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Book Reviews

By Ministry Today Reviewers.

The Challenge of Jesus

N T Wright

SPCK, London, 2000; 163pp; £9.99; ISBN 0 281 05286 7

I must declare an interest at the beginning of this review and admit that I am an enthusiast for the work of Tom Wright. Having read his two major New Testament studies - The New Testament and the People of God and Jesus and the Victory of God - a few months ago, I share the opinion of many that he is the foremost British New Testament scholar of our time. Needless to say, I therefore looked forward immensely to reading this book.

The Challenge of Jesus is, in a sense, a supplementary volume to those other books - a practical application guide to the complex arguments put forward previously. The main arguments of the larger works are summarised in the first six chapters, leaving the last two chapters for an exploration of what all this might mean for Christians trying to work out the living of their faith in a post modern world.

For those already familiar with Tom Wright's approach to the New Testament, Chapter 7 is likely to be the most interesting. He begins by giving us his keys to understanding post modernism - collapsing reality, deconstructed selfhood and the death of the meta-narrative. Then, using the analogy of the Emmaus Road story, he draws parallels with our situation as those who, like the Emmaus walkers, have had our cultural roots, our controlling narrative, torn from us and are therefore lost and confused. The stranger comes alongside and tells the story differently and in the retelling, their hearts answer with an inward affirmation which changes their whole demeanour. This, argues Tom Wright, is the real challenge of Jesus - to allow him to tell his story in a new way for every generation.

Tom's style, even in his 'heaviest' writings, is easy to read, making his scholarship accessible to many who might otherwise find such material indigestible. This present volume is no different. One example of his style will make my point for me: "Churchgoers are often quite tolerant of strange doctrines, and even outlandish behaviour, from their clergy; but let the clergy try putting the church flowers in a different spot and they will discover the power of symbols to arouse passion". I suspect many of us can identify with that!

This is another brilliant offering from the pen of a gifted scholar, theologian and writer - a rare combination of gifts! Buy it, devour it, treasure it, and if you haven't already read them, allow this book to inspire you to read the author's other, more substantive, works.

Alun Brookfield

The Problem of God in Modern Thought

Philip Clayton

Wm B Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2000; xv+516pp; £25; ISBN 0 8028 3885 5

Not being a 'professional' Philosopher of Religion is a big handicap when reviewing a book of such magnitude, but since this journal is intended for practitioners in the calling of pastoral ministry, hard working and time-pressed, perhaps that it is just as well that I approach this book with the question 'would it justify the expense in time and money to read this?'.

If we want to take theology out of the church closet and into the wider context of both the academy and the post-modern world, then we must understand one thing: the question of God is problematic, and the prevailing cultural context is one of scepticism. We cannot make propositions about God and expect them to be universally accepted, nor is there much value in doing systematic theology that is "deeply at odds with what we have now learned about the natural world, the human person and the plurality of religious options."

Frankly, though, most of us do, which is why this book is important. It reminds us just how far back we must start in the apologetic task. In discussion with Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, Spinoza and Schelling, Clayton analyses the history of the problem from the birth of the Enlightenment to German Romanticism, with the contemporary cultural scene always "waiting in the wings," (one anticipates another volume from Hegel onwards). In particular he explores the concepts of God as 'infinite' and 'Perfect-being' and with a cluster of notions, rather than one univocal theory, allowing him to identify strong support for pantheism being "the most serious metaphysical option" to emerge "out of the first three hundred years of the modern period," an option so attractive to the post-modern zeitgeist.

So, is this a book to sell your shirt for? For the jobbing pastor, probably not, but for any who want to engage more effectively in the greatest challenge of our day - clear apologetics - then it provides good intellectual fodder and an important step along the way of understanding the reasons why the modern world believes what it does about God.

Paul Goodliff

New Dictionary of Biblical Theology

Ed. T Desmond Alexander and Brian S Rosner

IVP, Leicester and Downer's Grove, Illinois, 2000; 866pp; £29.99; ISBN 0 85111 976 X

This volume began life as a co-operative venture involving the Biblical Theology Study Group of the Tyndale Fellowship and Rutherford House, Edinburgh, and therefore contains, as one would expect, a conservative approach to Scripture. However, in no way is it an obscurantist approach, with the result that preachers who do not necessarily subscribe to the IVP basis of belief can derive real profit from the various articles.

What is biblical theology? Brian Rosner defines it as "theological interpretation of Scripture in and for the church. It proceeds with historical and literary sensitivity and seeks to analyse and synthesise the Bible's teaching about God and his relations to the world on its own terms, maintaining sight of the Bible's overarching narrative and Christocentric focus". In this respect the advocates of Biblical theology stand over against the more recent tendency to dissect the Scriptures and to stress their diversity.

The dictionary is divided into three distinct sections: Part One is a lengthy (100 pages) Introduction which consists of 12 articles dealing with some of the fundamental issues of Biblical theology: e.g. History of biblical theology, Challenges to biblical theology, Exegesis and Hermeneutics, Unity and Diversity of Scripture, Relationship of the Old Testament and New Testament, Preaching and biblical Theology. Part Two (pp.115-363), entitled 'Biblical Corpora and Books' begins with seven general articles and then goes through each book of the Bible in canonical order. Part Three (pp.365-863) entitled 'Biblical Themes' is what might also be termed the 'dictionary' proper! Much as I recognise the necessity for Part I and II, I would have wished there could have been more space for Part III, for it will be Part III to which people will want to return. The fact is that most of the entries are frustratingly short: e.g. 'Baptism' basically takes up two sides, and 'Death and Resurrection' four sides. The only compensating factor for the relative brevity is that helpful bibliographies are given for further reading. Within the inevitable limitations of a one-volume dictionary, IVP have done a great job in producing this dictionary.

Paul Beasley-Murray

The Anglican Understanding of the Church - an Introduction

Paul Avis

SPCK, London, 2000; xi+90pp; £6.99; ISBN 0 281 05282 4

Paul Avis is, among other things, General Secretary of the Council for Christian Unity of the Church of England, and is therefore well qualified to write a little book such as this.

From a book of only 90 pages, one expects something lightweight and easy-to-read. However, the first chapter is a somewhat tedious explanation of the meaning of ecclesiology. Given the stamina to get through to chapter two, the style changes to something much more accessible, although there are still too many theological terms which are left unexplained.

