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Title: Theologia reformata – Ecclesia reformanta : dynamics of theological and ecclesial identity
Author: Bradbury, John Paul
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2005
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This thesis attempts to construct a realistic theology of the Church. The foundations for such a theology are in the concrete historical existence of the life of the churches; and the treatment of them is rooted in the life and theological tradition of the Reformed churches and their understanding of ‘perpetual reformation’. The thesis argues that traditional systematic doctrinal elucidations of the Church fail to engage the life of the concrete historical Church when they seek to prioritise internal systematic coherence. Through a critique of the place the Church holds within the doctrinal systems of Calvin and Barth it argues that the doctrine of the invisible Church typically functions as a idealised and dualistic ontology of the Church which undermines the ability of theology to engage with the concrete historical visible Church. In an examination of the function of confessional texts within the Reformed tradition, and a close reading of one particular text, the key themes of the sociality of the Church, the incomplete nature of the Church and therefore its perpetual reformation, and the triadic relationship of God-the people of God-world are explicated. An examination of the reformation of confessional positions regarding Israel and Judaism isolates primary factors involved: a returning to origins (scripture); the context of the world; and the practices of the Church. The implications of the Jewish-Christian dialogue in returning the Church to the Hebrew scriptures and Jewish thought as resources for ecclesiology are highlighted. An examination of the initiation and renewal of the covenant within the Old and New Testaments reveals three fundamental orientations as necessary for re-information: to the past, to the world, and to the future. These are mediated through practices (both within biblical Israel and the contemporary worship of the Church), the functioning of which are elucidated with reference to social scientific theories of collective memory. It is argued that the Church is historically contingent, formed as such through divine activity within history, and it is this contingency, bounded by the future in-breaking of God both in, and to end, history, which allows for an understanding of the incomplete and sinful nature of the Church and the way the identity of the Church is formed primarily through its practices.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available