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Short Notes

By Paul Beasley-Murray and Alun Brookfield.

The SPCK Book of Christian Prayer (SPCK London: first published in hardback in 1995, this paperback edition 2009; 490pp; ?14.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06151 8) brings together over 1,200 prayers, both classic and contemporary. It is a truly delightful compilation and is a great resource for all who lead worship.

The New Cambridge Bible Commentary: Genesis (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2009; 409pp; ?15.99; ISBN 978 0 521 00067 3), by Bill T Arnold, Professor of OT Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary, contains many fresh insights. The scholarship is lightly worn so that the commentary can be read by lay-people. Particularly helpful are the ?Closer Look? sections which examine Genesis in the context of cultures of the Ancient Near East; and also the ?Bridging the Horizons? sections which enable the reader to see the enduring relevance of the book in the 21st century. Preachers will find this a good investment.

Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary: Feasting on the Word, Year B, volume 2, Lent through Eastertide (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville 2008; 555pp; ?26.99 hardback; ISBN 978 0 664 23097 5. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), edited by David L Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, is a great resource for all lectionary preachers ? with each text receiving theological, pastoral, exegetical and homiletical comment. When complete, the twelve volumes of the series will cover all the Sundays in the three-year lectionary cycle, along with movable feasts such as Christmas, Epiphany, Holy Week and All Saints Day.

Intercessions for Years A, B, & C (SPCK, London 2009; 208pp; ?9.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06021 4), by Anglican vicar Ian Black, is a collection of prayers to accompany the Church of England Common Worship lectionary. A useful resource.

Christ?s Victory Over Evil: Biblical Theology and Pastoral Ministry (Apollos, Nottingham 2009; 260pp; ?14.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 379 7), edited by Peter G Bolt, is a collection of nine essays based on lectures given at the 2008 Moore College [Sydney] School of Theology. Topics covered include a short history of deliverance; a biblical theology of the defeat of the evil powers; and cross-cultural perceptions and opportunities. In spite of the title, only the final essay deals with pastoral practice. This last chapter contains a good deal of sound advice: it urges pastors to be alert to quick fixes. ?In the present climate, there is a special danger as people are being told that the struggle is a sign of demonic oppression, or demonization? In a strange turnaround that pastors should constantly remind their people about, as the struggle intensifies, it is probably the work of the Spirit himself, convicting of sin, moving towards sanctification, causing the Christian heart to long for the day of resurrection?.

Day by Day: Meditations on Richard of Chichester?s prayer (SPCK, London 2009; 128pp; ?8.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06142 6), by Frederick Borsch, retired bishop and academic, is a somewhat wordy exposition of Richard?s prayer, popularised in the 1970s by the musical Godspell, ?to see you more clearly, to love you more dearly, to follow you more nearly, day by day?.

Great Prayers of the Old Testament (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville 2008; 142pp; ?8.99; ISBN 978 0 664 23174 3. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), by the renowned Old Testament interpreter Walter Brueggemann, is a great read. Not only is it full of resources for the preacher, it also warms the heart and increases the faith of the reader. ?Prayer?, writes the author, ?is a daring act. It is an act that intends to connect present urgent context with sovereign compassionate holiness?. This is a book to buy, read, and then pray and preach!

An Evangelical Among the Anglican Liturgists (Alcuin Club Collections 84, SPCK, London 2009; 192pp; ?19.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06026 9), by Colin Buchanan, a former bishop and college principal, is a collection of the author?s contributions toward liturgical revision spanning a period of 40 years. Matters dealt with include infant baptism and confirmation, and priesthood, sacrifice and the ordained ministry. The author writes in very lively, trenchant manner. In the end, however, this is highly technical stuff, and is probably only of interest to certain types of evangelical Anglican.

The Decades of Life: A Guide to Human Development (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville 2008; 228pp; ?16.99; ISBN 978 0 664 23241 2), by pastoral theologian Donald Capps, is a re-working of Erik Erikson?s eight psychosocial stages by re-locating them to the ten decades of life. Readers of Ministry Today might enjoy reading about their own decade. However, readers of this book will need to be familiar with Erikson?s work in order to gain real benefit from Capps? new framework of human development.

Approaching God: a guide for worship leaders and worshippers (Canterbury Press, Norwich 2009; 200pp; ?14.99; ISBN 978 1 85311 886 9), by Christopher Ellis, Baptist pastor and former college principal, is a thoughtful but fairly basic introduction to Christian worship, which will prove helpful particularly to ministerial students and lay-preachers. 

Jesus the Final Days (SPCK, London 2008; 96pp; ?7.99; ISBN 978 0281 06039 9), edited by Tory A Miller, is a collection of three lectures: two by Craig Evans on the death and burial of Jesus, and one by Tom Wright on the resurrection. For those familiar with the New Testament background, it is all pretty straightforward stuff. For those who are not familiar, then it is a fascinating account.

