Search our archive:

« Back to Issue 60

Short Notes

Reviewed by Paul Beasley-Murray.

50 Great Myths About Atheism (Wiley Blackwell, Oxford 2013; 74pp; £14.99; ISBN 978 0 470 67405 5), by philosophers Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk, is a serious defence of atheism written in a humorous vein. Myths examined include ‘Atheists don’t give to charity’; ‘Atheists are intolerant’; ‘Atheists don’t understand the nature of faith’; ‘Atheism is doomed in a Postsecular Age’. Christian preachers engaging in homiletics will need to grapple with the claims of this book!

Saying Goodbye: Resources for funerals, scattering ashes and remembering (Wild Goose Publications, Glasgow, 2013; 221pp; ISBN 978 1 84952 274 8), edited by Ruth Burgess, is designed for anybody planning a funeral. The section on ‘funerals of babies and children’ is particularly useful.

Worship and Ministry: Shaped towards God (Mosaic Press, Preston, Victoria, Australia 2012; 240pp; £24.99; ISBN 978 1 74324 141 7. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), by Anglican Stephen Burns, consists of twelve essays on various aspects of worship. Although possibly of interest to some Anglicans, frankly the essays seem esoteric and irrelevant to those of us in non-liturgical churches.

Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation (Hendrickson, Peabody, Massachusetts 2013; 240pp; £16.99; ISBN 978 1 59856 888 2), edited by J Daryl Charles, with contributions from Richard Averbeck, Todd Beall, C John Collins, Jud Davis, Victor P Hamilton, Tremper Longman III, Kenneth J Turner, and John Walton, makes for fascinating reading, as these scholars present their arguments and address their disagreements.

Paul, Apostle of Weakness: Astheneia and its cognates in the Pauline literature (Pickwick Publications, Eugene, Oregon, 2012; 193pp; $24; ISBN 978 1 61097 603 9), by David Alan Black, is a revised edition of an earlier PhD thesis, in which the author carefully examines every occurrence of asthenia and its cognates in Paul’s writings. The author concludes: “For Paul, weakness is the greatest sign of apostleship because it identifies him in a plain way with his crucified Master. Through weakness, the power of the resurrection finds its fullest expression in the apostles, in the apostolic mission, and in the communities he founded”. A challenging conclusion!

1 John: The Epistle as a Relecture of the Gospel of John (Mosaic Resources, Preston, Victoria, Australia, 2013; 230pp; £29.99; ISBN 978 1 74324 015 1. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), by Malcolm Coombes, sets out to show how the author of 1 John takes motifs and themes of John and relates them to a new historical situation involving conflict in the church. Based on an earlier PhD thesis, this is a very technical work, from which sadly most pastors would find it difficult to profit. 

Why Sacraments? (SPCK, London 2013; 186pp; £12.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06392 5), by Andrew Davison, Tutor in Doctrine at Westcott House, Cambridge, is a lively introduction to the sacraments for Anglican ministerial students. However, the claim of the publishers that this is a guide for Christians of all traditions is sadly not borne out. The section on baptism, for instance, fails to engage with the arguments for believers’ baptism. Indeed, somewhat crassly the author states that “only with the growth of Pentecostalism has an insistence on ‘believer’s baptism’ become a numerically significant Protestant position”, ignoring the fact that for centuries Baptists, who now are a faith community of some 60 million people, have advocated believer’s baptism on the basis of the New Testament.

Creating the Future of the Church: a practical guide to addressing whole-system change (SPCK, London 2013; 128pp; £10.99; ISBN 978 0 281 07077 0), by management consultant Keith Elford, offers an organisational model, where creating the future is balanced with nurturing identity and managing the present. Among other things, the book emphasises the key role that leaders have to play. The church in question is very much the Church of England, which will make the book of less interest to non-Anglicans.

First published in 2005, The Modern Theologians: An Introduction to Christian Theology (Blackwell, Oxford 3rd edition, 2013 reprint; 819pp; £24.99; ISBN 978 1 4051 0277 3), edited by David Ford with Rachel Muers, is clearly proving a popular student textbook. This latest reprint is significantly not as bulky than previous volumes – the paper is thinner and of better quality. A companion to The Modern Theologians, is The Modern Theologians Reader (Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford 2012; 450pp; £38.23; ISBN 978 1 4051 7110 6), edited by David F Ford, Mike Higton and Simeon Zahl. With its selection of key readings of major theological topics, this too will be most useful for students.

