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Book Reviews

By Various.

Interpreting God's Plan. Biblical Theology and the Pastor

Edited by R J Gibson

Paternoster Press, Carlisle, 1998; £7.99; 130 pp; ISBN 0 85364 881 6

This set of papers is derived from the 1996 School of Theology at Moore College, Adelaide, a conservative evangelical Anglican seminary. Amongst the theological presuppositions of both this book and its origins are the unity of Scripture, the inspiration of the Bible. If, with Peter Jenson, Principal of Moore College, you believe that "unless we can say to the church and the world what the Bible says, Christian faith becomes mystical and superstitious and the clear statement of the gospel is lost", then you will delight in this book. If, like me, you do not necessarily equate mysticism and superstition, or believe that "when biblical theology is allied to doctrine, we have a pathway into Scripture which enables us to read and explain it with confidence" then you might have problems.

Having voiced my concerns, let me commend this volume for its focus and its questions posed at the end of each chapter. Donald Robinson explores the development of the course (not of much practical concern to you or I, I fear ); Graeme Goldsworthy defends the viability of a biblical theology grouped around the theme of the kingdom of God; Barry Webb describes an evangelical hermeneutic, dependent upon a community of believers; Peter Jenson argues that preaching doctrine is a part of the pastor's role (Richard Baxter having an honourable mention for his 'door-to-door work of catechising the flock'); Michael Hill relates Biblical theology to ethics (with unfortunately the wrong page headers from the proceeding chapter); and finally Graeme Goldsworthy, again, places biblical theology firmly amongst that which is integral to a soundly biblical pastoral practice.

I confess to being out of sorts with the churchmanship and theology that this volume portrays. The kind of conservative evangelical Anglicanism that shapes the Diocese of Sydney is clearly alive and well in Moore College. Some of the readers of this Journal might wish it were also alive and well in the Archdioceses of Canterbury and York, in which case you will find this volume helpful. This is not a bad book, just a narrow one.

Paul Goodliff

The Mark of the Spirit?

Editor: Lloyd Pietersen

Paternoster Press, Carlisle; 1998; 121pp; ISBN 0 85364 861 1

The Mark of the Spirit is a response to Mark Stibbe's book, Times of Refreshing. It consists of four academic papers written by charismatics "who are passionately concerned about the church" responding with reservations about the phenomena associated with the 'Toronto Blessing'.

The first paper, written by Lloyd Pieterson, takes issue with the cultural reasons for the current phenomena associated with the 'Toronto Blessing'. The first part shows that there are serious difficulties with Stibbe's argument that God uses ecstatic phenomenon to attract an ecstatic culture. The second part goes on to show that Stibbe fails to address sociological factors at work within the church. The factors he outlines include dissociative states, the charismatic context, the charismatic demand for newness, the institutionalisation of charisma, and the routinisation of 'new church' meetings. For me, this paper was the most stimulating, giving some penetrating insight into not only the 'Toronto Blessing', but the Charismatic Movement as a whole.

The second paper analyses the principle of interpretation which Stibbe calls 'This is That' hermeneutics. The third paper investigates Stibbe's analysis of the biblical references to laughter in the light of modern linguistic theory. The final paper is a critique of Stibbe's use of the Gamaliel principle used to evaluate various movements in church history.

Many books have been published in favour of the 'Toronto Blessing'. The intention of these papers, however, is polemical, to consciously engage in an argument with the hope that they will open up debate on the 'Toronto Blessing', "free from the rhetoric of 'blasphemy against the Holy Spirit' on the one hand, and epithets such as 'demonic' on the other." A helpful contribution to the subject.

Geoff Colmer

Christology Revisited

John Macquarrie

SCM; £9.95; 123pp; ISBN 0 334 02737 3

In this book, John Macquarrie returns to the subject of his prize winning Jesus Christ in Modern Thought (1990) and at the same time provides a succinct primer of the issues. He starts with Bonhoeffer's question, "Who is Jesus Christ for us today?" and seeks to steer us between the two basic heresies so clearly pointed out by Schleiermacher - if we make Jesus too human how can he be our Redeemer? If we cut him off from humanity 'we again make impossible the saving relationship'. He argues we can never escape the fundamental paradox that Jesus Christ is both human and divine. He begins his attempt to fathom this mystery from the 'humanistic approach' but constantly tries to seek out the 'something more' in Jesus Christ. The difference between Christ and the rest of humanity is one of degree rather than of kind, and he quotes John Meyendorff: "Human nature at the contact of God does not disappear; on the contrary, it becomes fully human."

The chapters lead us through the key issues: The Absolute Paradox; The Humanity of Jesus Christ; Two Traditional Ideas Evaluated (about the nature of Christ); A Critique of Adoptionism; How do We Know Jesus Christ? and The Metaphysical Christ. His final chapter summarises how he sees the journey from 'marginal Jew' to 'metaphysical Christ', but he emphasises that ideas like incarnation, resurrection and atonement lie at the very frontier of understanding and we have to help ourselves out by the use of myth, metaphor, paradox and other figures of speech.

For many of us Macquarrie has been a sure guide in the seas of modern theology and he is as clear and attractive as ever. If I had a criticism he does not seem to have engaged with work that has come out over the last decade. He remains prepared to defend Pascal's claim that, "Jesus Christ is the goal of everything and the centre to which everything tends. He who knows him knows the reason of all things."

Julian Reindorp


Faith and Uncertainty

John Habgood

DLT; 248pp; £9.95; ISBN 0 232 52227 8

"The lust for certainty", writes the former Archbishop of York, "is as strong in secular public sentiment as it is in religion, and it requires both courage and faith to resist it". Faith cannot isolate itself from uncertainty. John Habgood is profoundly convinced of the riches of the Christian tradition but he tries to make what he has to say accessible to those who do not start from Christian assumptions. Years ago, David Edwards described the Archbishop as having a "Rolls Royce mind among the bishops", and this book shows why. There are five sections: Faith and Science; The Common Good; The Media; Education; Morality; and his farewell sermon. If you want your liberal or conservative opinions, your biblical or ethical views quietly affirmed by a writer, do not read Habgood. He is not convinced that denigrating the Enlightenment and reason is wise. He draws on his wide reading, historical sense, scientific education and profound awareness of the contribution of Christian truth to tackle the wide range of issues that a thinking Archbishop in the public eye is challenged to speak about.

