Virtue Ecclesiology : An Exploration in The Good Church book cover
1st Edition

Virtue Ecclesiology
An Exploration in The Good Church

ISBN 9780367597276
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
248 Pages

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Book Description

Critiquing a paradigm of growth within the church, this book contends that the church’s growth ethic should be replaced by one based on virtue. Drawing on the work of Sennett, Fromm, and Hauerwas, John Fitzmaurice argues that an approach taking growth to be the overriding task of the church is found to be shallow and risks infantilising the faith it purports to proclaim. MacIntyre’s proposal for a recovery of a virtue-based ethic is examined and interpreted theologically through the concepts of narrative theology, community, sacraments and sanctification; the role of ’practices’ in developing virtuous character is central. The nature of a virtuous organisation is explored through a lens of organisational psychodynamics; this understanding informs a model of church as a community of interpretation. Fitzmaurice suggests that it is in and though sacramental practices that the transitional space for these virtues to be formed is created. Tracing a similar corrosion of character within secular institutions that have opted for an overriding focus on growth, this book offers an alternative based on the formation of corporate, as well as individual, virtuous character and considers the implications of a virtue-based growth ethic on theological education and ministerial formation as well as in terms of public theology and the manner of the church’s engagement with society.

Table of Contents

Foreword, Martyn Percy; Introduction; Foundationalism and the corrosion of character; Individuation and the recovery of virtue; Towards a theology of ecclesial character - sacraments, sanctification and the Church; Practice makes perfect; The psychodynamics of a virtuous Church; Character and the tasks of the Church; From virtue to holiness; A case study: virtue and theological education in the Church of England; Conclusion

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Revd. Dr John Fitzmaurice is a Team Vicar of All Saints’ Church, Emscote in the Warwick Team Ministry and variously involved in theological education and ministerial development in the Diocese of Coventry and wider church. PhD awarded from King’s College London in 2014. A former musician and graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, John trained for ordination at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield. He holds degrees from the University of Leeds (BA Hons, Theology & Religious Studies), Heythrop College, University of London (MA, Psychology of Religion) and King’s College, London (PhD, Ecclesiology). Alongside a busy parish ministry, John is a national selector for Bishops’ Advisory Panels, and an experienced training incumbent. He facilitates and trains at all levels in Ministerial Development inc. Initial Ministerial Education 4-7, Ministerial Development Review and Mid-Ministry Review. He has a particular interest in the development of leadership in Church of England schools, and is part of the leadership team of the Coventry Church Schools Leadership Project.


’John Fitzmaurice brings the mature and realistic experience of a parish priest to the problems of the contemporary church in a neo-liberal social context. He explores all the possible intellectual strategies for integrating the basic message of the church with the whole range of the social science, taking special account of psychodynamics and of the insights of virtue ethics. The result is an informed and subtle contribution to the current debate about the kind of approaches the church might adopt in what is clearly a very serious situation.’ David Martin, London School of Economics, UK