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The Story of Monasticism
Three Wise Men From The East
Rites Of Ordination
A Path To Healing A Nation
Power In The Pulpit
Ancient Voices (History Today)
Pioneers Of Scottish Christianity
Thirty Nine New Articles
Silent Witnesses
The Underground Church
Wounded Visions
The Church Jesus Prayed For
Sermons of The Great Ejection
Confraternities and Sodalities in Ireland
Wakefield Diocese
Saints, Sacrilege and Sedition
A Passionate Faith
From Willow Creek To Sacred Heart
The Essential History of Christianity
Britain's Spiritual Inheritance
No Lions in the Hierarchy
Luther and His World
1536 - The Year That Changed Henry VIII
Where Has The Body Been For 2000 Years?
Law, Power and Justice In Ancient Israel
Christian Music
Christian Beginnings from Nazareth to Nicaea, AD 30-325
The Missional Church in Perspective
Jesus: A Short Life
The Redemptorists in Ireland 1851-2011
Reaping the Harvest
Thy Kingdom Come
The Reformation Experience
Sacraments and Worship
Overcoming Violence
Ultimate Price
The Future of the Global Church
The Ordained Women Deacons of the Church’s First Millennium
Outcast Nation – Israel The Jews.....and You
Walsingham
The Siege of Jerusalem
The King James Bible


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Church / Christian History & Future

The history of the church: its development and practice, trends and future possibilities.

The Story of Monasticism

- Retrieving an Ancient Tradition for Contemporary Spirituality

by Greg Peters


This is a fantastic detailed look at the Monastic tradition from a protestant perspective and theologian, and it is really insightful and indeed quite unusual for this reason.

It covers monasticism as a whole but what you do not often get in other books on the subject is that he looks at Luther, Calvin and reformation positions on monasticism beyond their seeming want to destroy them, this book goes so much deeper than that and highlights instead how and why the reformers took exceptions to the monastic traditions vows especially, but he then goes forwards to how within protestantism a new development of Monasticism arose and is still arising, and herein lies key fresh insights of a movement that is ongoing and needed still.

A wonderful addition to the books on Monasticism and its history.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (16/04/16)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Academic imprint of Baker Publishing from SPCK
Published: August 2015
ISBN: 978-0-801-04891-3
Paperback
Price: £13.99

Three Wise Men From The East

- The Cappadocian Fathers And The Struggle For Orthodoxy

by Patrick Whitowrth


The Cappadocian Fathers—Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory Nazianzen—are actually quite an intrinsic bit of our church history, given that they had so much to do foundationally with the idea's of Trinity, Incarnation and other concepts that are at the heart and basis of our theology and that form our idea of what is orthodox in our faith. 

I'm not using the word orthodox here in the term of the Orthodox church—and nor is this book—but in the sense of the right teaching of the church. Although of course these gentlemen were and are indeed very much part of the Eastern church and in reading this book you come to understand that church a little better too. 

Here this book shines through, opening up the reasons and understandings for why we have the idea's we do, how these came about and were formulated, and how these interesting men were foundational to our theology of faith.

It's a well written, well exercised, intelligent and above all interesting book that deals with some of the churches early fathers, teaching, discussions and arguments in a thoroughly enjoyable way.


Review by Melanie Carroll  (09/05/15)
Jacket
Publisher: Gardners Books
Published: May 2015
ISBN: 978-1-908-38117-0
Paperback
Price: £14.99

Rites Of Ordination

- Their History and Theology

by Paul F Bradshaw


Paul Bradshaw is one of the church's leading writers on the liturgical practice of the Christian Church. In this volume Bradshaw focuses on the practice of ordination, tracing its origins in the customs of the earliest Christian communities through to the current practice in both Roman Catholic and Protestant communities.

Largely organised chronologically, Rites of Ordination is both a theological as well as a historical study. Despite its conciseness—and Bradshaw is honest about the volume's limitations—this is unlikely to be a book with wide appeal. Even those approaching their own ordination might struggle to find much in it that will infuse their own ministry with energy or understanding. This is at heart an academic work, although those with an interest in strengthening ecumenical relations will find much in it to encourage that task.

Bradshaw is to be complimented for a writing style that is very accessible. The topic might not be on everyone's lips, but one cannot fault Bradshaw's determination to ease our way into understanding one of the most significant facets of ecclesial life today.



Review by David Ford  (22/07/14)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: January 2014
ISBN: 978-0-281-07157-9
Paperback
Price: £19.99

A Path To Healing A Nation



by Frances Hogan


 

This is a book written for and about the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Republic of Ireland.