The talks, newspaper articles, and sermons are always clear in their argument, drawing the reader into thoughtful discussion. But the complexity of an issue is brought out and examined through the eye of faith and reason. He uses roulette, monopoly and chess as illustrations of his theme relating faith and science. His essay on church and society gives a panoramic view of the issue usually viewed only in a national context. Again and again he makes you think: about abortion - he is critical of both wings of the argument; about the age of consent - he examines both a different age for heterosexual men and women as for homosexual ones. He makes a powerful case for a national RE syllabus. He is wary of simple answers to complex questions. "When pious people ask such questions as 'What would Jesus have done about the privatisation of British Rail?', I am strongly tempted to answer, 'He would have walked.'"

But "truth must be felt, must resonate in our experience of life, as well as be reasoned about". As a friend says of his writing, it is, "all of a piece, whether for a lecture, an article or a sermon, it is Gospel centred and experience related". His final sermon is built around three texts which illustrate his faith: "So Abram went", "Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it", and "You must be born again". To buy, read and refer to.

Julian Reindorp

Is the Church of England Biblical?

Colin Buchanan

DLT, London, 1998; 377pp; £14.95; ISBN 0 232 52134 4

Many may wonder whether the question even needs to be asked - they will already have made up their mind about the answer! However, Bishop Colin (formerly of Aston, Birmingham and now of Woolwich) seems to be concerned in particular with those who, for differing reasons, feel that they can no longer remain within the Church of England. He is concerned therefore to argue, in his typically readable style, that the Church of England is founded firmly on Scripture and is therefore a boat from which all can fish.

Buchanan is clearly and unapologetically from the evangelical wing of the Church of England and seems to target most of his arguments in this book at his fellow evangelicals, some of whom he perceives to be on the brink of either leaving the Church of England altogether or of practising effective congregationalism. For that reason, one third of this book is devoted to a detailed examination of the biblical data, in order to show from Scripture that the New Testament churches were extremely varied in their practice, but participated in a much wider fellowship of mission, support and care transcending all barriers of nationality and geography. He argues coherently that Anglican practice is a perfectly valid interpretation of New Testament principles, although Baptists may want to take issue with his exposition of baptism in the New Testament!

The Bishop goes on to explore the history of the Church of England, and then in the final major section to answer many of the criticisms levelled by the church's opponents in the Free and Roman traditions, arguing that it is founded on a principle of constant reform. The heart of what he says is summarised on p.194: 'A Church which is culturally of its own times will use language, architecture, dress and ceremonial of its own times. It will address the ethical issues of differing generations. It will orientate its mission to the actual life-patterns of the people around it'. He continues: 'To live under the supremacy of Scripture is to question, test and reform all received traditions, conventions and cultural safety nets. (It is) to seek an eschatological goal of perfection in belief and behaviour, rather than to set up a supposed past golden age and to seek to return to that'.

In my view, Bishop Colin has done the Church of England a valuable service in writing this book. It is full of rich thought, but presented with lightness of touch. It is a plea for ecumenical church unity, for all Christians in a particular locality to join together to re-evangelise their neighbours. He argues that all Christians can find a home in the Church of England because, in his view, it is a thoroughly biblical church. If you do not agree, I urge to read the book and only then decide for yourself.

Alun Brookfield

Discipline and Justice in the Church of England

G.R. Day

Gracewing, Leominster 1998; 163pp; £12.99; ISBN 0 85244 470 2

The author, a Cambridge lecturer in mediaeval theology, has written a lucid and reflective treatise, which should be essential reading for every Anglican bishop, and also for their equivalents in other denominations. For the most part somewhat technical, this book is of little relevance to most other ministers - except for the appendix, where the author rephrases the code of the General Medical Council with ministers in view. It reads as follows:

Duties of a minister:

  • make the care of the people committed to your care your first concern;
  • treat everyone politely and considerately;
  • respect people's dignity and privacy;
  • listen to people and respect their views;
  • give people information in a way they can understand;
  • respect the rights of people to be fully involved in decisions about their lives in the church;
  • keep your professional knowledge and skills up to date;
  • recognise the limits of your professional competence;
  • be honest and trustworthy;
  • respect and protect confidential information;
  • make sure that your personal beliefs do not prejudice your people's care;
  • act quickly to protect parishioners from risk if you have good reason to believe that you or a colleague may not be fit to minister;
  • avoid abusing your position as a clergyman;
  • work with colleagues in the ways that best serve people's interests.

God and the Gospel don't get a look-in. Nonetheless, here is the basis of a beginning to a professional code.

Paul Beasley-Murray

Beginnings: Keys That Open The Gospels

Morna Hooker

SCM, London 1997; 94pp; £7 95; ISBN 0 334 02710 1

Beginnings comprises of the John Albert Hall Lectures given by Morna Hooker, in Victoria, Canada in 1996. In them she shows the importance of the beginnings of the four Gospels, and how if rightly read they help the reader make sense of what follows. Today if we want to read a book we read the blurb on the jacket, scan the contents page, and check the author's preface and introduction. In the ancient world when books were written to be heard, not read, it was necessary to provide all the information conveyed today in the opening paragraphs. The Gospel writers have given us this kind of information. And Morna Hooker shows how Mark's beginning is a dramatic key to what follows, Matthew's a prophetic key, Luke's a spiritual key, and John's a glorious key.

This is a very good introduction to the Gospels, especially for those just beginning NT study or those wanting to revisit it, showing how the authors were evangelists whose purpose was to persuade their readers of the truth of 'the gospel'. A nice touch is the use of highly appropriate quotes from TS Eliot's Four Quartets at the beginning of each chapter.

Geoff Colmer

A Reading of the Parables of Jesus

Ruth Etchells

DLT; vii + 200pp; £9.95; ISBN 0 232 52189 1

The parables of Jesus have often become stale. We have heard them too many times. But modern literary approaches and an awakened interest in the society of the first century - particularly through the work of Kenneth E. Bailey - has shed fresh light on them and brought them to life again. As C.H. Dodd said so memorably: "The parable is a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought".

Ruth Etchells applies techniques from her own discipline of literary criticism to the parables to see what happens "when absolute justice and total mercy meet and resolve each other in the nature of God himself". Her method is to contrast the metonymy of the parables - where everything belongs together, the original coherence of the parable, with the metaphor which emerges and how in their interplay we tap into the 'Internet of grace'. The obvious example is the closed metonymic world of the man who is robbed on the road to Jericho, the priest and Levite all part of that narrow understandable world. Into this world steps the good Samaritan and the metaphor begins. Through the tensions of these approaches Etchells brings out the themes, the layers of work in these stories, and there is often a final section about the story for today.

