Fortress Press

Ruptured Bodies: A Theology of the Church Divided

Ruptured Bodies

A Theology of the Church Divided

Eugene R. Schlesinger (Author)


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The divided church is withering on the vine. Crises of its own making--ranging from clergy sexual abuse and its cover-up to the church's complicity in colonialism, empire, and patriarchy--coupled with societal shifts beyond the church's control, have eroded its credibility. A much-deserved decline is well underway. And yet, churches remain content to continue with business as usual.

The causes of this state of crisis are manifold and complex, and no one solution could resolve them all. But so long as the church remains in a state of division, no solutions will be forthcoming. Division is no mere regrettable shortcoming or inconvenience; it is a contradiction of the church's foundation. After all, Jesus prayed that his followers would be one so the world could believe he was sent by God. Faced with a crisis of credibility, the church finds no way forward because a divided church renders the gospel message not credible.

Ruptured Bodies is a systematic theological account of the divided church. It argues that no adequate ecclesiology can ignore division, because in doing so, it will fail to describe the church that actually is. Such an understanding must integrate the reality of division, while also refusing to blunt its sharp edge--neither dismissing, excusing, nor minimizing it. What must the church be, given the fact of its division?

Schlesinger presents a systematic ecclesiology of the divided church despite that idea's seeming impossibilty, because such an ecclesiology is precisely what we need.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506489674
  • eBook ISBN 9781506489681
  • Dimensions 6.25 x 9.25
  • Pages 205
  • Publication Date May 28, 2024


The division of the churches may be long and ugly, but Schlesinger's book is beautiful, elegant, full of grace and insight--and even short.

Eugene Rogers, professor of religious studies, University of North Carolina Greensboro

Ruptured Bodies is an achievement both practical and theoretical. It is a work that theologically wrestles with the problem of ecclesial disunity in the midnight of Christian sin, particularly Christian sins in their racial, gendered, and sexual apertures. In writing that is at once urgent and informative, Schlesinger authors a compelling argument for how essential the issue of ecclesial unity remains to Christian coherence, and for how our sin threatens the integrity of our communities and our theologies. Ruptured Bodies offers a hope braced by the cross, and indeed makes the case that no other hope can meet Christians as they in fact are in history.

Anne M. Carpenter, PhD, Danforth Chair in Theological Studies, Saint Louis University

This is ecumenism at its finest: a historically and theologically honest appraisal of the problem and possibilities of church division. Centering his proposal on Vatican II catholicity with an Anglican corrective, Schlesinger argues that we must neither shut our eyes to the empirical reality of a divided church, nor stop at that division and so miss the mysterious unity that rests in the love of God revealed in Christ's cross.

Anthony D. Baker, professor of systematic theology, Seminary of the Southwest