A Review of
Whole: A Call to Unity in Our Fragmented World
Review by David Lemley.
Sharon Watkins’ Whole is, on one hand, a stirring vision for the life, worship and witness of the local church at the intersection of historic Christian faith and contemporary cultural contexts. On the other, this is a charge delivered by the head of an American-born denomination in decline, developed from a sermon at the National Cathedral and an exposition of recent ecclesial vision statements. The book offers a glimpse into how a radical nineteenth century vision echoes in a twenty-first century context.
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is often identified by its primary visual symbol, the chalice, standing for communion with God around an open table. It is (with self-aware irony) a denomination surviving since the early 1800s, founded on the principle of ending denominational distinctions for the sake of Christian unity. The American Restoration Movement forged various denominational streams along a spectrum of purity and unity, with the Disciples holding fast to the latter. Like many American mainline denominations, to whom contemporary Disciples bear liturgical and demographic resemblance, they perhaps experience decline not so much as a result of sectarianism, but appearing missionally indistinct from other progressive political and social impulses.