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Book Reviews

By Ministry Today Reviewers.

The Message of the Living God - his Glory, his People, his World

Peter Lewis

Inter-Varsity Press, 2000; 359pp; £9.99; ISBN 0 85111 509 8

The Old and New Testament series in IVP’s The Bible speaks Today have long proved their worth. Now comes the first of a new series on Bible Themes. If this is anything to go by, it augurs well for what is to come. Peter Lewis is the Senior Pastor of the Cornerstone Evangelical church in Nottingham. He quotes approvingly, “The first task of theology is to bring us to his (God’s) feet.” Such is the writer’s aim, and to help keep us there.

A thematic approach inevitably involves selectivity so as not to duplicate subsequent volumes. Two thirds of his material is drawn from the Old Testament, especially from the first five books, for these are “the massive foundational building-blocks of the Bible’s doctrine of God.” There are brief excursions into Amos (God the righteous judge), Hosea (the divine love) and Isaiah (the living God) - themes that constantly recur. I share his concern that evangelical congregations should be better informed about the roots of their faith in the Old Testament. The New Testament section draws these strands together in the revelation of God in Three Persons.

Exposition of individual texts needs to be complemented with the broad sweep of God’s truth. Here is rich material for the preacher, scholarly yet lucidly clear, profound yet pastorally relevant. Difficulties are honestly faced, necessary correctives included. There are many memorable turns of phrase, such as God’s awesome holiness, “Only toy lions are cuddly; the real thing can be fearful!”. A study guide for individuals and groups is appended.

There is plenty here to nourish and inform, to inspire worship and service.

Julian Charley

The Message of the Resurrection - Christ is Risen!

Paul Beasley-Murray

Inter-Varsity Press, 2000; 269pp; £9.99; ISBN 0 85111 508 X

“Preaching at Easter can be among the most boring of the year. For so much Easter preaching is predictable, simply more of the same, year by year.” If this opening comment by the author rings bells, then this is the book for you. Whereas the resurrection is at the heart of our faith and underscores the lordship of Jesus, our worship too often inadequately reflects this. If the focal point of the disciples’ witness in the book of Acts is the resurrection, “preaching, in the Western world at least, has lost this Easter note.” Here is a splendid attempt to rectify the situation by one whose prime concern is pastoral.

A chapter is devoted to each of the gospels, showing that they all have a slightly different emphasis with regard to the resurrection. The apostle Paul’s claim to ‘know nothing save Jesus Christ and him crucified’ needs to be placed within the broad spectrum of his powerful emphasis upon the resurrection. If there is no resurrection, there is no hope. The same assurance is spelled out by Peter and by John in the book of Revelation. A chapter is devoted to the credal statements and early Christian hymns that are generally reckoned to have been incorporated by Paul in some of his letters. As for what theologians think about the resurrection, a final chapter exposes the lengths to which many have gone to explain it away.

This is scholarly exposition that warms the heart and opens up new vistas. Every preacher would benefit, and not only at Easter time. “If the early Christian hymns are anything to go by, then we should be singing Easter hymns every week of the year!” Amen to that.

Julian Charley

Common Worship - Services and Prayers for the Church of England

Church House Publishing, 2000; 850pp; £15.00; ISBN 0 7151 2000 X

How many Anglicans does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: five - one to change the light bulb and four to start a preservation society for the old one!

Common Worship, the new liturgical resource of the Church of England has got off to a slightly uncertain start, which was only to be expected, given the breadth of the Anglican communion, the grudging acceptance of our sovereign lady, and peevish and reactionary reviews in one or two of the broadsheet newspapers. While all this was making the headlines, the foot-soldiers in the parishes have quietly got on with introducing the material to our congregations. As someone who travels widely around our diocese, I confess that I wonder what all the fuss was about, since most of our congregations have embraced the new material very comfortably indeed.

And that isn’t really surprising since there is relatively little in the new services which is actually completely new. There are now eight eucharistic prayers to choose from instead of the previous four and some of them are much more participatory than the previous ones, but most of the material from the Alternative Service Book (ASB) has been incorporated into the first three Common Worship eucharistic prayers. So it’s actually perfectly possible for parishes which were using Rite A or B from the ASB to continue doing so with very little change - and some have done just that.

And for those who simply must have the Book of Common Prayer, it’s all there in Common Worship, except that the layout has been modernised so that first timers to the service - as I was a few years ago - can follow the service without getting hopelessly confused by the old prayer Book layout - as I did.

Unnecessary sexist language, one of the most irritating aspects of the ASB, has been removed, although I question whether it is really an improvement to alter ‘sinned against you and against our fellow men’ to ‘sinned against you and our neighbour’ - the word neighbour is surely loaded with too many biblical allusions for any non-regular churchgoer to make sense of. I fear they will simply wonder what evil they are supposed to have done to the chap next door!

The new Morning and Evening Prayer services are a significant improvement on the ASB - very few people liked what we had before and looked for further alternatives for the saying of the Daily Office.

But the most radical departure of Common Worship has been the expectation that the congregation will not be given a ‘service book’ (necessitating much turning of pages from one section of the book to another, along with inevitable confusion) as they enter the church, but a seasonally appropriate service sheet, with everything contained therein for that service. This may seem a lot of work, but with the advent of Visual Liturgy (see below) and modern reprographic equipment, it is anticipated that most parishes will settle down to a fairly regular pattern after a year or so. For example, in our parish, we have already used three different communion services (Epiphany, Lent and Easter) with little difficulty.

For Free Church readers, the main benefit of buying Common Worship may be not in the Sunday worship book, but in the various pastoral materials. At last we have available to us a range of resources to use in many of the wide variety of pastoral situations we encounter from day to day - a development which is to be warmly welcomed. The process begun by the ASB of broadening the range of situations provided for has been continued in the new book and this writer at least applauds that.

The down side of all this, however, is that Common Worship is not a single book, but an expensive collection of books and booklets. It is a wonderful resource of old and new material and it is to be hoped that most congregations will be willing to buy their clergy/leaders a set of the books so that the worship and pastoral experience of those same congregations can be enhanced and deepened. It will certainly be in their own interests to be generous.

And if anyone doubts that the compilers of Common Worship got it broadly right, I respond that I have yet to encounter those four Anglicans wanting to start an Preservation Society for the Alternative Service Book! It seems that this particular change of Anglican light bulb has been managed with relatively little difficulty.

Alun Brookfield

Visual Liturgy 3.0 Common Worship

Church House Publishing, London 2000; £100 (upgrade £35); ISBN 0 7151 2041 7

This invaluable resource includes a disk with all the Common Worship services recently introduced by the Church of England and a 100 page guide book. This whole resource is for new users. Those with Visual Liturgy already installed in an earlier version should get Visual Liturgy 3.0 Upgrade (£35).

It includes all the Common Worship services from the standard edition and Pastoral Services, together with additional material from the President’s edition, and updated texts from Initiation Services. It provides complete Bible readings for the Common Worship principal service lectionary in both NRSV and NIV translation. It allows users to see the structure of a service at a glance and provides an easy route through the choices available. It contains enhanced software features - including the capacity to group service elements together to enable easier customisation. It allows usage of hymns and other elements of the service to be recorded and tracked. It is fully customisable and gives room for personal notes and is compatible with other software packages such as Hymns and Worship Songs of the Canterbury Press, Song Select, Quickverse and Logos.