Baptism in the EarlyChurch: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries (Eerdmans, 2009; 975pp; ?33.99 hardback; ISBN 978 0 8028 2748 7. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), by Patristics scholar Everett Ferguson, is a truly heavy tome ? so much so, that the binding of my review copy had already fallen away from the text. The author surveys the first three centuries in detail, but less so the fourth and fifth centuries, primarily because the sources are so abundant. Sources include not just texts, but also baptismal fonts and depictions of baptism in various art forms. Precisely because the author is seeking to cover so much material, less than 60 pages are devoted to Christian baptism in the New Testament (as distinct from the baptism of John and of Jesus). Among the author?s conclusions are that infant baptism probably had its origins in the emergency baptism of sick children generally expected to die soon; and that the mode of baptism was always by immersion save in cases of lack of water and of sickbed baptism. This is not a difficult book to read ? the author wears his scholarship relatively lightly. Although probably destined to become a standard reference work, precisely because no attempt is made to relate the past to the present, this book is unlikely to find its way onto the shelves of working pastors.

Apollos Old Testament Commentary: 1 and 2 Samuel (Apollos, Nottingham 2009; 614pp; ?24.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 368 1), by David Firth of CliffCollege, is accessible scholarship at its best. Each passage has an annotated translation and a ?Form and Structure section?, followed by detailed exegesis (?Comment?) and a brief theological exposition (?Explanation?). This is a great commentary for preachers ? buy it!

The Call and the Commission: equipping a new generation of leaders for a new world (Paternoster, Milton Keynes 2009; 208pp; ?9.99; ISBN 978 1 84227 608 2), edited by Rob Frost, David Wilkinson and Joanne Cox, consists of eleven very different essays on such subjects ?Counting the cost? and paying it? by Martyn Atkins; ?The call, training and leadership: biblical reflections? by Derek Tidball; and ?Pentecostal perspectives on college education? by Keith Warrington. If the truth be told, most of the essays I found somewhat run-of-the-mill. The one essay which stood out because it was fresh and provocative was by the late Rob Frost entitled ?The great disconnection?. The ?disconnection? which Rob Frost had in mind was ministry as it was and the potential of ministry now ? Rob passionately believed that ?we need to design much more fluid ways of testing a call and equipping? emerging young leaders if we are to stop the haemorrhage of gifted plant. He argues that the ?new call is a call to church planting and to a new style of contemporary ?missionary service? within the UK?, which is often a call to a ?tent-making? ministry. The established churches need to be willing to think ?out of the box?. Rob Frost also goes on to make the point that ?we don?t get a ?lifetime package? defining our ministry at the moment of ?call?; but when we respond we commit ourselves to spending a lifetime working what the call actually means in our ongoing personal journey?.   Theological educators may want to buy the book, but ministers would probably be advised to borrow the book from a library just to read the first chapter!

Parish Priests; For the sake of the Kingdom (SPCK, London 2009; 205pp; ?14.99; ISBN 978 0 281 05538 8), by Robin Greenwood, is, from a Baptist perspective, a very strange book. The author in his exploration of what it means to be church, and what it means to be a leader within God?s church, engages with all manner of scholars within the state churches of Europe, but clearly has no understanding of the historical Baptist and Anabaptist understanding of church. The irony is that the communal model he seeks to espouse has to all intents and purposes long been practised by churches with a congregational theology. My other ?beef? with this book is the inability of the author to write simply ? at times his style is almost ?Germanic?.   

Inside the Leader?s Head: unravelling personal obstacles to ministry (Abingdon, Nashville 2009; 129pp; ?10.99; ISBN 978 0 687 64728 6. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), by Virginia Todd Holeman and Stephen L Martyn is addressed to leaders setting out in ministry, and shows how they can ?develop spiritual, emotional, and relational stamina that will allow them to walk through the inevitable dark valleys of church crises and continue to grow in personal and social holiness?. Holiness is always relationship and is demonstrated in the way in which believers relate to others and serve the world on a day-to-day basis.

Maximum Life: All for the glory of God (IVP, Nottingham 2009; 192pp; ?8.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 378 0), by Julian Hardyman, Senior Pastor of EdenBaptistChurch, Cambridge, is a revision and expansion of Glory Days: living the whole of your life for Jesus, published in 2006. The author?s thesis is that Jesus Christ is to be Lord of all ? ?and all includes football and friendship, food and fun, church meetings and local party politics?. ?Christians can be too unworldly? they can even give evangelism, Bible study and prayer too high a priority (with the result that none of them is as real or effective as they should be?. Popular in style and rooted in reality, this is a good book to lend to over-enthusiastic Christians!

The title of Walk This Way: 40 Days on the Road With Jesus (Paternoster, Milton Keynes 2009; 165pp; ?8.99; ISBN 978 1 84227 640 2), edited by Stephen Holmes and Russell Rook, is somewhat misleading, in so far as this book is comprised of 40 days? worth of readings taken from the writings of the ?Desert Fathers?,  Benedict of Nursia, Julian of Norwich, Thomas A Kempis, Teresa of Avila, George Herbert, Brother Lawrence, John Bunyan, John Wesley, Catherine Booth, and Marianne Farningham. The extracts are divided up into four sets of readings, each exploring a different theme: ?Learning?, ?Living?, ?Working? and ?Growing?. Unusually, the extracts are re-translated into ?modernised? English (along the lines of Eugene Peterson?s, The Message) ? whether such ?modernisation? is a good idea is perhaps questionable, especially where we are dealing with English authors.

Seven Last Words (Darton, Longman and Todd 2009; 64pp; ?9.95 hardback; ISBN 978 0 232 52764 3), by Basil Hume, edited by Liam Kelley, contains previously unpublished meditations by the late Cardinal. Disappointingly, these meditations are very short, and do not warrant the expenditure of ?9.95.

