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Monday, 7 February 2011
February 2011 Book Selection
Just click on the read more link for the selection. Goed om te lezen!
Dr Andrew Atherstone is Tutor in History and Doctrine at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and Research Fellow of the Latimer Trust. He has previously written a number of studies of Evangelical and Reformation history and he has now produced a new full length history of the Reformation for Lion. In this full colour illustrated hardback he explores why the Reformation happened, how it happened, what it actually was and what it achieved. He also looks at the key figures of the Reformation, such as Luther, Calving and Zwingli, setting them in their theological social and political context and explaining their importance for the subsequent history of both the Church and the wider world. There are obviously numerous histories of the Reformation currently available, but Dr Atherstone’s book provides an introductory level account from an Evangelical perspective that should prove helpful to those coming to Reformation studies for the first time or wanting an accessible work of reference.
Dr Jeremy Bergen is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Theology at Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo, Canada. In his new book he provides a theological reflection on the practice of churches repenting for things that they have done in the past or convictions that they have held in the past. His study is in two parts. In the first part he looks at how churches have repented over issues to do with the division of the Church, the legacy of Western colonialism and sexual abuse, violence and injustice. In the second part he sets the practice of ecclesial repentance in the context of the doctrines of the communion of saints, sin and the holiness of the Church and forgiveness and reconciliation. This is an important study which will be of value to anyone wanting to think about ecclesial repentance and which helps to address key questions such as can a church repent for things that happened centuries ago? Is it possible for a church to sin or to be forgiven? What difference will repenting make? Is this more than simply church hypocrisy?
Like St Francis of Assisi and St Teresa of Avila, St Catherine of Siena (?1347-1380) is renowned as a great mystic, reformer and teacher. St Catherine was a dynamic and influential figure who lived at a time when Europe was torn apart by war and ravaged by plague and most women were shuttered in kitchens or convent. In this setting she campaigned for peace among the warring factions of her native Tuscany, struggled to reform the Church, and helped persuade Pope Gregory XI to leave Avignon and return to Rome. Revered as a holy woman by her friends and disciples, she was nearly assassinated by some of her enemies and died when she was only thirty-three years old. This new biography of her by the former managing editor of the Paulist Press has been described as ‘a masterpiece’ by Joan Chittister. It is scholarly yet accessibly written and will prove a very useful introduction to St Catherine and her times for anyone who wants to know more about her and the abiding significance of her life and thought.
This new book in the Alcuin Club series by two of the leading experts in the origins of Christian worship looks at the early history of the liturgical year. Dr Paul Bradshaw is the Liturgical Advisor for this Diocese in Europe. Whereas we tend to think in terms of a unified liturgical year within which all the various fasts, feasts and seasons have their own separate place this was not the case in the Early Church. The first Christians did not view the various festivals and fasts in which they took part as forming a unified whole. Instead, the different seasons formed a number of completely unrelated cycles and tended to overlap and conflict with one another. Drawing on the latest research, Bradshaw and Johnson explain the development of these feasts, fasts and seasons, including the Sabbath and Sunday, Holy Week and Easter, Christmas and Epiphany, and the feasts of the Virgin Mary, the martyrs and other saints. An important new resource for any who wants to know about the origins of the Christian year we know today. Paul Bradshaw is the Liturgical Advisor for this Diocese in Europe.
The argument underlying this new book by Canon Malcolm Grundy, the former director of the Foundation for Church Leadership, is that episcopally led churches all around the world are in various forms of crisis. Some of them are facing division and threats from breakaway groups. Others have a crisis of finance and fear bankruptcy. Dioceses are accused of inadequate pastoral care and of delaying the proper discipline of the clergy. Bishops lead separatist groups and allow themselves to become the focus for disagreement. In response to these challenges Grundy undertakes a fresh examination of the meaning of episcopal ministry and provides imaginative models of what mutually accepted leadership and oversight can look He describes the pitfalls and temptations of power and the responsibilities of leadership and suggests that the trust-building ingredient which is needed in episcopal churches in order to avoid an inevitable descent into further schism is a rediscovery of episkope - the shared responsibility which all members of episcopal churches have for one-another is missing. This is a significant contribution to the contemporary debate about senior leadership in the Church which will be of interest to all who want to think more deeply about this subject.