Not only is its focus ecclesiologically and geographically narrow, its outlook is shaped by a yearning for a very particular kind of renewal of the Roman Catholic Church and nation of Ireland. Frances Hogan has a clear dislike for the Second Vatican Council and the wave of liberal optimism it unleashed. From her introduction:

”There is rebellion among some priests against the Church and against the Pope…we have religious communities who do not want to be different from lay people, priests who want to get married and women who want to be priests!”

Many of my Roman Catholic friends might respond to this by exclaiming; “Yes, thank God!” which serves only to underline the depth of disagreement that is to be found in the Roman Catholic Church. This also makes it difficult for those of us outside the Roman Catholic Church to truly understand what it feels like to be a Roman Catholic, let alone an Irish Catholic dreaming of a world in which the Church once again had power and privilege within the life of the State and Nation.

Despite this critique, Frances Hogan is a remarkable biblical scholar and commentator on the waywardness of Western ‘civilisation’ and there is much to commend in her analysis of both. But this is not a volume to read without balance from other voices on the steps we might take to restore sense and morals in our lands.

 



Review by David Ford  (05/07/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: April 2014
ISBN: 978-1-782-18114-9
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Power In The Pulpit



by Henry C Fish


This short booklet is reprint of an article that first appeared in the British and Foreign Evangelical Review in 1862.

Having acknowledged that the work and help of the Holy Spirit is indispensable in preaching, the author concentrates on the human aspects that can lead to power in the pulpit. Three areas are discussed: the matter, the manner and the man.

In days of froth and frolic and lightness and laughter in many pulpits this book is a call back to the old paths, to the style of preaching that God used to bring about great revivals in the 18th and 19th century.

Don't be put off by the book's size. There is a huge amount of teaching within its few pages. For instance when talking about the man he speaks about goodness, courage, experience, industriousness, sympathy, enthusiasm, earnestness, passion, prayer, faithfulness and holiness.

All preachers will benefit from reading Pastor Fish's wise words. May the Lord raise up such men to preach the everlasting gospel with power!



Review by Alan Hill  (23/05/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust
Published: November 2013
ISBN: 978-1-848-71307-9
Paperback
Price: £2.99

Ancient Voices (History Today)

- Learning From Pompeii

by Ann Sloane


If you ask me where is the most memorable place I have visited, I will reply “Pompeii”. It is extraordinary to walk along a Roman street, as it was in the 1st century AD and see the shops, homes and civic buildings, and sobering to realise that the city was the graveyard for over 2,000 people.

In this book Ann Sloane gives us the history and a guidebook to this remarkable place. Beginning with background information about the Roman Empire, she goes on to describe the volcanic eruption of 79 AD and the subsequent rediscovery and excavation of the city. Finally there is a chapter outlining spiritual lessons we can learn from the tragic events drawing a parallel with Sodom and Gomorrah.

It would have been good if the book had contained information about the location of the various sites, visiting hours and car parking, but this is a minor quibble. Overall this is a book that will educate, enlighten and encourage you visit one of the wonders of the world.



Review by Alan Hill  (10/12/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Day One Publications
Published: November 2013
ISBN: 978-1-846-25398-0
Paperback
Price: £6.00

Pioneers Of Scottish Christianity

- Ninian, Columba and Mungo

by Roderick Graham


This book seeks to answer the question of how Christianity came to Scotland. Covering, in particular, the period from 400 AD to 700 AD, Roderick Graham looks at three individuals—Ninian, Columbia and Mungo.

It is difficult to uncover the truth of what happened. Many stories read like Greek myths with bizarre miracles and strange events. The author simply recounts these, leaving it to the reader to try and separate fact from fiction. My conclusion was that most should be filed under fiction.

The book ends with the church leaders debating minor matters such as when to celebrate Easter and the way in which a priest's head should be shaved after ordination.

I was left with the overriding impression that Scotland was still largely in spiritual darkness even after 400 years of Christian influence. There were, I am sure, ordinary people who believed the good news about Jesus Christ and were saved but sadly their stories have been lost in the mists of time.

Overall the author has done his best to bring some order to the patchy and unreliable records that we have. He writes in a flowing, easy to read style. The result is not a definitive history but broad brush picture containing some of what may have happened. If this period of history interests you then you will enjoy this book.



