Western Christians in the late Middle Ages were accustomed to living in a hierarchical Church – albeit one that had huge local differences and many divisions. Half a millennium later, that seeming unity has been shattered into tens of thousands of Christian denominations, each with its distinctive beliefs and structure. In The Wheat and the Tares Andrew Chibi explores the era of the Reformation, showing how that unity was shattered in a few years.
Chibi brings out the divisions that were simmering deep beneath the surface in the era before Luther posted his 95 theses attacking the sale of indulgences on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg, sparking momentous changes throughout Europe. The widespread recognition of the need for reform is seen through the eyes of Erasmus, the greatest scholar of the age. Exploring the writings of the main reformers about the Church, Chibi brings out the diverse ecclesiological ideas. Jesus’s parable of the Wheat and the Tares for Zwingli and other reformers offered an image, as the reformers sought to rediscover the purity of the Church as God’s gift.
Introduction: Pre-Reformation Ecclesiology (What Is the Church?)
1. Erasmus, Abuses in the Church, and the Needs of Christendom
2. Luther’s Doctrine of the Church
3. Zwingli’s Doctrine of the Church
4. The Ecclesiology of the Second-Generation Reformers
5. Tudor Ecclesiology
Conclusion: Catholic Ecclesiology of the Sixteenth Century
Endorsements and Reviews
Chibi’s book is a study of the church and ecclesiology in the sixteenth century. He starts with the medieval church, and then considers the reformers, the Reformation churches and Counter-Reformation churches. Jesus’ parable of the Wheat and the Tares … is applied to the churches – were the tares allowed to grow alongside the wheat, or did the church try to weed them out? This is a readable book for anyone interested in the church and history.
Ralph S. Werrell, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Birmingham and author of The Roots of William Tyndale’s Theology (2013)
This is essentially a retelling of the Reformation through the lens of ecclesiology. It is an erudite and ambitious study that makes a significant contribution. I will very likely become of the standard studies on the topic in the field of Reformation studies.
David Barbee, at http:readingreligion.org, December 2017
The study’s strength lies in its extensive citations of reformers’ arguments along with helpful summaries of their thinking within the contexts in which their doctrines evolved.
Robert Kolb, in Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 2018