Confronting Religious Violence

Religious Violence

Authors Richard Burridge & Jonathan Sacks (eds.)
Publisher SCM £25
Format hbk
ISBN 9780334057130

The papers in this volume derive from a conference convened in 2017 at King’s College London by Richard Burridge (Dean of KCL) and the former Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks. The book addresses a major issue of our time, namely that of violence committed in the name of religion, and the necessity of developing a counter-narrative to bring about peace and understanding. It stresses the need to develop an appreciation of those whom we consider to be ‘Other’ and of creating an atmosphere of mutual inter-dependence. The contributors, who are drawn from a wide range of academic disciplines (including theology, philosophy, science and law), offer various explanations for religious violence – psychological, political, economic, even climate change and population movement – all of which are worthy of consideration. Case studies and the outline of training courses also offer practical examples of methods of developing mutual understanding. Individual statements often give pause for thought and the whole volume asks the reader to consider what steps are necessary to bring about peace and understanding between groups and individuals whose opinions conflict with our own. The highly academic language of this book will demand the reader’s full attention, but the issues discussed are vital in confronting the religious violence so prevalent in today’s world.


Peace Studies, Interfaith


Theology for Changing Times

Theology for
Changing Times

Authors Christopher R. Baker & Elaine Graham (eds.)
Publisher SCM £30
Format pbk
ISBN 9780334056959

The book is subtitled ‘John Atherton and the future of public theology’. Atherton, who died in 2016, was for many years at the forefront of the dialogue between religion and public policy, particularly economic policy. He was noted for being one of those rare theologians with a real grasp of modern economic theory and stood out as one who argued for a transformation of capitalism by showing how Christian doctrines such as redemption and reconciliation have much to say about morality in economics. This is in contrast to others such as Stanley Hauerwas who argues from a more radical position that capitalism is inherently flawed, and an alternative should be sought. Atherton was particularly interested in globalisation and its effects on all areas of life, and the importance of involving religion (not just Christianity) in the consideration of what makes for the well-being of humanity as a whole. This book is probably of most interest to students of social ethics, but would also interest anyone concerned with the intersection of theology and public institutions. It contains a number of interesting chapters, all very different, reflecting the breadth of Atherton’s thinking and influence.


Social Policy, Theology of John Atherton


God BC

God BC

Author Anthony Phillips
Publisher Sacristy £9.99
Format pbk  (2nd edition)
ISBN 9781910519837

This is a refreshing book which opens up the Old Testament in an absorbing and original fashion. Phillips has revised his thesis, originally published in 1977, to show how God’s grace – a word absent in the OT – permeates the history of God’s people. His text has to be read theologically. Although it is founded on profound scholarship and knowledge, there are no footnotes or references. Phillips sometimes makes sweeping statements that cry out for justification. He alleges, for example, that there is no evidence for Israel’s presence in Egypt; and does not believe in the independent source of the Pentateuch known as E. But in contrast there are some beautifully wrought interpretations, especially on the 8th century prophets, Amos and Hosea. He is also fascinating on Ezekiel, whom he regards as the father of Judaism (rather than Ezra). But, in perspective, the scholarship lying beneath this book matters less than the driving force of the message: that God’s love for humanity is unrestrained, and visible throughout the Hebrew scriptures despite the violence of the age and the formalities of the law. God BC is a provocative but highly recommended read.


Old Testament Analysis


Just Love

Just Love

Author Jayne Ozanne
Publisher DLT £12.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780232533750

This is a compelling read which takes us through the torment and anguish of being different – the fear that being different will prevent us from being acceptable to God and receiving His love. The powerful narrative takes us from Jayne as a child to the very successful woman she is today. But this is not just Jayne’s story; it is a call for the Church to respond to her passion to serve, when it is apparently weighted against her sexuality. Jayne has therefore become a leading figure in the fight for acceptance of LGBTI people in today’s Church. This book is a must-read for those who are struggling to balance the perception that only heterosexuals can attain God’s love and serve the Church; and for everyone else to understand these heart-rending journeys to serve God.


Autobiography, LGBT inclusion


How To Be a Church Minister

How To Be a
Church Minister

Author Nigel Wright
Publisher BRF £10.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780857466891

Yet another sober, balanced and thoughtful account of the minister’s craft and calling? Who needs it, I wonder, when there are so many? A glance at the chapter headings – build the congregation; pastor the people; conduct worship well – tells us what is in store. That said, Wright covers the ground well. His writing is clear, practical and wise. There is good biblical reference, honest personal reflection, and a strong sense that ministry may be energising and fresh. A chapter headed ‘stay on the boil’ draws from Richard Baxter and is excellent. ‘When our hearts grow cold, our preaching grows cold… If we forbear to take food, then others will be famished’, he writes – not to discourage, but to urge readers to carry on finding ways to ‘nurture the springs of living water – that refresh every aspect of our service.’ I was glad to have read this.


Ministry, Ministerial Formation



Haunted by Christ

Haunted by Christ

Author Richard Harries
Publisher SPCK £9.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780281079339

This is a very ambitious book. A testament to a lifetime of reading and thinking about all aspects of theology, it strives to give a picture of twenty writers whose struggle for faith, or rejection of it, has been central to their work. From Dostoevsky to Marilynne Robinson, via Hopkins, Beckett, Auden, Eliot and Golding to name but a few, each chapter begins with a brief biography of the author under discussion. If you already know the life and work of a particular author well, then you may not find much new to stimulate thought. If, on the other hand, you have never tried Stevie Smith or Elizabeth Jennings, for example, then this might just prompt you to take up their work and discover a fresh voice. I found the chapter on the competing myths of C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman particularly interesting. It might well form the basis for a discussion in a Christian book group.


Biographical Essays, Literature


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