What is "church"? What makes the church one? While these questions may seem innocuous, church has become conflicted territory recently, with internal factions, external pressures, and ecumenical turmoil all calling for a more positive, studier, more resilient notion of Christian community. Wengert approaches the questions as a Reformation historian. He shows how the New Testament notion of "marks" of the church was taken up by Luther and developed by Melanchthon not as descriptive tag but as a criterion for authenticity in Christian community. Lathrop, the liturgical theologian, shows concretely how those marks can stamp the worship life of a congregation as well as the evaluative work of congregations with their pastors, bishops, superintendents, and conference ministers. Only with a sturdy sense of their own identity--as a holy people, grounded in common practices and commitments--can Christian assemblies truly engage and even transform today's cultural context. This volume originated as six lectures jointly presented to the Academy of Bishops of the ELCA in 2001.
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Gordon W. Lathrop is Schieren Professor of Liturgy at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and author, most recently, of "Holy Ground: A Liturgical Cosmology" (Fortress Press, 2003).
Timothy J. Wengertis the emeritus Ministerium of Pennsylvania Professor of Church History at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. He has authored and edited many books and articles on Reformation topics, including, with Robert Kolb, The Book of Concord (Augsburg Fortress, 2000) and has written over one hundred articles. In 2000, he received the Melanchthon Prize from Bretten, Germany. His most recent publication is Reading the Bible with Martin Luther (2013).
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