A topic which is of little importance to most Western Christians today is the topic of the harrowing of hell, the belief, based on 1 Peter 3.18-20, that in the time between his crucifixion and resurrection Christ proclaimed his conquest of death to the dead in sheol. This belief was, however, very important to the Christians of the Early Church and in this study published by St Vladimir’s Seminary Press Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, looks in detail at their understanding of it. Drawing on Scripture, Patristic tradition, early Christian poetry, and liturgical texts, he explores the nature of Christ’s descent into sheol and its consequences for the human race. He contends that Christ entered sheol as conqueror and not as victim, and he depicts Christ’s descent into sheol as an event of cosmic significance that opened the path of salvation to all human beings. On this basis he further argues that sheol is a place of divine presence, a place where the spiritual fate of a person may still change. Reminding readers that self-will remains the only hindrance to life in Christ, he presents the gospel message afresh, showing how it provides good news even in the shadow of death. This is an important exploration of a neglected area of Christian belief that will benefit anyone who wants to think further about it.
Todd Hunter is a bishop of the Anglican Mission in the Americas, which is under the jurisdiction of the Church of Rwanda and is a "Ministry Partner" of the Anglican Church in North America, a body which includes congregations which have broken away from the Episcopal Church, USA and the Anglican Church in Canada. In this new book from IVP he tells the story of his journey from the Jesus People movement and leadership in the Vineyard to eventually becoming an Anglican Bishop. He also explains what it is that he values about Anglicanism and why he has remained an Anglican in spite of his strong differences with The Episcopal Church. A particular feature of the book is the emphasis that Hunter gives to the importance of traditional liturgy as a form of worship that embodies historical connectedness rather than being ‘tied to the whims of contemporary culture,’ that contains rhythms and routines that build spiritual health and that allows for congregational participation rather than merely sitting back and looking at a performance on a stage. This book will be of interest anyone who wants to explain the attractions of Anglicanism to those from a charismatic Evangelical background or who wants to understand better the convictions of those who have now departed from TEC.
In his recent book The Grand Design, Professor Stephen Hawking has provided his own contribution to the debate about the existence of God stirred up by the work of Richard Dawkins and others. In this book Hawking contends that what we know today about the origins of the universe makes belief in God unnecessary because we can now see that the existence of the universe can be satisfactorily explained by the operation of the laws of physics, thus making God’s creative activity redundant. In God and Stephen Hawking, Professor John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, and author of the best selling God's Undertaker, takes a closer look at Hawking's logic. He works through the key points in Hawking's arguments - with clear explanations of the latest scientific and philosophical methods and theories - and demonstrates that far from disproving a Creator God, these methods and theories make God’s existence seem all the more probable. Described as ‘brilliant’ by Alister McGrath, this is a brief study (96 pages) written in accessible laymen’s terms and it provides an ideal short introduction to Hawking’s work. It would be a good book to give away to anyone who has been influenced by the publicity given to Hawking’s ideas and who needs to hear the other side of the argument.
One of the biggest challenges facing those involved in Christian ministry is how to minister to those who have lost a child or who have child suffering from a terminal illness. This new book from Paul Nash, who is a Senior Chaplain at Birmingham Children's Hospital and a Tutor at the Midlands Centre for Youth Ministry, is a practical guide that helps with this challenge by offering invaluable and sensitive advice for all who work alongside terminally ill children and their families or families who have been bereaved. Nash helpfully describes the different types of pastoral care that are called for depending on the age of the child – from baby to teenager – and on the particular needs of the child’s family. He also provides resources to help with remembering and celebrating the life of a child, including rituals that can be used in preparation for death, at the time of death and at a funeral or memorial services. This is an important resource for all those who are involved in ministry or who are responsible for training people for ministry.
Dame Mary Warnock is a philosopher who has made a prominent contribution to recent public debates about ethical issues. In her new book, which covers issues relating to euthanasia, assisted suicide, and abortion, she provides a powerful argument that Christian convictions should have no place in questions of public morality. The advent of the Human Rights Act means that law is now necessarily involved with moral issues and that judges are constantly being asked to pass judgement on moral issues in court. Morality is therefore increasingly a public and not just a private matter. Warnock therefore tries to clarify the foundation of morality in a society that is now largely indifferent to, and ignorant of, religion. As she puts it in her Introduction, she is concerned with ‘what part Christianity should continue to play in legislation and politics and what influence it has and should continue to have in Parliament, whose responsibility is to legislate for Christian and non-Christian alike.’ She contends that to value religion as the essential foundation of morality is a profound and probably dangerous mistake. As she sees it, religion and morality must be prised apart, however close they may both have been in the past. Public morality must now be determined on a non-religious basis. Because this is a powerful book by a prominent author, it is a book which Christians concerned about the continuing place of religion in public life need to ponder and one to which they will to give a careful response.