The book is in sections. First, 'The Parable of the Sovereign God' (The Law of Grace; The Law of Increase). Second, 'Parables of Right Humanness' (Knowing the Times; Commitment and Obedience). Finally, 'The Last Things'. She brings out the variety of audiences in the 'trialogue' of Luke 16.1-8: the untrustworthy manager, the immediate audience, then those known to be listening but keeping their distance, and then how this story is a codebreaker to this part of Luke's Gospel. There are no footnotes - just a simple index of the parables covered. Etchells' is clearly an interesting approach with much knowledge lightly worn. I am not quite clear to whom this book is addressed. There are other books which tackle the background more fully (e.g. Jesus and his Parables: Interpreting the Parables of Jesus Today, edited by George Shillington). It is neither popular nor in the full sense scholarly, as she says, "This is a personal reading of the parables". But as with all Etchells' writing it is full of insight and humanity.

Julian Reindorp

Meet Paul - An Encounter With the Apostle

Donald Coggan

Triangle, 1998; xii + 113pp; £6.99; ISBN 0 281 05111 9

Like many people of my generation I was brought up on Jesus and knew little about Paul. As our missionary situation has become more bleak my admiration for him has steadily increased. If only my prejudiced views about him had been challenged earlier. Donald Coggan, former Archbishop of Canterbury, now in his 89th year, has written a portrait of a man, "driven by love", passionate, warm-hearted who despite himself became a "man in Christ". It is an attractive and convincing portrait.

Each of the six chapters (The man and his world; "I went off to Arabia"; Preacher and Pastor; Paul at his Letters; Paul at his Prayers ("Hush, hush whisper who dares? Paul the Apostle is saying his prayers"); A Man in Christ - the key to Paul's thinking) is preceded by quotations and concludes with brief prayers. At the end are questions for house groups (Paul a man of the city, Jesus a man of the country - what difference does this make?).

I value the two quartets: first, the emphasis in his preaching on repentance, faith, grace and the Kingdom; and second, the emphasis in his ministry on being a herald, ambassador, evangelist and persuader. I also liked the discussion of his influence in history on Augustine, Luther and Pope John XXIII. The richness of his friendships is illustrated by the final chapter of Romans. Coggan does not underestimate Paul's complexity, his pride and his anger, but he provides a sensitive yet powerful starting point for someone wanting to "meet Paul" today. Did Paul misinterpret the message of Jesus? Or did he expound its essentials? To answer this properly the reader needs to go on to another gem of a book, What St Paul really said by Tom Wright (Lion £4.99).

Julian Reindorp

The Great Restoration: The Religious Radicals of the 16th and 17th Centuries

Meic Pearse

Paternoster (Carlisle) 1995, xi + 320pp; £17.99; ISBN 0 85364 800 X

The orthodox and heterodox religious radicals of the 16th and 17th centuries are to many unknown quantities. But it is in these persecuted groups that we find the forebears of, for example, the Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers and many of the American Christian traditions. Dr Pearse has done us a service by bringing alive and making relevant an area of Church history which is little known and seldom deemed worthy of attention, and he does so in a clear, highly readable and at times witty style.

For the contemporary Church we find many accounts of self-sacrificial discipleship, the constant challenge to live according to the Word of God whatever the cost, and evangelistic zeal in an often hostile environment. But we also have warnings against excessive apocalypticism, biblical literalism and the excesses it can lead to, and the devastating consequences of judgmentalism, intolerance and the inability or just unwillingness 'to accept one another' or to 'love each other' as Christ has loved us.

In this book, preachers will find much to inspire, many stories worth pondering, even using in sermons and Bible studies. But there is also plenty of evidence which, to me, stresses the awesome responsibility of those in all forms of Christian leadership and the need for theological education in preparation for it if this and succeeding generations are not to repeat some of the terrible mistakes of the past.

Anthony Cross

The Healing Stream: Catholic Insights into the Ministry of Healing

George Hacker

Darton, Longman and Todd, 1998; xi + 208pp; £10.95; ISBN 0 232 52249 9

Bishop George Hacker is the former Anglican Bishop of Penrith and also editor of Chrism, the journal of the Guild of St. Raphael. He writes from a Catholic standpoint, yet from within a church that also finds itself part of the Protestant tradition. This is potentially an interesting combination that promises a different perspective on the Church's ministry of healing, about which probably more than enough books have already been written. Does this book, then, offer enough that is distinctive to justify its publication?

The answer is yes. Because of his background George Hacker has enough awareness and experience of other emphases in the ministry of healing (e.g. the Charismatic) in order to be able to enter into a constructive dialogue with them. His evaluation of these other emphases is often positive, although he is also critical at times. However, as might be expected, he also trumpets the distinctive contribution of Catholic insights. He identifies these as being a theological emphasis on the incarnation, together with a high view of the value of the sacraments and an appreciation of the value of ritual. The emphasis on the incarnation leads to a positive attitude towards the created order as opposed to the often world-denying attitudes of other views of the healing ministry. To those coming at the matter from another tradition the sacramental and ritual emphasis acts as a reminder of potential channels of divine grace for healing that they may well be undervaluing or even neglecting.

The ground covered in the book is comprehensive - the relation of the healing ministry to modern medicine; the place of prayer; the manner of God's activity in the world and the possibility of miracle ('signs and wonders'); the role of the sacraments; the relationship between sin and suffering (not at all straightforward); the ministry of deliverance; the link between healing and social action; and the place of death in the healing process.. However, I was left with the feeling that in his patent desire to be balanced and fair in his estimation of other viewpoints George Hacker has sacrificed a little of the passion that might otherwise mark the advocacy of his case. Passion is certainly not absent from books about the ministry of healing written from, say, the Charismatic perspective. It would be a pity if the ever-so-slight dullness of this book detracted from the very important contribution a Catholic emphasis might bring to the churches' ministry of healing.

Philip Clements-Jewery

Threshold of the Future, Reforming the Church in the Post Christian West

Michael Riddell

SPCK, London 1998; 194pp; £12.99; ISBN 0 281 05055 4

I picked up this book with a sense of excitement. I was drawn by the title and the blurb on the back, but more specifically I have come regularly to enjoy Mike Riddell's column in 'Third Way', and an earlier book Godzone features prominently in my card-index file of quotes and stories. He is an author who enjoys words and knows how to use them. He is passionate, highly provocative at times, cynical, maverick, and I could go on!