The publishers claim that “this will enable churches to plan and prepare their services with ease. From automatically finding the lectionary readings, through choosing the hymns, to selecting prayers and alternative options from the wide range of texts available, Visual Liturgy can do it all.” This claim is born out in practice as one of our parish wardens said: “I have been impressed at the simplicity of the programme Visual Liturgy which I was able to put to good use within a very short time of loading the software. The small explanatory booklet was concise and easy to comprehend and the various reminders, which were generated automatically, were helpful. Having worked through how to produce a simple service, I was soon able to graduate into exploring how to customize Visual Liturgy to the needs of my particular church. My one regret is that the readings for the principal service are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary in NRSV, whereas the Psalm is taken from Common Worship. This has proved a little frustrating as we have become used to using the new lectionary in its present form and are now having to replace the words of the psalm from Visual Liturgy with those from the lectionary.”

Julian Reindorp

Eschatology

Hans Schwarz

Eerdmans, Grand Rapids 2000; 431+xv pp; £16.99; ISBN 0 8028 4733 1

The two ends of the spectrum of hope that stands before us are an unrealistic utopia, where everything is possible now, and a detached pessimism about anything good in this age and ‘pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by’ attitudes to the problems facing the world now. Neither of these extreme ends of the spectrum are properly biblical or Christian, although both are readily found amongst Christian communities. Scharz’s exposition of the doctrine of the Christian hope, Eschatology, avoids both these extremes and argues instead for a proleptic anticipation of the future (I detect a debt to Pannenberg). “Knowing that the future has already begun in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it dares to anticipate proleptically this future along the avenue that the Christ event provides. This process of active anticipation strives for a better humanity, a more just society and a more worldly world to live in.” (p.407).

His analysis of the theme of eschatology is thoroughly grounded in the Scriptures, as befits one of the foremost evangelical theologians working in Germany, but is fully aware of the particular cultural context of postmodernism (and its ambivalence towards a secular notion of progress) in which any talk of eschatology must be set if it is to engage with the wider world.

On the way, Schwarz discusses secular varieties of hope (science, ecological holocausts, political revolutions), death and resurrection, and all the hoary old controversies that Christians used to excommunicate each other over (and still do in the USA). This is a measured and thorough exposition of this forgotten theme in Christian theology. It is not the last word, of course, but one of the best words around at the moment, and I commend it warmly.

Paul Goodliff

Dictionary of New Testament Background

Craig A Evans and Stanley E Porter

IVP, Downers Grove and Leicester 2000; 1328pp; £29.99 Hardback; ISBN 0 85111 980 8

My breath is taken away by this latest addition to the IVP ‘Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship’. Following the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, and the Dictionary of the Later New Testament and its Developments., comes this fourth magnificent dictionary, which sets the New Testament and early Christianity in its literary, historical, social and religious context. Instead of being tied to specific writings of the New Testament, it is concerned with archaeology, geography, numismatics, related writings, various historical figures, political institutions, historical events, peoples and culture.

It is impossible to do justice to the breadth of this work - articles range from ‘Head Coverings’ to ‘Literacy and Book Culture’, from ‘Qumran’ to ‘Roman Social Classes’, and from ‘Diaspora Judaism’ to ‘Gymnasia and Baths’. The articles vary in length, from as little as 500 words, to 7,500 words, with some exceeding 10,000 words. All include helpful bibliographies.

I found this dictionary an utter delight to browse through - indeed, most unusually, it is the kind of dictionary which makes me want to read it through cover to cover. Although an undoubted work of scholarship, this is not just a tool for students and scholars. It is a book for the ordinary minister too. Indeed, I maintain that it, together with its sister volumes, are the ‘sine qua non’ of the library of any preacher wishing to engage in Biblical exposition.

And this beautifully produced and sizeable tome is priced at a mere £29.99. Well done, IVP!

Paul Beasley-Murray

Proclaiming the Scandal - Reflections on Postmodern Ministry

Jerome E Burce

Trinity Press, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. 2000; 123 pp; £8.95; ISBN 1 56338 332 2

Grounded in the conviction that “Pastors at base are tenders of the Word, locally uttered” (p.5), Burce argues for a confident proclamation of the Gospel to the post-Constantinian culture of North America. Having always been somewhat sceptical about the depth of Christian culture in late-twentieth century USA, despite the much greater percentage of Americans attending church than Britons, this book confirmed my suspicions that America is as profoundly post-Christian as our own British culture. The scandal of the Gospel needs proclaiming here as much as there, and this little book will help preachers to rediscover the confidence to do so on both sides of the Atlantic.

In his thesis, Burce argues that authentic Gospel preaching is proscibed by the agnostic and liberal assumptions of mainline Protestant churches in America, but neither the turn to evangelical fundamentalism (circling the wagons!) nor the policy of yielding to the culture’s agnostic impulse (which he describes on p.75 as “a process of deconstruction which strips the Gospel of its alien character as a word not of our own devising”) will do. Instead, what is needed is a confident retelling of the Gospel as the truth which all need to hear in ways which will enable them to hear. In this regard, Burce’s heroes are Newbiggin, Braaten, Jenson and Hauerwas, among others.

This book has an important message, but is not helped by a somewhat ‘over-written’ style, not least in the opening paragraph of chapter one. Do not be put off by this and persevere with him. He is worth it.

Paul Goodliff

God With Us: Synergy in the Church

Ruth Page

SCM Press, London, 2000; 213pp; £12.50; ISBN 0 334 02796 9

Ruth Page is a Senior Lecturer at New College, Edinburgh, and a member of the Church of Scotland. She has also had a previous involvement with the WCC Central Committee and its Commission on Mission. Now she has written a most thought-provoking book about theology and mission in a post-modern world.

Page believes that the word which today expresses best what God is in himself is the preposition ‘with’. ‘With’ defines not only the internal relationships in the Triune Godhead, but also the relationship of this God with creatures, particularly human ones. This also therefore defines who we are, as those who are in relationship with this God.

Following this brief theological exploration in the first part of the book, part 2 is given over to a working out of its implications for the life and witness of the Church. Successive chapters deal with such issues as ministry, post-modern spirituality, peace and justice, ecumenism, mission, dialogue with other faiths and the environment. In all cases ‘with’ implies an end to old ways of relating through dominance and control and the establishment of a new patterns of relationship based on equality and sharing and the commitment to partnership.

By and large I welcome this attempt to get to grips with the challenge of post-modernism to the Church's life and faith. I did not always agree with the author's ideas, but I always found that they stimulated thought. If I have any criticism, it is that there is an over-reliance on direct quotation, the more so as the book proceeds. A number of key quotations are placed in boxes, but this tends to interrupt the flow of the argument. There are adequate notes and two small indices. This is a book worth reading and pondering.