The Dating Dilemma: A Romance Revolution (IVP, Nottingham 2013; 220pp; £8.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 623 1), by Rachel Gardner and Andre Adefope, is a great pastoral resource to recommend to young people wanting to explore God’s guidelines for romance. This very practical book does not evade the difficult questions!

Psalms for Everyone: Part I Psalms 1–72 (SPCK, London 2013; 236pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06133 4), by John Goldingay, now of Fuller Theological Seminary, is yet another contribution to the author’s popular commentary on the Old Testament. Both anecdotal and theological, it offers a great stimulus to personal devotion.

Life and Loss: A guide to help grieving children (Routledge, London, 3rd edition 2013; 264pp; £21.99; ISBN 978 0 415 63080 1), by Linda Goldman, is a wide ranging exploration of the impact of death on children. Amongst the many aspects examined, there are sections on children and divorce, children and adoption. I appreciated too the section on ‘children’s questions and techniques for answering them’. Although not written from a religious perspective, nonetheless there is much from which ministers could benefit.

Echoing the Word: the Bible in the Eucharist (SPCK, London 2013; 128pp; £10.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06913 2), by Paula Gooder and Michael Perham, is a thoughtful guide to the eucharistic Texts of Common Worship, Order One. Inevitably it is therefore of limited interest to non-Anglicans.

Being Human: Groundwork for a theological anthropology for the 21st century (Mosaic Press, Preston, Victoria, Australia 2013; 345pp; £25.99; ISBN 978 1 74324 040 3. Available from Alban Books of Edinburgh), edited by David G Kirchhoffer with Robyn Horner and Patrick McArdale, consists of some 20 scholarly essays on what it means to be human today. Hard-going, and of little relevance to working ministers!

Sunday Soundings: Sermons from a Jesuit’s ministry (Mosaic Press, Preston, Victoria 2013; 224pp; £18.99; ISBN 978 1 74324 038 0. Available in the UK from Alban Books of Edinburgh), by Adrian Lyons, will probably appeal most to fellow-Australians.

Published by Hendrickson of Peabody, Massachusetts, in ‘The Preacher’s Toolbox Series’, Preaching the Four Gospels with Confidence (2013; 181pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 1 59856-702-1) and Preaching the Hard Words of Jesus (2013.  179pp: £9.99.  ISBN 978 1 61970 101 4), by Steven Matthewson, a pastor and seminary teacher, are two excellent volumes. Here conservative scholarship and pastoral relevance are helpfully combined. Both are great preaching resources, and the relatively low price makes them easily affordable for any preacher. Both books are available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh.

The Transforming Trinity: rediscovering the heart of our faith (IVP, Nottingham 2013, published in association with Keswick Ministries; 73pp; £4.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 906 5), by Elizabeth McQuoid, contains seven studies on the Trinity, for use by individuals and by small groups. Thematic in nature, the studies roam the Scriptures, rather than focus on particular passages. 

Haphazard By Starlight: A poem a day from Advent to Epiphany (SPCK, London 2013; 145pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 0 281 07062 6), by Janet Morley, contains a delightful selection of poems, each of which is followed by a thoughtful biblical reflection. A most unusual devotional resource.

Was the Birth of Jesus according to Scripture? (SPCK, London 2013; 117pp; £11.99; ISBN 978 0 281 07106 7), by Stephen Moyise, NT professor at the University of Chichester, is a fascinating and discerning survey of the way in which the infancy narratives have been interpreted by liberals and conservatives alike. This is a book for ministers to read before they prepare yet another round of Christmas sermons!

Discernment: reading the signs of life (SPCK, London 2013; 223pp; £12.99), by Henri Nouwen, is a selection of Nouwen’s writings on discernment brought together by Michael J Christensen and Rebecca J Laird. It is the final volume in a trilogy of Nouwen titles published by SPCK: Spiritual Direction and Spiritual Formation were the two earlier volumes. A book perhaps to savour on retreat.

