Reviews - What do customers think about People of Bread: Rediscovering Ecclesiology?
Bread as Church Apr 7, 2010
People of Bread: Rediscovering Ecclesiology by Wolfgang Vondey offers the idea that the image of bread is a suitable image of the church. People of Bread seeks to utilize the imaginative concept of bread as an ecclesiastical tool for modern theology. The first step in establishing bread as a useful image, for Vondey, is to reconfirm the importance of images in biblical texts and church tradition. It is Vondey's conviction that traditional images played a vital role in sustaining the vitality of the church and in communicating its message through the ages. Having established for the reader the historical relevance of images, People of Bread explores the various symbolic meanings associated with bread. Vondey proposes a variety of symbolic meanings for bread, such as companionship, morality, unity, and life. The over arching purpose of the book seems to be ecumenical in nature. Using bread as an image for the church provides a framework for an ecumenical ecclesiology where the image of companionship takes precedence over the denominational divisions that plague the modern church.
While Vondey's ideas are noble and his approach to ecumenical discussion unique, is the power of an image enough to bridge the gaps in a divided church. The image of bread as church certainly offers a welcoming atmosphere of food and fellowship. Perhaps, opening the doorway of the imagination and inventing a new image of the church is exactly what is needed.
A Brilliant Book Apr 1, 2010
Wolfgang Vondey's thesis in "People of Bread" is that the biblical image of bread provides "a proper image for the Church" (3). That is to say, the biblical image of bread provides a normative model for what the Church should be, for it reveals, in Vondey's words, "the social nature and moral responsibility of the people of God, the mission of the Church, its sacramental nature, ecumenical purpose, and eschatological vision" (3). Vondey hopes that his discussion of "the theology of bread" can lead not only to "a more comprehensive understanding of the Church" but also a deeper appreciation for "the ecumenical and liturgical dimensions of the Christian life" (3). Moreover, the biblical image of bread, properly exegeted, can provide "a comprehensive ecclesiology in the twenty-first century" and "a central metaphor for an understanding of the nature and purpose of the Christian community" (9).
The book consists of seven chapters plus an introduction and conclusion. Chapter 1 lays out Vondey's rationale and methodology for the use of images in theology in general and ecclesiology in particular. Chapter 2 discusses bread in the Old Testament as an image for understanding "the social nature of God's people" (11). Chapter 3 details the moral and ethical imperatives for God's people to practice hospitality and the "sharing of bread with strangers" (11-12). Chapter 4 discusses the New Testament treatment of bread in the life of Jesus and its implications for the mission of the Church. Chapter 5 looks at bread in the Last Supper as an image for understanding the Church as the Body of Christ. Chapter 6 focuses on bread as an emblem of Christian unity. Chapter 7 treats the eschatological use of the image of bread for the Church and its unity with God. The final chapter outlines the ecumenical, missional, and charitable implications of the biblical image of bread for the Church today.
"People of Bread" is a brilliant book. Vondey's exegesis of the biblical texts is profound, thorough, scholarly, insightful, and almost always convincing. Clearly, the image of bread as depicted in both Testaments and expounded by Vondey is rich with implications both for the Church as it currently is and as God intended it to be. Vondey has given us a profoundly thoughtful, interesting, and challenging model for ecumenical discussion and thinking about the Church in the 21st century. His challenge is for the Church to be what it already is in Christ and thus to offer the companionship, hospitality, mission, self-sacrificing service, and ecumenical unity that are implicit in the biblical image of bread.
Bread will take on a new meaning in your life... Mar 30, 2010
In People of Bread, Vondey seeks to "uncover the significance of bread beyond its role at the Lord Supper" which is the most common understanding among Christians today. His thesis for this book is "that bread is in fact a proper image for the Church. Bread represents not only the central element of Christian liturgy; the biblical story of bread also reveals the social nature and moral responsibility of the people of God, the mission of the church, its sacramental nature, ecumenical purpose, and eschatological vision." (p. 3) His focus is the "visible Church, its social character, cultural engagement, and communal and ecumenical life." (p. 8)
Vondey contends that the people of God have always been the people of bread. As the people of bread understand their relationship with God, the stronger the visible church is in the world. This somewhat different, yet insightful image of bread, companionship, and fellowship is captivating and will change the readers experience with God and his/her community.