Philip Clements-Jewery

Poverty and Christianity - Reflections at the Interface between Faith and Experience Michael Taylor

SCM Press, 2000; 135pp; £10.95; ISBN 0 334 02814 0

Michael Taylor is always stimulating, and this short book is marked by his characteristic abrasive honesty. He squarely faces issues that many would prefer to side step, and does so with a ruthless logic and persistence. The central question of the book is not new: how can a loving and powerful God allow the innocent suffering of so many people in this world?

However Taylor’s perspective as a former Director of Christian Aid and social theologian give him unique insights, and penetrating questions, concerning this ancient conundrum. His inquiry is not that of an ivory tower philosopher, but rather of someone who has sat alongside traumatised refugees, and who has felt the pain of those who have lost everything ... again. This book is a genuine personal journey of one who is trying to make sense of the gulf that sometimes yawns between faith and experience, and do so with integrity.

The book opens with an excellent summary of three differing views on theodicy, and their weaknesses, and then contrasts the mass of writing about this issue in the North with the relative paucity in the South. Why do writers, far better acquainted with poverty and suffering, not seek to explain it? Taylor suggests that our Westem/Northem preoccupation with explaining the problem of suffering can be an exercise in justifying the status quo. In the South the main concern is how to change the situation not explain it.

The hardest chapter to face was that which attempts an impact study the impact of Christianity on the suffering world. To what extent can we say that the Kingdom of God is more evident; that justice and peace have increased by virtue of all the actions and prayers of believers? Taylor’s conclusion is that only faith in a suprahistory can make sense of the Story we hold, but is an eschatalogical hope enough?

Taylor then turns his attention to the difficulties of applying theological thinking to the practical demands of development policy and social policy in general. If theology is a valid exercise it must make a difference to the lives of those most in need in our world, or it has very little to do with the gospel of Jesus. However theologians find it hard to agree on praxis and practitioners need convincing that theology is of any real value.

The final sections deal movingly with being creative and hopeful in the struggle against poverty. There is no attempt to smooth over the painful inconsistencies at the heart of our faith. Taylor talks of hope not as something given to us to cheer us up, but as a proactive choice we make. We can choose to live with the mystery, to believe in people and places and treat them as if they had a promising future.

This is a challenging piece of theological reflection that deserves wide attention.

Anne Wilkinson Hayes

Fading Splendour? A Model of Renewal

John Finney

Darton, Longman and Todd, 2000 195pp; £10.95; ISBN 0 232 52286 3

This book is a fascinating thesis by the former Bishop of Pontefract, who before his episcopacy was the Anglican Officer for the Decade of Evangelism. It is an essentially sociological observation that Finney makes in this book: the observation that all renewals throughout church history take on the specific trajectory from initial enthusiasm to growing institutionalisation. Weber might call it the routinisation of charisma and give it a rather negative slant, but Finney challenges us to see it as a natural, almost inevitable process that, if accepted, could inaugurate a creative tension in the church between old and new. There is nothing wrong with institution and tradition.

Having spent all my Christian life in the renewal movement (one might term me a second generation charismatic) and having felt a deep urge to draw from the wells of a more historic, dare I say ancient, spirituality, I found Finney’s book very compelling. When I read about a second generation of charismatics who are keen to return to the mainstream without losing the trademark enthusiasm and zeal of charismatic churches I found him describing myself.

The problem with Finney’s thesis however is that it could be readily misunderstood as a return to dry formal religion. Finney does not mean this at all and spends a good deal of time explaining his point by referring to renewal movements in the past, and the way they combine Word and Spirit. But in a charismatic milieu where the Spirit very often is synonymous with the irrational and the exotic, I think Finney will have a hard time convincing the majority of charismatics as to the merits of tradition and form. Probably what will happen, as Finney anticipates, is that the renewal will split, with some returning to the fold and some becoming ever more extreme.

Ian Stackhouse

Seeking the Truth in Love

Michael Doe

Darton, Longman and Todd, London 2000; 135pp; £5.95; ISBN 0 232 52399 1

In this book, Bishop Michael picks his way with enormous care through the theological, historical, biblical, moral and practical minefields in order to look at the issue of homosexuality and lesbianism from all angles. He explores what Scripture, tradition, reason and experience (including the experience of homosexual and lesbian Christians) have to say to us and manages, perhaps with some difficulty, to avoid saying exactly where he would want to take his stand. The final chapter, ‘Where now?’, encourages us to be honest and consistent in our use of Scripture (in his earlier chapters, he takes obvious delight in pointing out one or two evangelical inconsistencies!), be critical of what we have received from history, take seriously what we now know which former generations could not have known, and to treat homosexuals and lesbians who have the courage to come to us with the respect and love they are entitled to in Christ.

In a touching epilogue, Bishop Michael, ever the caring pastor that he is, admits that it was not only the frustration of the 1998 Lambeth Conference which inspired the study which led to the book. It was also some of the people he has met and been challenged by in the course of his ministry, people whose experience have left their marks on him. Here he tells their stories.

I found this to be a profoundly challenging little book, because it neither confirmed me in my prejudices nor allowed me the luxury of pretending that this is an issue I can safely ignore. Homosexual and lesbian Christians will not go away, so if you want an honest exploration of the issues, full of thoughts which you hardly dared think before, buy this book. I won’t leave you feeling comfortable, but you’ll have a broader understanding of the issues.

Alun Brookfield

Science and its Limits: the natural sciences in Christian perspective

Del Ratzsch

Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, 2000; 191pp; price not available; ISBN 0 85111 466 0

In recent years the debate between Christians holding different views on creation and evolution has become more prominent on the British scene, if not to the extent that it has in the USA. Here is a book that will put that discussion into perspective by asking tough questions of both sides. It is not a book that comes down on one side or the other in the debate, but it will help to clarify minds about the nature and limits of science and it certainly makes readers think about their own position on the matters discussed.

This is, in fact, a new edition of a book originally published in 1986 and it can be thoroughly commended as a first-rate and accessible introduction to the philosophy of science from a Christian viewpoint. Del Ratzsch is a Professor of Philosophy who writes knowledgeably and readably about his subject. He is always very fair to all sides in the debate and discusses the issues in a calm and reasoned manner.

The author begins by describing the development of the philosophy of science up to the present day. He then addresses issues such as what science can and cannot tell us before dealing with the challenges that religion and science put to each other. There is an appendix about speaking the truth in love that bears directly on the current disagreement between Christians holding creationist and evolutionist views. In the reviewer’s judgement, the criticisms of creationism offered by the author are rather more serious and more difficult to counter than his criticisms of theistic evolution. The book also contains very full footnotes, some suggestions for further reading and an adequate index.

Highly recommended.

Philip Clements-Jewery

Oscar Romero: Memories in Mosaic

María López Vigil, translated by Kathy Ogle

CAFOD, London, 2000; £12.95; ISBN 0 232 52371 1

Buy this book. María López Vigil has produced a fascinating biography of Monseñor Oscar Romero, the Catholic Archbishop of El Salvador who was known for his commitment to the poor of his country, and who was murdered by a death squad in 1980, while saying Mass. Romero’s assassination was a defining moment in that it made people outside Latin America more aware of the nature of the oppressive regimes which characterised much of the region in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Church, and particularly the Catholic Church, has always been a significant actor in Latin American social conflicts. Traditionally the Church and the aristocracy had been very closely aligned, but by the 1970s this was changing. Many peasants had gained confidence and consciousness as a result of the reforms stemming from Vatican II and the Latin American bishops’ Medellín conference in 1968 which removed some of the barriers between hierarchy and congregation. Many young priests and churchworkers likewise became radicalised as they followed through the consequences of the Church’s preferential option for the poor.