Review by Alan Hill  (08/12/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Saint Andrew Press
Published: May 2013
ISBN: 978-0-715-20965-3
Paperback
Price: £14.99

Thirty Nine New Articles

- An Anglican Landscape Of Faith

by Martyn Percy


Martyn Percy has written a brilliant book that not only provides a great and concise overview to the reasoning behind the original development of the Thirty Nine articles of faith of the Anglican Church but that also sets out to provide a new modern and relevant consideration and update of them from a modern theological perspective.

He does this utilising a series of short articles that are pieced together from pieces he as written for national papers and also sermons he has given. Following the four points of the original articles we get modern considerations on A Catholic Faith, A Personal Religion, A Corporate Religion and finally in line but divergent from the original Miscellaneous we have Miscellaneous People.

The articles provided are short and easy to read, and though not necessarily what we would consider 'articles of faith' in the traditional sense are none the less worthy considerations and views of what the theology and understandings of our day reflect the Anglican faith to be - a consideration of divergence, difference and coming together despite all of this.

This book would make a great personal read for any member of the Anglican Communion but would also be a great book to use as a church or small group study, taking each article as the basis for discussion.



Review by Melanie Carroll  (11/11/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: September 2013
ISBN: 978-1-848-25525-8
Paperback
Price: £16.99

Silent Witnesses

- Lessons On Theology, Life, and the Church from Christians of the Past

by Garry J Williams


What an excellent book, a brilliant series of studies on theologians, witnesses, pastors and fathers of the church that both clearly and concisely tell us not only about the people themselves, their times and their beliefs but in so doing helps inform us about our own faith, theology and beliefs - especially if you are from a reformed tradition. After all the future is written on the past and without first understanding where we come from how can we truly understand where we are and where we yet have to go. Jonathan Edwards, Calvin, Tyndale and others are here, silent witnesses in the way of all witnesses that have gone before but ones that speak loudly. Foundational characters one and all, and I loved the chapter that dealt with Puritan Psychology, indeed this chapter really made the book for me. If you have even a passing interest in Puritan theology then you really need to read this chapter for fresh insight and enjoyment. A great church history book but one that sets its sights radically on today's church.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (06/08/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust
Published: May 2013
ISBN: 978-1-848-71217-1
Hardback
Price: £14.50

The Underground Church

- Reclaiming the subversive way of Jesus

by Robin Meyers


"We have so long defined ourselves by who and what we are not that we have almost forgotten entirely who and what we are."¯ So begins Robin Meyers at the start of this remarkable book in which he seeks to rediscover the essential components of what should be the defining characteristics of the church.

Meyers' critique of the church is staggeringly accurate ("More passion is generated by a service that runs too long than by the destruction of the planet.") His analysis of what has gone wrong returns - as other commentators have before him - to the effect of, as he puts it "waking up in bed with Constantine". Political recognition has compromised the church and dragged us further and further from the heart of Jesus' call. We are in bed today with the imperial forces of global consumerism determined to wreck God's world and the church has nothing to say - or more importantly perhaps - lives in such a compromised and complicit way that its words, however heroic and well-intentioned, will never be heard.

Meyers' solution is to call upon Christians to rediscover the gospel by placing trust in God, truly loving one another sacrificially and countering the imperial forces of today's culture by deliberate acts of subversion. Translating this from Meyers' American context to the UK naturally - at least for us Anglicans - raises questions about the future of the established church. But more fundamental questions are raised too - just how many Christians are there that would recognise the subversive nature of the Jesus that Meyers describes? And how many of them are prepared to act upon it? As the church seeks to adjust to the reality of its own powerlessness Meyers asks some vital questions we all need to consider.



Review by David Ford  (10/07/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: November 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06941-5
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Wounded Visions

- Unity, Justice, and Peace in the World Church after 1968

by Jonas Jonson


Jonas Jonson is bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Strängnäs, Church of Sweden. He has been directly involved with the ecumenical movement for forty years. As a result he has produced this authoritative volume giving clear perspectives on the changes in, and developments of global Christianity from the 1960s to the present day. Significant for the direction of ecumenical relations was the fourth assembly of the World Council of Churches in Uppsala in 1968, which was to colour future ecumenical discussions and relationships. He covers, among other issues, the ecumenical movement's response to the fall of communism, the opening-up of China and the globalization of the financial markets. For all that, the author believes that all Christian relationships must be rooted in prayer allied with hope brought about by the resurrection of Christ. Therefore, they can believe in the world's and the Church's future. For those who believe that continuing ecumenical dialogue is important this book will inform and shape both thought and direction.

