A Brutal Unity: The Spiritual Politics of the Christian Church
by ephraim radner
baylor, 482 pages, $59.95

The Rwandan genocide, the modern liberal democratic state, Catholic and Orthodox doctrines of the Church’s sinlessness, twentieth-century ecumenism, Nazi Germany’s failed Confessing Church movement, churches’ traditional disavowal of heretics. These, Ephraim Radner says, are all developments of the long, frustrating history of Christian responses to division. Christians ought finally to hear our Lord’s call to follow him in self-emptying obedience and suffer the consequences of being neighbors rather than trying to escape our neighbors. 

The mainstream Christian approach to discord, argues Radner, an Anglican priest who teaches at Wycliffe College in Toronto (and is a member of First Things’ advisory council), assumes that a difference with the mainstream understanding indicates apostasy and the denial of Christ. It thus treats the contending belief as a “heresy” to be dismissed, treated with contempt, or vilified. He names this the “Epiphanian paradigm,” after Epiphanius’ classic fourth-century Refutation of All the Heresies

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