But this book is less about geopolitics than it is about one person’s development and growing commitment. Before becoming archbishop, Romero had been a traditionalist, accustomed to fraternising with El Salvador’s coffeegrowing aristocracy and more aligned with the rightwing Opus Dei movement than with liberation theology. As the Church became the target of repression, however, he refused to rely upon preconceived views, rather making it his business to find out what was really going on in the lives of the people. As he found out, he also spoke out increasingly strongly against the way in which they were unable to make their own choices and their own lives. In the homily he gave at the cathedral the day before he died, Romero addressed the armed forces directly: “In the name of God, and in the name of this suffering people ... I beg you, I order you in the name of God: stop the repression!”

What is most interesting about this book is its style. This is not a straightforward biography but is rather a patchwork of recollections from all sorts of people, from political leaders to other churchworkers to parishioners and peasants. Though there are some brief fragments from Romero’s homilies, and some short adaptations from his diaries, in general this is a record of those around him speaking back about their memories of a man who has been called the “voice of the voiceless.”

Yet this book shows that these people were not the voiceless, and that Romero’s virtue was as much that he listened to so many of these voices as that he spoke out in their name. There is a hubbub, a multitude of voices here. They recall the impact that Romero had, in ways he would often not have anticipated, and their commentary and opinions, which are sometimes laudatory, sometimes critical, but always thoughtful. Too often, leaders - whether church leaders or others - see their role as being solely that of speaking for others, or see diversity and discussion in an organisation as a weakness. This book celebrates not simply Romero, but above all the range of discussions and commentaries that circulated around his life and work, and that spilled out far beyond his office and his Church. And if there is a lesson here, it is that there is no single lesson, but as many lessons as there are individuals, each of which is worthy of attention.

Jon BeasleyMurray

Passion for Life

Anne Brennan and Janice Brewi

Continuum, New York 1999; 169pp; $17.95; ISBN 0 8264 1181 9

With most of us in the West living longer and staying healthier for longer, issues about the challenge of ageing multiply, not least how to respond to the challenge of living abundantly throughout the closing stages of life. Dr Anne Brennan and her colleague Dr Janice Brewi have for twenty years been creators of Mid-Life Directors (35-65+) and Long Life Directors (60-85+), programmes that seek to encourage personal and spiritual growth in the second half of life. This book is the fruit of that work.

The authors are Catholics, members of the Sisters of St Joseph, and have that world-embracing perspective that one encounters more often in Catholics than amongst Protestants. The psychological roots of their work are Jungian, with a structure that is derived from the Erikson life stages, and there is a graceful integration of a broad spirituality throughout. A generous plea for generativity and continuing growth throughout life, this is a helpful (if rather American) book.

Paul Goodliff

Cultivating Wholeness. A Guide to Care and Counselling in Faith Communities

Margaret Kornfield

Continuum, New York 2000; 377pp; $24.95; ISBN 0 8264 1232 7

Margaret Kornfield is an American Baptist pastor and a pastoral psychotherapist with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the pastoral counselling scene, and has written a book which is very user-friendly as a guide to pastors in the care of their faith communities.

Each chapter has a broad perspective, uses illustrative case materials and ends with a list for further reading, based, unfortunately for British readers, on the American scene. Rooted in the need for community, the opening sections explore what faith communities look like, followed by sections on the basic structures of pastoral care and counseling. This is then applied to care at life’s beginnings and endings. The closing section advocates a wise tending of the pastor’s own needs.

This book will, I suspect, come off my shelf for referral, time and time again. It might also be true for you, so invest in this thorough and well-written book. It is among the very best in its field.

Paul Goodliff

Congregational Fitness: Healthy Practices for Layfolk

Denise W Goodman

Alban Institute, Maryland 2000; 126pp; ISBN 1 56699 232-X

This book is very readable. Apart from being full of common sense on how to deal with conflict within the church community, the gritty determination with which Denise Goodman deals with her own and others’ wounds sustained in the conflict is encouraging and heart-warming.

The author insists that the role of layfolk in dealing with conflict within the church is crucial, for they embody the close relationships and the working mind of the church. She maintains that the struggle with conflict is not just the responsibility of the clergy.

The book identifies areas of conflict and patiently illustrates ways of dealing with the problems. Denise Goodman’s frank and open approach go to the heart of the matter, and her steadfast, determined analysis of the problems stimulate and accuse all lazy, woolly thinkers! I wish I had read this book before I had experienced some of the problems - I would have been better equipped to deal with them and I would have known that others had worked at, and succeeded, in solving those dangerous conflicts.

Ursula Franklin

Dynamic Local Ministry

Andrew Bowden and Michael West

Continuum, London 2000; xii+222pp; £14.99; ISBN 0 8264 4996 4

I am a team rector in a suburban team. I needed to read this book even though here we could avoid facing its challenge for some years yet. It’s about total ministry - variously called all member, collaborative, mutual or local ministry. In some ways this is central to the nonconformist heritage and yet clericalism in various forms has deeply affected all denominations.

This movement towards local ministry has been driven by a combination of stark necessity and theological insight - not enough clergy to go round, and they are too expensive, so the church has been driven back to New Testament models. This book describes what has developed in different parts of the world, but particularly in the English countryside and in the Anglican Church. It is history in the making, the story told by two priests deeply involved in this experimental movement - from communities gathered round a minister to ministering communities.

The eight chapters tell their tale clearly with lots of facts and illustrations - Local Ministry: the Practical Pressures; Local Ministry: the Theological Pressures; The Parishes’ Tale; The Priests’ Tale; The Officers’ (diocesan or local) Tale; The Bishops’ Tale; Local Ministry Around the World and the Conclusions. I remember Ted Roberts in the early 1970’s training six local men to be priests in Bethnal Green, but this movement has developed in a whole variety of directions. Most of us know the theory, but what have we done about it in practice? Anglican and Roman Catholic clergy ought to be facing the challenge of this book, and I suspect many Free Church ministers too.

There is a very good contents outline, but no index - and this is too important a book to be without one. This book is about energizing baptized Christians. It is practical, theological and describes what is happening using a variety of stories. I was particularly interested in the ‘gifting’ Sunday when the gifts of all the members are recognised, followed by a ‘choosing’ Sunday when the congregation nominate potential priests. Changing the expectations of centuries is not easy and collaborative ministry makes clear demands on peoples maturity. But this book is full of exciting possibilities that are being worked out in practice.

Two questions have to be faced: first, are we still trying to shore up familiar patterns of church life or are we genuinely trying to rediscover New Testament patterns for today? Second, is this simply another pastoral response instead of equipping people to seek God’s Kingdom in their daily lives? I will reread this book before I preach my 10th AGM sermon in this comfortable suburban parish.