Review by Graham Wise  (21/05/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Eerdmans from Alban Books
Published: January 2013
ISBN: 978-0-802-86778-0
Hardback
Price: £26.99

The Church Jesus Prayed For

- A personal journey into John 17

by Michael Cassidy


This is a substantive and powerful exploration into the multi-faceted aspects of unity in Christ, as seen in the detail of John 17. The mystery and complexity of this prayer is unpacked in this weighty scholarship by Michael Cassidy.

John 17 is arguably the most complete and demanding prayer for the church. Human condition and scriptural faithfulness co-exist powerfully here in a resource book, that reflects a life of faithful ministry. The Church Jesus Prayed For is the fruit of Cassidy's "love affair with this poignant prayer".

In Jesus' prayer, Cassidy sees everything to do with the church's life in the world - "its authority, its characteristics, its lifestyle, its mission, its inner dynamics, plus both its heavenly and its earthly purposes". The heart of this book - what Cassidy labels the "Ten Marks" of the church Jesus prayed for, are identified as Truth, Holiness, Joy, Protection from Evil, Mission, Prayer, Unity, Love, Power and Glory. He writes substantively and in-depth on each of these topics, elaborating Biblically and experientially on them.

The chapters on joy, mission and unity are particularly brilliant. Not an easy canter but a masterful deep book worthy of your time. You'll be fuelled deeply and energised through Cassidy's outstanding effort.

The Church Jesus Prayed For reveals the heart and mind of Jesus for all kinds of readers. Gracious, generous and full of generosity.

Review by Johnny Douglas  (25/04/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Monarch imprint of Lion Hudson
Published: November 2012
ISBN: 978-0-857-21330-3
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Sermons of The Great Ejection



by Various


The Act of Uniformity of 1662 prescribed that any minister in England who refused to conform to the Book of Common Prayer by 14th August 1662 would be ejected from the Church of England. Over 2,000 evangelical ministers left their livings rather than conform to what they saw as extra-Biblical rules and regulations. It was a sad day for the Church of England from which many think the Church never recovered.

This book is not the history of that tragic event but rather gives us an insight into the kind of men who were affected. The book consists of brief biographies and the last sermons by seven men who chose to leave their flock. At the end there is a fascinating catechism which gives us the Biblical reasons why so many felt compelled to resign. First published in 1662 and 1663 the text has been updated into modern English.

Here we see Puritan preaching at is best: Biblical exposition, lively illustrations and pastoral application. Not surprisingly there is a great deal of parting counsel which could be summed up by the phrase "Stand firm in the faith". For these men truth and holiness rightly came before conformity and unity.

Any Christian who is grappling with the issue of whether unity is more important than truth would do well to read this book, especially the catechism. Any minister who is about to preach his last sermon to a congregation will find many stimulating ideas here. All Christians who desire to feed their soul will not be disappointed – this is a spiritual feast.

If you have never read any Puritan books this is a good place to start – you will find these sermons readable, challenging and edifying.

Review by Alan Hill  (23/04/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust
Published: July 2012
ISBN: 978-1-848-71152-5
Paperback
Price: £6.25

Confraternities and Sodalities in Ireland

- Charity, Devotion and Sociability

editor Colm Lennon


The parish associations, otherwise known as confraternities and sodalities, played a vital part in the revival of Catholic worship after the penal laws. They did much to enrich the devotional life of members, giving charity to the poor and performing educational work among the young. However, they almost entirely disappeared in the middle of last century. This collection of essays by professors, teachers and researchers, examines both the importance of these associations in Irish life and the reasons for their demise. There is also a useful online database with an extensive bibliography. This book will be welcomed by religious and lay both in Ireland and in the wider community and will be a source of inspiration to many.

Review by John Irvine  (23/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: November 2012
ISBN: 978-1-856-07792-7
Paperback
Price: £14.99

Wakefield Diocese

- Celebrating 125 Years

by Kate Taylor


The present Bishop of Wakefield points out in his foreword that the diocese "was set up in 1888 as a rather tardy response to the Industrial Revolution in this part of West and South Yorkshire", and faces absorption, with Bradford, and Ripon and Leeds diocese in what appears to be almost the status quo before 1888! It would be very helpful to examine in detail the "tardy response" because it would clearly have implications for a number of other dioceses. The detail of that history is here, but it does not necessarily answer the questions one would like to ask. From 1888 the assumption seems to have been that a quantitative rather than a qualitative response needed to be made to the new diocese’s needs. One might say that the idea was to go on doing what had been done – but to do more of it, rather than try novel or radical solutions to the needs of various areas of diocesan life. Why does this not work in the 21st century, and did it ever work?

