Christianity and Depression

and Depression

Author Tasia Scrutton
Publisher SCM £19.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780334058908

This book is an erudite addition to the literature concerning Christianity and depression, the author being an Associate Professor in Philosophy and Religion at the University of Leeds. The foreword by John Swinton, with his references to ‘unconventional mental health experiences’, sets the tone for the main text which is concerned with the different interpretations of depression within the Christian faith and how these interpretations influence the experience of depression. The book also addresses the kinds of response, support and advice people should get about depression from churches. In the first two chapters, the author is at pains to dismantle explanations of depression which focus on sin and demons as causes. The biology of depression is dealt with in chapter 3, and notions of a suffering God form the material for chapters 6 and 7. The chapter that I most related to was chapter 5, entitled ‘Can depression help us grow?’, which examines the life, work and writings of the psychologist and Catholic priest Henri Nouwen. Each chapter concludes with comprehensive notes. This is recommended reading for anyone with an interest in this field, from whatever perspective.


Mental Health


Understanding Christian Leadership

Christian Leadership

Author Ian Parkinson
Publisher SCM £19.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780334058748

Ian Parkinson teaches leadership at several theological colleges. In this book he combines academic and Christian thought on leadership to ‘serve as … a leadership primer, especially for those embarking on or engaging in Christian leadership’. The result is a substantial, comprehensive and academically rigorous volume, organised in two parts: Understanding Leadership and the Work of Leadership. Part 1 attempts a definition of leadership and includes a look at leadership in the Christian tradition as well as a critical reflection on the practice of leadership. In Part 2, Parkinson mines secular thinking and shows how it can be utilised for leadership in the context of religious organisations before presenting a blueprint for an authentically Christian understanding of leadership. His case studies are challenging and inspiring in turn. For Readers who are seeking to live the CRC vision as ‘leaders in church and society’, there is much that is of relevance. I found the chapter on leadership in the New Testament particularly interesting and thought-provoking, not just for what it says about leadership, but also for how we ‘do church’. A demanding read, recommended for Readers who find themselves with significant leadership responsibility.




Time to Act

Time to Act

Author Jeremy Williams
Publisher SPCK £9.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780281084463

This ‘Resource Book by the Christians in Extinction Rebellion’ (mostly members of Christian Climate Action) is an edited collection of 39 short chapters containing essays, manifestos, reflections, sermons, prayers, poems and resources intended to encourage action in response to the global climate emergency. Its three sections focus respectively on ‘Head’ issues, among which the theology of non-violent direct action is a major preoccupation; ‘Heart’ experiences, including the testimonies of activists (Samantha Lindo’s account of her first court appearance is powerfully moving); and ‘Hands’ resources for those persuaded to take action, such as a climate emergency declaration template. The book is enriched by its inclusiveness, with contributions from lay and ordained Christians, and representatives of different faiths, genders, ages and cultures. For example, a pastor of Cherokee descent explores ‘how indigenous perspectives offer hope to a besieged planet’. A stimulus for worship, teaching, discussion or action suitable for any individual or group will be found somewhere in its varied chapters. While it contains limited evaluation of the impact of the actions proposed and taken, read as a whole, this book is an inspiringly provocative account of the struggles that follow from facing the climate emergency with unblinking honesty.


Climate Change


Building Bridges Not Walls

Building Bridges
Not Walls

Author Peter Bold
Publisher Sacristy £12.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9781789590944

As a former industrial chemist I was intrigued by the sub-title, ‘An Engineer’s Guide to Theology’. This is partly a memoir of the author’s progress from being an engineer and a conservative Evangelical to being a rather broader-minded ordained incumbent; and then a deliberately simple setting out of how that has shaped his understanding of theology: ‘My complete or systematic theology in 60,000 words.’ It covers many of the difficult questions that trying to live out the gospel throws up. From my experience at Reader meetings, there is a higher proportion of engineers and scientists in lay ministry than in ordained ministry, and this should appeal to them, of whatever churchmanship; and also to young but mature enquirers they meet. The author has a chapter on ‘Truth, Global Warming, Post-modernism and Politics’ which may date but is currently powerful. The closing chapter ‘My Journey and Hope for the Church’ is a great summary.


Vocation, Ministry


Growing Leaders

Growing Leaders

Author James Lawrence
Publisher BRF  £10.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780857468888

The subtitle of this new edition could be ‘How to understand your vicar’, but it is so much more than that. ‘Growing Leaders’ is for every Christian who leads in any way – whether you are a teacher, a parent or an ordained minister, whether you are a leader
or helper in a playgroup, a youth group, or a chorister. We live in a changing world and are part of a changing church. Our primary responsibilities are to be followers of Jesus and to keep growing. This book is a detailed exposition of how we can all become better leaders. It is very readable, but not a book to hurry through. Lawrence gives advice from his own experience, and bravely exposes his own shortcomings in order to help us address ours. We are encouraged as flawed human beings to be the best we can be, knowing that we live with God’s perpetual forgiveness. Whatever kind of leader you are now, I urge you to take time to read this book.




God and the Pandemic

God and the Pandemic

Author Tom Wright
Publisher SPCK £7.99
Format pbk
ISBN 9780281085118

This is a thoughtful response to the pandemic, necessarily written with speed, but also great care. Wright does not immediately take the line that it is a sign of the end times. He makes us realise that suffering is part of the human condition and that we need as Christians to lament, but above all to act, as encouraged and challenged by the parable of the sheep and the goats. By focusing on Romans 8 in particular, Wright encourages us to see how, even in the midst of this disaster, we can still find God – perhaps it is easier to find him there than we think. He analyses deeply the concept of creation groaning at its incompleteness and the need to find our purpose in God. Wright does not suggest a trite answer to Romans 8.28 that ‘all things work together for good for those who love God.’ This is a verse to struggle with. For Wright, the psalmists’ tradition of lamenting, of wrestling with God in a time of confusion, is part of faith that we should also embrace.


Biblical Analysis, Theodicy


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