The book, as befits something described in the blurb as "an ideal handbook and textbook", is thorough in its range of issues explored, even if the extent of the book is not sufficient for anything like an in-depth exploration of each issue. A short history of the search for an Anglican ecclesiology is followed by a brief look at the three main models of Anglican self-understanding ('nation as church', Episcopal succession and communion-through-baptism) and affirms the last as primary, although implicit rather than explicit.

The Church of England is, of course, a broad church and Avis' Chapter 5 shows why. It is because the Church of England includes catholic, Reformation and scholarly streams - tradition, Scripture and reason - within it, and not always comfortably!

This book is a useful basic text on Anglican ecclesiology, an excellent starter for theological students and for clergy of other denominations who want to understand the Church of England better. It may also prove useful to any who are pursuing a possible call to Anglican ordination. However, at £6.99, it is expensive for such a brief and cursory study.

Alun Brookfield

The Authority of the Bible

William Strange

Darton, Longman and Todd, London, 2000; 117pp; £7.95; ISBN 0 232 52370 3

God's World

Jeff Astley

Darton, Longman and Todd, London, 2000; 124pp; £7.95; ISBN 0 232 52367 3

These two books are part of DLT's Exploring Faith - Theology for Life series, with their origins in material developed for the Aston Training Scheme. Their stated aim is to present "key subjects in theology in a lively and easy-to-use format". They are clearly intended as introductory volumes for those who are considering the possibility of doing more advanced study, perhaps through a university degree and perhaps with a view to future ordination.

Both are clearly and well written and provide an excellent introduction to their subjects. In The Authority of the Bible, William Strange explores all the contentious issues relating to the way in which we might want to view the Scriptures in the current academic environment, including the relationship between the Bible and science. He opens up and lays out the issues in clear and concise English, without dodging or fudging the difficult issues, and fearlessly offers viewpoints which may well be other than his own. For example, he presents both the 'fundamentalist' and the 'liberal' view of Scripture and attempts to show both their strengths and their weaknesses.

Jeff Astley, in God's World explores the Christian account of God's relationship to the universe, investigating along the way the doctrines of creation, providence, miracle, life after death and eschatology, and tackling the issues of evil and suffering in God's world, the relationship between science and religion and also some aspects of the divine character as revealed in the world he has made.

The 'handbook' nature of these books is evident throughout from the frequent intrusion of boxes in the text inviting us to reflect, discuss or do exercises with what we have just been reading. Both volumes would be worth the purchase price just for the excellent bibliographical lists at the end of each chapter and at the end of the book itself.

These books should be on every Christian leader's bookshelf, for two reasons. First, although you may have done much more detailed study on these issues at college, they provide a 'subject in a nutshell' which is hugely valuable for when people ask those awkward questions! Second, they will be invaluable for lending to church people who want to explore their faith further after attending, say, an Alpha or Emmaus programme (although the latter will equip them the better for this kind of reading).

I have not seen the other volumes in the series, but if they are all of the same standard as these, they will be worth every penny.

Alun Brookfield

New Handbook of Pastoral Liturgy

Michael Perham

SPCK, London, 2000; 263pp; £17.50; ISBN 0 281 05252 2

David Watson was fond of saying that our worship should be of such quality that visitors among us would be constrained to ask, "Why do you worship like this?" This book offers some Anglican answers to that question.

Michael Perham is well known throughout the Church of England and beyond for his liturgical expertise and for his involvement in the development of Common Worship, the new liturgical material which, by the time this review is read, will have replaced the Alternative Service Book (ASB) in the majority of English parishes. For those not familiar with the implications of this major event perhaps I should say that, having increased the range of liturgical material beyond (but still including) that of the Book of Common Prayer through the use of the ASB, the new book will provide a common 'structure' for worship throughout the Church of England, but with a huge range of options with which to clothe the bones with liturgical flesh.

According to the author, however, the 'danger' of Common Worship is that it is possible to use it in such as way that the majority of churchgoers would hardly notice that anything had changed, mainly because, apart from the five entirely new Eucharistic prayers which are now available for use if desired, it has only made modest alterations to the Eucharistic services. For Michael Perham that would be to miss a wonderful opportunity to enrich, strengthen and deepen the experience of worship for our people. For him, this is an opportunity to teach our people afresh what worship is about.

A couple of short Introduction chapters outline the rationale behind the use of liturgical material and then go on to explain the evolution of Anglican liturgy over the centuries. Part Two sets out the principles which underpin the liturgical material used in the Church of England and reveals very succinctly the connections between those principles and how they are to be worked out in practice.

Parts Three, Four and Five expound in a similar way the principles and practices of the Eucharistic, non-Eucharistic, initiation and pastoral service material. The final section describes the Christian year and its significance in the life and ministry of parish congregations. One point which he makes very clearly is that Christmas could be redeemed from the pervasive commercialism by the proper observance of Advent as a season of preparation, penitence and reflection.

The real value of this book is that it guides the reader to think analytically about what goes on during worship and about the many elements which make up that worship, including the 'ambience' of the building, the style of music, and the worship leader's clothing. Interestingly he comments that clergy vestments have the effect of making the worship leader accessible and acceptable to all types of people in worship, while casual dress or a suit would tend to alienate certain portions of the congregation. Not everyone will agree, but the point bears reflection!

This book would make a useful addition to most Anglican clergypersons' shelves, not least because it would be a valuable source-book to help their congregations to understand why we worship as we do.

Alun Brookfield

Both Alike to Thee: the Retrieval of the Mystical Way

Melvyn Matthews

SPCK, London, 2000; ix+149pp; £9.99; ISBN 0 281 05030 9

I came to this book with real enthusiasm, having been deeply impressed with the author's previous volume, Rediscovering Holiness (SPCK, 1996), and I was not disappointed. Matthews' breadth of knowledge of his chosen field of study is clearly immense and his insight into the realities of life in leadership is deep and strong. Throughout the book, one senses a huge restraint as he communicates spiritual concepts in practical, everyday language.