First published in 2004, Readings for Weddings (SPCK, London 2nd edition 2013; 143pp; £10.99; ISBN 978 0 281 07095 4), compiled by Mark Oakley, currently Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, contains Bible readings, poems and reflections, and hymns. A great resource for couples preparing for marriage!

Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality (Guilford Press, London and New York, 2nd edition 2013; 698pp; £63.99 hardback; ISBN 978 1 4625 1006 1), edited by Raymond F Paloutzian and Crystal L Park, is wide-ranging and extraordinarily comprehensive. Leading scholars from multiple sub-disciplines present developmental, cognitive, social, psychological, cultural and clinical perspectives. Although ministers may well benefit from dipping into some of the essays, this is not a book for the generalist. Rather it is an academic work, which undoubtedly will become a definitive reference book.

Visions in the Night: hearing God in your dreams (SPCK, London 2013; 147pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 0 281 07083 1), by Russ Parker of the Acorn Christian Healing Foundation, was first published in 2002 as Dream Stories by BRF. Focussing on 16 dreams found within the Bible, ranging from Pharaoh to Solomon, from Joseph to Ananias, this is a great resource for preachers.

School Chaplaincy: an introduction (Mosaic Press, Preston, Victoria, Australia 2013; 80pp; £13.99; ISBN 978 1 74324 053 3. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), by David Pohlman, is a useful introduction to school chaplaincy from an Australian perspective. It is a book to recommend also to youth ministers and youth workers.

The Church, Then and Now (Pickwick Publications, Eugene, Oregon 2012; 259pp; $24; ISBN 978 1 61097 921 4), edited by Stanley E Porter and Cynthia Long Westfall, consists of eight papers given at a 2008 colloquium at McMaster University. The first two papers deal with the church in the New Testament; then papers on the church and the synagogue, and a survey of places where the church was wiped out. The final four papers deal with the church today – including an interesting paper on possibilities offered to the local church by post-modernism with its emphasis on relationships, and a paper on the future of the megachurch in Canada.

The Future of Biblical Interpretation: Responsible Plurality in Biblical Hermeneutics (Paternoster, Milton Keynes, 2013; 162pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 1 84227 788 1), edited by Stanley E Porter & Matthew R Malcolm,  consists of a series of scholarly essays in honour of Anthony Thiselton, who himself contributes the first essay after which the book is named. More for students and scholars, this book is unlikely to appeal to many readers of Ministry Today!

First published in 1996, Faith in Dark Places (SPCK, London, 2nd edition 2013; 134pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 0 281 07041 1), by David Rhodes, consists of a series of radical reflections on the gospel and the inner city. His very first reflection contains these sobering words: “In all the suffering and heartache of an unjust world, there has been a conspiracy of silence – by the Church, and by a lot of other people. They have used the excuse of neutrality to walk by on the other wide”.

Who Do People Say I am? Rewriting Gospel in Emerging Christianity (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids 2013; 259pp; $25; ISBN 978 0 8028 6839 8), by Vernon K Robbins, explores the ways in which second and third century Christians - not least through the additional Gospels – explained their understanding of Jesus. Every chapter is followed by a series of ‘learning activities’ to help follow through the implications of these understandings. An unusual book!

First published in 2008, The Day Is Yours: Slow Spirituality in Fast-Moving World (Paternoster, Milton Keynes 2013; 158pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 1 84227 600 6), by Ian Stackhouse of Millmead, Guildford, and previously reviewed in Ministry Today, is a provocative book on keeping the Sabbath. A good read for pastors!

Rhythms of Remembering: An everyday office book (SPCK, London 2013; 179pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 0 281 07079 4), by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, contains four short ‘offices’ or acts of worship for every day of the week. Helpfully all four ‘offices’ are complete – there is no need for a Bible or for hunting round for things in other parts of the week. As well as an ‘ordinary’ week, there are four other weeks intended for the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter. For those who have become a little ‘tired’ of other prayer books, this certainly offers some fresh words to further personal devotion.