Highlights from my reading include, a) Companionship - sharing of bread is an expression of companionship and the sharing of bread with others, especially strangers, represents an extension of God's love (pp. 37-38]; b) Moral Character - lack of bread can be seen as a need for repentance and a return to God, thus showing dependence upon Him (p. 71); c) Mission - "the primary motivation for hospitality is the vision to live in a world without strangers" (p. 99). As people of bread, strangers become friends during fellowship together; d) Sacrament - the Lord's Supper is not solely celebrated in remembrance of Christ but it represents the bread of life for the world. The Lord's Supper becomes the "visible offering of Christ" to the world (p. 153); and e) Eschatology - as the Church continues to break bread with one another, the story of God continues on throughout eternity through the life of Jesus Christ (p. 258).
The chapters were long and covered a lot of material which required focused reading or one could get lost by the next section of the chapter. The review of the previous chapter at the beginning of each chapter was helpful but it was sometimes wordy. Nonetheless, I believe Vondey accomplished his purpose with great documentation, citing scholarly sources and an organized use of Scripture. This book has given new meaning about the privilege and responsibility to be people of bread.
The Lost Art of Imagination Mar 30, 2010
People of Bread: Rediscovering Ecclesiology by Wolfgang Vondey is a thought provoking book seeking to reunite the laity with the term "people of bread." Vondey's goal in writing is to recast the "image of the Christian community" while "developing a comprehensive ecclesiology" based on bread. Vondey does an excellent job using bread as a metaphor. He is specific in how he uses the it and takes care to make sure the reader understands the importance of the biblical image of bread. Vondey is clearly imaginative in his descriptions and is careful to note the importance of imagination in theology. I love the time and effort Vondey takes to engage the imagination of the reader, thus allowing them to understand his method for theological considerations.
Following his discussion on biblical images, Vondey leaps right in with the image of bread with the church. His main topics are Companionship: The Social Nature of the People of God, Fullness of Bread:The Moral Character of the Fullness of God, Bread of Life: The Mission of the Church, Broken Bread: The Sacramental Nature of the Church, One Bread:The Visible Unity of the Churches, and Bread of the Kingdom: The Eschatological View of the Church. Vondey refrains from mincing words and is very careful to fully spell out his points. His goal is to revive the theological imagination through inspiring his readers to think outside of a pre-constructed box. Vondey does not seek for his book to be the end all of all theological discussion on ecclesiology; rather, he views it as a stepping stone for the reader to use their imagination as well and imagine the church differently.
Vondey has an apparent dedication to the church that shines through this book. People of Bread is especially suited for those in ministry who may feel stagnant; thereby, making it an excellent source to revive spiritual complacency. It is liberal in its ideology and methodology for considerations of the church, but that is needed in this century when many ideas of the church have become stale to the world. Vondey breathes fresh air into the idea of church by suggesting companionship and hospitality as fundamental constructs. I truly enjoyed reading this work and look forward to anything else the author may pen.
Enlightening and Engaging Ecclesiastical View Mar 30, 2010
People of Bread offers a unique approach to Ecclesiology. Its focus on companionship, hospitality, and partaking in the Lord's Supper are refreshing in a world where church has become an individualistic experience. Vondey examines bread as the foundation for the sharing of community. To share one's bread with another is to invite them into your life experience. This sharing of bread is not limited to people alone but also includes God sharing His bread with us. He demonstrates how throughout the Old and New Testaments we see the idea of breaking bread with one another. The provision and abundance of bread is not only indicative of God's favor and blessing, but evidence of an invitation to His people to share in true fellowship with him. The sharing of bread also serves as the basis for hospitality in Jewish culture. Sharing bread with strangers is encouraged and expected from the People of Bread. Finally, Vondey wants to instill in his readers the sense that the Lord's Supper should not become a sacrament through which the church becomes divided; however, in the spirit of unity and in light of Christ's own example it should be an opportunity for us to come together, across denominations, with equality and respect for one another. At first glance, I was a little worried that the book magnified the symbolism of bread to an unhealthy degree, but as I continued to read the book, I realized that bread is a common theme spread throughout the Bible. In light of Vondey's book, it's hard to visualize the church apart from bread. From the manna God provided the Israelites in the wilderness to the Lord's Supper, bread is integral in God's dealings with His people. The imagery used was vivid and poignant. The numerous scriptural examples of how bread played a role in companionship and hospitality really challenged me to think of those I have excluded from sharing my table. It made me wonder if we as a church have become more exclusive in our sharing our bread, whether spiritual or natural, than we ought to be. While the information in the book was enlightening and engaging, I felt as though some of the information was repeated more than necessary. Despite this minor setback, I believe the book accomplishes its goal of causing the church to remember its roots as a People of Bread.