I was not disappointed. It was not only an enjoyable and stimulating read, but it also got under my skin. I found myself agreeing, disagreeing, smiling, getting annoyed, wanting to quote him to the next person I spoke to, wanting to throw the book a distance. Understatement - he isn't over-impressed with the present state of the church! And if Robert Warren in Building Missionary Congregations and Being Human, Being Church is persuasive in his argument, Mike Riddell is 'in the face'.

Riddell's starting point is that the Church in the West is dead. The recognition of this is the beginning of hope. And God is in the present crisis. This present era is "one of those rare hinge-points of history". He believes that the church is structured for preservation and continuity, not mission. It is hard to be in mission-mode and survival-mode at the same time. Missionary orientation is the sole alternative to a lingering death. The book is in the author's own words, "an extended commentary on Acts 10.l - 11.58". The Cornelius-Peter story "has pivotal significance for the whole understanding of the church". It is "a borderline situation: theology in extremis. It refers to an important transitional time, when God was leading the church in an entirely different direction". Similarly, we live in such a time.

Riddell goes on to explore the Church's attitude to Scripture, holiness, vision, spirituality and finding faith, bringing a radical edge not only in his critique but in providing alternative frames of reference. He describes effectively and analytically our post-modern culture.

Threshold of the Future concludes with 'Models to Hope On'. This is a description of five alternative Christian communities in the author's home country of New Zealand. They are very different from one another and the chapter closes with a number of indicators drawn from these new expressions of church which might enable the Western church to survive.

Unlike Mike Riddell, I am not a radical. I am not ready to give up on the church as it is and start something alternative. However, I found, and will continue to find the book most stimulating, and recommend it as a book to be read and to get under other people's skin.

Geoff Colmer

Priorities and Christian Ethics

Garth L. Hallett

Cambridge University Press, 1998; xiii + 202pp; Hardback; ISBN 0 521 62351 0

This book, whose author is Dean of the College of Philosophy and Letters at St. Louis University in the USA, is one of several in the New Studies in Christian Ethics series, and is an academic treatise on a matter of highly practical concern to Christians. Its starting point is the commandment to love others. But what if there should be more than one other who has a claim on our limited charity? How are we to choose between competing claims? In particular, do the nearest (i.e. kith and kin), or the neediest (i.e. the suffering poor), have the greater claim to our help?

In order to uncover the principles involved in such a choice, Hallett takes a particular case. It is not a comfortable one for affluent Western Christians to consider. Does a possible obligation on the part of such Christians to provide resources to enable their children to receive a university education take priority over a competing obligation to devote those resources entirely to the relief of extreme suffering and hardship, as exemplified by those suffering starvation? It could be argued that the need of the children in such a case is much less than the need of the starving, and that therefore Christians should prefer the neediest over the nearest. In spite of the probable support of Scripture and the Fathers for such a preference, the witness of Christian thought down the ages has not all been on one side. In particular, the Thomistic tradition clearly prefers the claim of the nearest (even one's own needs) over that of the neediest. However, having examined critically every possible theological and philosophical argument, Hallett cannot ultimately accept the view of the Thomists. Although he is also aware of modern debates about the negative effects of aid and development on its recipients, nevertheless all in the end seems to point to a preference for the neediest (I said that this was an uncomfortable book!). Yet finally Hallett seems to draw back from prescribing what consequences might follow from a 'preferential option for the poor'.

Perhaps that is beyond the scope of an academic exercise. Nevertheless, I was dissatisfied by the final paragraphs of the book in which the author (over?)modestly claims no more than to have shone a wavering flashlight on a particular patch of darkness. However, many other Christian authors have written challengingly about matters of Christian lifestyle and the claims of the poor. They should be read alongside this book. But the issue of unredeemed human nature still needs to be addressed if the resistance to such uncomfortable challenges is to be overcome.

Philip Clements-Jewery

Crash Course on Christian Ethics

Colin Brown

Hodder and Stoughton, 1998; 182pp; £6.99; ISBN 0 340 72150 2

This book covers much the same ground as Stanley Grenz' The Moral Quest which I reviewed in the previous issue of Ministry Today, albeit at a much simpler level (there is no index, bibliography, or footnotes, although there is a brief glossary of technical terms). Colin Brown was a lecturer at Spurgeon's College and has written previously on philosophical and ethical subjects. This time he has produced a first-rate basic introduction to making ethical decisions that could well repay the time, say, of a church midweek study group.

I admired Brown's breadth and balance. He shows how great is the overlap between secular and Christian ethics, although he is also not afraid to state clearly and boldly the distinctive contribution of the Christian faith to ethical decision-making. He is also brave when he doubts that the Bible can be used as a source of knockdown proof texts that settle ethical arguments once and for all. He prefers Tom Wright's concept of Scripture as four acts of an uncompleted five-act play, with ourselves as present day actors being required to immerse ourselves in the first four acts to the extent that we so understand the mind of the author that we are able to continue the story authentically up to the present. In other words, the distinctiveness of Christian ethics lies first and foremost in Christ-like character before it takes shape in Christ-like behaviour.

Readers should not, therefore, come to Brown's book expecting clear answers to the ethical questions facing contemporary Christians (e.g. homosexuality, abortion, divorce and remarriage etc.) Rather, Brown here provides the tools to enable Christians to make their own decisions. If this book helps readers see that the moral maze is more complex than they sometimes think, and that it requires more of them than simply following the precepts laid down in an ethical rule-book, then it will have admirably served its purpose.

Philip Clements-Jewery

Faith and Power: Christianity and Islam in 'Secular' Britain

Lesslie Newbigin, Lamin Sanneh, Jenny Taylor

SPCK, London 1998; 177pp; £12.99; ISBN 0 281 05153 4

There are three related themes in this book. First, the inadequacies of a secular mutliculturalism to provide the values which are needed in Britain to prevent society disintegrating. Second, the challenges to this failing secularism from Muslims who regard every sphere of life including politics as governed by their faith. And third, the call to Christians to recover their convictions about Christianity as public truth, i.e. having a significant contribution to make in politics and society today rather than being restricted to the private, personal world of individuals.

What unites these themes is the attempt to articulate a vision for Britain, what kind of people we will be, and the convictions first that the secular state is not neutral and second that Christianity uniquely can at the same time provide the grounds for personal freedom and justify freedom of practice for other faiths.

This represents the last writing of that prophetic missionary statesman Lesslie Newbigin and gives more content to his slogan about Christianity as 'public truth'. His work is complemented by an analysis of Christianity, Islam and politics from an American professor of missiology, and a closer study of British society following the Bradford riots of 1995 from a journalist, Jenny Taylor, who is very well informed about Muslim attitudes and communities in this country. Despite three different styles, and the professor's requires more concentration than the other two, this is a well-written and stimulating book which every minister, teacher and politician should read.