Julian Reindorp

Introduction to Psychotherapy - an outline of psychodynamic principles and practice

Anthony Bateman, Dennis Brown and Jonathan Peddar

Routledge, London, 2000 (3rd Edition); 220pp; price not available; ISBN 0 415 20569 7

This book is the third edition of a classic reference text familiar to most students and practitioners of psychodynamic counselling or psychotherapy. Dennis Brown and Jonathan Peddar worked together on the first edition (1979) and the second (1991). Anthony Bateman, consultant psychotherapist at St Ann’s Hospital London joined them for the latest edition.

My initial impression was very positive. This edition, like its predecessors, is an accessible read and would make a useful addition to the library of any minister who wishes to be well informed about psychotherapy in order to refer on appropriately from pastoral care.

Part 1 is devoted to the principles of psychotherapy and here can be found an excellent summary of key concepts. The second part explores different forms of therapy, their settings, requirements and therapeutic processes. Here I was a little disappointed. Though the addition of ‘newer developments’ consisting of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) is most welcome, the section on couple and family therapy, one of the most limited in the second edition, has not really been updated. This is a distinct weakness for relationship therapists like myself, but possibly also for other professionals who may need to refer.

Sue Clements-Jewery

Spiritual Dimensions of Pastoral Care

Edited by David Willows and John Swinton

Jessica Kingsley Publishers (www.jkp.com) 2000; 222pp; £14.95; ISBN 1 85302 892 4

Subscribers to Contact: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Pastoral Studies will testify to the enduring vitality and sheer breadth of the premier journal of pastoral studies published in Britain. This collection of papers is drawn from almost thirty years of Contact’s history and places within one set of covers among its most distinguished and influential articles. I am tempted to say that anyone who is anyone in this field is represented here, from Michael Jacobs to David Lyall, from Bob Lambourne (the oldest contribution, from 1971, his seminal Objections to a national pastoral organisation) to Frank Lake, Elaine Graham and Emmanuel Lartey.

From the art of the overview (Anthony Dyson on ‘Pastoral theology: Towards a new discipline’ 1983) to the art of theological reflection, and the relationship of practical theology to issues of pastoral practice, social action and narrative theology, this collection is a wealth of imaginative and thoughtful pastoral theology. I guess it is a vital help to those who are only now coming to this discipline and who do not have the benefit of back copies of Contact readily available, as well as being a great introduction to the way practical theology has been written about and practised in Britain over the past thirty years.

Paul Goodliff

A Double Thirst: Reaching Beyond Suffering

Ivan Mann

Darton, Longman and Todd, London, 2001; viii + 184pp; £12.95; ISBN 0 232 52382 7

The range of topics covered in this book is impressively comprehensive. It deals not only with suffering in ourselves and sharing the suffering of others and of God, but also, for instance, with the suffering we cause to others. While I was reading it I noticed that for a while it reached the top ten books ordered by readers of the Church Times. I wonder what they made of it.

Before anything else can be written about this book it must be said that the integrity of the author is beyond question. Ivan Mann is an Anglican clergyman in the Diocese of Norwich and what he writes has been forged in the fires of his own experience of suffering and loss as he nursed his wife through a prolonged terminal illness. The author includes prayers and meditations he himself wrote at the height of his agony and pain, both before and after his wife’s death.

However, this is a book that shouts “Profundity” through every page. I found this somewhat self-conscious drawing attention to itself rather off-putting. This is also certainly not a book for the popular market. The range of authors quoted is high-brow rather than low- or middle-brow. Of course, the book is none the worse for that, although it might limit its appeal.

Part of my irritation with the book probably has to do with its literary style, which uses the first person plural pronoun throughout. I found that I could not always identify with this “we”; the book was not speaking for me. Perhaps that is my own limitation since, I admit, I have not been through the same depths of loss and suffering as the author.

Matters of style also intrude in the chapter layouts. There is heavy reliance on extended quotations and there are also unattributed sections printed in italics. We are not told whether these are anonymous cases from the author’s pastoral experience or whether they are imaginary examples, but if they are the former then some statement about seeking the permission of those referred to and the protection of their identity should have been included. Each chapter is also divided into sections, some extremely short, each with its own heading. This tends to interrupt the flow of the argument - if, indeed, there is any, because I was not sure that much new was said as the book progressed from chapter to chapter. I suspect that it could all have been written in a much shorter space.

I am sorry to be so negative about what is obviously a serious and worthy attempt to address in a new way a subject that is of perennial interest and concern, touching as it does on one of the deep mysteries of human experience and faith. However, I did not find this book a compelling read, but rather something of a chore to be completed. Others may differ in their assessment of the book’s helpfulness. I can only suggest that they try it and reach their own conclusions.

Philip Clements-Jewery

The Pastoral Nature of Theology

R John Elford

Cassell, London 1999; 178pp; ISBN 0 264 67490 1

The familiar pattern to the relationship between ‘pure’ theology (such as Systematics or New Testament Studies) and pastoral theology is mirrored in the relationship of pure to applied science. The insights from the pure sciences of physics or molecular biology give rise to practical applications in technology or medicine, just as foundational Christian doctrine is supposed to shape the life and pastoral practice of the Church. John Elford argues that actually the opposite is true. Theology arises out of pastoral and practical concerns, not vice versa.

What emerges in this book is a close integration of issues of pastoral concern with a theologically literate engagement with the Continental mainstream (Bullmann and Barth), the philosophical and psychological milieu of the late twentieth century.

This is a broad-ranging book, dipping into biblical witnesses, the relationship of the Christian traditions of pastoral care to the condition of modernity (Oden is his guide), the care of individuals, the place of social care, and issues of morality and pastoral care.

However, it is a theologian’s book, neither practical nor applied enough to be of use to the pastor looking for a ‘how-to’ guide, nor perhaps as analytical or concentrated enough to engage the interests of professional theologians or pastoral psychologists. Instead it makes a very useful background text for those engaged in pastoral studies or in ministerial training rather than the busy pastor or counsellor.

Paul Goodliff

Short notes

Paul Bradshaw has edited a successor to the earlier A Companion To The Alternative Service Book, which he co-wrote with R C D Jasper. Entitled A Companion To Common Worship Volume 1 (SPCK, London 2001; 274pp; ISBN 0 281 05266 2), it consists of a series of scholarly essays on a wide range of aspects of Anglican worship. Each section ends with detailed references for further reading. No doubt this will prove to be an essential work of reference for the specialist as perhaps also a tool for the novice Anglican priest, but for others it is a ‘curiosity’.

