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Short Notes

Reviewed by Paul Beasley-Murray and Alun Brookfield.

I can’t believe anyone in the 21st century would dare to write a book entitled The Pastor’s Wife (IVP, Nottingham, 2015; 156pp; £7.99; ISBN 978 1 78359 277 7), but Gloria Furman has done so. She and her husband serve a congregation in Dubai, which might explain why it’s so necessary for them to define the role, but most women married to clergy, including my own, are pretty good at defining their identity without reference to their husband’s job! My wife simply snorted with derision!

In Worship with Gladness: Understanding Worship from the Heart (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids 2014; 180pp; £11.99; ISBN 978 0 80286984 5), Joyce Ann Zimmerman reminds us that worship is not just about words and music – it’s about who God is and who we are in his presence. An excellent and challenging read for worship leaders of all traditions who are seeking to enhance, deepen and strengthen the integrity of worship.

It does us no harm to be reminded that we worship a God who is present and actually listens to our worship. The God We Worship (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids 2015; 191pp; £12.99; ISBN 978 0 8028 7249 4), by Nicholas Wolterstorff, does just that, through a careful and thoughtful exploration of liturgical worship. Leaders of non-liturgical worship would also benefit from this book, reminding them of the rich depth of Christian worship past and present (see Paul Beasley-Murrays’ editorial in this edition of Ministry Today UK).

It’s easy to fall into the assumption that divine love is a more exalted version of human love. Garry J Williams, in His Love Endures For Ever (IVP, Nottingham 2015; 191pp; £11.99; ISBN 978 1 78359 283 8), begs to differ, reminding us that it’s the other way round! If we get it wrong, we define God’s love only in terms of the love we have experienced in our lives – hardly surprising then that so many perceive divine love as highly conditional and spend their lives trying to appease him. I’m taking this with me on my next retreat, so I can read it more slowly – an excellent piece of work.

First published in hardback in 2013 costing £95, the paperback edition of The Oxford Handbook of Theology and Modern European Thought (Oxford University Press, Oxford 2015; 699pp; £30; ISBN 978 0 1908 7098 0), edited by Nicholas Adams, George Pattison, and Graham Ward, is considerably better value for money. It is a wonderful collection of 31 inter-disciplinary essays dealing with a broad range of subjects. For instance, in Part II (‘The Human Condition’), there are essays on ‘work and labour’ (John Hughes), ‘Suffering in Theology and Modern European Thought’ (Paul Fiddes), ‘Death’ (George Pattison), ‘Evil’ (Jennifer Geddes) and ‘Love’ (Werner Jeanbond). A magnificent resource, helped all the more by a useful index.

Using the Bible in Practical Theology: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (Ashgate, Farnham 2013; 149pp; £60 hardback; ISBN 978 1 4094 3792 5), by Zoe Bennett, Director of Postgraduates Studies in Pastoral Theology at Anglia Ruskin University, and the Cambridge Theological Federation, is divided into three main sections: 1) Using the Bible – the Reader of Multiple Tests; 2) John Ruskin: ‘To see clearly… is poetry, prophecy, and religion all in one’; and 3) The Bible and Theology in the Public Sphere. In her introduction, the author states that she has written this book “primarily for people in the churches, clearly and lay, who are wrestling with how the Bible can be appropriately related to the everyday events and problems with which they are engaged, and it is also designed for the increasing number of students….who need to engage with the Bible in a hermeneutically sophisticated manner in relation to the contemporary issues with which they are dealing”. In the end it is more a textbook on hermeneutics. Sadly, the price puts the book beyond most readers of Ministry Today.

Published in the New Studies in Biblical Theology series, ‘Return to Me’: A biblical theology of repentance (Apollos, Nottingham 2015; 235pp; £14.99; ISBN 978 1 78359 269 2), by Mark Boda, Professor of Old Testament at McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, is a detailed theological overview of the witness of Scripture to the theme of repentance. “Repentance”, Boda writes, “is key at the outset of Christian experience with God, but it is also part of the enduring spiritual rhythm of life with the triune God”.