Arthur Rowe

Citizens and Exiles: Christian Faith in a Plural World

Michael Nazir-Ali

SPCK, London 1998; 198pp; £12.99; ISBN 0 281 05050 3

This is a curious book from the Bishop of Rochester who has made significant contributions in the fields of Christianity and Islam and Christian mission before. The curious nature of the book arises from the fact that he raises some significant questions but does not always engage with them thoroughly.

The book begins with an introduction to our changing world and the need to find a way forward in Christian thinking about other faiths which goes beyond Hick's pluralism, Kraemer's exclusivism, academic neutrality and Newbigin's fideism. This is an excellent question. His answer is that Christians must give intelligible explanations of Christianity to people of other faiths and none. Such intellligibility is possible because religions are translatable into other languages and thought forms. But he fails to take sufficiently seriously Newbigin's point that reason or intelligence functions in the service of world views, and he fails to distinguish form and content. The Christian message may well be news! To bypass this problem he identifies common ideas in human societies such as a sense of the sacred and the need for mediators between the sacred and humans. This leads him to identify Jesus as "the definitive form of personal encounter with the divine" and as he goes on to deal with the death, resurrection and return of Christ, and the Holy Spirit, he seems to leave behind his agenda of communicating with people of other faiths. For example, while he cites a Qur'anic reference to ransom (in the context of Abraham's sacrifice of his son) he does not address the Muslims' denial of the crucifixion - a major problem one would have thought for Christian-Muslim dialogue.

The briefer second part of the book is introduced by a Christian statement about human nature being in the image of God and sinful. He does not interact with his Muslim friend who believes the fundamental problem with mankind is ignorance. He then sketches the history of Christian encounters with people of other faiths, discusses the role of religion in conflict, supports the idea of jubilee to celebrate the Millennium and considers how a spiritual and moral framework for society could facilitate a ministry of reconciliation. There are some interesting seed thoughts here but none of them developed extensively.

Arthur Rowe

Love and Liberty: Faith and Unity in a post-modern age

John Gladwin

Darton, Longman and Todd, 1998; xxii + 230pp; £10.95; ISBN 0 232 52247 2

The author of this book is Bishop of Guildford, who wrote it during his sabbatical leave in 1997. However, I find it hard to know what to make of it. The book betrays the marks of having been hurriedly written within a limited period of time. It is far too wordy and repetitive and full of vague generalities and prescriptions of the 'we (or they, or it) must' kind. As it is, I found it rather less than gripping, and reading it something of a chore.

The compass of the book is also far too wide, covering not only theological and ecclesiastical matters, but also social and political ones too (Palestine, Ireland, Europe, community life, home and marriage, the Arts and the Media, education - you name it, it's there). I know the Church has to avoid appearing to be concerned only with spiritual matters to do only with faith and not also with social and political concerns, but are we obliged to say something about everything on all possible occasions? Indeed, can a single author today be knowledgeable enough to be able to write authoritatively about all these complex issues? The editing of some of this material might have made for a better book.

I am also uneasy about the use of the term post-modern as a kind of catch-all description of our world today. This could be no more than an attempt to appear trendy. What it does not appear to be, in the case of this book, is an attempt to grapple with the philosophical ideas that underlie our contemporary cultural crisis. About John Gladwin's starting point I have no disagreement. Society emphatically does need an adequate moral and spiritual basis for its cohesion and to maintain its ability to be inclusive and tolerant. I am also quite sure that the Christian faith still has a vital role to play in this respect, although without the claims to hegemony that have, at times in the past, distorted Christian witness. If John Gladwin had been able to probe a little deeper, write a little more concisely, and cast his net a little less widely then perhaps he might have written a more convincing and persuasive book.

Philip Clements-Jewery

The Way of the (Modern) World: Or, Why It's Tempting To Live As If God Doesn't Exist

Craig M. Gay

Eerdmans/Paternoster/Regent College Publishing, 1998; xii + 338pp;

ISBN 0 8082 4362 X/0 85364 890 5/1 57383 122 0

This substantial and heavyweight book deals with the same themes as John Gladwin's volume reviewed above, and it is all that the other book is not. It is both learned and disciplined, as well as being comprehensive in its scope. Craig Gay is Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies (whatever that might be) at Regent College, Vancouver, and here he provides a profound analysis of modern culture from the standpoint of Christian faith. The book is a scholarly tour-de-force, encompassing politics, science and technology, economics, sociology, philosophy and theology. Gay's thesis is that the Protestant Reformation unwittingly sowed the seeds of modern secularism (the so-called 'gravedigger' hypothesis). He is also at pains to point out that secular attitudes (that 'huge modern heresy') have also invaded all sections of the Church, right across the ecclesiastical and theological spectrum. His remedy for the impasse that we have reached is a recovery of the sense and worth of the personal as the only way for Christians to be in the world but not of it.

All this is not to say that questions did not arise in my mind as I read the book. There is one glaring omission in particular. It is one thing to bemoan the growing influence of secularism, but where does such a development lie within the providence of God? Is the only answer to be given to that question a negative one? As soon as I saw the title of the book I thought of Bonhoeffer and his Letters and Papers from Prison with its explorations about 'man come of age', 'religionless Christianity', and living in the world before God etsi Deus non daretur. Bonhoeffer's prison musings sparked off in the 1960s a whole corpus of theological literature on the theme of secular theology from authors such as Harvey Cox and J.A.T. Robinson, among others. But Bonhoeffer does not even make an appearance in Gay's book, and Cox receives a mention only in the (extensive) bibliography. Yet these authors did attempt to provide a different theological interpretation of secularism, even if their work has gone out of fashion today. Maybe the time has come for a re-evaluation of these 1960s theological themes. Gay does not even attempt to discuss them.

In spite of this, I commend Gay's book for careful study and reflection. Such a pity, though, about the silly, trendy title.

Philip Clements-Jewery

Married to the Ministry

Sarah Meyrick

Triangle, London 1998; 150pp; £5.99; ISBN 0 281 05007 4

In Married to the Ministry, Sarah Meyrick, an Anglican clergy wife, shares with us the different experiences of a number of other, largely Anglican, clergy spouses and describes how the vocation affects their lives. She considers a wide range of issues, including the financial implications of ministry, living in tied accommodation, how ministry impacts on family life and relations with the Church community. However, the book is largely descriptive and anecdotal, rather than a critical analysis, and in my opinion, fails to take into consideration the real differences experienced by clergy spouses in other denominations.