The writer sees the breakdown of modernism as an opportunity to restate and retrieve the connection between the outward, physical, tangible world which is easily accessible to scientific study and the mystical, spiritual world which is more accessible to exploration through the inward journey of prayer, reflection and meditation. This, for Matthews, is "a space within which God can act".

He starts out from an image used by Helen Waddell in her book, The Desert Fathers (New York, Vintage Spiritual Classics, 1998): "Paganism was daylight ... rich in its acceptance of daylight earth. But Christianity came first to the world as starlit darkness, into which a man steps and comes suddenly aware of a whole universe." For Matthews, the "starlit darkness" is visible only to the contemplative, who strips away the mere physical in order to search after the 'glorious liberty of the children of God'. The mystical way does not deny the world, but recognises that the outward life is temporary and illusory while the inward life with God is the eternal reality for which creation is intended.

The rest of the book then develops this challenge to seek the inward in the midst of the outward. For Matthews, the outward only makes sense in the light of the inward - indeed, the outward only derives any lasting meaning at all when it is interpreted through the inward, the relationship with God.

I commend this book for thoughtful and reflective study, rather than a mere rapid read. Take it on a short retreat and read a chapter or two per day, then spend the rest of the day reflecting on it. All in Christian leadership will find enormous help in doing so as Matthews helps them identify and address the reasons for the dissonance, the sense of being someone other than who we appear on the outside to be, with which many church leaders struggle. There are also helpful and provocative insights into why the attempt to make the Christian faith relevant to the modernist mind is so often a failure!

Alun Brookfield

The Spark of God James More-Molyneux Eagle, Guildford 2000. 240pp £6.99 ISBN 0 86347 371 7

There is no doubt that the Healing ministry that operates out of Losely is of great significance for many, and that the cancer-care project has been a lifeline to many. This book is an eloquent testimony as to why it has survived and thrived when many other such endeavours have not. Put simply, the author's vision and single-mindedness come through loud and clear and no one would doubt his sincerity. However, it is for this reason that I am not sure that the style in which he writes and the examples he uses will best serve the ministry he is seeking to lift up and expand. There is a tendency to be over critical of other parts of God's work in order to exalt his own, and while he may be right in what he says, I sense that such judgements should be left to the Lord!

David Bedford

Using Common Worship - INITIATION: A practical guide to the new services

Gilly Myers

Church House Publishing, London 2000; 136pp; £8.95; ISBN 0 7151 2006 9

"Why do we have to use these new services when we've just got used to the Alternative Service Book?" (introduced in 1980!). To those whose services vary every week this must seem an odd question, but one which Anglican clergy are being asked regularly at the moment.

This book on the new initiation services is one of a series to help introduce the new CofE Common Worship book, published in December 2000, to the parishes. It is a very good series and particularly important for those of us who feel a little wary of introducing these new services. It is a real opportunity to review all our worship.

The new baptism service has suffered by not being field tested in the 800 experimental parishes that tested all the other services. But there are three clear emphases. First, baptism is the complete sacramental initiation and leads to participation in the Eucharist - confirmation is essentially a post baptismal ceremony. This will please friends who practise believers' baptism though they will naturally question the whole idea of infant baptism. Second, the 'moment' model of baptism is complemented by an emphasis on the need for growth in our spiritual journey. Third, participation, giving testimonies and a greater emphasis on the symbols of baptism are a real attempt to make baptism a more profound act both for those bringing their children and in the life of the congregation.

This book is packed with insights and suggestions, theological and pastoral. It has a booklist and suggests a variety of source material. It is easy to read, with headings, boxes for key themes and a good index. I found it a real refresher course and made me think again about the whole process of the liturgy. Believers' baptism friends looking for fresh material would find much to stimulate them here, whatever their reservations about this central act for children.

Julian Reindorp

Being Anglican (part of the Exploring Faith Series) Alastair Redfern DLT, London 2000. 135pp £7.95 ISBN 0 232 52369 X

A good read, especially if like me you are not an Anglican! The Author seeks to establish a distinct Anglican identity through a study of the major figures from Richard Hooker to Michael Ramsey. Spirituality, Worship, Mission, Theology and Ministry come under the spotlight as does the world-wide Communion and the challenges it faces. The chapters on Josephine Butler and Henrietta Barnett are probably the most significant for today and give some very clear challenges to us all as the Body of Christ. Butler's story shows how the Church can act on a national stage in an inclusive way while adjusting to a secular and indifferent world and addressing the common problems of humanity in a uniquely Christian way. Barnett's story from London's East End gives a clear way forward to reform the parochial system in a post-Christian world and she pioneered this a century ago! For me these women were the most radical of the examples the author cites and, as Anglicanism has only recently acknowledged the ministry of ordained women, I allowed myself a small non-conformist chuckle! Does the author succeed in creating this identity? For me the answer must be 'No', as the key insights are those of the whole Body of Christ, but I guess my Anglican brothers and sisters may conclude differently!

David Bedford

God's Politicians - the Christian Contribution to 100 Years of Labour

Graham Dale

Harper Collins, London, 2000; 269 pp; £12.99 hardback; ISBN 0 00 710064 7

There is a suspicion that the Labour Party today is predominantly supported by people of no faith, that secular values hold sway and policies concerning issues of personal morality, such as the repeal of Clause 28, are more likely to be offensive to the 'conservative' Christian world than welcomed by it. Reading this history of the influence of the Christian faith upon the Labour Movement reminds us that this strand of British political life owes more to Christianity than to any other ideology, and not just the Nonconformist varieties of Christian tradition, such as Methodism and Congregationalism, but a broad spectrum from the Free Churches to Catholicism.

Given that overwhelming influence, it is not surprising that the two most recent Leaders, John Smith and Tony Blair, have both asserted a strong and personal Christian faith. This is a fascinating read, well-illustrated and written by Graham Dale. From Kier Hardie to the present day, Dale demonstrates the intimate link between a campaigning personal faith and the passion for justice and equality that characterised so many Labour politicians. In the first chapter, he shows how the roots of the movement lay in those who sought social change in the preceding century - Chalmers in Scotland presiding over the growth of urban mission, the early Trades Unionists such as Arch, campaigners for social justice such as Wiberforce and Shaftsbury, Booth and the early Christian Socialists. More recently, both Eric Heffer and Tony Benn on the Left of the Party, Frank Field and John Smith on the right owe their religious convictions to Christianity. The debt that the Labour movement owes to Christianity continues to grow and this book charts that story admirably.