Review by Ian Gibbs  (25/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-1-848-25253-0
Paperback
Price: £14.99

Saints, Sacrilege and Sedition

- Religion and Conflict in the Tudor Reformations

by Eamon Duffy


"Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang." William Shakespeare, Sonnet LXXIII

Duffy writes with a swing in his words and a pleasing amount of direct quotation. He begins by reviewing Roman Catholic and Protestant historians' perspectives of the Reformation in a refreshingly acerbic fashion, before a scholarly appraisal of the adventures of rood screens as exemplars of the vigour of local involvement in parish life before the 1530s. He demonstrates vividly that a possible future Catholic England was battered out of existence, subtly having given the reader a glimpse of it, without being foolishly counterfactual.

The criminalisation of sincere beliefs by government has a resonance in the official demonisation of those who today prefer the traditional definition of marriage. The nationalisation of valuable property of parishes underscores a government's ability to punish people for dissidence. He does not ignore the fact that the Church's provision varied in quality in different areas, however, and that there was political and economic necessity for the Reformation, as well as greed. When church artefacts were sold at auction, the precious metals having been carried off by zealous Commissioners, much was bought by parishioners, with donors being given first refusal -characteristically English. Much reappeared in Marian times. Duffy sees this again as a symbol of the continuity and reluctance to adhere to the latest official view.

Duffy examines the activities and influence of Pole, Fisher and Cranmer, ensuring that the contemporary effect of the first two is restored: the martyrdoms of the once powerful, he reminds us, have a very great significance for their contemporaries. He does not neglect the hiraeth that overcame late Tudor romantics for the beauty and scholarship,and the dream of united Christendom, both of which had gone, nor does he ignore the simultaneous deep revulsion felt at the corruption of Romish practices in church and state.

One is left with the conventional view that Edwardianism and Marianism were the gateposts of the doorway into Elizabethanism, with influence but finally to be left behind and from which the Anglican Church has derived both its weaknesses and its strength. An extremely interesting and detailed contribution to the debate about the sincerity of the Reformation in England.

Review by Fred Rapsey  (06/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-1-441-18117-6
Hardback
Price: £20.00

A Passionate Faith

- What makes an evangelical?

by Richard Turnbull


Like most readers one of the first things I read is the back cover and endorsements and this book has a cracker of an endorsement from Simon Ponsonby. However after reading the book I was left wth the distinct feeling of having been short-changed; in other words I was disappointed. You’d be wrong however to think that A Passionate Faith is a bad book, it's not but it's nowhere near the rousing call to reach the world that the quote suggests.

Instead it’s a careful study of evangelical spirituality in its various aspects: Bible, prayer, worship and chapters on conversion, revival and holiness by looking at the history of the movement. All of the conclusions point the reader towards a conservative evangelical understanding with a high view of scripture, a preference for Calvinism and a cautious response towards the charismatic and a renewed commitment to evangelism and service.

The characters are the usual suspects of Wesley, Moody, Whitefield and the Keswick Convention. The chapters are all well considered, the tone is measured and the conclusions are moderate. For those interested in the history and development of evangelical spirituality then this is a useful and reasonable book. What it is not is gripping or even passionate. It is a mostly dispassionate look at a passionate faith and as a result lacks persuasive power.

I understand that the publisher needs to make the book as compelling as possible but the best way to do that is to match the presentation with the content and market it accordingly. With A Passionate Faith the dissonance is too great and instead of helping it hinders.

Review by Phil Whittall  (06/02/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Monarch imprint of Lion Hudson
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-1-854-24901-2
Paperback
Price: £8.99

From Willow Creek To Sacred Heart

- Rekindling My Love for Catholicism

by Chris Haw


Can you be an Evangelical and Catholic? Too right you can as Chris Haw so amazingly demonstrates in this book. The first part of the book is Chris Haw's testimony. A young man that left Catholicism early on and joined Willow Creek, then went on to Eastern University (the university that saw Shane Claiborne and others start the New Monastic movement afresh - indeed Claiborne provides the forward for this book) and out into the real tough love mission fields of urban poverty. All the while remaining evangelical at heart, even though due to where his mission placed him he was attending a Catholic church weekly, along with the Mennonites he was sharing community with. Over time and as we discover in the second part of this book he fell in love with the Catholic Church again, seeing in it a rhythm and call to action, a liturgical response that calls for action to the poor and that sees liberation theology as an active part of its reach. In this second part of the book he does not shy away from addressing the problems of the Catholic Church, but he does so clearly, honestly and without bias, demonstrating the good with the bad and highlighting in many ways how the differences that divide are not so big as we might think.