Cazz Colmer

Drugs and Pastoral Care

Kenneth Leech

Darton, Longman and Todd, London 1998; 159pp; £10.95; ISBN 0 232 52182 4

Kenneth Leech began his ministry in Soho with an acute awareness of the drug scene in central London of the late sixties, and wrote about it in his first book, Pastoral Care and the Drug Scene (1970). That book was by far the best book on the issue for a number of years, and I believe that this, his latest offering on drug use, deserves a similar reputation. It is over twenty five years since that first book was written, and rather than simply revise the earlier guide, Leech has written a new book, embracing the wide range of changes that have overtaken the use and abuse of drugs since 1970.

Opening with a fascinating over-view of drug use in Britain from a historical perspective, concluding that while the substances have changed (who had heard of E or Coke when I was an undergraduate in the mid-seventies?) and the awareness of drugs has expanded, it is not clear whether there is more drug abuse today than, say, in the Victorian era. It pointedly reminded me that I am a drug user, enjoying as I do a glass of wine with my meal and a cup of coffee afterwards (although I hope, not a drug abuser!). This opening chapter helpfully clarifies the issues of definition.

The two major sections are first an exploration of the range and abuse of different drugs, from pills to needle drugs and the psychedelics and cannabis. Many common myths are dispelled. The second section, 'The Challenge to Pastoral Care', considers the social and political contexts and the role of the Christian community in pastoral care.

A model of clarity and brevity, it calls for the church to be as involved in shaping the policies as it is in pastoral care of those who use drugs. "The limiting of the church's concern to issues of pastoral care and crisis management is seriously defective .... Pastoral theology cannot be restricted to ambulance work." (p.129) This book will be of immense help to those who are pastoral carers, policy makers and informed observers. Every pastor should have access to this book, so I recommend you buy your own copy.

Paul Goodliff

One of Us - A Psychological Interpretation of Jesus

Jack Dominian

DLT (London) 1998; xv + 237 pp; £10.95;

This book is the fruit of 20 years' reflection and study by a well-known Catholic psychiatrist who has had a lifelong preoccupation with Jesus. He seeks to integrate the insights of his profession with what we read about the Jesus in the Gospels.

The section headings give an overview of what the book is about - Background, Psychological Theories (including thumbnail sketches of the work of five leading exponents), Family Relationships (Jesus with mother, father, and Heavenly Father), Significant People and Events, Love, Kingdom and Personality, Endings and Beginnings.

I came to this book with enthusiasm since I was keen to read something on the psychology of Jesus, and something by Jack Dominian. Here was the chance to 'kill two birds with one stone'! Sadly, I was disappointed, in that I found One Like Us rather tame. I kept wanting to say 'Yes, but what about this question or that question?'. It seemed to me that the author makes too many assumptions. This is perhaps unfair on him, since he deliberately did not set out to be radical or critical.

It would be a useful book for someone who knew nothing about psychological approaches to personality, or who had not given much thought to Jesus as a real, flesh and blood human being; I would not want my own disappointment to deter others who might find that it opens up new avenues of thinking. But I hope they would be enticed to take the subject further. I certainly intend to.

Pat Bradley

Changing Youth Worship

by Patrick Angier

National Society/Church House Publishing, London, 1997; 128pp; £5.95;

ISBN 0 7151 4892 3

In this book we are taken on a guided tour into the wonderful world of youth worship. Patrick takes a long hard look and through detailed case studies seeks to answer several questions:

  1. What is youth worship?

  1. Why do we need it?

  1. Who is it for?

  1. When should we start?

  1. Where do we go next?

The different forms of youth worship that are currently on offer to young people around the country are explored. They have all developed to cater for the vastly different culture that young people find themselves growing up in.

We are warned to think long and hard before setting out on the path to youth worship. We must look at our motivation. Is it to keep up appearances, to satisfy our own desire to "play it loud" or is it truly out of a desire to see young people express worship to God in a way that is relevant to them and a style that they are comfortable with?

If we decide that youth worship is the way to go then careful planning is needed. Prayer is the cornerstone on which all youth services should be fixed. Young people will need to be included in planning as this event is for them to worship God. We will need to listen to how they want to worship.

In the light of past experiences where youth worship has developed in a very unhealthy way the author devotes a lot of space to the need for careful preparation and control. If these events are to be acceptable to parents and the church in general then we have a responsibility to make sure they are safe.

Patrick also looks at the move towards youth congregations and youth churches as these have developed out of youth worship events. He urges caution and careful planning before embarking on that course. We need also to look at the future of the church when we start down this road, particularly at the effects of the church when the current youth get older. Will we have to split the church again or will we adapt?

An interesting book which gives a good insight into youth worship. It is clearly written and easy to read.

Martin Hills

Once and For All - A Confession of the Cross.

Tom Smail

Darton, Longman and Todd, London, 1998; 198pp; £10.95; ISBN 0 232 52186 7

The Sorrowful Way - The Mind of Christ, the Path of Discipleship and the Christian Year.

Michael Perham

SPCK, London, 1998; 114pp; £8.99; ISBN 0281 05131 3.

Still looking for a book for Lent? Here are two published last year that you will want to consider.

Michael Perham's book is more obviously a Lent book, although it is far more than the slim devotional volume that has become typical of that genre. While it is rooted in the liturgical season from Christmas to Easter, it is not about liturgy, but rather the pathway of discipleship. Originally a series of sermons, many for St Paul's Weeke in Winchester, it evolved into this book of reflections on the process by which we are conformed to the image of Christ. Its homiletic roots are obvious, but that perhaps is to its advantage, since individual chapters can be read with profit at the appropriate point in the church's calendar. Quoting judiciously from such contemporary poets as W H Auden and Elizabeth Jennings, this book has a warm spirituality and the clarity of expression that comes from first wrestling with the spoken (preached) word. Yes, I know it is very Anglican, but many from diverse traditions will benefit from reading this and letting Perham inspire their preaching.

Tom Smail has written an altogether different book. This is his personal confession of fifty years of wrestling with the gospel of the cross. It is neither history of the doctrine of the atonement (go to Gunton, or Fiddes or the earlier Dillistone for that), nor a detailed exegesis of the biblical passages (although it is deeply rooted in the Scriptures). It is not an evangelistic work, although it proclaims the evangel, nor is it narrowly evangelical, although those are Tom Smail's roots. It is the kind of integrative theology that Tom Smail expressed with such clarity and imagination in his earlier volume on the Holy Spirit, The Giving Gift (still the best short-ish book on the Spirit for my money). It engages with theologians old and new, with special attention to that Congegationalist theologian of an earlier generation, P T Forsyth, as well as Moltmann and Barth.