It was with great eagerness that I began to look at A History Of Pastoral Care (Cassell, London 2000; 476pp; £49.95; ISBN 0 225 66840 8), edited by the Cambridge historian G R Evans. However, my enthusiasm is now somewhat tempered after I have had a chance to read this scholarly collection of 23 somewhat eclectic essays. After an opening essay by the editor, the book is divided into five sections: i) The Biblical Foundations; ii) The Early Christian world; iii) The Middle Ages; iv) The Early Modern Period; and v) The Modern World. The eclecticism is well illustrated by the final section, which is devoted to essays on ‘Pastoral care at the end of 20th century’ (Ian Bunting), ‘The sacraments of healing: penance and anointing of the sick’ (Richard McBrien); ‘Justice: postural care and the ecclesiastical law’ (Rupert Busell); ‘Ecumenism and ecclesial and pastoral pr9oclamation’ (Jeffrey Gros, Eamon McManus and Ann Riggs), ‘Sects and new religious movements’ (Martyn Percy), and ‘The pastoral care of people of other faiths’ (Christopher Lamb). Much as I appreciate the writings of Martyn Percy, the only essay which had any relevance to me was the first by Ian Bunting. The volume as a whole is a strange hotchpotch - with the result that it will probably only be bought by libraries. When will scholars begin to make an effort to serve the church?

Stephen Sizer, an Anglican vicar and author of the text, and Jon Arnold, a free-lance photographer, are to be congratulated on producing what is in effect a stunning coffee-table book, entitled A Panorama Of The Bible Lands (Eagle, Guildford 2000; 80pp; £17.50 hardback; ISBN 0 86347 353 9). The sites features are Athens, Bethlehem, Caesarea Philippi, Cana, Capernaum, Colossae, Corinth, Ephesus, Galilee, Jerusalem, Pergamum, Pisidian Antioch, Rome and Sardis. The photography is magnificent - and not least the 18 double-page ‘landscape’ spreads. The text is not only informative but also stimulates reflection.

The Gospel With Extra Salt: Friends of Tony Campolo Celebrate His Passions For Ministry (Judson Press, Valley Forge, Philadelphia 2000; 144pp; $14; ISBN 0 8170 1313 X) consists of a series of essays written to celebrate the 65th birthday of a most unusual American Baptist, who combines his role of sociologist with that of an evangelist with a heart for the poor. Well-known amongst young people in the evangelical world, Tony Campolo became latterly known to a wider audience as counsellor and spiritual advisor to Bill Clinton. The essays deal with such issues as gender and family, evangelicalism and poverty. Unfortunately they all focus on the North American scene and therefore are of limited interest to British readers. What is perhaps needed is a British version!

Alec Gilmore is to be congratulated on producing A Dictionary of The English Bible And Its Origins (Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield 2000; 192pp; £12.95; ISBN 1 84127 068 7). This highly readable non-technical tool provides an introduction not only to the ongoing development of the English Bible, but also to the manuscripts on which the English Bible is based.

Visser’T Hooft was the first general secretary of the World Council of Churches and as such one of the chief architects of the 20th-century ecumenical movement. In Willem Adolf Visser’T Hooft 1900-1985 (WCC, Geneva 2000; 58pp; £3; ISBN 2 8254 1331 3) the late Ans J van der Bent, who himself was on the staff of the WCC for 25 years, has written a simple, but not un-critical account of this great ecumenical ‘fisherman’. As a further tribute to him the WCC have published Teachers And The Teaching Authorities (Geneva 2000; 78pp; £5.50; ISBN 2 8254 1330 5), written some 20 years ago, in which Visser’t Hooft examines the relationship between the ‘magistri’ or theological teachers, and the ‘magisterium’, the authority which decides what is the true teaching of the church. Although no doubt this is essential reading for those engaged in high-level ecumenical discussions as also other ecclesiastical ‘brass-hats‘, it is of limited interest to the working pastor. The same is true of Councils Of Churches And The Ecumenical Vision (WCC, Geneva 2000; 86pp; £4.90; ISBN 2 8254 1324 0) by Diane Kessler and Michael Kinnamon, although the final chapter has some good things, not least the sobering realisation of the need “to expand the ecumenical tent to include those sisters and brothers in Christ whose churches have avoided the very word ‘ecumenical’. Already, the member churches of the World Council of Churches represent only a quarter of the world’s Christians, and that percentage will fade rapidly in the coming years”.

For anyone engaged in the Christian ecumenical dialogue, Growth In Agreement II: Reports And Agreed Statements Of Ecumenical Conversations On A World Level, 1982-1998 (WCC Publications, Geneva, 2000; 956pp; £27.50; ISBN 2 8254 1329 1), edited by Jeffrey Gros, Harding Meyer and William G Rusch is an indispensable resource book.

The Times Prayers And Readings For All Occasions (HarperCollins, London 2001; 275pp; £14.99 hardback; ISBN 0 00 710355 7), compiled by Owen Collins, will no doubt sell because of its newspaper sponsor. The truth is that it is a fairly uninspired and old-fashioned collection of hymns, poems and ‘spiritual writings’, with only three contributions from people born in the 20th century!

A book which I shall warmly commend to all the members of my (lay) pastoral team is What Could I Say? (IVP, Leicester 2001; 315pp; £9.99; ISBN 0 85111 538 1) by Peter Hicks, a Baptist minister who lectures in philosophy and pastoral care at London Bible College. As the author so rightly states in his introduction: “Sometimes when people need help they need a trained counsellor. But most times they don’t. My guess is that the proportion is about one in ten. That is, 90% of the time they need the kind of love and support and listening ear and so on that any Christian should be able to give”. This is a book offering guidance to those who want to help the 90%. The first part of the book outlines general principles, while the second part lists in alphabetical order a broad range of issues people may encounter. There are, for instance, articles on abortion, addiction, Aids, alcohol abuse, alienation, Alzheimer’s disease, anger, anorexia, anxiety etc. Many of the articles give suggestions of books for further reading. This is indeed an excellent resource book for those who would lend a listening ear to others.

Consultancy, Ministry and Mission (Burns & Oates/Continuum, London 2001; 441pp; ISBN 0 86012 312 X) by Methodist Minister and former Director of the now defunct Avec, George Lovell, is an impressively comprehensive ‘Handbook for Practitioners and Work Consultants in Christian Organisations’. Consultancy in a Christian context is defined as “a means of providing non-directive help on any practical, personal, theoretical or theological aspect of Christian vocation and the work of the church”. The author argues that “it is imperative that consultancy services be made readily available to all members of the church and community workforce”, but recognises with some sadness that the greatest hope for the development of such services lies not with denominational leaders, but rather with highly motivated individuals and centres of excellence. This being so, consultancy will probably remain the preserve of the few, even although it could benefit the many.

In spite of its title, A History of Celibacy (Lutterworth Press, Cambridge 2001; 493pp; £15; ISBN 0 7188 3006 7) by Elizabeth Abbott provides a delightful romp through the many and varied ways in which celibacy has been practised. The author begins by looking at ‘divine pagan celibacy’, then looks at the way in which celibacy was viewed in ‘early’ and ‘later’ Christianity. There are chapters on ‘other major religions and rites’; ‘celibacy to conserve semen’ and ‘impotent celibacy’ and much more besides. The final chapter deals with such topics as celibacy in today’s Roman Catholic church, the ‘power virgins’ espoused by today‘s evangelicals, and ‘celibacy in the age of Aids’. A fascinating and most informative read!

Mark (Sheffield Academic Press, 2001; 163pp; £35 hardback or £12.50 paperback; ISBN 1841271 88 and 18412718 96 respectively) by Edwin K Broadmead is one of the latest contributions to the Sheffield Readings commentary series and is basically a simple, albeit scholarly, exposition of the Gospel. ‘Informed by the insights of narrative criticism’, the author sets out ‘to unveil for the reader the strategies at work in these stories’. I confess that I was disappointed by the end result.

