their position) are always put in a positive light.

Not only that, this book is sensationalist and pandering: sensationalist in the way it presents information, and pandering in the way it plays to fellow journalists and the media in general. After reading it, it made me realize how incredibly idiotic most journalists are, how craven, sold-out, and just plain dumb they are. Proof? Take the title of this book. Is it an unintentional bad pun? Who knows? And isn't it just a little bit arrogant to think you can prognosticate about what's gonna happen with Catholicism in the next few years? Hey, but so what? Divining the future sells books, doesn't it? So let's go with it, especially with the mildly prurient title.

In any case, [...] this should make the Garry Willses and David Traceys--as well as the rest of the puny but strangely influential (at least among themselves) ranks of disaffected, alienated Catholics--happy.

For a fair, balanced, nuanced look at the recent "Catholic troubles," see George Weigel's fine book, The Courage to Be Catholic (which the author, surprise! Surprise! dismisses).
A Fascinating Look at the Roman Catholic Church in America.  Aug 8, 2004
David Gibson presents a broad and thoughtful analysis of the major issues confronting the Roman Catholic Church today. Moving beyond the headlines of the recent abuse scandal, he examines the changes not only in the Catholic Church itself, but also in secular society which have exacerbated the inherent conflicts between materialism, consumerism (among many "isms") and the life of the spirit.

THE COMING CATHOLIC CHURCH (published by HarperSanFrancisco, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.) focuses on issues confronting the laity, priesthood and the hierarchy, carefully exploring the background and composition of each intertwined segment of the church from a recent historical standpoint, current challenges within the church itself - locally, nationally and even globally - and opportunities for the future. Mr. Gibson's opinions and prescriptions regarding the future direction of the institutional church will undoubtedly generate controversy depending upon whether one favors more orthodox doctrine or embraces a more liberal approach to the faith. However, his ideas are based upon thorough research and a good understanding of the human institutions and composition of the church itself.

The book is an important one: regardless of whether you agree with Mr. Gibson or not, he presents the major issues and concerns which confront the Catholic Church in times of increasing challenge within a rapidly changing secular culture and society. How the Church - laity, clergy and hierarchy - deal with these challenges will determine its effectiveness in remaining true to the fundamental Gospel message.

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