Central to Smail's theology is the connection between the work of the cross and the Trinity, and it is this relationship which enables the cross to bridge 'the ugly ditch' of historical particularity and answer the question so important in our time, how can this one event be universally relevant to every generation and every person? As one might expect from this one-time Director of the Fountain Trust: it is the work of the Spirit in relation to the cross which is vitally important. "There is indeed no Pentecost without Calvary: the Spirit comes from the cross".

It is not cluttered with academic apparatus, but is well written, with a depth of spirituality and faith that comes from the fruits of a long ministry. If you want a book to warm your spirit, challenge your thinking and, I dare say, inform your preaching in the period up to Easter (or, indeed, at any time,) then buy this one. If you are anything like me, you will return to it again and again with profit.

Paul Goodliff

Spirituality and Theology: Christian Living and the Doctrine of God

Philip Sheldrake

Darton, Longman and Todd, 1998; xvi + 246pp; £12.95; ISBN 0 232 52188 3

Philip Sheldrake has written a useful and stimulating contribution to DLT's Trinity and Truth Series. He believes that spirituality and theology should live in conversation with each other, the one evaluating the other. Nothing new in this, maybe, but he convincingly describes the historical developments by which the divorce of spirituality and theology has come about. Recent theological developments attempting to reverse this trend, as well as the challenge of the post-modern hunger for some sort of spirituality, therefore make this a timely book. A focus on the doctrine of the Trinity makes the point that Trinitarian faith has a central place in the experience of God that a specifically Christian spirituality attempts to express.

The book falls into two parts. The first, more theoretical, part begins by setting the debate firmly in the context of post-modern culture. It is good, in the first chapter, to have brought out the potentially positive influence of postmodernism on Christian faith and life, as well as the more negative aspects. The second chapter deals with the historical development whereby the separation of spirituality from theology has come about, and the third with some modern attempts to reintegrate the two. I felt that this third chapter tended towards the superficial - how it is possible, for instance, to do justice to liberation and feminist attempts to meet the challenge when they are lumped together and dealt with in just over two pages? The treatment of modern theologians in this section of the book is sometimes too brief to be of much use.

The second part of the book looks at three case studies - Julian of Norwich, Ignatius Loyola and George Herbert. The latter two are looked at together and compared and contrasted in a way that is quite thought-provoking. In its reflection on the theme of 'place', which is important not only for human identity but also in Christian traditions of spirituality, the final chapter seems at first to going off in a totally different direction. However, in the end I found what Sheldrake has to say in this chapter very stimulating, addressing as he does the theme of alienation in the (post-)modern urban environment.

This book deals with important issues in a readable and thought-provoking manner. I fully recommend it to all who not only wrestle with the challenge to the Christian faith of post-modern culture but who also struggle to integrate spirituality with theology.

Philip Clements-Jewery

Leaves from the Tree of Heaven - Reflections on Prayer

Augustine Hoey

DLT 1998; 109pp; £7.95; ISBN 0 232 52288 X

I last heard Father Hoey preach at my ordination nearly thirty years ago. He was an Anglican monk then, a contemporary of Trevor Huddleston. Now in his eighties, a Catholic Benedictine, he has distilled his thoughts on a lifetime of prayer.

The chapter headings are revealing - Silence and Darkness - Listening to God; Familiar Ground - the Lord's Prayer; An Angel Spoke - The Hail Mary Prayer; The Pen of the Spirit - Praying with the Bible; Hide and Seek - Praying with Mary and the Saints; The Heart of the Matter - How to Pray the Eucharist; Obstacles en Route - Difficulties in Prayer; Some Scattered Leaves - Random Thoughts. He writes as a Roman Catholic (for instance he assumes the Immaculate Conception of Mary), but if you are open to this kind of spirituality, I found him sensitive and soothing as well as personally challenging.

He is helpful on distractions, on prayer as a river, on taking up our recreations as well as our work into the Eucharist and Mary's hide and seek experience of God. There is quiet but not easy assurance about his writing. Father Hoey preached on the Resurrection when I heard him and he clearly sees life against the background of eternity.

Julian Reindorp

Moments of Prayer

David Scott

SPCK; 105pp; £7.99; ISBN 0 281 04987

This is a rare and all too brief book about a pastor's prayer life. David Scott is both a parish priest and a poet and his poems are often compared to George Herbert's. I particularly appreciated his reflections on when and how to pray with people. When I first became involved in an ecumenical parish I realised that my Methodist members expected me to pray with them and not out of a book. I have always been grateful for their encouragement, but this is the first book that sensitively explores this whole area of prayer and pastoral visiting.

The chapters are: The Beginnings of Prayer; Preparation and Prayer; Prayer and Visiting; Prayer and Words; Prayer and the Professionals; Intercessory Prayer; Blessing; After Silence, an Amen. Gently and authoritatively David Scott leads us through what it is to pray as a pastor. He believes, perhaps strangely in our age, that Edward King's words in 1869 may still have a core of truth to them: "Go wherever God may send you". As a master of language he is anxious that we do not use too many words, and to be silent with a person can be crucial.

This book was written day by day as part of his pastoral ministry. I would have liked to ask him lots of questions about resources, counselling and priestly ministry. But this is a book written from within and only a prayerful involved pastor could have written it. I hope he will write more.

Julian Reindorp.

Brief Notes

Preaching on Genesis? Looking God In The Eye (SPCK, London, 1998; 104pp; £7.99; ISBN 0 281 05003 1) by Trevor Dennis contains seven somewhat scholarly, albeit lucidly written, expositions of the Book of Genesis. Although preachers may find these exegetical studies stimulating, the work of applying the message of Genesis to life today still remains to be done.

Preaching on Judges and Ruth? Then you'll appreciate the latest offering by Roy Clements, People Who Made History: Gideon, Samson, Ruth (IVP, Leicester 1998; 185pp; £5.99; ISBN 0 85110 899 7).

Preaching on Proverbs? Some useful illustrative material may be found in Making Life Work: Putting God's Wisdom Into Action (IVP, Leicester 1998; 282pp; £4.99; ISBN 0 85110 898 9) by Bill Hybels of Willowcreek.