Still Growing: The Creative Self in Older Adulthood (Lutterworth, Cambridge 2014; 190pp; £16.50; ISBN 978 0 7188 9391 0), by Donald Capps, argues that older adulthood, defined as 70+, should be a period of growth and development, and not a period of “lessening, shrinking and withering”..  Creativity, Capps maintains, is a sign of growth, and requires imagination and inventiveness in light of changing circumstances. It is not the easiest of books, for it contains a good deal of psycho-analytical material. I was, however, interested in the way in which the author builds on the Erik Erikson’s life-cycle: whereas for Erikson old age has only one stage characterised by the virtue of wisdom, Capps adds a further two: the years of 80-89 are characterised by gracefulness, and perhaps not surprisingly the years of 90-99 by endurance!

The Forgiveness Project: Stories for a Vengeful Age (Jessica Kingsley, London 2015; 185pp; £16.99 hardback; ISBN 978 1 84905 566 6), by Marina Catacuzino, contains 40 ‘testimonies’ of people who have wrestled with forgiveness in some extraordinarily extreme situations. This is not a specifically Christian book, so there are, for instance, no reflections on the forgiveness that God offers us in Christ. However, Desmond Tutu in his helpful Foreword helpfully states: “To forgive is not just to be altruistic; in my view it is a form of self-interest. The process of forgiving does not exclude hatred and anger. These emotions are all part of being human. When I talk of forgiveness, I mean the ability to let go of the right to revenge and to slip the chains of rage that bind you to the person who harmed you. When you forgive, you are free of the hatred and anger that locks you in a state of victimhood. If you can find it in yourself to forgive, you can move on, and may even help the perpetrator to become a better person”.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Ecumenical Quest (World Council of Churches, Geneva 2015; 328pp; $20; ISBN 978 2 8254 1656 3), by Keith Clements, a British Baptist minister, former General Secretary of the Conference of European Churches, and a life-long Bonhoeffer scholar, examines in detail the implication of the last recorded message of Bonhoeffer to George Bell, Bishop of Chichester: “Tell him… With him I believe in the principle of our universal Christian brotherhood which rises above all national interests, and that our victory is certain”. The author concludes: “If any single overriding feature of Bonhoeffer’s ecumenism has emerged from this study, it is surely that, while totally committed to the ecumenical quest, Bonhoeffer cannot finally be claimed for any particular structural or organizational expression of it”. More a book for denominational leaders and ecumenists in general, this is an authoritative account of Bonhoeffer’s commitment to the ecumenical movement.

The Psychology of Christian Character Formation (SCM Press, London, 2015; 275pp; £25; ISBN 978 0 334 05179 4), by Joanna Collicutt, a chartered psychologist and Anglican minister who teaches at Ripon College Cuddeson, is not primarily about how to give pastoral care to others, but rather has been written “to equip the Christian disciple with well-grounded psychological insights and practical ideas that can support her spiritual growth, and may also resource her to help others”. In many ways a comprehensive text-book for ministerial students (there are suggested exercises or activities at the end of each chapter), it also has great value for ministers themselves, not just for personal reading, but also perhaps for discussion at a ministers’ ‘felllowship’. The book falls into three parts: (1) ‘The nature of the Endeavour ‘– Christian formation; (2) ‘Insights from Psychology’ – understanding ourselves; and (3) ‘Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit’, which deals with such subjects as ‘intimacy with the Holly Other’; ‘Compassion’; and ‘Forgiveness’. A thought-provoking read.

Spirituality, Theology and Mental Health: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (SCM Press, London 2013; 222pp; £45 hardback; ISBN 978 0 334 05290 6), edited by Christopher C H Cook, contains some 15 conference papers first given in 2000, and now published with a view to being a “teaching resource at postgraduate level”. Not surprisingly, the papers are mostly technical in nature. In the concluding essay, the editor draws the contributions together, in which he refers to the parable of the sheep and the goats as providing a theological rationale for Christians to get involved in mental health issues: “It encourages us to think of Christ as one who associates himself with those who are vulnerable, and encourages us to do likewise”.