The latest issue of Transformation Journal: A daily walk in the Word (Abingdon Press, Nashville 2009; 211pp; ?13.99; ISBN 978 0 687 65502 1), edited by Sue Kibbey, Carolyn Slaughter and Kevin Applegate, has just appeared. This simple devotional tool offers for each day ?focus point?, Scripture readings, space for personal study and reflection questions.

Christian Weddings: Resources to make your ceremony unique (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2nd edition 2008 includes a CD; 93pp; ?8.99; ISBN 978 0 687 64959 4. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), by Methodist pastor Andy Langford, is very American in origin and would not have much to offer a British pastor. However, I read with interest that the Anglo-Saxon word wedd, from which our English word wedding is derived, used to denote a gamble or wager!

Growing spiritually with the Myers-Briggs model (SPCK, London 2009; 153pp; ?9.99; ISBN 978 0 218 05982 9), by Julia McGuiness, looks at the way in which the Myers-Briggs type indicator model can be an aid to spiritual growth. Although the author helpfully expounds the various personality types, the readers who will gain the most from this book will be those who have already done a Myers-Briggs workshop and therefore know their ?type?.

Celebration & Experience in Preaching (Abingdon, Nashville revised edition 2008; 151pp; ?11.99; ISBN 978 0 687 64919 8), by the so-called ?Dean of African American homileticians?, Henry H Mitchell, first published in 1990, is based on the conviction that ?the salvation of the soul and its spiritual growth come through a spiritual experience, and that preaching at is best is used by the Spirit to bring an experiential encounter with the Word?. For the author, the preacher needs to understand such things as 2emotion, the timing of suspense, and the role of climactic celebration, enabling ecstatic reinforcement of the text and its behavioural purpose?. The author also firmly believes that the black style of preaching is not to be restricted to the black community, but rather is relevant to preachers of all cultures. Here is a challenge!  

I Loved Jesus in the Night. Teresa of Calcutta: a Secret Revealed (Darton, Longman andd Todd, London 2009; 125pp; ?10.95 hardback; ISBN 978 0 232 52746 9), by Dominican priest Paul Murray, tells of how Mother Teresa constantly struggled to believe in God. In 1962, for instance, she wrote: ?People say they are drawn closer to God ? seeing my strong faith. Is this not deceiving people? Every time I have wanted to tell the truth ? ?I have no faith? ? the words just do not come, my mouth remains closed. And yet I still keep smiling at God and all?. Two years later she wrote: ?To be in love and yet not to love, to live by faith and yet not to believe. To spend myself and yet to be in total darkness?. The author draws upon the writings of St John of the Cross to unravel the strange dichotomy of belief and unbelief: ?In one simple phrase John says it all: ?This dark night is an inflow of God into the soul?. But this ?inflow?, since it begins at once to effect a radical purification and transformation in the soul, is almost unbearable?. And yet, thank God, Mother Teresa never gave up believing, however difficult faith was for her. ?Remember?, she once said, ?that the passion of Christ ends always in the joy of the Resurrection, so when you feel in your own heart the suffering of Christ, remember the Resurrection has to come, the joy of Easter has to dawn. Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of the Risen Christ?.

The Social World of the New Testament:  Insights and Models (Hendrickson, PeabodyMassachusetts, 2008; 295pp; ?13.99; ISBN 978 1 59856 128 9. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), edited by Jerome H Neyrey and Eric C Stewart, is a scholarly guide to various cultural approaches to biblical studies. It consists of a series of thirteen detailed essays on such subjects as kinship, the patron-client relationship, gender, space and the evil eye. Students may well find this collection fascinating, but frankly it is not for the pastor-preacher!  

Wedding Services (Abingdon, Nashville 2008; 89pp; ?6.99; ISBN 978 0 687 64888 7. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), by Methodist pastor J Wayne Pratt, provides a variety of prayers, liturgies and sermons for weddings, as also guidance for a variety of wedding situations. Ideas suggested include the lighting of a unity candle, rituals such as water washing, the pouring of sand, and the sharing of salt. The wedding sermons or meditations were equally banal. Furthermore, much of the guidance is irrelevant in a British context.

God?s Big Picture: Tracing the storyline of the Bible (IVP, Nottingham, this edition 2009; 170pp; ?7.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 370 4), by Vaughan Roberts, Rector of St Ebbe?s, Oxford, offers a basic overview of the Bible. In a time when even people who have been Christians appear to lack a framework of biblical understanding, this clearly meets a need, as is evidenced by the fact that this book, first published in 2002, is now into its eighth printing. The very simplicity of this book presents a challenge to readers of Ministry Today to ensure that their own congregations are presented with a biblical framework.

I Will Trust in You: a companion to the evening Psalms (SPCK, London 2009; 160pp; ?9.99; ISBN 978 0 281 05987 4), by Michael Sadgrove, Dean of Durham, is an informative commentary on the psalms read or sung at the Anglican service of Evensong. Helpful for worshippers, this is, however, not a preacher?s commentary.

The Holy Spirit: Lord and Life-Giver (The Global Christian Library: IVP, Nottingham 2009; 168pp; ?6.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 351 3), by Ivan Satyavrata, an Assemblies of God pastor in Kolkata, India, is a lively and somewhat popular exposition of the work of the Holy Spirit, based on sound scholarship.   

