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.
’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
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
The field of ecclesiology has grown remarkably in the last decade, and most especially in relation to the study of the contemporary church. Recently, theological attention has turned once more to the nature of the church, its practices and proclivities, and to interpretative readings and understandings of its role, function and ethos in contemporary society.
This series draws from a range of disciplines and established scholars to further the study of contemporary ecclesiology and publish an important cluster of landmark titles in this field. The series editors represent a range of Christian traditions and disciplines, and this reflects the breadth and depth of books developing in the Series. This series presents a clear focus on the contemporary situation of churches worldwide, offering an invaluable resource for students, researchers, ministers and other interested readers around the world working or interested in the diverse areas of contemporary ecclesiology and the important changing shape of the church worldwide.