First published in 1994, the second edition of Religion in Britain (Wiley Blackwell, Oxford, 2nd edition 2015; 264pp; £21.99; ISBN 978 1 4051 3596 2), by Grace Davie, is more than just an updated version, but has been substantially re-written. Significantly the title of the book has subtly changed: the 1994 edition was entitled Religion in Britain since 1945, with the subtitle Believing without Belonging, whereas the new edition has a shorter title and is sub-titled A Persistent Paradox. Primarily written for sociologists of religion, this study will be of interest to ministers too. She points out, for instance, that “in the current period the actively religious are disproportionately drawn to two kinds of religious organisations: charismatic evangelical churches on the one hand and cathedrals or city-centre churches on the other. The former epitomize firm commitments, strong fellowship and conservative teaching, balanced by the warmth of a charismatic experience. The latter allows a much more individual (even anonymous) expression of religious commitment: in ‘cathedral-type’ churches the appeals is often associated with the beauty of the building, the quality of the music and the traditional nature of the liturgy. The important point to grasp is that in both cases there is a noticeable experiential element, albeit very different expressed”. There is much else of interest, not least the way in which religion appears to have an even higher place in public life.

First published in the USA by Wipf and Stock in 2014, Soft Shepherd or Almighty Pastor? Power and Pastoral Care (James Clarke and Co., Cambridge 2015; 200pp; £16.50; ISBN 978 0 227 17522 4), edited by Annemie Dillen, a Belgian teacher of pastoral theology, contains a selection of ten academic papers on power and pastoral care presented at a seminar in Leuven (Louvain) in 2012. The introductory essay unpacks the title of the book: “Being friendly, sweet or even ‘soft’ as not being very strong and lacking power, seeking harmony and avoiding conflict, might disguise forms of power abuse for victims and bystanders. This attitude might function as an easy way to manipulate the other or might be a euphemism for a form of neglect of courageous speaking up for the dignity of others”. Two of the essays are particularly focussed in ‘power and sexual abuse’; another essay reflects on the ambiguities, paradoxes and challenges of pastoral power in an African context.

First published in 1997 by Hamish Hamilton, then by Penguin Books in 1998, The Benefits of Passion (Marylebone House/SPCK, London 2015; 278pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 1 910674 00 0), by Catherine Fox, is a raunchy novel which explores the sex lives of Anglican ordinands. Needless to say, a light read!

A Commentary on Exodus (Kregel, Grand Rapids, Michigan 2014; 741pp; £26.99 hardback; ISBN 978 0 8254 2551 6. Available in UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), by Duane A Garrett of Louisville’s Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, provides a careful exegetical and theological analysis of each passage in Exodus, and therefore is a helpful resource for preachers.

Living Liturgies: Transition time resources for services, prayer and conversation with older people (BRF, Abingdon 2015; 127pp; £7.99; ISBN 978 0 85746 323 4), by Caroline George is a collection of twelve creative ‘liturgies’ – a gift for busy pastors!

Isaiah for Everyone (SPCK, London 2015; 260pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06136 5), by John Goldingay, is the latest instalment of this lively commentary series on the Old Testament. Full of application, this is a great resource to recommend to ordinary church members.

Spiritual Accompaniment and Counselling: Journeying with psyche and soul (Jessica Kingsley, London 2015; 192pp; £16.99; ISBN 978 1 84095 480 5), edited by Peter Madsen Gubi, is a collection of essays covering such issues as ‘working with spiritual crisis’; ‘the spirituality of pain and suffering’, ‘accompaniment through grief’, and ‘working safely with spiritual abuse’. I particularly appreciated the essay by the editor on ‘The importance of relationships’, and an essay by Lynette Harborne on ‘The importance of supervision’. It is a helpful resource for all those engaged in spiritual direction or accompaniment.

