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A Brutal Unity: The Spiritual Politics of the Christian Church Hardcover – October 4, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Baylor University Press (October 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602586292
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602586291
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #686,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Radner's A Brutal Unity is at a book of startling insight, extraordinary erudition, and is replete with theological implications. His ability to help us see connections between Christian disunity and liberal political theory and practice should command the attention of Christian and non-Christian alike. A Brutal Unity is a stunning achievement."
--Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke Divinity School

"Massively learned and beautifully written, this book has to be the best work ever written against the holiness and unity of the Church by a Christian theologian. Not one to mince words, Radner presents Judas as the mirror of the faithless, violent, and fractured Church. For Radner, the failure of liberalism arises from and reflects the failure of the Church to repent. But he does not end here: he argues that in God's creation of things separate from God, and in Christ's radical giving of himself, we find God's holiness and oneness as a gift for God's people and as an invitation to imitate God's asymmetrical giving. Those who disagree with Radner will thank him for pressing us to examine anew why Christians rightly confess the Church to be one and holy."
--Matthew Levering, University of Dayton

About the Author

Ephraim Radner is Professor of Historical Theology at Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto. He is the author or editor of seven books, including The Fate of Communion: The Agony of Anglicanism and the Future of a Global Church and Hope Among the Fragments: The Broken Church and Its Engagement of Scripture. He lives Toronto, Ontario.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Milliner on March 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
NOTE: This review originally appeared in Books & Culture (March/April 2013)

Imagine (as if we have to) a cantankerous public debate between a Christian and one of the new atheists. After the predictable sparring over whether or not God exists, the dispute takes its historical turn. The atheist recites the great litany of ecclesial sins--ways that the church has elicited or even sponsored violence. The Christian then comes to faith's defense, relaying as much of William Cavanaugh's The Myth of Religious Violence as a pithy sound bite allows. But what if, rather than defending the church, the Christian goes off script, replying instead with a range of accusations against Christians that surpass what the atheist has offered, thereby transforming the debate into an act of public penance? Gone is the fear that Christianity might not be true (one that gives rise to so much nervously animated apologetics). Replacing it is a different fear--and a profound sense of disorientation. Such might be the performance of Ephraim Radner, professor of historical theology at the University of Toronto's Wycliffe College, were he to pinch-hit for the latest defender of the faith. Or so we can gather from his latest publication, A Brutal Unity: The Spiritual Politics of the Christian Church.

Penitential scenarios like this have been conjured before--in Donald Miller's bestselling Blue Like Jazz, for instance, in which Christian undergraduates construct a reverse confessional booth where they apologize for the church's failings ("You know, the Crusades and all that stuff") to revelers at Reed College; or in the general inclination of any number of enterprising evangelicals to distance themselves from the church's disappointing historical "baggage.
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