Preaching on Joel, Micah & Habbakuk? Then you would be well advised to buy one of the latest volumes in The Bible Speaks Today series, viz The Message Of Joel, Micah & Habbakuk (IVP, Leicester 1998; 279pp; £9.99; ISBN 0 85111 586 1). Although David Prior is not an Old Testament scholar, he has nonetheless produced a detailed commentary which will be of great help to all who seek to relate God's Word to today.

Preaching on Romans? Then if you are a fan of Francis Schaeffer you might be happy with his posthumous publication, The Finished Work Of Christ: Themes From Romans 1-8 (IVP, Leicester 1998; 233pp; £12.99 hardback; ISBN 0 85111 756 2). Others will probably be happy to do without this somewhat simplistic commentary which surprisingly is based on the Authorised Version of the Bible.

What Christians Really Believe - And Why (Paternoster, Carlisle 1998; 159pp; £8.99; ISBN 0 85364 891 3) by Stanley Grenz, Professor of Systematic Theology at Regent College, Vancouver, Canada, will be a boon to preachers looking for fresh ways of approaching old questions. Helpful contemporary illustrations abound. The chapter headings indicate the questions covered: Why Believe? Who Am I and Why Am I Here? Are We Alone in the Universe? Which God? Who is Jesus and What Did He Do? What Am I Searching for... and How Do I Find It? Is the World - Am I - Going Anywhere?

A very different approach to answering questions of faith is to be found in My Questions: God's Questions (SPCK, London 1998; 154pp; £8.99; ISBN 0 281 05142 9) by Brother Ramon, an Anglican Franciscan Friar. Divided into four sections - Questions of Belief, Questions of Spirituality, Questions of Practice, Questions from Non-Believers - Brother Ramon provides simple albeit thoughtful replies to 61 basic questions.

Peter Head is the editor of Proclaiming The Resurrection (Paternoster, Carlisle 1998; 130pp; £12.99; ISBN 0 85364 824 7), which consists of five semi-scholarly papers presented to the first Oak Hill School of Theology in 1997, viz 'The Old Testament Antecedents to Jesus' Resurrection' by Mike Butterworth; 'Resurrection Apologetics & the Theology of Luke-Acts' by David Peterson; 'Jesus' Resurrection in Pauline Thought: A Study in Romans' by Peter Head; 'The Resurrection of Jesus in Early English Puritan Thought' by Rudi Heinze; and 'The Resurrection of Jesus Christ in the Theology of Karl Barth'. Sadly we have here an example of barren scholarship, which offers little help to those who have to preach the resurrection. A collection of essays by pastors who are preachers would surely have been much more worthwhile..

Preachers who like to draw upon all the lectionary readings in their Sunday preaching may well find helpful Word Of Promise: A Commentary On The Lectionary Readings Year A (Canterbury Press, Norwich 1998; 139pp; £9.99; ISBN 1 85311 216 X) by Martin Kitchen, Georgiana Heskins and Stephen Motyer. Others may well feel the approach adopted fails to wrestle with any one text!

Know The Truth: A Handbook Of Christian Belief (IVP, Leicester 2nd edition 1998; 352pp; £9.99 hardback; ISBN 0 85111 754 6) by Bruce Milne is a good book to lend to anyone needing a basic introduction to orthodox Christianity.

The subtitle of John Blakesley's A Garland of Faith (Gracewing, Leominster 1998; 203pp; £12.99; ISBN 0 85244 462 1) says it all: "Sequences, prayers and poems of the medieval church arranged for the three year lectionary". This learned and rarefied collection will surely only appeal to a few ministers and even fewer congregations. The language is dated in feel. We need material which speaks to ordinary men and women.

Women On The Way (Triangle/SPCK, London 1998; 120pp; £5.99; ISBN 0 281 05162 3) by Kevin Scully contains meditations on the women - both biblical and legendary - who encounter Jesus as he walks the Via Dolorosa. Although the content is fairly superficial, the book itself might stimulate an interesting sermon series.

Kenneth Stevenson, in All The Company Of Heaven (Canterbury Press, Norwich 1998; 199pp; £9.99; ISBN 1 85311 217 8) has written a wide-ranging, and liturgically-informed "companion to the principal festivals of the Christian year" which even Nonconformists may find of interest!

A great example of spiritual journaling is to be found in Henri Nouwen's final book, Sabbatical Journey: The Diary Of His Final Year (Darton, Longman & Todd, London 1998; 226pp; £9.95; ISBN 0 232 52296 0).

Nick Page has done a great job in producing The Scroll: the Tabloid Bible (HarperCollins, London 1998; 155pp; £9.99; ISBN 0 00 274022 2). For example, one headline reads: "You can't keep a good man down - more appearances of Jesus reported". An amusing resource, especially for youth work.

Never before have I seen such a helpful guide to enable Christians to think through their attitudes toward the use of money as At Ease: Discussing Money And Values In Small Groups (Alban Institute [Suite 12509 West, 7315 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814-3211] USA, 1998; 110pp; ISBN 1 56699 202 8) by John & Sylvia Ronsvalle with U.Milo Kaufmann. It is a remarkable book. A series of most stimulating questions (15 per session) are posed to be used over a period of at least nine weeks. Many of the questions are very down-to earth. For example, very first question in the book is "What did I buy this week? How did I decide to buy it?" Others bring in the spiritual aspect. For example, "Jesus says one must become like a child to enter the Kingdom (Matt 18.3). How does this relate to my handling of money?" Somewhat unusually for a Christian book on money, this is not a book to encourage people to give more to the church, but rather to help them integrate their faith and money. Precisely because there is so little available in this area, I find myself unable to recommend the book highly enough. I want to say that every minister should buy a copy. My concerns, however, are twofold. Firstly, would every minister have the courage to use it? Secondly, would members of our churches have the courage to be open with one another on such an issue?

Sharon Swain's Bible Sentences For Common Worship (SPCK, London 1998; 122pp; £4.99; ISBN 0 281 05195 X) is what it says it is - a topical collection of sentences with which a minister might begin worship. Perhaps of use to ministers unfamiliar with their Bible?J

With the proliferation of small groups church leaders are inevitably on the look-out for small group material. IVP (Leicester 1998) have recently produced a series of Bible study booklets by John Stott: viz The Beatitudes: Developing Spiritual Character. 8 Studies (62pp; £2.25; ISBN 0 85111 381 5); Acts: Seeing The Spirit At Work. 18 Studies (110pp; £2.99; ISBN 0 85111 390 7); Romans:

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You are reading Book Reviews by Various, part of Issue 15 of Ministry Today, published in February 1999.

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