Using the Bible in Spiritual Direction (SPCK, London 2015; 156pp; £14.99; ISBN 978 0 281 07220 0), by Liz Hoare, Tutor for Spiritual Formation at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, is an excellent exploration of the place of the Bible in spiritual direction. As the author points out, in some quarters spiritual direction seems to have more in common with psychotherapy rather than with rooting our walk with God in the Scriptures. Beautifully written, the book abounds with quotable quotes: for example, “The call to every disciple is to follow Christ, not to have a spiritual director”. This is a book written for both spiritual directors and for their ‘directees’.

Listening for God’s Call: Discipleship and Ministry (SCM Press, London 2015; 116pp; £14.99; ISBN 978 0 334 04412 3), by Susan H Jones, the Anglican Dean of Bangor, provides a general introductory text for theological reflection on the call of God, recognising that God’s call can be to lay ministry, to reader and local preacher ministry, to ministry as ‘priest and presbyter’, to pioneer and self-supporting ministries. Disappointingly the book is focussed just on Anglican and Methodist ministry, and is largely weighted on the processes of discerning people’s call, and does not really touch on the traditional Evangelical understanding of a call to ministry.

First published in 2010, a new imprint is available of Pastoral Supervision: A Handbook (SCM, London 2012; 226pp; £19.99; ISBN 978 0 334 04325 6), by Jane Leach and Michael Paterson, is a very practical textbook which could be read with benefit both by those who supervise and those who are supervised. In his Foreword, David Lyall writes of the two essential tasks of pastoral supervision: “The first is to help those in training for ministry to function with increasing degrees of confidence in the midst of ambivalence and ambiguity. The second is to empower those in the midst of ministry to reflect creatively upon their own ministry and, in so doing, to enable the ministry of others”.

Dawkins’ God: from The Selfish Gene to The God Delusion (Wiley Blackwell, Oxford, 2nd edition 2015; 192pp; £14.99; ISBN 978 1 118 96478 1), by Alister McGrath, has been substantially revised in the light of developments since it was first published in 2004. This is a brilliant work of Christian apologetics and should be necessary reading for all sixth formers to be found in church youth groups.

First published in 2005, Christianity: An Introduction (Wiley Blackwell, Oxford, 3rd edition 2015; 304pp; £24.99; ISBN 978 1 118 46565 3), by Alister McGrath,  has been written on the basis of the assumption that reader know little or nothing about the history of Christianity, its practices and beliefs. It is an excellent guide not just for people new to the faith, but also to long-standing church members.        

Published in the ‘New Studies in Biblical Theology’ series, Bound for the Promised Land: the land promise in God’s redemptive plan (Apollos, Nottingham 2015; 208pp; £12.99; ISBN 978 1 78359 189 3), by Oren R Martin, is essentially a revision of a PhD. thesis, which examines the way in which the land and its blessings find their fulfilment in the new heaven and new earth won by Christ.

Refuel: How to balance work, life, faith and church – without burning out (Darton, Longman and Todd, London 2015; 242pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 0 232 53160 2), by Kate Middleton, is a lively guide to dealing with stress. Popular and practical in style, it is a useful workbook for over-busy Christians.

The Oxford Handbook of Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding (Oxford University Press, 2015; 712pp; £97 hardback; ISBN 978 0 19 973164 0), edited by Atalia Omer, Scott Appleby and David Little, is a superb multidisciplinary introduction to the field of religion, conflict and peace studies. The 25 scholarly essays are divided into five sections: (1) ‘Mapping the Field’; (2) ‘The Historical and the Historicist’; (3) ‘Contested issues’; (4) ‘Peacebuilding in practice: strategies, resources, critique; and (5) ‘The growing edge of the conversation’.  From the admittedly narrow perspective of most ministers, it is perhaps a shame that there is not one essay devoted to conflict and peacebuilding within the local church! Beautifully produced, alas the price of this volume means that it is destined to be bought primarily by libraries.