Paul Goodliff

 

 

Britain's First Worker Priests: Radical Ministry in a Post-War Setting

John Mantle

SCM, London 2000; 340pp; £14.95; ISBN 0 334 02798 5

Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy in the 1920's used to say, "If our finding God in churches leads to our losing him in factories, it were better to tear down the churches, for God must hate the sight of them." The gap between church life and people's working lives has grown ever wider and John Mantle's book graphically tells the story of a small group of British Anglican priests, their wives and one or two laity who set out to bridge this gap. It is an inspiring book with depressing conclusions.

The French worker priest movement at its height had some 100 worker priests and although it was finally closed down under Pope John XXIII, a reformed Mission de France has enabled the worker priest movement to continue. It is in England that it has almost died out. Mantle traces the lukewarm support which those first worker priests received in Britain and contrasts their attitude to the world of industry with that of Ted Wickham and Bishop Leslie Hunter - the first sliding into the work place as an anonymous worker, the second setting up industrial chaplaincy over against the parochial system. The 1959 Anglican Church Assembly Report, The Task of the Church in Relation to Industry, was utterly silent on worker-priests. Mantle makes the point that almost all non-stipendiary clergy are in middle class jobs while the Worker Church Group had to be manual workers or clerical workers whose jobs were closely allied with manual labour.

Mantle tackles the theological questions raised by the movement, including what does a worker-priest have to offer in the workplace that a layman does not? They offer 'an articulate' and 'prophetic presence' and yet you could say the same of local preachers. Then there is the question of relationships to the life of a congregation, sharing in Christian worship. The author ends with a pessimistic view of the institutional churches today. The worker-priest movement has almost disappeared, Industrial Mission has been further marginalized and churches seem "swamped by internal concerns". How are we to equip Christians at work? The idea of costly, lifelong priesthood and Godly learning seems to have been lost.

You can dismiss the whole worker-priest movement as theologically inadequate, but the gap between work and worship gets ever wider. We cannot ignore the questions that this movement raises if we seek to follow the carpenter from Nazareth. Two priests really inspired us as clergy in East London in the late 60s - John Rowe, worker-priest, and Trevor Huddleston, our bishop. Neither fitted easily into the institutional church, but they encouraged so many of us. You will know whether this is your kind of book or not.

Julian Reindorp

Equipping Christians at Work

Julian Reindorp

ICF, 2000; 90pp; £5.00 inc. post and packing. No ISBN. Copies available from: The Revd Julian Reindorp, The Vicarage, Ormond Road, Richmond, Surrey TW10 6TN.

From reminding us of Tielhard de Chardin's challenging words that "work is not a spiritual encumbrance" Julian Reindorp builds a disciplined and convincing argument for the need to equip Christians for life beyond the church walls.

He outlines the history of the Industrial Mission (IM) movement, including the theology and responses to the various contexts within which it found itself. From this we learn its strengths and weaknesses as a movement and get a heart-warming glimpse of the great and the good along the way. From its Victorian roots, and as it fell into and out of favour, he tracks its progress to the modern day in which he sees it threatened as a movement by changes in society and the declining economic and numerical strength of the church. He perceives its greatest weakness, not in terms of its effectiveness, but in terms of its dependency upon the good will of diocesan structures.

However, he sees the movement as a challenge to the whole church "to live in the tension between the pastoral inclusive ministry and the prophetic more biased ministry". As the Bible has always been the tool of the IM chaplains, so we must turn to it again to bridge that gap which exists between what we do on Sundays and what we do for the rest of the week.

Equipping Christians for Work is about providing the laity with the tools to live their lives and engage in witness in a pluralist, multi-racial society and in a changing world of work. Reindorp sees the need for a basic affirmation of work as a part of God's creativity and a need for working alongside the marginalized in society. The strength of Julian Reindorp's argument can be seen in terms of simple statistics. The laity form 99% of the church's population and do 99% of its witness. We cannot afford not to equip Christians for work!

Equipping Christians at Work is immediately useful. Turn to the appendices for information about resource material and ideas. The delight of this book is that there is no 'rocket science'. It is wholly accessible. The methodology is absolutely within the reach of any priest or church leader. It is a book that the Church ignores at its cost.

Christine Gilbert

Julian Reindorp is to be congratulated for ensuring that his MA thesis on the history and theology of Industrial Mission has now seen the light of day in the form of this little book. As Terry Drummond of the Industrial Mission Association rightly says on the back-cover, this is "the most up-to-date document on Industrial Mission and its development, and therefore is a 'must' for all considering chaplaincy work in one form or another."

For local churches, chapter four alone is more than worth the £5 investment, as it offers ten strategies enabling clergy and congregations to equip Christians at work. The same chapter also outlines the issues which have been the five recurring areas of discussion in the 'Christians at Work' groups which Julian has run for the past seven and more years: the role of compromise; the issue of conflict and how to handle it; spirituality resources for our daily work; the Kingdom of God; and 'Does it make any difference being a Christian at work?'. The appendices, together with the lengthy bibliography, provide additional resources.

Paul Beasley-Murray

The Evangelism Handbook: Gaining the World Without Losing Your Soul Graham Warner Eagle, Guildford 2000; £8.99; ISBN 0 863473 687

The book is divided into two sections, the first of which contains 131 principles of evangelism from Scripture, peppered with wonderful stories from the author's many years of seeking to apply them in his own life. Many of these principles contain little pearls of revelation that provide much encouragement for the task of evangelism, as well as often very healthily provoking the reader to examine their own commitment in this area. The second section of the book is a compilation of 101 methods of evangelism, again drawn from the author's experience with the Ichthus church in south London, including the use of human statues and a message-in-a-bucket! This is an excellent and comprehensive inspirational tool for anyone with a heart for outreach but it should also be required reading for every Christian.

David Bedford

On Dying Well

(Church of England report)

Church House Publishing, London, 2000; ISBN 0 7151 6587 9

This report, when it was first published in 1974, allowed people to see how the Church of England viewed the issue of euthanasia. That first report has been reissued with little amendment. There have been some additions with a new introduction which highlight some of the key issues in the debate and there is a chapter addressing the legal issues which picks up the changes since 1974. The bibliography has been substantially rewritten which gives it an up to date feel.

