Catholics for Renewal


Church Mutation


The following series of papers examine and throw light on some of the key events and processes over Church history  that have progressively caused or enabled the Church to 'mutate'. This covers around 2000 years from the time of Christ.

The term 'Mutation" in this context was borrowed from biology by Dr Paul Collins because it conveniently conveys a sense of both radical transformation and continuity at the same time. This useful concept is based upon the natural biological process of mutation which permanently changes a DNA sequence that makes up a human gene, the basic physical and functional unit of heredity.

In the Church context the concept of mutation helpfully highlights the way in which substantial changes have occurred over time, built on whilst preserving original beliefs and values in the context of contemporary times. In the process it also predicts that transformation will continue into the future whilst always preserving fundamental beliefs and values - from the teachings and examples of Christ.

Seen over 2000 years change can often, though not always, appear painfully slow. Occasionally it may even appear painfully fast.  Projecting into the future, and even the near future given this time of unprecedented rate of social change and disruption, very much faster church transformation might reasonably be anticipated, as suggested in some ways by Pope Francis. There remains hope for the Church to adjust to realities of today's rapidly changing world, and to arrest serious Church decline being experienced in parts of the Western world in terms of  measures such as trust, participation, and vocations.

The following 'Church Mutation' papers were written by Dr Paul Collins and David Timbs.They are published here in reverse chronological order to emphasise the potential for renewal today and ahead based on the realities of past Church transformations:

                  9: Mutations in Church History       (Dr Paul Collins)
            8. The Jesus Movement Part VIII, Towards Nicaea (David Timbs)
            7: The Jesus Movement Part VII,  The Third Century (David Timbs)
            6: The Jesus movement Part VI,   The end of the Apostolic era (David Timbs)
            5: The Jesus movement Part V,     Paul and his opponents (David Timbs)
            4: The Jesus movement Part IV,    Paul, his Gospel and Mission (David Timbs)
            3: The Jesus movement Part III,   The split  (David Timbs)
            2: The Jesus movement Part II     (David Timbs)
                    - Jesus in conflict with the Teachers of the Law
                    - The Jesus Movement and its conflict with the Synagogue
            1: The beginnings of the Jesus movement Part I, The early social and religious context                                         (David Timbs)
                    - The Peasant Farmer: Debt, Taxes and Bread for the day.

For a fuller time context the linked 'Church mutation' papers that follow are preceded by two additional articles,  "Pope Francis", and the "2nd Vatican Council", collectively exploring transformation in the Church over the 2000 years between Christ and Pope Francis:



Image: Mutation (natural biological process which permanently changes a DNA sequence that makes up a gene)