Run to Win the Prize: Perseverance in the New Testament (Apollos, Nottingham 2009; 131pp; ?9.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 369 8), by New Testament scholar, Thomas R Schreiner, is ? in spite of the Apollos imprint ? a non-technical examination of the warnings and admonitions in the New Testament. Schreiner does not believe in the popular maxim ?once saved, always saved? ? ?if Christians apostatize, they will face final damnation?.  He goes on to argue, however, that ?the elect? always heed the warnings?. The book is based on lectures given at the Twelfth Oak Hill Annual School of Theology.  

Darwin and God (SPCK, London 2009; 146pp; ?9.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06082 5), by Nick Spencer, director of studies at Theos, the public theology think tank, is the first full-length account of Darwin?s religious beliefs to be published in the UK. Highly readable, Spencer shows that it was not his scientific studies which caused Darwin to lose what faith he had, but rather the tragic death of one of his children.

Colossians: A Commentary (The New Testament Library: Westminster John Knox, Louisville 2008; 305pp; ?27.99 hardback; ISBN 978 0 664 22142 3), by Biblical Studies professor, Jerry L Sumney, is a fine commentary ? academic, yet accessible, preachers would find this useful.

Words of Life: Scripture as the living and active word of God (IVP, Nottingham 2009; 186pp; ?9.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 207 3), by Timothy Ward, currently minister of Holy Trinity Church, Hinckley, sets out to explain, defend, re-work and apply the traditional evangelical doctrine of Scripture as ?the Word of God?. He draws upon four authors in particular: John Calvin, Francis Turretin, B B Warfield, and Herman Bavinck. This is a thoughtful and clearly written work, grounded in scholarship, and should serve as a good introduction for theological students.        

Global Pentecostalism: Encounters with other religious traditions (I B Tauris, London 2009; 302pp; ?52.50 hardback; ISBN 978 1 84511 877 8), edited by Swedish academic David Westerlund, consists of fifteen very diverse essays, ranging from ?Pentecostal-Type Renewal Disharmony in Ghanaian Christianity? to ??Pentecostalism in India & China in the Early 20th century and Inter-Religious-Relations?, from ?Born-Again Witches and Videos in Nigeria? to ?Pentecostalism in Columbia as Fundamentalism and Feminism?. Fascinating stuff, but quite irrelevant to ministry here in the UK!

Setting Words on Fire: Putting God at the Center of the Sermon (Abingdon, Nashville 2009; 293pp; ?17.99; ISBN 978 0 687 64718 7. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), by homiletics professor, Paul Scott Wilson, is primarily a textbook for students, but nonetheless has things to say to seasoned preachers too. For Wilson, teaching is ?about who God is?, whereas proclamation ?introduces people to God.  Like a sacrament, it offers God to the people.  Acts of proclamation speak the heart of the gospel to listeners in loving, passionate, infections ways such that in and through them they encounter God, who meets them not as ideas, but in the Spirit as a person who loves them and empowers them to be disciples?. This is heart-warming passionate stuff, which draws upon examples from the early church to the present. No reader can be anything but challenged.

Justification: God?s Plan and Paul?s Vision (SPCK, London 2009; 244pp; ?10.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06090 0), by Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham, is an impassioned (to put it mildly) defence of the author?s understanding of justification over against John Piper, the American Baptist pastor and author. For Tom Wright the context of ?justification? is that ?God had a single plan all along through which he intended to rescue the world and the human race, and that this single plan was centred upon the call of Israel, a call which Paul saw coming to fruition in Israel?s representative, the Messiah.   Within this context of faithfulness to his covenant, ?justification? refers to ?acquittal? of the guilty, i.e. forgiveness: justification has nothing to do with transforming the guilty (by ?imputing? some moral righteousness), but rather is a declaration granting a new status.? This book is required reading for any preacher wanting to expound Paul today!

Working Without Wilting: starting well to finish strong (IVP, Nottingham 2009; 204pp; ?8.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 372 8), by Jago Wynne, a former management consultant, who spent five years as the workplace minister at all Souls, Langham Place, before studying theology at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, is an excellent ?primer? for young Christians starting out in their working careers ? as well as for those who have been at work for many years, but who have never thought how they might relate their work to their faith. The headings of the main sections are an indication of the liveliness of style: ?work is a treadmill?; ?work is a trampoline?; ?work like a trout?; ?work like a trumpet?. This is a good book for pastors to recommend to their young adults.

Under the label of SPCK Classics a number of significant books are in the process of being reissued for present-day readers.   These include:

The Disciplines of the Christian Life (SPCK, London 2009; 157pp; £8.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06713 0), by the Olympic runner Eric Liddell, written originally during the Second World War for fellow prisoners in a Japanese concentration camp, and then later published in 1985, this basic guide to the Christian life includes a day-by-day Bible reading guide.

The SevenStoreyMountain (SPCK, London 2009; 429pp; £20; ISBN 978 0 281 06170 9), by Thomas Merton, first published in the USA in 1948 and then in the UK in 1975, is an autobiographical account of the Trappist monk’s spiritual pilgrimage.

To Be A Pilgrim: A Spiritual Notebook (SPCK, London 2009; 230pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06120 4), by Basil Hume, first published in 1984, is a collection of the Cardinal’s thoughts grouped under five headings: man is a pilgrim; God the pilgrim; the pilgrim’s secrets; the pilgrim’s tasks; and the pilgrim’s end.

Celtic Parables: stories, poems and prayers (SPCK, London 2009; 137pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06174 7), by Anglican priest Robert Van de Weyer, first published in 1997, offers an introduction to the Celtic world.