By contrast, The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan and Cambridge, UK; 463pp; $35; ISBN 0 8028 4503 7) by Ben Witherington III, had so much more to offer. Scholarly, and yet accessible to ordinary preachers, offering a fresh translation of the Greek text, and yet scarcely requiring any knowledge of Greek, this highly informative commentary, abounding in new insights, is a rich resource for those wishing to expound the Gospel. This is a commentary well worth buying.

The binding of Teachings On Usury In Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, New York, 2000; 386pp; $109.95 hardback; ISBN 0 7734 7656 3) by Susan Buckley did not inspire any confidence with the result that I approached this book with a degree of scepticism. To my delight and surprise I discovered that the author has produced a first-class analysis of the international banking system from the point of view of the world’s three great monotheistic faiths. In the light of what Susan Buckley describes as “the genocide of debt”, a strong argument is made for a replacement of the Western financial system upon non-interest lines with “the elimination of all returns on monetary loans, the legitimacy of hire and rental charges, and the financing of commercial investment through profit-share arrangements”. I thoroughly concur with James Thrower, Professor of the History of Religions in the University of Aberdeen, who in his introduction states that this book should “be required reading for all those in universities and colleges in the Western World who teach and study Christian (or Jewish or Islamic) Ethics”. Sadly, the price of the book puts it out of the reach of most ministers.

For working ministers the most useful thing about The Psalms: An Introduction (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids and Cambridge, 2001; 187pp; $15; ISBN 00 8028 0854 9) by James Crenshaw, Professor of Old Testament at the prestigious Duke University Divinity School in North Carolina, are the final 75 pages, in which he helpfully applies his learning by expounding Psalms 24, 71, 73, and 115.

Journey Into The Bible (Scripture Union, Milton Keynes 2001 - a revised edition of Tune Into The Bible, published in 1989; 127pp; £4.99; ISBN 1 85999 409 1) by John Drane is a good popular introduction to the Bible and could be usefully loaned to interested enquirers.

Congratulations to HarperCollins on producing Common Worship Today: An Illustrated Guide To Common Worship (London 2001; 256pp; £19.99 hardback; ISBN 0 00 599381 4), edited by Mark Earey & Gilly Myers, a beautiful non-technical guide for ordinary people to the way in which new forms of worship have developed in the Church of England.

In her introduction to Care Through Touch: Massage As The Art Of Anointing (Continuum, New York 1999; 209pp; $24.50; ISBN 0 8264 1191 6), Mary Ann Finch sets out to show that massage, in the context of Christian care, “breaks open the meaning of embodied spirituality and incarnational service” and transforms what might be simply “therapy into a blessing”. Massage is a form of ministry, in which compassion is shown to such groups as the elderly, the disabled, and persons suffering from Aids.

I have mixed feelings about Church Next: Quantum Changes In Ministry (IVP, Leicester 2001; 254pp; £7.99; ISBN 0 85111 544 6) by Eddie Gibbs, the British edition of which has been revised by Ian Coffey with a view to making it more user-friendly to a British audience. Well-researched and with plenty of illustrations and quotations, it makes for a good read. However, for the most part it simply confirmed much of what I already believe. To that extent it failed to stimulate me as much as I had hoped it might - it simply regurgitated that which is known. On the other hand, I could well imagine less well-read pastors (wow! that’s patronising) finding the book quite eye-opening. If there were one paragraph which I would highlight, it is that where Eddie Gibbs makes the observation that the reason why so many ‘boomers’ have left Baptist. Pentecostal and independent charismatic churches to attend liturgical churches, it is that “they had tired of celebrity-based religion, built around the personality and communication gifts of one pastor, and had gone in search of a church where God is at the centre of attention”. Alas, how true that is. As A W Tozer once commented some forty years ago, it is increasingly difficulty to get Christians to meetings where God is the chief attraction! Maybe non-Christians might begin to be interested in coming to church, if God were the chief attraction? On reflection, buy the book - and lend it to a friend!

Anyone for Alpha? Evangelism In A Post-Christian Society (Darton, Longman and Todd, London 2001; 127pp; £7.95; ISBN 0 232 52404 1) by Stephen Hunt, a sociologist of religion, who describes himself as an “agnostic outsider”, is a fascinating appraisal of the much publicised Alpha programme. Although he acknowledges that Alpha “is probably the best evangelising tool presently on offer”, some of his findings make disturbing reading. On the basis of extensive interviews and questionnaire surveys, he asserts that very few new converts are actually won through Alpha - in his sample only some 3-4% of those enrolled on the course became Christians. Alpha’s chief contribution to the British church scene “is in extending charismatic Christianity to the churches, including those previously untouched by the Renewal movement”. In his conclusion he urges the organisers of Alpha to “recognise how secular today’s society has become” and then goes on to sketch out an eight-week “Alternative Alpha Course” for those totally outside the church, dealing with the following issues:

* Christianity: boring, untrue and irrelevant?

* Who is God? Who is Jesus? What is the Bible all about?

* Christianity and other religions

* The Christian life

* Suffering and the lost of man

* What do we make of Church history?

* Why do Christians disagree?

* Christianity in the world today

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Beyond The Worship Wars: Building Vital And Faithful Worship (Alban, Maryland 2001; 119pp; ISBN 1 56699 240 0) by Thomas G Long which seeks to map out a ‘third way’ of worship, which lifts us beyond mere emotionalism or entrenched traditionalism. Although written from within a North American context, there are lessons for us too, as the author expounds the nine characteristics of worship experienced in ‘vital and faithful congregations’. Such congregations:

1. Make room for the experience of mystery

2. Make planned and concerted efforts to show hospitality to the stranger

3. Have recovered and made visible the sense of drama inherent in Christian worship

4. Emphasise congregation music that is both excellent and eclectic in style and genre

5. Creative adapt the space and environment of worship

6. Forge a strong connection between worship and local mission

7. Maintain a relatively stable order of service

8. Move to a joyous festival experience toward the end of the worship service

9. Have strong, charismatic pastors as worship leaders

The HarperCollins Bible Commentary (New York, revised edition 2000; 1203pp; £34.99; ISBN 00 06 065548) edited by James L Mays, has been produced in association with the members of the Society of Biblical Literature with a view to making “the best current scholarship available to general audiences”. With commentaries not just on the books of the Old and New Testaments, but also of the Apocrypha, this is an excellent one-volume Bible commentary to recommend to lay people.

Just A Minute: Biblical Reflections for Busy Mums (Scripture Union, Milton Keynes 2001; 95pp; ISBN 1 85999 4377) by Christine Orme would make a great gift to any new mother .

Colin Podmore has compiled a beautifully presented arrangement of ‘classic’ Anglican prayers entitled Prayers to Remember (Darton, Longman and Todd, London 2001; 96pp hardback; ISBN 0 232 52424 6) - “both worth remembering and easy to remember”. Indeed, the aim of this book is to encourage lay-people to learn these prayers.