There is an awareness that society has moved towards a greater emphasis on individual rights and choices. The report still makes valuable reading and its structure is clear in considering the moral, theological, medical and legal aspects.

This brings a landmark report up to date and helps people to reflect on developments in the last 25 years.

Derek Fraser

Rising Above the Storms of Life - Handling Our Emotions God's Way

Mary Pytches

Eagle, 2000; £5.99; ISBN 0 86347 375 X

This book is an interesting read and commentary on the current scene within the charismatic churches. The author considers the difficult emotions which people encounter and seeks to show a way of addressing them as they emerge from our experience of church community. The initial focus is on what an emotion is, and then the theme is explored, looking at the issues of trigger points, healing the past and moving forward.

While this is a interesting book, it is lightweight. Its value lies in its acknowledgement that such is the scene today that sometimes there are very difficult emotions in peoples' lives that need to be recognised and considered in the context of the kingdom. It seemed a shame that little time was given over to anger. However, its light touch will appeal to many in the congregation.

Derek Fraser

A Critique of Pastoral Care

Stephen Pattison

SCM, London 2000; 278pp; £14.95; ISBN 0 334 02815 9

The author is Head of the Department of Religious and Theological Studies at Cardiff University, and this is the third edition of his classic. This edition differs from the previous one by a preface and also by the addition of an essay, which first saw light of day as a monograph in a series published in association with Contact: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Pastoral Studies, namely 'A Vision of Pastoral Theology: In Search of Words that Resurrect the Dead'.

Personally I found the new preface much more interesting and would warmly endorse his statement that "The gap between academics and practitioners is in danger of widening so that 'those who do, do', and 'those who don't' theorise about what practitioners do. There is a frustrating lack of publications from actual practitioners reflecting at a high level of intellectual competence on everyday experiences" - here is surely a challenge to readers of Ministry Today!

I'm not sure that those who have already bought the second edition, need to buy the third edition. But those who only have the first edition and even more those who have no edition whatsoever would be well advised to buy this key text.

Paul Beasley-Murray

Choosing Life? Christianity and Moral Problems

Jeff Astley

DLT, London 2000; 132pp; £7.95; ISBN 0 232 52368 1

I found this a very useful reference book. It is one of the DLT Exploring Faith - Theology for Life series. The chapter headings spell out the content - The good, the bad and the righteous?; Morality in debate; Christian resources; What is life worth?; Sex and society; Wealth and work; War and punishment; Disagreeing with our neighbours; Teaching right from wrong; Religion and moral choice.

Astley's academic and teaching background shows in the clear headings, good summaries, invitations to reflect on our own experience, exercises involving biblical reference to do alone or in a group, a list for further reading at the end of each chapter, a wide bibliography, a glossary of terms and a very brief description of the key scholars and an index of themes.

This could be given to anyone in our congregations who wants to think about the questions and decisions we face in our everyday lives and to do so in a Christian context, but we need to have read it first!

Julian Reindorp

Colonies of Heaven: Celtic Models for Today's Church Ian Bradley DLT, London 2000; 244pp; £9.95; ISBN 0 232 52337 1

At a time when we are all struggling to discern the shape of the Church that Jesus is building for the 21st century this is a helpful contribution to the debate. A current song encourages us to be those who are 'touching heaven, changing earth' and the evidence of these Celtic 'colonies' is that they did just that. Distinctive themes such as monasticism, blessing and cursing, penance and pastoral care, worship, the communion of saints and pilgrimage are here applied in practical ways to Christian life today, resulting in the potential of colonies of heaven in this century (with examples): communities of prayer, artistic and creative activity, hospitality and team ministry. Such 'colonies', Bradley argues, would revitalise our churches with a new spiritual and social role in an increasingly secular and fragmented society. And I for one would not want to disagree.

David Bedford

Coming Home - Stories of Anabaptists in Britain and Ireland

Edited by Alan Kreider and Stuart Murray

Pandora Press, Ontario, 2000; 224pp; $22.00; ISBN 09685543 6 9

The past twenty five years has seen a re-emergence of an Anabaptist, radical, strand in British church life, and this is a book of personal accounts by 60 women and men who have identified with that resurgence, together with essays and reflections by, among others, Chris Rowland (Dean Ireland Professor of New Testament Exegesis at Oxford) Stuart Murray, who teaches at a Baptist College, and Alan Kreider, recently returned to the United States.

The variety of backgrounds of those whose accounts form the first half of the book is bewildering: from a Catholic Prior to Roger Forster, Leader of the Icthus Churches in London; Anglicans to Ulster Presbyterians; and including plenty of mainstream Baptists and even "confessional and committed" Mennonites! Clearly this network is widespread. They have in common a commitment to radical Christian discipleship, and I believe that the influence of this network and tradition will continue to grow. Those wanting to understand something more of who these Christians are and what they believe should start here. However, you might need to order it from Canada: 1 519 578 2381 is the phone number for Pandora Press.

Paul Goodliff

Beholding the Glory - Incarnation Through the Arts

Ed. Jeremy Begbie

Darton, Longman and Todd, 2000; £12.95; ISBN 0 232 52362 2

The incarnation is the central theme of the Christian faith. Its message is profound and revolutionary. The dilemma is: how can we understand such a concept?

This book seeks to explore the theme through various art forms - literature, poetry, dance, icons, sculpture and music. Through these diverse media the message of God coming in human form is explored so that its truth is revealed in new and dynamic ways.

The editor has managed to draw together a group of writings from different Christian traditions, with contributions from artists, academics, teachers and clerics. This is a challenging book and deserves to have a wide audience, especially amongst evangelical preachers who are convinced that the spoken/preached word is all important! God made us whole people with head, heart and hands. Through the different avenues the truth of the incarnation is powerfully presented.