Loss and Discovery: responding to grief with the compassion of Christ and the skills of all God’s people (Mosaic Press, Preston, Victoria, Australia, 2013; 205pp; £21.99; ISBN 978 1 74324 064 9. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), edited by Margaret Wesley, Chair of the Christian Care Network of Australasia, consists of 19 wide-ranging and accessible essays on topics such as ‘grief in a Biblical Pastoral Theology’; ‘sexual abuse, grief, and the birth of TAMAR’; and ‘trauma and loss: a social work perspective’. I particularly appreciated the essays on ‘dealing with grief in a world of denial’ by Paul Arnott.

Published in the ‘SPCK Library of Ministry’, Facilitation Skills for Ministry (SPCK, London 2013; 160pp; £12.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06877 7), by Jo Whitehead and Simon Sutcliffe, explores the way in which ministers can empower and engage their people in ministry. Sadly the models they depict are more relevant to those leading smaller churches say with no more than 125 members, than to those leading larger and more complex churches.

A Faithful Guide to Philosophy: a Christian introduction to the love of wisdom (Paternoster, Milton Keynes 2013; 439pp; £13.99; ISBN 978 1 84227 811 6), by Peter Williams of the Damaris Trust, is written from a distinctively Christian perspective and will no doubt prove to be a most useful student textbook. Somewhat unusually, the resources for further study include not just books and published articles, but also videos and audios and a host of other online material. The style is clear and cogent. Preachers engaging in a series of Christian apologetics will particularly appreciate the lively presentation of some arguments for God. Furthermore, the price makes this book particularly good value for money!

Immense, Unfathomed, Unconfined: The grace of God in creation, church, and community (Mosaic Resources, Preston, Victoria 2013; 378pp; £27.99; ISBN 978 1 74324 046 5. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), edited by Sean Winter, consists of a collection of essays in honour of theologian Norman Young. Topics covered include Pauline perspectives on grace, the theme of grace in Wesleyan hymnody, and grace in the theology of Barth, Rahner and de Lubac.

Journeying with Matthew: Lectionary Year A (SPCK, London 2013; 107pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 0 281 05903 4), by James Woodward, Paula Gooder and Mark Pryce, is a helpful resource not just for preachers, but also for home groups. It contains not just reflections, but suggestions for action and prayer.

IVP have re-published three books by John Stott: ‘But I say to you…’ (Nottingham, 2013; 221pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 902 7), first published under the title of Christ the Controversialist in 1970; The Radical Disciple (Nottingham 2013; 144pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 907 2), first published in 2010; and the classic Basic Christianity (Nottingham 2013; 192pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 1 84474-908-9), first published in 1958. All of three welcome re-prints are useful resources for any pastor.

Rites of Ordination: Their History and Theology (SPCK, London 2014; 218pp; £19.99; ISBN 978 0 281 07157 9), by Paul F Bradshaw, is a magisterial overview of ministry in the New Testament and its development of ministry over the centuries. My one quibble is that the focus is almost entirely on the more liturgical churches – and appears to show no knowledge of the debates on ordination in the Free Churches.

Corporate Decision-Making in the Church of the New Testament (Pickwick, Eugene, Oregon 2013; 222pp; $26; ISBN 978 1 623032 10 3), by Jeff Brown, a pastor who is also a scholar, is a detailed exegetical examination of decision-making processes as found in Acts and 1 and 2 Corinthians. Although the author recognises that not all group decisions of churches involved the whole church, nonetheless what we today call the congregational form of church government was normative in New Testament times. With reference to the church at Jerusalem, he notes that the size of a church was not an issue in determining whether a church could make a corporate decision. This book repays careful study!

First published in 2011, now in paperback, Secularization: In defence of an unfashionable theory (Oxford University Press, 2013; 243pp; £16.99; ISBN 978 0 19 965412 3), by Steve Bruce, is a work of social science, and yet manages to be a lively and challenging read for non-technical readers such as ministers. By contrast another work of social science, also first published in 2011, and now available as a paperback, Believing in Belonging: Belief and social identity in the modern world (Oxford University Press, 2013; 230pp; £25; ISBN 978 0 19 967355 1), is much more technical and therefore  harder going. What both books make clear is the immense challenge the church of Christ faces in the UK.

