The Church, the Councils, and Reform brings together leading authorities in the field of church history to reflect on the importance of the late medieval councils. This is the first book in English to consider the lasting significance of the period from Constance to Trent (1414-1563) when several councils met to heal the Great Schism (1378) and reform the church. The authors look afresh at this era and consider how its legacy of reform and conciliarism may remain relevant to today's contexts of challenge and change. Since the central convictions of the conciliar movement involved the relationship between authority and consent, collegiality and hierarchy, diversity and identity, the book reflects on the predicaments of modern community-building when communities are experimenting with broader participation in the decision-making process.
The authors examine how theologians, jurists, humanists, and reformers articulated three essential tasks—to promote unity, defend the faith against heresy, and guarantee continuing reform. The Schism caused them to rethink accepted concepts of church government, and to balance their belief that a general council was informed by the Spirit and represented Christ with the need to reaffirm its legitimacy and yet preserve order in the visible institution.
Written by noted specialists in generally non-technical language and in an ecumenical context, this volume will appeal to readers with an interest in issues of authority, consent and reform. It will have a special appeal to scholars looking for a provocative but balanced contribution to late medieval political theory, the history of conciliarism, and the coming of the Reformation.
"The essays in this volume attest to the extraordinary contribution made by scholars over the last fifty years to our understanding of the richness of conciliar thought and practice in medieval and early modern Christianity, the fecundity of that thought for other areas of culture, and the potential for conciliar thought to influence the formation and reformation of communities today. This significant book will be a great value to scholars and students alike."~Renaissance Quarterly