Notable Books

Notable: Justice, Unity, and the Hidden Christ, by Matthew John Paul Tan

Now available from Wipf & Stock: Justice, Unity, and the Hidden Christ: The Theopolitical Complex of the Social Justice Approach to Ecumenism in Vatican II, by Matthew John Paul Tan

Book description:

Does social justice promote Christian unity? With reference to paragraph 12 of Unitatis Redintegratio—Vatican II’s declaration on ecumenism—this book argues that an emphasis on justice and unity without proper consideration of social context actually risks obscuring a clear public declaration of Christ, by having Christians uncritically accept the presumptions that underpin the sociopolitical status quo. This constitutes a failure in Christian interpretation, the crux of which is a failure in ecclesiology. Matthew John Paul Tan suggests the beginnings of a corrective with reference to works by Pope Benedict XVI, theologians such as Graham Ward, and postmodern theorists like Michel Foucault. Ultimately, Tan invites the reader to begin considering how answering this seemingly simple question will implicate not only theology, but also philosophy and political theory, as well as considering the need for the church to engage in a bolder confessional politics in place of the politics of the public square often favored by Christian and non-Christian commentators.


“This represents a long-overdue critique of self-secularizing practices in post-conciliar Catholicism. Tan shows how conceptions of the autonomy of the secular have allowed Christian charitable works to be culturally outflanked in the secular sphere. He argues that if the ecclesiology of the church as chaplain to the capitalist order has relegated the body of Christ to merely a subsection of a public circumscribed by the state/society/market complex, then the body of Christ ought to be repositioned to become a public in its own right.” — Tracey Rowland, John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family

“Tan argues that the church must be embodied sacramentally as a ‘public’ in its own right—not a chaplain to society, but a wholesale alternative vision of society. Only within the context of such an alternative social order can projects of justice become meaningful Christian witness. This is an important and timely contribution to a theology of culture, and a provocative reassessment of the relation between word and deed in Christian witness.” — Benjamin Myers, Charles Sturt University, Sydney

[Available now from Wipf & Stock]



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