Published as part of the Kregel Exegetical Library, A Commentary on Judges and Ruth (Kregel, Grand Rapids, Michigan 2013; 697pp; £23.99 hardback; ISBN 978 0 8254 2556 1), by Robert B Chisholm of Dallas Theological Seminary, is to be welcomed, since it combines good conservative scholarship with application. Every section ends with ideas for preaching.

The Study of Liturgy and Worship (SPCK, London 2013; 256pp; £25; ISBN 978 0 281 06909 5), by Juliette Day and Benjamin Gordon-Taylor, is an excellent introduction to the study of liturgy and worship within Anglicanism in particular. It consists of 22 essays, most of which are written by Anglicans, and sadly with only one contribution by a Nonconformist and even there the focus is on ecumenism.

First published in hardback in 2011, The Blackwell Companion to Jesus (Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford 2014; 556pp; £29.99; ISBN 978 1 118 72410 1), edited by Delbert Burkett, has now been issued in paper-back. The ‘companion’ is made up of 31 wide-ranging scholarly essays which deal not just with Jesus in the New Testament, but also Jesus in Art, Fiction, and Film.  It is a fascinating and highly instructive volume.

Law and the Bible: Justice, Mercy & Legal Institutions (Apollos, Nottingham 2013; 269pp; £16.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 923 2), edited by Robert F Cochran and David VanDrunen, consists of nine essays, each co-written by a lawyer and a theologian, examining the place of law in Scripture. What difference such a volume would make to Christian lawyers is probably questionable.

Eros and the Christ: Longing and Envy in Paul’s Christology (Fortress Press, Minneapolis 2013; 181pp; £29.99 hardback; ISBN 978 0 8006 9823 2), by David E Fredrickson, is an in-depth scholarly study of Philippians through the lens of love and longing as expressed within classical literature. 

The warmest of welcomes to the second edition of the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (IVP, 2nd edition Nottingham 2013; 1087pp; £44.95 hardback; ISBN 978 1 84474 876 1), edited by Joel B Green. First published in 1992, this volume has been updated and well and truly lives up to its cover blurb, ‘A compendium of biblical scholarship’. An essential tool for theological students, this key reference work is a treasure trove for working ministers too.

All Things To All Cultures: Paul Among Jews, Greeks and Romans (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids 2013; 406pp; £32.99; ISBN 978 0 8028 6643 1), edited by Mark Harding and Alanna Nobbs, contains 14 essays by Australian scholars which seek to set Paul in his first-century context. Its overview of developments in Pauline scholarship mean that this book could act as a ‘refresher’ course for ministers on sabbatical!

John, Jesus, and the Renewal of Israel (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids 2013; 201pp; £12.99; ISBN 978 0 8028 6872 5. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), by Richard Horsley and Tom Thatcher, offers a new reading of the Gospel of John. The authors argue that the Gospel of John portrays Jesus engaged in a renewal of the people of Israel against the rulers of Israel, both the Jerusalem authorities and the Romans who placed them in power. This controversial approach certainly proves stimulating, if not convincing.

Real God in the Real World: Advent and Christmas readings on the coming of Christ (BRF, Abingdon 2013; 159pp; £7.99; ISBN 978 0 85746 265 7), by Trystan Owain Hughes, the Anglican Chaplain of Cardiff University, contains lively reflections on Scripture for all of Advent and up to Epiphany. A useful Advent resource.  

The Question of Canon: Challenging the status quo in the New Testament debate (Apollos, Nottingham 2013; 256pp; £14.99; ISBN 978 1 78359 004 9), by Michael Kruger, provides a well-written over-view of current scholarship, and in the course answers such questions as ‘Were early Christians averse to written documents?’; ‘Were the New Testament authors unaware of their own authority?’; and ‘Were the New Testament books first regarded as Scripture at the end of the second century?’. The author concludes: “The canon was like a seedling sprouting from the soil of early Christianity – although it was not fully a tree until the fourth century, it was there, in nuce, from the beginning”.