Published in the Apollos Old Testament Commentary series, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi (Apollos, Nottingham 2015; 451pp; £29.99 hardback; ISBN 978 1 78359 211 1), by Anthony Petterson of Morling [Baptist] College, Sydney NSW, is a scholarly commentary which includes not just thorough exegesis, but also a helpful exposition of the theological message. It is an excellent guide for thoughtful preachers, and is therefore worth buying.

 In the Mists on the Shoreline: Reflections on Spiritual Experience (Wild Goose Publications, Glasgow; 81pp; £ 8.99; ISBN 978 1 84952 323 3), edited by Chris Polhill, is a collection of short ‘testimonies’ to their experience of God in their lives. Not the deepest of books, it nonetheless indirectly challenges the reader to reflect on their own experience of God – indeed, it would be an interesting exercise for some church small groups to collect their own experiences of God.

First published in 2014, and reprinted seven times since, The Second Intercessions Handbook: More creative ideas for public and private prayer (SPCK, London 2015; 158pp; £10.99; ISBN 978 0 281 07403 7), by John Pritchard, a former Bishop of Oxford, is divided into five sections: mainstream public worship; festivals and special events; informal worship and worship for small groups; intercessions with children and young people; and personal intercession. It is a most useful resource.

First published by Abingdon in 1990 and now reissued by Hendrickson and available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh, Apocalyptic Literature: A Reader (Peabody, Massachusetts 2015; 352pp; £19.99; ISBN 978 1 61970 681 1), edited by Mitchell Reddish, is primarily a textbook for undergraduate students. Somewhat unusually it includes a sample of Qumran texts, and is the first anthology to bring Christian and Jewish apocalypses into one book.

With All Our Prayers: Walking with God through the Christian Year (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan 2015; 114pp; £10.99; ISBN 978 0 8028 7191 6), by retired Presbyterian pastor John B Rogers, is a collection of prayers, most of which were initially offered during worship at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. The prayers are surprisingly lengthy, and are not broken up with responses of any kind. These ‘long prayers’, although beautifully crafted, demand a good deal of concentration which most congregations might find challenging.

Dig Deeper into the Gospels: Coming face to face with Jesus in Mark (IVP, Nottingham 2015; 233pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 1 78359 199 2), by Andrew Sach and Tim Hiorns, who work together at St Helen’s Bishopsgate, London, is a helpful tool for leaders of small group leaders who want to engage more thoughtfully with the Gospel of Mark.

Sermons on the Cross (155pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 1 69170 594 4) and Sermons on the Resurrection (158pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 1 61970 595 1), by C H Spurgeon, the Victorian ‘prince of preachers’, have been reissued in 2015 by Hendrickson of Peabody, Massachusetts, and are available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh. Even though I have a great interest in Spurgeon as a past principal of his college, I still question the relevancy of these sermons to today – the reality is that they belong to another era.

Reaching Young People: New Ideas for your Youth Ministry (BRF, Abingdon 2015; 173pp; £8.99; ISBN 978 0 85746 248 0), edited by Alex Taylor, contains ten ‘inspirational stories’ to help churches and youth workers explore new approaches to mission and ministry among young people. This is a book which needs to be read by all those involved in working amongst young people, so buy a copy for every youth leader!

First published as a hardback in 2012, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (Oxford University Press, 2014; 418pp; £20; ISBN 978 0 19 870974 9), by Joan Taylor, is a scholarly albeit accessible book, whose controversial conclusion is that Essenes lived at Qumran, not because they searched for asceticism in the desert or sought solitude, but rather that they came to there in order to bury scrolls – the Dead Scrolls are the small remnants of a huge cache of scroll burials. It is a fascinating read.

