The divided church is withering on the vine. Crises of its own making--ranging from clergy sexual abuse and its cover-up to the church's complicity in colonialism, empire, and patriarchy--coupled with societal shifts beyond the church's control, have eroded its credibility. A much-deserved decline is well underway. And yet, churches remain content to continue with business as usual.
The causes of this state of crisis are manifold and complex, and no one solution could resolve them all. But so long as the church remains in a state of division, no solutions will be forthcoming. Division is no mere regrettable shortcoming or inconvenience; it is a contradiction of the church's foundation. After all, Jesus prayed that his followers would be one so the world could believe he was sent by God. Faced with a crisis of credibility, the church finds no way forward because a divided church renders the gospel message not credible.
Ruptured Bodies is a systematic theological account of the divided church. It argues that no adequate ecclesiology can ignore division, because in doing so, it will fail to describe the church that actually is. Such an understanding must integrate the reality of division, while also refusing to blunt its sharp edge--neither dismissing, excusing, nor minimizing it. What must the church be, given the fact of its division?
Schlesinger presents a systematic ecclesiology of the divided church despite that idea's seeming impossibilty, because such an ecclesiology is precisely what we need.