The Crown and the Fire: meditations on the Cross and the life of the Spirit (SPCK, London 2009; 127pp; £8.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06117 4), by Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham, was first published in 1992 and falls in two sections: ‘The Crown of Thorns’ which consists of seven ‘words’ people spoke to Jesus on the Cross; and ‘The Fire of Love’, a series of meditations based on people’s response to the author’s claim that the Cross and the resurrection are the climax of human history.

The Cry of the Deer: Meditations on the Hymn of St Patrick (SPCK, London 2009; 176pp; £7.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06118 1), by David Adam, first published in 1987, uses a series of meditations and practical exercises to encourage Christians to develop their relationship with the living God. An excellent book to take away on retreat. 

Every pastor would benefit from buying a copy of A Book of Blessings (SPCK, London 2009; 128pp; £8.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06099 3), compiled and written by Nick Aiken and Alan Elkins. It’s a wonderful collection of blessings for the seasons of the year, as well as for special events. It also includes a section of biblical exhortations, ascriptions and doxologies. This helpful resource will enrich worship.

The Old Testament Library: Jeremiah (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville 2009; 546pp; £40.99 hardback; ISBN 978 0 664-22223 9. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), by Leslie C Allen, Old Testament Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, is the latest volume in this authoritative series of Old Testament commentaries. Although ‘heavy-weight’, this is accessible scholarship, and contains many a thought-seed for the preacher who is prepared to work at the text.

The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding Secularisation 1800-2000 (Routledge, London. 2nd edition 2009; 304pp; £19.99; ISBN 978 0 415 47134 3), by Callum Brown, Professor of Religious and Cultural History at the University of Dundee, is an examination of the demise of Britain’s core religious and moral identity. Brown accepts that there is still a future for the church, albeit only in some skeletal form with increasing commitment from a decreasing number of adherents. He accepts, too, that belief in God may well remain as a root belief of people. However, his argument is that the Christian faith no longer moulds the culture. First published in 2001, the second edition contains a 34-page ‘Postscript’ in which the author gives further consideration to “the mortality of Christian Britain”, and in doing so engages with a wide range of critics. He ends: “What I did write is that ‘the culture of Christianity has gone in the Britain of new millennium.  Britain is showing the world how religion as we have known it can die’. The emphasis here is upon ‘religion as we have known it’, and should not be taken as a statement that the rest of the world will follow Britain or that religion itself is ending. From what even my most strident critics are saying, based on the present evidence, mutation is precisely the best the Christian faith can hope for in the circumstances of British secularisation”.  Although there is room to quibble with some of his analysis, it is undeniably a most sobering read for Christians.

Prayer and Prophecy: The Essential Kenneth Leech (Darton, Longman and Todd, London 2009; 330pp; £19.95; ISBN 978 0 232 52765 0), edited by David Bunch and Angus Ritchie, brings together Leech’s key writings on theology, spirituality, and politics. Of interest to the student, but perhaps less to working ministers. The cost is certainly off-putting.

The Work of the Greeter (Judson Press, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania 2009; 126pp; $12; ISBN 978 0 8170 1540 4), by Paige Lanier Chargrois is a detailed guide to how churches can improve the way in which they welcome visitors to church. Somewhat unusually the book contains a chapter focussing on the biblical perspective of welcoming the stranger, and has another chapter on the spirituality of the greeter. This would be a useful book to lend to members of a welcome team.

The Ordinary Hero: Living the Cross and Resurrection (IVP, Nottingham 2009; 221pp; £8.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 377 3), by Tim Chester reads like a collection of popular sermons on discipleship. In more than one place the author yet again takes a swipe at churches and their ministers - I do not find this sort of thing attractive. I’m not sure who will benefit from this book.

Healing in the Church: The church’s ministry of healing and exorcism from the first to the fifth centuries (Paternoster, Milton Keynes 2009; 187pp; £19.99; ISBN 978 1 84227 623 5), by Andrew Daunton-Fear is a good piece of solid, accessible scholarship. In his introduction the author quotes John Polkinghorne: “The history of science is full of the unprecedented and unexpected. The problem of miracles is the problem of finding a wider framework in which they can find a coherent place”. In his first chapter, devoted to ‘Jesus and his contemporaries’, I was fascinated to discover that the ancient world did not abound with miracle-workers, and that the number of miracles attributed to named historical individuals in the period 200 BC-AD 200 is astonishingly small. This is not a book which will revolutionise the church’s approach to healing, but it is a book which will helpfully inform its thinking.

Transforming the World? The gospel and social responsibility (Apollos, Nottingham 2009; 288pp; £16.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 374 2), edited by Jamie A Grant and Dewi A Hughes, is a collection of 14 essays, which looks at the holistic Gospel message from the perspective of the Old and New Testaments, as well as from the perspective of theological disciplines such as social ethics, systematic theology and church history. Only the final essay seeks to ground the theme within the realities of today’s world. To my mind this is a strangely unbalanced book, which may appeal to academics, but has little of substance to say to those who are seeking to live out the Gospel! Here is the academy again failing to serve the needs of the church.