Published in ‘The Bible Speaks Today’ series, The Message of Lamentations (IVP, Nottingham 2015; 166pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 1 78359 275 3), by Chris Wright, currently International Ministries Director of the Langham Partnership, is a superb commentary for preachers, and so is a book to buy!

First published in 2000, The Challenge of Jesus (SPCK, London, 2nd edition 2015; 163pp; £12.99; ISBN 978 0 281 07386 3), by Tom Wright, has been republished with a new five-page preface. Intended for thoughtful lay-readers, it is also a stimulating read for ministers too.

Darton, Longman and Todd have published two further small volumes in The Inclusive Church Resource series, each of which includes personal experiences, as also theological and practical resources: Ethnicity (London 2015; 112pp; £8.99; ISBN 978 0 232 53070 4) and Gender (London 2015; 136pp; £8.99; ISBN 978 0 232 53069 8). In the introductory essay, Rosemarie Mallett makes the point that the rise of Black Christian churches “has given lie to the myth that people of colour do not desire or are not ready to accept church leadership”. The latter contains a thought-provoking account by Rachel Mann of her experience of church as a trans-gendered person.

Readers of Ministry Today interested in systematic theology will doubtless welcome two recent publications by Eerdmans of Grand Rapids, Michigan, both of which are available from Alban of Edinburgh: Paul and the Trinity: Persons, Relations and the Pauline Letters (2015; 210pp; £12.99; ISBN 978 0 8028 6964 7), by Wesley Hill; and The Election of Grace: A Riddle Without a Resolution (2015; 221pp; £17.99; ISBN 978 0 8028 3780 6) by Stephen Williams. Both are quite technical in style, and so will appeal more to academics than to working ministers.

Hendrickson of Peabody, Massachusetts, as part of their Theology of Work Project, have been publishing a Theology of Work Commentary in which the Scriptures are viewed through the lens of work. Volume 5 deals with Romans Through Revelation (2015; 158pp; £16.99; ISBN 978 1 61970 596 8. Available in the UK through Alban of Edinburgh).

IVP of Nottingham has been revising the Tyndale Old and New Testament commentaries.  Two recent revisions are 2 Corinthians (first edition 1987; 2nd revised and expanded edition 2015; 287pp; £11.99; ISBN 978 1 78359 210 4), by Colin Kruse; and James (first edition 1986; revised edition 2015; 238pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 1 78359 209 8) by Douglas Moo. The Song of Songs (2015; 160pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 1 78359 190 9), by Iain Duguid, replaces an earlier commentary in the Tyndale series by G L Carr. The aim of each volume in this series is ‘to help the reader of the Bible understand what the text says and what it means’. Each section of the text is structured under three headings: context, comment and theology. This is accessible evangelical scholarship at its best.

Recent additions to the excellent Grove booklets of Cambridge, all 28pp in length and £3.95 in price include the following:

Leading Rural Churches for Growth: Challenges and Strategies (Leadership Series 19, 2015; ISBN 978 1 85174 926 3) by Graham Dow, is a ‘must’ for all leaders of rural churches.

Freshly Expressed Church: Lessons from Fresh Expressions for the Wider Church (Evangelism Series 109, 2015; ISBN 978 1 85174 929 4), by Mark Sumpter, who highlights some practical ways in which Fresh Expressions of Church might help a more traditional parish church develop its ministry of evangelism.

Miscarriage and Pastoral Care:  Ministering to Sufferers of Pregnancy Loss (Pastoral Series 141, 2015; ISBN 978 1 85174 931 7), by Tina Hodgett and Emma Major, who in addition to offering practical suggestions for how a church might care for women and their partners who experience a miscarriage, also reflect theologically on the loss involved – an excellent guide which should be in every pastor’s library.

Leading with Trust (Leadership Series 20, 2015; ISBN 978 1 85174 935 5), by Richard England, is an excellent exposition of the need for leaders to build trust – “vision sets the direction, but trust determines the speed”.

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 Issue 64 of Ministry Today, published in July 2015.

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