Review: Al Stewart's MEN
- Written by: Chris Appleby
Review: Al Stewart's MEN – firing through all of life (Blue Bottle Books, 2007)
by Doug Petering
The latest 2006 National Church Life Survey confirms that Church as a whole finds it really difficult to connect with unchurched men. This volume suggests solutions and speaks to real needs of Aussie men in their middle years.
Al Stewart, the forty-something bishop of Wollongong, speaks refreshingly from the midst of his own challenges. His passion for presenting the Gospel to the men of his generation sits easily alongside his love of wild pig shooting in the outback with his mates, while trying to keep his aging body in shape at the gym and training for half marathons.
The thesis of this book comes from Henry David Thoreau's 150 year old diagnosis: "The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation." Stewart reflects, "If he was right 150 years ago… it's surely even truer today. Why does this happen to us? Does it have to be this way? Are there any answers?" It coincides with my own observations of many men in mid life who appear to be on a treadmill where the slope seems to get steeper with every passing year.
Please! No more boring sermons
- Written by: Chris Appleby
"Please! No more boring sermons"
Book Review by Peter Brain
Editor Keith Weller Acorn Press 2007
This book will prove to be a very practical help for preachers. Its strength lays not so much in its express purpose of no more boring sermons but the clear conviction of each of its ten contributors that Biblical preaching is essential to God's purposes.
The first two thirds of the book contain eleven articles covering the importance of preaching, its character, preparation, its orality and sound, preaching and liturgy, preaching the Old Testament narrative, series, occasional and evangelistic preaching.
These are thoughtfully developed by eight experienced practitioners including now retired veterans like Harry Goodhew, David Williams, Keith Rayner and John Chapman along with those who teach and train new preachers, Peter Adam, Adrian Lane and Robin Payne and from the busy and experienced Vicar of St. Judes, Carlton, Richard Condie.
A Christian Approach to Sustainable Development
- Written by: Ian Hore-Lacy
My book Responsible Dominion sets out to do two things in grappling with the stewardship question:
- challenge some green Christian waffle which has been published over the last 15 years, and suggest that a Christian approach should not only respect God's handiwork in creation - the focus on green and aesthetic aspects, but also encompass a practical understanding of the earth's resources, which are no less his handiwork. Furthermore it asserts that those resources are needed to give all the 6.5 billion inhabitants a standard of living comparable with ours.
- challenge the basis of secular environmental ideology, which is fundamentally pagan and contemptuous of Christian priorities which understand humankind as made in God's image. That of course doesn't stop it being picked up by Christians and retailed into the churches, as it has been.
Book Review: Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses
- Written by: Peter Adam
Book Review: Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony, Eerdmans, 2006
Richard Bauckham is a distinguished academic, a prolific author, and Professor of New Testament at St Andrew's University in Scotland.
In his latest book he works through the evidence of the four Gospels, and the writings of Papias [fl. 98-117 AD], in the context of various kinds of writing and historiography in the first century. He claims that the notion of eyewitness was recognised in the writing of history and in the writing of 'lives' of famous people in the first century, that it has good claim to be authentic, and that this kind of eyewitness account forms the substance of the four Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. Richard Bauckham applies this theory in great detail to the gospel of John, which he claims is the witness of John the elder of the church in Asia [not John son of Zebedee].
The significance of this claim must be seen against the background of Gospels' scholarship over the last 100 years. The key questions to ask is: what was the source and focus of the theological creativity which produced the Christian movement and which is reflected in the four Gospels? There have been three answers to this question over the last century.
Book review: Turning Around the Mainline
- Written by: Adian Lane
Book review: Turning Around the Mainline: How Renewal Movements are Changing the Church; Thomas C. Oden, Baker, 2006, 272p $US17.99
Oden's latest book is key for anyone interested in the renewal of Protestant mainline churches. As a resource, it chronicles the recent history of the renewal and confessing movements in the US and Canada and celebrates their coming together, theologically and organisationally, in what Oden terms a "new ecumenism of orthodox Christian teaching after the collapse of modernity" (208). Oden includes evangelical groups within the renewal movement, but downplays their contribution in favour of "classical ecumenical teaching" (208). In "boring but important" chapters Oden provides examples of orthodox theological statements and of legal argument relating to the trust of property according to the discipline of the church. He helpfully discusses the place of discipline, and of church and civil courts.
For orthodox Christians, the book is a great encouragement. Oden records the perseverance of faithful groups with few resources in the face of plain unfaithfulness by well resourced denominational leaders pursuing their own agendas (16). He names the way denominational headquarters have marginalized these groups by calling them fundamentalists, old-fashioned, exclusive or obstructive. He gives a clear call on theological and prudential grounds to stay and steward God's great heritage in the mainline (27-34). However, unity must be based on truth, and heresy disciplined (103-119). Amiable separation with entitlements is urged for those who cannot assent to doctrinal foundations. An excellent chapter (179-196) on confessing and its noble history challenged me to make this more integral to church life.