Derek Fraser

21st Century Faith: Radical Mission in a New Millennium Barry Linney MarshallPickering, London 2000,169pp £7.99 ISBN 0 551 03233 2

This book faces up to the irrelevance of traditional Christianity. This is one 'cool' vicar who would get the thumbs up from my 16-year-old daughter. Yes, God is still at work and no, we don't need to dilute the message of Jesus. The author encourages a return to our spiritual roots and shows that God is more than able to handle the big issues, including approaching gays and lesbians, responding to alternative lifestyles and following Jesus even when feeling a failure. It is a call to listen to those around us, to walk alongside them on their pilgrimage, and to share positively in their lives.

David Bedford

The Gospel to the Nations: Perspectives on Paul's Mission Peter Bolt & Mark Thompson Apollos(IVP), Leicester 2000; 380pp; £16.99; ISBN 0 85111 468 7

When I was a young Christian, and indeed training for ministry, I would most definitely have skim read this book, considering it to be far too academic to be of any help to the urgent task of sharing the gospel. However, with 20 years of pastoral ministry behind me, I so appreciated the powerful insights deeply rooted in a thorough biblical theology which are so important to understand if my pastoral work is to bear fruit today!

The first three essays give a wonderful Old Testament backdrop to Paul's mission covering especially the patriarchal narratives and the prophetic hope of Jeremiah and their shaping of Paul's thought and practice. The next twelve essays investigate various facets of his ministry as developed in his letters. A third section of six essays explores the world into which Paul's message was proclaimed (a world not greatly dissimilar to today) and sees how the gospel challenged the life and thought of his time in ways which help us understand the impact it might have in our own. Finally, later developments are considered, together with how they might shape contemporary theological thought today. If you are just starting out in ministry then don't make the same mistake I did!

David Bedford

Re-Thinking Abortion

Mary Boyle

Routledge, London 1997; 164 pp; £not given; ISBN 0 415 16365 X

Mary Boyle, who is Head of the Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology at the University of East London, makes the interesting comment that 'only women have abortions, yet it is mainly men who decide whether they may legally have them'. Re-thinking Abortion makes this gender imbalance central and shows how a psychological analysis of the abortion debate helps in understanding why it arouses such strength of feeling.

It is a very thoroughly researched book, covering such topics as abortion legislation, motherhood, morality and the sanctity of life (though without bringing any biblical thought into the discussion), the medical profession and abortion, contraception, the experience of abortion and psychological responses to it. It was interesting to note that some women felt they had to punish themselves for having submitted to such a thing, and one saw the need for radical surgery following complications as deserved 'punishment'. Others felt guilt when their response was one of relief, almost as though only one set of responses was appropriate.

While I found it interesting reading, I did not think it of particular interest to pastors, unless abortion was a recurring pastoral issue in your area, in which case it could help in informing thought around a subject that is complex.

Carol Bulkeley

A Time to Heal - a Contribution Towards the Ministry of Healing

(Church of England Report)

Church House Publishing, 2000; £9.95; ISBN 0 7151 3837 5

This is the first report from the Church of England on the ministry of healing for over 40 years and seeks to provide an overview of the current state of this ministry, a framework for the development of the healing ministry in the 21st century, guidelines for good practice and recommendations for improved effectiveness.

Its terms of reference were: "to assess the theological understanding and state of the ministry of healing in the Church of England and to make recommendations as to its effectiveness, taking into account not only the activities of different groups within the church but also of the ecumenical expression of this ministry".

To discover the current situation, the group surveyed bishops, advisors on healing and deliverance ministries, chaplains and theological colleges. The report is written by enthusiasts whose aim is to promote the healing ministry throughout the Church of England. It was produced within 12 months. Different members of the group wrote draft chapters and so the style and approach differ with some writing more characteristic of the sermon than the printed page. Three key themes dominate the work: visionary, prophetic and dynamic. The hope expressed at the beginning is that "this report will encourage all Anglicans to embrace what is sometimes called the full gospel".

The first six chapters assess the present situation and give recommendations for improvement. There follow chapters which address disability, grieving, exorcism, complementary medicine and evidence for miracles. A chapter of questions people ask about the healing ministry is followed by two chapters setting out ideas for healing services and developing a healing ministry. Six appendices conclude the document and the first one is especially worth reading -"Good practice in the healing ministry".

This report is valuable and worthwhile in placing healing on the agenda of the church. The material on ministry to the grieving is excellent and deserves widespread dissemination at parish level. There are concerns that such a lengthy document contains a great deal of repetition and with some rigorous editing, a more accessible and focused report might have emerged. There is also an underlying assumption of a conservative evangelical theology and of conventional religion.

Some apparent contradictions and inconsistencies emerge. For example, on pages 211-212 there is a discussion of the place of miracles as being seen in medical advances, while in other places it is assumed that physical healings like those in the New Testament still take place today. A similar confusion is apparent over deliverance ministry. A fundamental flaw is seen in page XV where the word 'healing' is given a wide range of meanings: "(the word 'healing') is used to describe all kinds of things, from acts of reconciliation and justice in nations and societies to what people hope for themselves as individuals, physically, mentally and spiritually. So there is talk of healing in race relations in families, in institutions, among groups opposed to one another for economic, political, cultural or religious reasons, even the healing of the environment". The report seems to slip from one sense to another and while such an approach might be defended as trying to show the breadth of the idea of health and wholeness, nevertheless the report lacks a clarity of thought and rigour, especially in the way the Bible is used and the logic of some arguments

A challenging read which is worth some serious time, to ponder and apply its ideas.

Derek Fraser

Unleashing the Lion - the Power of God in Health and Healing

Eric Petrie

SPCK, 2000; £14.99; ISBN 0 281 05324 3

The book begins with the author's experience of the 'healing' of a boy with learning disabilities. The following chapters address the New Testament material about healing. The material is reworked from other sources and covers well worked ground. Church history through the centuries is briefly summarised and conclude with Christine's story.

This book is a collage of material about church and healing in a broad sense which has been pressed together then sliced into chunks called chapters. The publicity and hype for this book seem exaggerated, which is thin on original material and is derived from others' work and positions. The authenticity of the story and the depth of reflections in the book, No Easy Answers (see below), is infinitely more worthwhile and rewarding.