Most of the books by Michael Green, evangelist and apologist par excellence, are variations on the same theme. His latest two books are no exception. Lies! Lies! Lies! Exposing myths about the Real Jesus (IVP, Nottingham 2009; 189pp; £7.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 391 9) looks at such statements as ‘Jesus had a fling with Mary Magdalene’; ‘Jesus did not rise from the dead - there is no evidence’; and ‘Nobody thought Jesus divine until the fourth century’. I’d Like to Believe But...(IVP, Nottingham: this edition 2009; 122pp; £6.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 390 2), co-authored with Nick Spencer, and first published in 2005, uses Spencer’s research into people’s current beliefs as a springboard to answer familiar statements as ‘Christians are such hypocrites’; ‘Science has disproved Christianity’; and ‘If there is a God, why doesn’t he just send someone down’.   Although much of the two books is a rehash of material from Green’s previous books, this does not detract from the fact that both are excellent books to lend to seekers, and form a helpful resource for anybody wanting to preach a series of apologetic sermons.

First published in 1986 by Augsburg, Biblical Perspectives on Aging: God and the Elderly (Taylor and Francis Group, Abingdon, 2nd edition 2008; 199pp; £27.99; ISBN 978 0 7890 3538 7), by J Gordon Harris, a former OT Professor at the North American Baptist Seminary, contains a detailed examination of attitudes toward old age, particularly in the Old Testament, but also in the Ancient Near East and in the New Testament. The final chapter, ‘Biblical Theology and a Modern Response’, provides much food for thought. There Harris states: “The Bible and its related literature teach that aging may increase one’s potential contribution to others and to God’s work. Advanced years free the body from the restrains of hard labor and a demanding calendar. The mind thereby may be allowed to soar and focus on truth given the perspective of the mystery of death”. On the other hand, as was evidenced by Job’s older friends, “Wisdom does not arrive for anyone automatically when his or her hair turns silver... So elderly who live content with superficial answers may short-circuit their wisdom potential”. Sadly, the price will prove a real deterrent to people purchasing this book.

A Cross-ShatteredChurch: Reclaiming the theological heart of preaching (Brazos Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan 2009; 160pp; ISBN 978 1 58743 258 3.  Available in the UK through Lion Hudson ), by Stanley Hauerwas, is a collection of seventeen of the author’s sermons. No doubt fans of Hauerwas will be delighted to see these sermons in print, but I am not convinced they have much to offer with those unfamiliar to the author.

Christian Spirituality: The Classics (Routledge, London 2009; 376pp; £14.99; ISBN 978 0 415 77602 8), edited by Arthur Holder of Berkeley, California, is a helpful introduction to thirty key ‘spirituality’ texts by a wide range of scholars. The texts range from Origen’s ‘Commentary on the Song of Songs’ to  Bonhoeffer’s ‘Life Together’; from ‘The Cloud of the Unknowing’ to Merton’s ‘New Seeds of Contemplation’. The texts themselves, however, are not reproduced: this is rather a companion to the texts. 

Being Feminist, Being Christian: Essays from Academia (Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke 2006; 213pp; £47.50 hardback; ISBN 978 1 4039 7295 8), edited by Allyson Jule of the University of Glamorgan and Bettina Tate Pedersen of Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego, consists of eight scholarly essays. Probably the most accessible essay for Ministry Today readers is ‘Christian Feminist or Feminist Christian: What’s Feminism Got to Do with Evangelical Christians?’ by Bettina Tate Pedersen, a lively apologia for Christian women to be feminists!

Restoring Hope: Decent Care in the Midst of HIV/AIDS (Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke 2008; 162pp; £45 hardback; ISBN 978 0 2302 2338 7), edited by Ted Karpf and others, consists of seventeen short essays on ‘decent care’ and HIV/AIDS by doctors, theologians, as well as by men and women suffering from HIV. Decent care is defined as “holistic care that not only addresses the recipient’s needs and expectations, but also respects his or her dignity and self-worth”. With more than 33 million people living with HIV and more than 25 million deaths globally, HIV/AIDS is one of the great challenges of today. The challenge posed by this book is for religious people to care. According to one South African contributor: “Jesus Christ’s life and ministry offer us an example of how to deal with stigma. He himself bore the wounds of stigmatization on his body. His particular concern for the sick and the suffering and the way in which he dealt with those who experienced stigma and exclusion light the way for us” (Denise Ackerman).

Word Biblical Commentary: 1 Samuel (Nelson, Nashville 1983; 305pp; £29.99 hardback; ISBN 978 0 8493 0209 3), by Ralph W Klein, is currently available in the UK through Paternoster. As is customary in this series, along with technical notes and information about such matters as form, structure, and setting, there is also less technical comment and explanation. Klein’s commentary certainly enables ministers to get to the heart of the text.    

Another welcome addition to the IVP New Testament Commentary Series is 2 Peter and Jude (IVP, Nottingham 2009; 249pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 0 85111 677 8), by the late Robert Harvey and Philip Towner. Although based on solid scholarship, this is very much a commentary for pastors and preachers. This commentary is particularly good value for money.

Compact Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Hendrickson, Peabody, Massachusetts 2008; 192pp; £13.99 hardback; ISBN 978 1 59856 325 2. Distributed in UK by Alban Books of Edinburgh), revised and edited by Mark House, is based on A Pocket Lexicon to the Greek New Testament by Alexander Souter, first published in 1910. A useful tool for ministers needing help in reading the Greek New Testament, although personally I prefer the Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament (United Bible Societies 1971), prepared by Barclay Newman, which is less wordy and has a more modern feel.

