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The Contestable Church: Dissent, Democracy, and Baptist Ecclesiology

By author: Christopher L. Schelin
Product Code: P694
ISBN: 9780881469271
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Baptists have a well-earned reputation as a contentious people. Lacking a centralized authority to settle disputes, and defending the conscience of each believer, they have excelled at conflict and division. But perhaps the resolution of this scandal is not for Baptists to stop fighting, but to learn to fight better. In THE CONTESTABLE CHURCH, Christopher L. Schelin reconsiders Baptist ecclesiology from the perspective that conflict is not merely inevitable but is essentially constructive for the church's discernment of the mind of Christ. Enlisting the support of radical democratic political theory, as exemplified in the work of Romand Coles, the author argues that it is precisely through hospitable encounters with difference and disagreement that new possibilities emerge. Schelin invites Baptists not to shy away from conflict, employing convergences with radical democracy to reimagine key doctrinal themes such as soul competency, the priesthood of believers, and pastoral authority. By adopting insights from radical democracy, Baptists may avoid the competing dangers of excessive individualism and conformist authoritarianism. THE CONTESTABLE CHURCH offers a positive witness to the peace of God that is the horizon for conflict and invites Baptists to the practice of vigorous dissent for the sake of living faithfully. Instead of revealing a dissolution into chaos, dissent is an expression of hope that Christians are a pilgrim people for whom a vulnerable and challenging intimacy leads the way home.
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