The polarization in the Church today can be traced back to a more fundamental crisis in theology, one which has failed to connect our mundane experiences and the mysteries of the Christian faith with the person of Jesus Christ. Ecclesial discourse on the so-called ‘hot- button issues’ of the day too often takes place without considering the foundation and goal of the Church. And this is unfortunately due to a similar tendency in the academic theology that informs that ecclesial discourse. In short, much of post-conciliar Catholic theology is adrift, floating aimlessly away from the center of the Christian faith, who is Christ.
The Center is Jesus Christ Himself is a collection of essays which anchor theological reflection in Jesus Christ. These diverse essays share a unified focal point, but engage with a variety of theological subdisciplines (e.g., dogmatic, moral, Biblical, etc.), areas (e.g., Christology, Pneumatology, missiology, etc.), and periods (e.g., patristic, medieval, and modern). Given the different combinations of sub-disciplines, areas, and periods, theology is susceptible to fragmentation when it is not held together by some principle of unity. A theology in which the person of Jesus Christ serves as that principle of unity is a Christocentric theology. Together, the essays illustrate not only what Christocentric theology looks like, but also what the consequences are when Christ is dislodged from the center, whether by a conspicuous silence on, or by a relativization of, his unique salvific mission.
The volume is published in honor of Emeritus Professor of Systematic Theology at Boston College, Rev. Dr. Robert P. Imbelli, who dedicated his teaching and writing to bringing Christ back to the center of Catholic theological discourse.
"Remarkable for the scope of influential theologians who have willingingly contributed to this volume. Will be of interest to anyone interested in Fr. Imbellli's work and should be read by anyone seeking a degree in systematic theology."~Gill Goulding, SJ, Regis College, University of Toronto
"To encounter Christ as the genuine center is hardly a commonplace or a static midpoint between two abstractly opposed extremes. Fr. Robert Imbelli grasps Christocentrism as a transformative experience of having one’s imagination illuminated by the glory of the transfigured crucified. From Josiah Royce he discerned a pneumatological clue to linking this meeting in person of a wounded savior to a vision of the whole of faith and of life. This renewable and reforming path from the Paschal Mystery to everyday existence is captured in these captivating, learned, and elegant essays by eminent friends, scholars, and bishops. These contributions not only bring to light the legacy of a remarkably humble, irenic, and underappreciated theologian. They hearken to being centered on the transfiguring Christ as a basso continuo in the Catholic tradition and thereby bring it to life for a new generation."~Peter Casarella, Duke Divinity School
"This volume reflects the man it honors: thoughtful, disciplined, and driven by a love for the subject matter. Just as Christ is like a light that refracts in a thousand ways, so, too, these essays offer a wide spectrum of evocative answers to the central questions: who is Christ and how does he deliver us from death to life? Fr. Imbelli has long reminded us that in the tumult of the present moment, re-rooting ourselves in the mystery of Christ is essential. This book is a valuable step in that direction."~Holly Taylor Coolman, Providence College
"This book is more than a very good Festschrift honoring Fr. Imbelli. The essays of this volume form a unit whose center is Christ and whose purpose is the new evangelization--Christ makes all things new. An impressive array of theologians, young and old, systematic and historical, have contributed chapters that are as instructive as they are inspiring and illuminating. I warmly recommend this volume to theologians, priests, religious, and even the theologically inclined lay person."~Reinhard Huetter, author of John Henry Newman on Truth and Its Counterfeits: A Guide for Our Times
"If a pedestrian Festschrift exists, this is not one. It is luminous. Every single chapter is wondrously composed and richly documented. Treatments of contemporary theologians (Ratzinger by Wicks and Ruddy, Lonergan by Lawrence, John Paul II by Connors, Balthasar by Franks, Imbelli himself by Salzmann and Weinandy), Vatican II (Guarino), historical figures (Irenaeus by Anatolios, Isaac of Stella by Peters, Augustine by Daley, Hugh of St. Victor by Coolman—these latter two display particular brilliance) and the Bible (O’Collins and Levering) gather abundant resources for theology, preaching, evangelization, and action. Any chapter’s theological, historical, or exegetical spark could help rekindle the Christic imagination; together, they promise a fire (Mt 3:11; Lk 3:16)."~Theological Studies
"Conveys a sense of grateful reverence before the fact of Revelation in Christ. The individual chapters, many of them by authors quite eminent in their respective subdisciplines, exhibit a consistently high quality. Theologians looking for models of theologizing that escape the gravitational pull of church journalism or grievance studies will do well to look here."~Irish Theological Quarterly
"The significance of this volume is that it shows the richness and fecundity of a theological vision that begins in the uniqueness and universality of the lordship of Jesus Christ. Fidelity to Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium does not stunt theological scholarship but instead gives it a center that renders it possible, and that center is Jesus Christ himself."~Thomist
"In an age marked with polarized tendencies, which, at times, threaten to distort Christian practice and thought, The Center Is Jesus Christ Himself approaches theological discourse, and missionary practice, through the illumination provided by recourse to the very Center Himself."~Missology: An International Review