A recent edition to SPCK’s ‘Library of Ministry’ is Tools for Reflective Ministry (SPCK, London 2009; 192pp; £12.99; ISBN 978 0 281 05993 5), by Paul and Penny Nash. Written not just with ministers in mind, the book gives ideas of how people in a wide range of ministry contexts (such as Sunday School teachers, small group leaders, youth workers) might become reflective practitioners. Very much a down-to-earth resource, the book abounds with practical suggestions for reflection. I was particularly struck by the very first quotation in the book: “We glance at our to-do list and will never find written there - encounter mystery; be dazzled and amazed; receive a great teaching from an unexpected source” (Drew Leder).

Inside Faith: Praying for People in Prison (Darton, Longman and Todd, revised edition 2009; 304pp; £14.95; ISBN 978 0 232 52733 9), by William Noblett, Chaplain General and Archdeacon of HM Prisons, is a revised edition of an earlier book, Prayers for People in Prison, published some 10 years ago. The author deals with every aspect of prison life, and although he focuses above all on the prisoners, both in terms of their life in prison as well as their emotions, there is also a major section on prison staff and other connected groups such as prison visitors, volunteers, and the independent monitoring board. For anybody wanting to understand our prisons today, this is a book to read.  As the title suggests, the book is laced with prayers. How precisely this book could be used within the context of a local church, I am not so sure. 

The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Acts of the Apostles (Apollos, Nottingham 2009; 790pp; £44.99 hardback; ISBN 978 1 84474 386 5), by David Peterson of MooreTheologicalCollege, Sydney, is a great commentary for preachers. Like other ‘Pillar’ commentaries, this commentary is under-girded by serious scholarship, but the text is free of the technicalities of scholarship. The lucid exposition of the text also provides pointer to application for today. All this makes the book good value for money.

The Gospel of Thomas: Original Text with Commentary (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, 2008; 281pp; £38.99; ISBN 978 3 438 05133 2), by Uwe-Karsten Plisch, originally published in German, and now available through Hendrickson in the USA and through Alban Books of Edinburgh, is a magisterial introduction and commentary on the most famous text among the manuscripts found in 1945 near the upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi. Half of the sayings in the Gospel were formerly unknown; the other half have parallels in the New Testament Gospels. Somewhat unusually for this kind of work, it does not assume knowledge of the classical languages, and therefore makes scholarship accessible to all. A fascinating book - but not of great relevance to ministry!

The Unquenchable Flame: Introducing the Reformation (IVP, Nottingham 2009; 192pp; £8.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 385 8|), by Michael Reeves, Theological Advisor for the UCCF, is a lively read. All the more regrettable is the fact that the author makes the typical Anglican mistake of confusing adult baptism with believers’ baptism - it was the latter, and not the former, which was of concern to the Anabaptists! In his final chapter the author argues that in spite of the coming together of many evangelicals and Roman Catholics, the Reformation is not over - the doctrine of justification still divides us.

Reader Ministry Explored: SPCK Library of Ministry (SPCK, London 2009; 160pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 0 281 05981 2), by Cathy Rowling and Paula Gooder, is a most helpful guide for all those involved in the work of a Church of England Reader. Currently the Church of England has around 27,000 licensed ministers: 9000 are paid clergy; 2000 are non-stipendiary ministers; 5000 are active retired clergy; 1100 are chaplains; and more than 10,000 are Readers - without the help of Readers, Sunday by Sunday worship would be difficult to maintain in many places.

Signposts: a devotional map of the Psalms (IVP, Nottingham 2009. No page numbers; £9.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 373 5), by Derek Tidball, is a simple guide to each of the psalms. The structure of each psalm is briefly analysed and then followed by a thoughtful ‘signpost’. The use of this book would enhance any ‘quiet time’.

Transformation after Lausanne: Radical Evangelical Mission in Global-Local Perspective (Regnum Books in association with Paternoster, Milton Keynes 2008; 281pp; £24.99; ISBN 978 1 870345 68 2), by Al Tizon, a Filipino-American, a former pastor and now a professor of holistic ministry, traces the development of the understanding of mission by evangelicals: whereas before the Lausanne conference in 1974 most evangelical leaders would have defined mission almost exclusively in terms of evangelism, today more and evangelicals accept that mission includes both evangelism and social action.  Somewhat unusually this book looks at this development not just from a global perspective, but also within a Filipino context.

A Shelter In The Time of Trouble: Meditations on God and Trouble (IVP, Nottingham 2009; 159pp; £7.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 376 6), by Paul Tripp, consists of a series of 52  meditations on Psalm 27. With each meditation ending with two things to think about, this is an unusual devotional tool.  Personally, I found it somewhat limiting.

New International Biblical Commentary: Ezekiel (Hendrickson and Paternoster, 2009; 368pp; £12.99; ISBN 978 1 85364 736 9), by Steven Tuell, is a good commentary for preachers to buy.  As is the custom with this series, the very readable commentary is accompanied by detailed notes.

Religions In the Modern world: Traditions and Transformations (Routledge, London 2nd edition 2009; 549pp; £24.99; ISBN 978 0 415 45891 7), edited by Linda Woodhead, Hiroko Kawanami and Christopher Partridge, all members of the Religious Studies Department at Lancaster University, first published in 2001, is an attractive guide to the study of religion, and not just to world religions. In the new edition not only has every chapter been updated, but there are also seven new chapters on ‘How to study religion in the modern world’; ‘Spirituality’; ‘Paganism’; ‘New Religious Movements’; ‘Religion and violence’; ‘Religion and popular culture’; and ‘Secularism and secularization’.  Of interest is the final sentence in the final article: “The long-established idea that there is a necessary connection between modernization and secularization is increasingly challenged not only by fresh evidence, but by new and different ways of looking at the world which do not assume that Europe offers the only possible model of modernity and modernization”.