Derek Fraser

No Easy Answers - an Exploration of Suffering

Barbara Baisley

Epworth Press, 2000; £8.95; ISBN 07162 05394

This book comes from the crucible of cancer care and reveals a very accurate and telling picture of that world. It is a world I chaplain for my living, and so am familiar with many of its facets. In a personal and moving account the author grapples with the devastating world of diagnosis, treatment, recovery, relapse and through it all seeks to make sense of it from her own Christian perspective. Barbara is honest enough to voice so many of the questions people ask, including "Why?" and "What have I done wrong?".

Barbara's intellectual and emotional honesty shine through and she is brave enough to explore such themes as "Does God heal?".

There are no easy answers in this situation and the author vividly portrays the troubled and desperate world of cancer care. Slick solutions and pat answers do not fit. For that reason this book may become standard material for all those entering pastoral ministry. It does not exaggerate the story in any way and would be very representative for the one in three people who get cancer in the UK, many of whom are in the churches but feel that people do not understand what it is like to be ill with cancer.

It is a little light on theological reflection but as an account of 14 years of living with the disease it is most impressive and challenging.

Derek Fraser

Why Evil and Suffering?

C S Rodd

Epworth Press, 2000; £4.95; ISBN 0 7162 0518 1

When Anne discovers that her friend cannot cope with looking after her little son who has Down's syndrome, she is faced with the question, "Why does God allow children to be born with such disabilities?". Other tragedies hit the church and community where Anne lives. A friend is told she has cancer. An old man is beaten to death in his own home. A doctor is killed in an earthquake in India.

These imaginary life situations give rise to wide ranging discussions among a group of church members. Answers to the age-old problem of evil and suffering in God's world are suggested and as the people in the story interact with each other, the author skilfully guides our thinking.

In the second half of the book, the author examines the same issues more systematically, facing them realistically and writing clearly and concisely. If you are looking for simplistic packaged answers you will be disappointed, but if you are seeking a fresh approach to these ancient mysteries, then you will find this volume of thinking things through very helpful. It can be read by individuals on their own or it is ideal for use in groups. Questions at the end of each section provide a spur for reflection and discussion.

This is an excellent book that deserves a wide readership. It addresses subjects that are rarely heard in the pulpit but nevertheless do not go away because of that. Preachers may be challenged to take up some of these themes and speak to them instead of avoiding them by focusing on positivism.

Derek Fraser

Same Sex - Debating The Ethics, Science, and Culture of Homosexuality

ed. John Corvino

Rowman & Littlefield, Oxford 1999; 393pp; £12; ISBN 0 8476 8483 0

If you want a book giving the background to this whole issue, which seeks to be reasonable in tone and content, with respect for opponents' views and the willingness to engage in genuine debate, this is it. There are four sections - Morality and Religion; Science and Identity; Identity and History; and Public Policy. There are 27 chapters - all written by experts in their field. The contributions have almost all been written in the last decade, some for this book, others updated versions of previous articles. Each chapter is followed by another in which the writer puts the other side of the issue. One comment about the writers - this is an American publication in origin and while it seeks to be fair to both sides of the debate and a variety of angles, it does not include those countries and continents where (as was seen at the Lambeth Conference of 1998) the Christian conscience may have had a very different formation.

One comment about the whole issue: one contributor - a psychologist - ends his contribution: "I do not believe that attitudes toward homosexuality are substantially influenced by beliefs about causality; on the contrary... an individual's beliefs about causality are influenced by his or her existing attitudes towards homosexuality: people tend to find most credible those beliefs that best rationalise their attitudes". Before we dismiss this as an obvious comment not applying to ourselves, at the end of Bernadette Brooten's book published in 1996, Love Between Women, she gives a select annotated bibliography of 48 scholars' views on Romans 1.26ff and the New Testament and homosexuality generally. From my partial knowledge of a number of the scholars I could have guessed their conclusions before I read their contributions. There does seem to be an element of eisigesis rather than exegesis here too! If you believe this is an important issue for the churches and that how we conduct the debate is almost as crucial as the conclusions reached, then this is a model for the future.

Julian Reindorp

The Story of Ruth - Twelve Moments in Every Woman's Life

Joan Chittister, with art by John August Swanson

William B Eerdmans Publishing Company, Great Rapids, Michigan and Cambridge, England 2000; 91pp; ISBN 0 8028 4742 0

The richness of colour and deep identification with the text empathises and emphasises the suffering and struggles for survival of the vibrant refugee women. The decorative borders are an enhancement and delight. The twelve moments are sometimes surprising, but they capture the courage of these women which has survived the centuries.

It is a provocative and thoughtful book, challenging the readers to dare to think beyond the conventional. The ongoing work of a creative God is evident in the lives of these women and their example still challenges us today. It is apparent that women, to be mature, must be able to make choices, not simply bear burdens. It is a book about women who, by their behaviour, encourage men and women to break the isolation of powerlessness that so easily paralyses lives. It confirms that men and women together are able to reflect an integrated image of God. Boldness is needed to use the gifts that God has given us to grow and not allow ourselves to be crippled by circumstance.

Joan Chittister writes about a real and tough world and uses the story of Ruth to make us wise and to encourage us to value women and their unique contribution to our society.

Ursula Franklin

Being Married, Doing Gender

Caroline Dryden

Routledge, London 1999; 161pp; £not given; ISBN 0 415 16559 8

Caroline Dryden, currently Senior Lecturer in Communication Studies and Psychology at Sheffield Hallam University, wrote this book from in-depth interviews with 17 couples regarding the complexities of life together within a marital relationship, in particular regarding the issue of equality. She discovered that most couples were keen to present themselves as having a partnership of equals, but closer scrutiny revealed it to be an unresolved issue and the basis of much conflict!

I found the detail of so much interview somewhat tedious, wanting her to take me to the point without having to wade through so much text. I also found her strongly feminist stance irritating and was left with the impression she was using the book as a forum to work out her own unresolved issues on the subject. The book claims to be aimed as a 'source text for scholars in psychology, sociology and gender studies at all levels' and didn't seem to me to have much relevance for a clerical readership.

Carol Bulkeley

Groundwork of Science and Religion

Philip Luscombe

Epworth Press, Peterborough 2000; 274pp; £12.95; ISBN 0 7162 0535 1

This book has been written in the context of teaching and is the result of many years reading and study. The author trained first in physics and later in theology. He has worked as a Methodist minister and is currently a college principal.