Hearing the Call: Stories of Young Vocation (SPCK, London 2014; 118pp; £9.99), by Jonathan Lawson and Gordon Mursell, contains a series of fascinating explorations of eight key Scripture passages. The sub-titles of some of the chapter headings give a flavour of the approach adopted. For instance, the chapter dealing with Jeremiah’s call is sub-titled ‘Am I up to this? People like me don’t get ordained’; while the chapter on Isaiah’s call is subtitled ‘In a culture of success, driven by targets, we sometimes forget that some of the acclaimed leaders of the Church were, in practical terms at least, complete failures’. Although my own model of ministry differs in a number of respects from the two authors, nonetheless this book will be of great interest to anybody considering a call to ministry.

The Message of the Person of Christ (IVP, Nottingham 2013; 261pp; £11.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 926 3), by Robert Letham of the Wales Evangelical School of Theology, is yet another welcome addition to the Bible Themes series of The Bible Speaks Today. This volume consists of helpful exposition of 26 Scripture passages, grouped around the topics of Christ promised, Christ incarnate, Christ crucified, Christ risen, and Christ ascended. This is a book for preachers!

Making Sense of Sex: Attitudes toward Sexuality in Early Jewish and Christian Literature (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2013; 168pp; $24; ISBN 978 0 8028 7095 7), by William Loader, is a distillation of the author’s earlier five-volume study. Not surprisingly, Loader has been likened the ‘Kinsey’ of biblical sexuality. This is a clear and authoritative guide.

The Blackwell Companion to the Problem of Evil (Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford 2013; 512pp; £120; ISBN 978 0 470 67184 9), edited by Justin P McBrayer and Daniel Howard-Snyder, is a wonderful collection of essays summarizing the current scholarly debate on the problem of evil. This is accessible scholarship, providing much food for thought. Alas, the cost of the book puts it outside the reach of working ministers, but it is a magnificent work of reference for libraries.

The Secret Christmas: An anthology of the hidden joy of Christmas (Darton, Longman and Todd, London 2013; 141pp; £12.99 hardback; ISBN 978 0 232 53023 0), edited by Terence Handley MacMath, will keep for another Christmas. Some of the pieces are familiar, others are not. I was struck, for instance, by a contribution from Mark Oakley: “It is telling that most people seem to think that happiness lies in what we have, whether that be a Porsche or a loving family. Not a great deal of opinion has been voiced yet about whether it might, instead, be linked to who we are, and what we have become, and how we are resourced internally as human beings”.

First published in 1989, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (SPCK, London 2014; 252pp; £16.99; ISBN 978 0 281 07163 0), by Lesslie Newbigin, has been deservedly reprinted in the SPCK ‘Classics’ series. It is a welcome positive affirmation of the Christian faith so sorely needed in today’s post-modern society, where truth tends to be relative.

First published in Swedish, A Commentary on the Letters of John (Pickwick, Eugene, Oregon 2013; 365pp; £?  ISBN 978 1 60899 774 9), by Birger Olsson, proceeds on the hypothesis that those who are referred to as antichrists and false prophets are Jews who have abandoned their faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. Strong on exegesis, there is no application to today’s world.

This translation of Origen’s On First Principles (Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, Indiana 2013; 493pp; £16.99; ISBN 978 0 87061 279 4. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), translated by GW Butterworth, first saw the light of day in 1936. As the first attempt at a systematic Christian theology, it is of interest, but more to scholars than working ministers.

One Year to Better Preaching: 52 exercises to hone your preaching skills (Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids 2013; 319pp; £11.99; ISBN 978 0 82545 391 0. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), by Daniel Overdorf, a professor of preaching in Tennessee, is not a book to read at one sitting. Indeed, even to read one chapter a week could prove demanding. The merit of the book is that it encourages preachers to continue to work at developing their skills.

A Psychiatrist Screams (Darton, Longman and Todd, London 2013; 310pp; £7.99; ISBN 978 0 232 53020 9), by Simon Parkes, an Anglican minister, is a mystery thriller where the hero is Abbot Peter. Free of bad language and innuendo, this was a most enjoyable read!

Kingdom Come: Looking Forward to Jesus’ Return (IVP, Nottingham 2013; 139pp; £7.99; ISBN 978 1 78359 022 3), by Philip Ryken, consists of a series of addresses given to students at Wheaton College during the academic year 2011-2012.     

