Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Book of the Moment #3

Jacques Maritain, On the Church of Christ(Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1973.

One of Maritain's last books was on the Church. It was written in response to the questions: how can a Church full of sinners be called "holy?" In it he makes a distinction between the Person of the Church (Christ) and the personnel of the Church. He then applies the distinction to various problems of infallibility, authority, structure, etc. Then he discusses in a dispassionate way several historical examples of problems, the Inquisition, the treatment of the Jews, Galileo and Joan of Arc. This book is far less polemical than The peasant of the Garonne, also a post Vatican II book that exhibits kind of a (perhaps justifiable) mean streak. Professional ecclesiologists might cringe at a purative simplification and naivete, but I, for my part, have benefited immensely from ths book. Maritain claims it is not a work of apologetics, but the ideas he presents clearly has a great deal of usefulness in apologetic situations. It has also been extremely useful in negotiating the current Situation in the Church in the U.S.

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