Priest in the Inner City: Subjecting the Ecclesiology of John Milbank and Rowan Williams to Empirical Scrutiny

Martin Gainsborough

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Abstract

The article considers the strengths and weaknesses of John Milbank’s ecclesiology through an examination of encounters the author has had as a Church of England priest working in the inner city. The analysis is further sharped by setting Milbank’s ecclesiology alongside Rowan Williams’ ideas about the Church and priestly ministry. The article argues that while there is more to Milbank’s ecclesiology than some critics have allowed, Milbank’s account can be usefully supplemented by close attention to the lived experience of the Church day by day. However, in his later writing on the Church, Milbank explicitly acknowledges the tensions in his earlier ecclesiology and speaks in favour of precisely this kind of work. Nevertheless, for a more rounded characterisation of the Church as a distinctive human community we need to look at the Church taken to its limits, sticking with situations of ‘dis-ease and conflict, and not looking for ‘quick and false solutions’. These points can all be found reflected positively in Williams’ ecclesiology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-31
Number of pages21
JournalEcclesiology
Volume13
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jan 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017

Keywords

  • Ecclesiology
  • John Milbank
  • Rowan Williams
  • priest
  • inner city

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