Radner's main thesis is provocative:
The divided church ... cannot disclose the gospel, but instead veils it—not only from the world, but above all from the church itself. As a community of those to whom the gospel is veiled (cf. II Cor.4:3), the divided church is ineluctably perishing, all the while ignorant of its fate. (378)He grounds the church's division at the Reformation not in doctrinal differences but in a “contradiction of ecclesial love,” which led to the development of a “separative logic” amongst the divided church's theologians. The result of this negation of the gospel is the withdrawal of the Holy Spirit and thus inevitable death. In order to find guidance in this dire situation, he looks to the church's type, namely Israel, and what happened as it too was divided after the reign of Solomon.
For Scriptural Israel the cost of the chosen people's wilfully divided life is divine abandonment, exile and destruction for all. In this the faithful remnant share as much as the rest. God's purpose of election is not thereby void, but the form his electing love will eventually take is in invisible to those slated for death in Assyria and Babylon. Since the church's disunity makes sundered and exiled Israel contingently, but irrevocably, its type, our divided denominations must even now reckon with the Spirit's absence, and look forward to their coming death. (381, 2)This is a brilliant and fascinating essay. There is much food for thought and I'm delighted to see typological interpretation being put to good use. However, there is one thing that bugs me: according to 1 Ki 11, 12, Israel's division is due to the direct intervention of God in response to the apostasy of the monarch and his people. Division is punishment for this sin and is part of a larger process of renewing this people to be faithful, rather than the sin itself which leads to exile and death. It would seem to me that the contemporary lesson this chapter in Israel's history teaches us is that unity is good, but unity without righteousness is meaningless, so that sometimes division and dissolution are necessary in order to bring about a renewal of the people of God. The Reformation was a necessary evil, even though it cannot remain the status quo.