One of the main aims of this book is, as its author states, "the importance of synthesis and the holding together of large pictures drawn from across as many of the fields of human endeavour as possible". In reaching this aim the book provides a wide-ranging series of reviews of authors both historical and up-to-date. There is a commendably detailed contents list as well as bibliographical notes and a manageable index. The readers are encouraged to see their own standpoint within the large map of ideas and to value the strengths of both science and theology in the effort to see how each helps us to a fuller understanding of the work of God in creation.

Here is a valuable resource for the general reader as well as being a useful text for students with a wide range of interests including science, theology, sociology and philosophy. The book is also a corrective to those who accuse Christians of intellectual laziness. It is not an easy read, but is clearly written and will amply reward anyone who is serious about reaching people in a scientific, post-modern world with the Good News. I recommend it.

Colin Selby

Sharing Jesus in a new Millennium

Rob Frost

Scripture Union, Bletchley, 2000; ISBN 1 85999 305 2

This is a very readable, very motivating book. Rob Frost draws on his experience of evangelism and suggests areas in which the Church needs to look and ask questions if we are to sensibly and effectively share Jesus in today's society.

The book is split into three sections - principles of evangelism, church-based evangelism and finally the heart of evangelism. In the first section, Frost outlines the need to make sure that our evangelism is Jesus centred, Spirit filled and God guided. Frost gives an outline of person to person evangelism and a helpful nine point agenda to work through.

If a church is to hold a mission, then it needs to be prepared and section two talks in detail about the kind of preparations needed before a mission should begin. Evangelism is more than leaflet drops or hard sell on doorsteps. The church should be engaged with the community and therefore its evangelism needs to be culturally relevant. Frost advocates gender specific evangelism. Church based evangelism, he argues, must also be sensitive to the variety of personality types.

The last section challenges readers to engage in evangelism, to keep going even when the cause looks lost and to be in the work for the long haul.

Martin Hills

Solzhenitsyn - a Soul in Exile

Joseph Pearce

HarperCollins Publishers, London 2000; 328 pp; £9.99 ISBN 0 00 274041 9

Solzhenitsyn is a book that can be read in small doses for each chapter provides the reader with much to ponder. It is not depressing but rather it is inspiring to realise how vigorous was his stalwart search for and grasp of a faith that maintains his life. His fortitude is awesome; throughout imprisonment in the Gulags, treachery among his associates, exile to America, he remains constant in his search for truth and in his determination to speak out for it, whatever the cost, be it physical or emotional torture.

The book ends with the inclusion of unpublished prose poems written after Solzhenitsyn had returned to Russia from his twenty-year exile. Photographs from Solzhenitsyn's personal collection occupy the centre of the book.

Ursula Franklin

My First Trousers

Mike Pilavachi with Craig Borlase

Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1999; 130pp; £4.99; ISBN 0 340 73535 X

I have found this book refreshing to read. It does what it says it does and gives clear and relatively jargon free guidance on how to move deeper in our relationship with God. There is a lot of good humour and some relevant analogies with which any young person could identify.

My First Trousers could be used to inspire potential young leaders in the church to move on in their faith. There is much within it to challenge them and to give them hope. It is also a book that could be given to someone enquiring about the Christian faith. Although it is simplistic in style, it doesn't pull any punches on the reality of faith and being written in this style would make it acceptable for people who find reading a chore.

This book has gone some way to converting me to the language of Soul Survivor. It could go a long way in converting the fringe of our youth groups into committed Christians.

Martin Hills

Go for Gold

Ron Fountain

Scripture Union, Bletchley, 1999; ISBN 185999 329 X

Once again Scripture Union have produced a great resource for anyone interested in running a holiday club. They have provided the theme, the artwork, drama, music and session outlines. All you need to do is provide the venue, the leaders and the young people! They even give helpful advice on staff training, letter formats, team building, security and legal stuff. All in all this is a very good booklet.

As you may have guessed from the title the book picks up on the sports theme and each day focuses on a different set of events. The Bible teaching is taken from Acts and is basically looking at Paul, his life and his mission and encouraging the young people to follow his example and go for gold.

Martin Hills

Together through the Bible

Pam Macnaughton and Hamish Bruce (eds.)

Church House Publishing, London; 161pp; £9.95; ISBN 0 715 14907 5

For people looking for new ideas and approaches to all age worship, this is a good book. By using different mediums like drama, prayer, story, craft and poems this book provides handy material for most of the major stories of the Old Testament, a number of Jesus' teachings and obviously the significant events on the Christian calendar.

The book is well laid out with a clear index divided by theme and follows the books of the Bible. Each different element is concise, easy to read and more importantly, not too long, which makes them easy to use and easy to learn.

Martin Hills

Short Notes

In Spirituality, Healing and Medicine (Jessica Kingsley, London 2000; 224pp; £14.95; ISBN 1 85302 554), David Aldridge, Professor of Qualitative Research in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Witten-Herdecke has produced a masterly overview of the spiritual factors associated with healing. In so doing the author brings together the findings of doctors, anthropologists, psychologists and sociologists. Although this academic offering is not written from a Christian perspective and does not have the Church in view, no serious work of healing within the Christian tradition can afford to overlook its findings. Aldridge recognizes that religion complements science and has a key role to play in the wider healing process: "My call to the reader is not to abandon his vocabulary of science, but to enrich the vocabulary of healing even so far we that speak not only of mind and body, but also of spirit".

Beyond the Final Frontier - Near Death Experiences and the Afterlife by Dr Richard Kent with David Waite (Marshall Pickering, 2000; £5.99; ISBN 0 551 03203 0) emerges from the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship and attempts to present stories which describe near death experiences. It is a collection of people's stories that are brought together to prove the concept of life after death. It is poor in quality and short on substance!

Joyce Bassass, a former junior schoolteacher and now a Methodist minister has produced in Companion To The Revised Common Lectionary: Volume 4 - All Age Worship: Year C (Epworth Press, Peterborough 2000; 170pp; £9.95; ISBN 0 7162 0541 6) a most helpful resource guide.

Ministry Today

You are reading Book Reviews by Ministry Today Reviewers, part of Issue 21 of Ministry Today, published in February 2001.

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