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Living on the Border of the Holy: Renewing the Priesthood of All Paperback – January 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: MOREHOUSE PUBLISHING (January 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0819217735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819217738
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #202,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

... brilliant... offers hope, companionship, and the fruits of years of experience... This book could save the church. -- Nora Gallagher, Author of Things Seen and Unseen: A Year Lived in Faith

... magnificent... -- Witness, March 2000

... magnificent... I hope... many... will embark on this journey for if they do they will gain something of enormous significance. -- Esther de Waal, Author of Living with Contradiction

... rich, comprehensible... serious theological work in very accessible language. I read, reread it with pleasure, pen in hand." -- OPEN, Donald Schell, St. Gregory Nyssen Church San Francisco, CA, 10/07/1999

...helpful for all... to consider the meanings of priesthood... to reexamine and renew their ministry. -- Anglican Theological Review, July 2000

Bill Countryman cuts through our malaise without being simplistic or obscure, grounding his vision in the larger priesthood of humanity. -- Frederick W. Schmidt, Canon Educator, Washington National Cathedral, and author of A Still Small Voice

Thought-provoking and challenging... -- Anglican World, 07/30/1999

What a blessing ... extraordinary... I wish every self-identified 'person of faith' could read this remarkable, thought-provoking book. -- Bruce Bawer, author of Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity

From the Back Cover

"The first thing to say in our exploration of priesthood is this: priesthood is a fundamental and inescapable part of being human. All human beings, knowingly or not, minister as priests to one another. All of us, knowingly or not, receive priestly ministrations from one another. Unless we begin here, we are not likely to understand the confusions and uncertainties and opportunities we have been encountering in the life of the church itself in recent years. We shall be in danger, in fact, of creating makeshift solutions to half-understood problems, easy answers to misleading questions, temporary bandages for institutions that need to be healed from the ground up." - L. William Countryman

There is a lot of tension in churches today about whose ministry is primary-that of the laity or of the clergy. L. William Countryman argues that we can only resolve that problem by seeing that we are all priests simply by virtue of being human and living, as we all do, on the mysterious and uncertain border with the Holy. Living on the Border of the Holy offers a way of understanding the priesthood of the whole people of God and the priesthood of the ordained in complementary ways by showing how both are rooted in the fundamental priestly nature of human life. After an exploration of the ministry of both laity and ordained, Countryman concludes by examining the implications of this view of priesthood for churches and for educating those studying for ordination.

"What a blessing to have at hand William Countryman's book, which, by disentangling ordination from real ministry, does an extraordinary job of clarifying what we mean when we speak of the church, of religion, and of God. I wish every self-identified 'person of faith' could read this remarkable, thought-provoking book." -Bruce Bawer, author of Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity


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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Provides the reader one part of of the process in developing a personal theology.
Robert M Anderson
All baptized Christians interested in discerning their God-given gifts and the possibilities for ministry to which God calls them will find this book helpful.
Charles B. Owen
I thought long and hard as to what should be my first book to read after my ordination to the priesthood.
FrKurt Messick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Kevin A. Rose (kerose@worldnet.att.net) on October 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
I am a full-time church musician. More than that, it is my ministry in the church. I've been considering, with the help of my spiritual director whether or not I am called to the ordained ministry. This book helps to re-affirm the meaning of the lay ministry in the church, and sheds new light. It has helped me to discern my own vocation as a lay professional in the church.
My spiritual director asked me, "What does ordination mean, and how would it enhance your ministry?" I read this book and can answer the question now! No other resource is as clear cut.
This book is written by an Episcopal Priest, and while it is oriented toward Episcopalians, it can just as easily apply to people of other parts of Christianity. All people aspiring toward ordained ministry should be required to read this! (...as well as those discerning their commitment to lay ministy in the church.)
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Charles B. Owen on August 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
The publication of L. William Countryman's LIVING ON THE BORDER OF THE HOLY: RENEWING THE PRIESTHOOD OF ALL (1999) comes at a time when the nature of the relationship between clergy and laity in the church suffers from confusion. In a society marked by shifting norms of authority and disagreement in matters of moral value, the status of ordination suffers from a crisis of legitimacy. This crisis raises many questions. Are priests and ministers different than laypersons? Are the ordained morally superior to laypersons? Are they more intellectually gifted? Should clergy be held to higher standards than the laity? Does the status of ordination mean that the ministries of laypersons are somehow less important? Does the very idea of ordination violate the status of equality before God in Christ bestowed on Christians by virtue of baptismal incorporation into the church? In light of such questions, the very idea of "priesthood" may appear irrelevant if not offensive. In response to such questions and in response to the many inadequate conceptions of the relationship between clergy and laity in Christian history, Countryman seeks to recover the multivalent and egalitarian meaning of "priesthood."
A threefold distinction between the fundamental priesthood of humanity, the priesthood of religion, and the priesthood of all baptized Christians underlies the book. The priesthood of humanity pertains to the capacity of persons to introduce each other to the "hidden things" and the "secrets" that give life its rich and mysterious meaning (p. 3).
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Sophia VINE VOICE on April 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
In "Living on the Border of the Holy", Episcopal priest Louis William Countryman invites his readers into an important and thought-provoking discussion on the nature of priesthood, ministry, the sacraments and the church. In engaging such issues as the role of the laity, the function of the ordained ministry and its role in the church, Dr. Countryman reminds us that all Christians - indeed, all humans - are not only sacred, but function as priests and ministers in their own right, and each has his or her own calling.
This book strips away many preconceptions regarding ordained ministry and invites its readers into a dialogue concerning the nature of priesthood, vocation and calling. It would make (and has made) a wonderful basis for a study group, and should be required reading for anyone even nibbling away on the idea of ordained ministry. A deeply thought-provoking, valuable, and insightful spiritual resource.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
I thought long and hard as to what should be my first book to read after my ordination to the priesthood. What would be a suitable task for the newly-minted Father Kurt? I found it in this book.
Bill Countryman's book, `Living on the Border of the Holy' carries the subtitle `Renewing the Priesthood of All'. There has been movement afoot in many religions and denominations to 'spread the wealth' as it were, to make clergy-types somewhat less of a hierarch and recognise that all are children of God and thus much more equal than they are ever meant to be set apart.
As a priest I concur -- I will fail in my duties if I do not at all times and in all places strive to give the greatest access to all aspects of worship to all people. To this end, the more I reserve things to myself (only a priest can do that!) the more I disturb the purpose of worship, the more I set myself above my fellow children of God, and the more I slip away from the divine.
Bill Countryman, whom I have met on several occasions, is himself an Episcopal priest, and in this book is committed to the idea that churches everywhere need to reclaim as much more than the latest evangelistic slogan or church-growth tactic the priesthood of all believers. We are all in this together! We all come from the same source, and ultimately have the same hopes. And, if Jesus himself didn't set himself above, why should we, as his servants, and thus the servants of the servant, and servants thus of all.
`In his ministry, Jesus stood not above, but alongside those who came to him. In him, they found a person who was truly one of them, even though far more at home in the border country. He introduced them to the Holy as to Health, to Hope, to Good News, to Love.
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