Ten: Why Christianity makes sense (SPCK, London 2014; 148pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06764 0), by John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, is a delightful collection of musings on such different topics as ‘ten things I believe about God’, ‘ten things I don’t believe about God’. ‘ten reasons to believe in God’, ten commandments for today’, ten ways to pray’ and ‘ten ways to enliven your faith’.  It would be a good book to read and study together with one’s deacons, elders, or PCC!

Paul and Patronage: the Dynamics of Power in 1 Corinthians (Pickwick, Eugene, Oregon 2013; 196pp; $23; ISBN 978 1 62032 557 5), by Joshua Rice, is a somewhat technical scholarly dissertation on models of patronage. It concludes that Paul was “the consummate patron-benefactor-broker… who requires the Corinthians to unite under his leadership”.

Stirred By A Noble Theme: The book of Psalms in the life of the church (Apollos, Nottingham 2013; 301pp; £14.99; ISBN 978 1 785359 01 7), edited by Andrew G Shead, arose out of the 2012 Moore College (Sydney) School of Theology. It consists of 12 essays divided into two main parts: (1) Reading the Psalms as Christian Scripture; and (2) The Psalms in the life of the church. Scholarly, yet accessible, this book would repay careful study on a reading week.

One of the latest revisions of the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries series is Leviticus (IVP, Nottingham 2013; 336pp; £11.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 927 0), by Jay Sklar. This is a good example of conservative scholarship. His introductory section on ‘Which laws of Leviticus apply today, and how do they apply’ is of particular interest.

First published in 2003, Why I am a Christian (IVP, Nottingham 2013; 149pp; £8.99; ISBN 978 1 78359 083 4), by John Stott has yet again been reprinted – and deservedly so. This is a good book to lend to any ‘seeker’. Another John Stott reprint is Balanced Christianity (IVP, Nottingham 2014; 108pp; £6.99; ISBN 978 1 78359 087 2) – a great little book reflecting on the balance between such things as intellect and emotion, form and freedom, and evangelism and social action. It differs from the original edition, not just in size of print (this edition seems to assume that its readers have difficulty in reading small print!), but also in the addition of a lengthy interview with the author. Sadly the third book in this Stott series is distinctly unsatisfying: Challenges of Christian Leadership (IVP, Nottingham 2014; 87pp; £6.99; ISBN 978 1 78359 088 9) consists of four talks given by John Stott in 1985 to an International Fellowship of Evangelical Students’ staff conference in Ecuador. It is irritating to read a series of talks which have not been properly edited for publication – it lacks the ‘tightness’ of form which one associates with the author. The final chapter of the book is devoted to reflections on John Stott by two ‘Timothys’ – a form of evangelical hagiography!

Recent booklets from Grove of Cambridge, all 28pp and priced at £3.95, include:

Healthy Leaders and Healthy Churches (Leadership 13, 2013; ISBN 978 1 85174 871 6), by Roger Matthews, who heads the training team of the Chelmsford Anglican Diocese. This abounds in quotable quotes, models and insights, but reflects wide reading rather than the actual practice of leading a church.  

Mosaic Evangelism: sharing Jesus with a multi-faceted society (Evangelism 102, 2013; ISBN 978 1 85174 866 2), by Roger Standing, the Principal of Spurgeon’s College, essentially makes the point that we need to encourage and facilitate a wide range of evangelistic encounter – ‘We must dispel the myth that if we are doing Alpha then we have evangelism covered and we can sit back’! The point is also made that, in our constantly changing world, fruitful initiatives and patterns of ministry and outreach are unlikely to have a long shelf-life – therefore we need to be prepared to be constantly re-skilling and re-equipping both ourselves and our people. A good booklet to lend to lay leaders!

Paul Beasley-Murray

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

Ministry Today

You are reading Issue 60 of Ministry Today, published in April 2014.

Who Are We?

Ministry Today aims to provide a supportive resource for all in Christian leadership so that they may survive, grow, develop and become more effective in the ministry to which Christ has called them.

Around the Site

© Ministry Today 2020