Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ruether's early ecclesiology

For theology buffs. (I don't have time to explain the jargon but I thought at least a few of you would be interested in this even in its non-popular-writing form.) This is about and from Rosemary Radford Ruether's first book, The Church Against Itself, published in 1967! (The non-Ruether writing is copyright by moi, Jane C. Redmont, 2009. Mishandle it and I'll go legal on you.)

...Related to this tension between the reign of God and the church is Ruether’s predilection for dealing with the church in its historical concreteness. The Church Against Itself heralds Ruether’s ecclesiological preoccupation with the church as it is present in the world, not as an ideal image, principle or model. "It is necessary," Ruether writes, "to disentangle ourselves from the self-delusion of triumphalist ecclesiology which confuses the church’s historical existence with its divine essence. This confusion," she continues,
*****has the most serious theological consequences. When the church naturalises itself in history and disregards the tension between its existence and its eschatological telos, then it constructs a myth around its past that and present which distorts its true situation so radically that a reversal principle comes into play and the church itself becomes everything that it was formerly defined against.

....Another theme in Ruether’s later work announces itself explicitly here: the Christian tradition from which she starts and which she examines is the Christian tradition as a whole in its historical and ecumenical variety, not simply her own Roman Catholic church family.

More eventually. Stay tuned.


Paul said...

What a great point, well made. You and Rosemary go, ladies!

[The verification word is "caritist," presumably a believer in love.]

Lisa Fox said...

I can't even begin to keep up with you on matters theological or ecclesiological ... but this reminds me of a quip I read today. [Please pardon the paternal language]: Jesus Christ became incarnate and came to earth to establish the Kingdom of God ... and got stuck with the church.

If I am understanding what Reuther and you are saying ... then that quip makes a lot of sense to me. Jesus overturning all the paradigms ... then gets hijacked by The Church as just another patriarchal system. ... Something profoundly wrong with that.

Jane R said...

Yup, you betcha. In fact the original quote on that was by the French Catholic biblical scholar Alfred Loisy (who got in big trouble with the Vatican nearly a century ago), whom Ruether quotes and to whom, if I remember correctly (too lazy to go to the shelf and check) she dedicates this book.

It's interesting to read her here because this is the very young Ruether, before she wrote her explicitly feminist theology, which began a few years later. She was already deeply involved in the civil rights movement, though.

Lisa Fox said...

HUH? A bleepin' century ago??? I know this isn't the point of your post. But how come some of us ... ok, me! ... are just now starting to read/hear the radical Jesus without the lens of patriarchy??

Fran said...

Loisy has been mentioned in some of my class reading...

This is brilliant, I must read more Ruether.

And Redmont!