In Favourite Hymns: 2000 Years Of Magnificat (Continuum, London 2001; 206pp hardback; ISBN 0 8264 4872 0), Marjorie Reeves and Jenyth Worsley introduce over 80 best-loved hymns ranging from Bland Tucker’s version of the Didache (“Father, we thank Thee who hast planted/Thy holy name within our hearts”) to David Evans’ modern classic “Be still, for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One, is here”). Beautifully produced, this would make a pleasing present!

Assurance (Continuum, London 2000; 188pp; ISBN 0 8264 4987 5), edited by Michael Seed, is an anthology of words of re-assurance supplied by ‘the great and the good’. With contributions from such diverse people as Richard Ingrams and Mohammed Al Fayed, it is not a specifically Christian book. Nonetheless, it is a most interesting collection to dip into. I was fascinated that the disgraced politician Jonathan Aitken had chosen the following quotation from William Law: “If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to all perfection and happiness, he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you. For it is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing”.

One of the latest contributions to The Bible Speaks Today Bible Themes series is The Message of the Cross (IVP, Leicester 2001; 341pp; £9.99; ISBN 0 85111 543 8) by Derek Tidball, Principal of London Bible College. After a somewhat broad-sweeping introduction to ‘The cross in evangelical spirituality and theology today’, Derek Tidball looks at some of the key Biblical passages dealing with the Cross. The book is divided into four main sections: (1) ‘The cross anticipated’ contains Old Testament material; (2) ‘The cross experienced’ looks at the way in which the four Gospels depict the Cross; (3) ‘The cross explained’ is an exposition of Paul’s varied approach to the Cross; while (4) ‘The cross applied’ deals with passages in Hebrews, 1 Peter, 1 John and the Book of Revelation. Scholarly yet intensely practical, this is a great book. Although it contains a study guide, I do not believe that it could usefully be used by the average church house-group. Rather this book is essentially for preachers and as such I warmly commend it. I look forward to using much of the material in my preaching over coming months!

Fans of Henri Nouwen will be delighted that a revised edition has been produced by Sue Mosteller of Clowning In Rome: Reflections On Solitude, Celibacy, Prayer and Contemplation (Darton, Longman and Todd, London 2001 - first published in the USA in 1979; 109pp; £7.95; ISBN 0 232 52413 0). It abounds with quotable quotes. For example, Nouwen defines community in terms of “a sense of belonging, a place where frustrations can be expressed, disappointments shared, and pains healed”.

Lost Hero: Raoul Wallenberg’s dramatic quest to save the Jews of Hungary (HarperCollins, London 2001; 179pp; £6.99; ISBN 0 00 711117 7) by Danny Smith is a harrowing and challenging account of a Protestant Swede’s drive and passion to save the Jews of Hungary from the gas chambers in World War II. He would be over 90 years old if he were alive now, but there is no confirmation of his death - he was probably held in captivity for over 30 years.

Ronald S Wallace, now retired from teaching at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, South Georgia, knows how to write helpful books for those engaged in expository preaching. For this reason I warmly welcome his latest series of expositions, sponsored by the Edinburgh-based Rutherford House, The Story Of Joseph And The Family of Jacob (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids and Cambridge 2001; 135pp; $16; ISBN 0 946068 81 X). His warm, devotional approach ensures that I shall use this book when I come to preach on the second half of Genesis.

I enjoy dipping into books of quotations. For this reason I welcome The New Encyclopaedia Of Christian Quotations (John Hunt Publishing Ltd., New Alresford, Hants, 2000; 1200pp; £30 hardback; ISBN 1 903019 90 7) in which Mark Water has collected over 20,000 wide-ranging quotes, mostly, but not exclusively, from Christian sources. Although most of the quotes are from people long dead, there are a good number of quotes from the living too. Somewhat unusually, interspersed throughout the book, are over 75 relatively lengthy ‘features’, the vast majority of which are by ‘divines’ of long ago, for example, an article on ‘Assurance’ by A A Hodge, ‘Directions for a peaceful death’ by Richard Baxter, and ‘Whitefield’s funeral sermon’ preached by John Wesley. I confess that I am not enamoured by these ‘features’, least of all the collection of sayings brought together to illustrate ‘Roman Catholic Doctrine’. Nonetheless, in spite of these reservations, I am glad to have this volume on my shelf.

Latest offerings from Grove Books of Cambridge (all at £2.50 unless indicated otherwise) include the following:

Growing In Ministry: Using Critical Incident Analysis for Pastoral Care (Pastoral 84, 2000; 24pp; ISBN 1 85174 451 7) by Charles Chadwick and Phillip Tovey, is an ideal tool for young - and not so young - ministers to use with a mentor when they themselves experience a “critical incident...which produces an emotional reaction”.

Colin Buchanan, the Bishop of Woolwich, deals with not just the recent Anglican rites, but also the wider theological issue of healing and the New Testament data, and in his Services For Wholeness And Healing: The Common Worship Orders (Worship 161, 2000; 24pp; ISBN 1 85174 450 9).

Ernest Lucas, the Vice-Principal of Bristol Baptist College, gives a helpful overview of various approaches to this apparently unpreachable section of Scripture in Decoding Daniel: Reclaiming The Visions Of Daniel 7-11 (Biblical 18, 2000; 23pp; ISBN 1 85174 452 5).

In Corporate Ethical Accounting: (How) Can Companies Tell The Truth? (Ethics 120, 2000; 24pp; ISBN 1 85174 453 3) Richard Evans, a consultant in social & ethical accounting, makes the thought-provoking statement that “Business is probably the single most important influence on Western culture. It controls more wealth than governments and shapes our lives and our futures more powerfully than politics or religion. We are all involved in business and as Christians we have a responsibility to shape our involvement in the light of the Gospel”.

In Personality and Renewal (Renewal 3, 2001; 24pp; ISBN 1 85174 454 1) William K Kay summarises some of the fascinating findings of the latest research which, amongst other things, cut “against the notion that charismatic Christians are more likely to be ‘touchy-feely’ kinds of people who make judgements entirely on the basis of subjective considerations. On the contrary, and perhaps counter-intuitively, charismatic Christians appear to be those who prefer to make decisions on the basis of objective criteria.

In Using Your Church Web Site For Evangelism (Evangelism Series 53, Cambridge, 2001; 24pp; ISBN 1 85174 457 6), Vernon Blackmore gives some clear down-to-earth advice on how to create an effective open door to potential visitors.

David Haslam, a Methodist minister and Chair of the Christian Socialist movement, argues the need for the church to be anti-racist (as distinct from non-racist) in The Churches and ‘Race’ (Pastoral Series 85, 2001, 24pp; ISBN 1 85174 458 4)

David Instone-Brewer, currently research fellow at Tyndale House, Cambridge, in Divorce and Remarriage in the 1st and 2nd centuries (Biblical 19, 2001; 24pp: ISBN 1 85174 459 2), makes a learned and undoubtedly controversial case that both Jesus and Paul allowed divorce “on the biblical grounds of unfaithfulness, material neglect and emotional neglect”.

Ministry Today

You are reading Book Reviews by Ministry Today Reviewers, part of Issue 22 of Ministry Today, published in June 2001.

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