Tom Wright is producing a series of For Everyone Bible Study Guides, all by published by SPCK of London at £4.99, to accompany his excellent For Everyone New Testament commentaries. The guides which have been published so far include Mark (2009; 108pp; ISBN 978 0 281 06178 5), divided with the help Lin Johnson into 20 studies; Romans (2009; 95pp; ISBN 978 0 281 06180 0), divided with the help of Patty Bell into 18 studies; Colossians and Philemon (2009; 62pp; ISBN 978 0 281 061750 4), divided with the help of Dale and Sandy Lansen into eight studies; and 1 and 2 Thessalonians (2009; 64pp; ISBN 978 0 281 06181 5), divided with the help of Patty Bell into eight studies. These Bible study guides will be an excellent resource for small group leaders, especially when they are used in conjunction with the relevant commentary.


Recent publications from Grove Cambridge, all 28pp in length and costing ?3.50, include:

The theological ethics of Stanley Hauerwas: a very concise introduction (Ethics 152, 2009; ISBN 978 1 85174 709 2), by RE teacher Mark Coffey, whets the appetite of the reader to know more of Hauerwas? vision of the church as ?a disciplined community of character?.

The Healing Ministry of St Paul: practical principles for today (Renewal 35, 2009; ISBN 978 1 85174 710 8), by Assemblies of God minister, Peter Cavanna, argues that in some ways the healing ministry of Paul is more relevant to the church today than the healing ministry of Jesus, for ?the apostle Paul faced the challenge, as healing ministries will today, of working divine works while not being divine?.

Telling our Faith Story (Evangelism 85, 2009; ISBN 978 1 85174 711 5), by  Janice Price, sets out a course designed to help and encourage Christians to speak about their experiences of faith with both confidence and humility, and is a useful resource for small groups.  

Recovering the Lord?s Song: getting sung Scripture back into worship (Worship 198, 2009; ISBN 978 1 85174 713 9), by Anne Harrison, North of England Co-ordinator for the Royal School of Church Music, explores a wide range of ways in which the Psalms can be sung, whether in Taize style, as chants, as responses, or in metrical paraphrases ? fine in an Anglican setting, but sadly doomed to failure in churches of a more contemporary worship bent.

Mission-shaped Hermit: Thomas Merton, mission and spirituality (Spirituality 108, 2009; ISBN 978 1 85174 712 2), by Anglican priest Keith James, argues that churches which are focused on mission need resourcing from the Christian monastic movement, and not least by Thomas Merton ? I remain to be convinced! 

How the New Testament came together (Biblical 51, 2009; ISBN 978 1 85174 714 6), by Peter Head of Tyndale House, Cambridge, would form an excellent basis for a seminar on how the 27 books which make up the New Testament came to be regarded by Christians as Holy Scripture.

Telling ourselves in ink: creative writing in the church (Pastoral 117, 2009; ISBN 978 1 85174 715 3), by Anglican vicar Corin Child, sets out to show how churches might use creative writing ?as a genuinely Christian pursuit which can encompass meditation, prayer, fellowship, worship and even mission?.

My Friend Imran: Christian-Muslim Friendship (Youth 14, 2009; ISBN 978 1 85174 716 0) seeks to equip Christian teenagers to build positive relationships with their Muslim peers.

How To... Share the Leadership of Worship (Worship 199, 2009; ISBN 978 1 85174 717 7), by Trevor Lloyd and Anna de Lange, which includes some very basic advice to churches which want to move away from a priest-led church - it has an incredibly old-fashioned feel! 

How To Develop Vision In The LocalChurch (Renewal 36, 2009; ISBN 978 1 85174 719 1), by Mark Tanner, who provides a case study for change in his church at Ripon.

One Flesh: A Christian View of Sex Within, Outside and Before Marriage (Ethics 153, 2009; ISBN 978 1 85174 718 4), by Paul Ramsey, was first published in 1965 as an article in the Journal of Religion under the title ‘A Christian Approach to the Questions of Sexual Relations Outside of Marriage’ - with no reference to the almost standard practice today of cohabitation, this has a somewhat dated feel.

Cynicism (Spirituality 109, 2009; ISBN 978 1 85174 721 4), by John Leach, is a real spiritual tonic: the author argues that cynicism is a cancer of the clergy, which eats away faith, and which debilitates churches and their leaders - this booklet deserves to be read by every reader of Ministry Today.

Transforming Preaching: Communicating God’s Word in a Postmodern World (Evangelism 86, 2009; ISBN 978 1 85174 720 7), by Johnny Baker, has some interesting suggestions for alternative ways of preaching, but is far too negative in its assessment of traditional preaching - in my experience people continue to be blessed by ‘bread and butter’ preaching!

Paul Beasley-Murray

Senior Minister of Central Baptist Church, Chelmsford<br>and Chair of Ministry Today

Alun Brookfield

Editor of Ministry Today

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You are reading Short Notes by Paul Beasley-Murray and Alun Brookfield, part of Issue 46 of Ministry Today, published in July 2009.

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