God’s Unfailing Word
Author The Faith and Order Commission
Publisher CHP £12.99
Living as I do in a London Borough which is 10% Jewish I found this book informative, challenging, moving and really important. It is an attempt by the Church of England to set out in a single document a theology of Christian-Jewish relations that accords with Church of England doctrine. In a foreword, Archbishop Justin Welby says that understanding the relationship between Christianity and Judaism is not an optional extra: ‘It informs our daily Bible reading, prayers and worship as well as our relationships with Jewish neighbours, friends and colleagues.’ The book points out that all preachers and teachers, in particular, need to be careful they are not perpetuating inaccurate and harmful stereotypes and attitudes. Tackling boldly the Christian Church’s appalling history, and modern conflict about the land and state of Israel, it ends with a very challenging response from Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who is concerned that, even now, in the 21st century, Jews are seen by some Christians ‘as quarry to be pursued and converted.’
Hospitality, Service, Proclamation
Author Tom Wilson
Publisher SCM £19.99
This is a good book to put into the hands of someone training for the ministry, or who missed out on interfaith ministry in their training. Coming from the evangelical end of the spectrum, Wilson, the director of an interfaith centre, explores how to balance hospitality, service and proclamation. There is a helpful overview of twelve different theologians, whom he classifies as exclusivist, inclusivist or pluralist and he discusses the attraction of each category. He then looks at ten passages from the Old and New Testaments, including Abram’s visitors, Ruth, Naaman, the good Samaritan, John 14.6, Paul in Athens and concludes there are ‘plenty of passages that reinforce the importance of proclamation of the Christian faith, but also a number that suggest the importance of offering hospitality to people of other faiths or none and of acts of selfless service.’ The book also has a helpful appendix suggesting books about seven of the faiths Christians in Britain might wish to engage with.
Authors Richard Burridge & Jonathan Sacks (eds.)
Publisher SCM £25
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