Chris Haw is still an Evangelical but he is a Catholic Evangelical - and that is an important thing to see and understand. This book really is an important work for ecumenical reasons and one I would encourage many people to read to get to see what Catholicism really is, as opposed to what many tend to think it is.

"This is an excellent and timely book and one that I really do recommend for Catholics, Evangelicals and any one else as well!" Claiborne

Review by Melanie Carroll  (28/01/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Ave Maria Press from Alban Bks
Published: November 2012
ISBN: 978-1-594-71292-0
Paperback
Price: £9.99

The Essential History of Christianity



by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes


Here is two thousand years of Christian history condensed into 140 pages! That may seem an impossible task but Miranda Threlfall-Holmes has produced a highly readable book that surveys the whole Christian era in a broad sweep with essential, but not too much detail. As an introduction to Christian history it would be very useful on a church bookstall or in a church library. It shows us where we have come from and why we have arrived where we are now, as well as giving clues about what might happen in the future. Unlike many church histories, this is very accessible, clearly written, easily read and highly informative.

Review by Graham Wise  (07/01/13)
Jacket
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06642-1
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Britain's Spiritual Inheritance

- Our revival history, our prophetic heritage

by Diana Chapman


This is an exciting book with a real WOW factor! In her survey of Britain's revival history Diana Chapman conveys, in very readable form, the remarkable ways in which God has intervened in our national history. Britain's historic inheritance is its relationship with the God who acts in history and society. Here are the stories of men and women in many generations who heard the voice of God, acted on what they heard, and transformed society with the Gospel. The author demonstrates that the age of revival is not dead; that God has done great things in our history and that it can happen again. God is always willing, always able. There is only one response to this important book, "Lord, do it again!" This book should be read and reread. Read it and be both challenged and inspired.

Review by Graham Wise  (22/12/12)
Jacket
Publisher: River Publishing from Joining the Dots Distribution
Published: August 2012
ISBN: 978-1-908-39323-4
Paperback
Price: £9.99

No Lions in the Hierarchy

- An Anthology of Sorts

by Joseph Dunn


This is a big book and it deals with big issues. The author Joseph Dunn is a Catholic priest. He is also a journalist and theologian who has travelled all over the world making films on church matters for Irish TV. The book was first published under John-Paul's pontificate and is now reissued owing to its continuing interest. Among the major issues he deals with are priestly celibacy, the ordination of women, birth control, liberation theology and the centrality of Rome and the Vatican. These are all contemporary controversial issues, dealing as they do with what the author sees as shortcomings in the Catholic Church. However, Fr. Dunn insists throughout that he remains a firm, believing and practising Catholic and that he is motivated solely by love of his church. This is a book that should be read by all who care about the future of the Catholic Church.

Review by John Irvine  (05/12/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: September 2012
ISBN: 978-1-856-07782-8
Paperback
Price: £12.50

Luther and His World



by Graham Tomlin


Although slender compared with some books on Martin Luther, this new paperback is packed with information and tells us as much, in 150 pages, as most of us probably need to know about the chief instigator of the 16th century Reformation, whom Graham Tomlin calls "one of the most influential European figures of the last millennium". It's all there - Luther's complex character, "a man of immense personal courage, fierce intelligence, and Teutonic stubbornness" (Yes, and with recurring health problems!); his personal spiritual struggles and anxieties, not only in a monastery in his youth, but in his later life, too; his "exuberant sense of relief and joy" when God was transformed for him from a "condemning, demanding tyrant" into "a good, generous, big-hearted God". You will read of his conflicts with the religious and political authorities after he had "thrown down the gauntlet" with his theses in Wittenberg in 1517, challenging much of the thought and practice of the Church and "changing the course of history irrevocably". Read Chapter 6 for Luther's political views and his attitude to the 'peasants' revolt' in Germany, and Chapter 7 for his controversies with Erasmus and Zwingli. The final chapter, ‘The Legacy’, offers stimulating thoughts on Suffering, Justification by Faith and Theology and Experience. I think Graham Tomlin has succeeded in his aim, which is "to present an accessible and attractive introduction to Luther’s life, ideas and significance", leading many readers on to more substantial works, such as those by G Ebeling or R H Bainton.

Review by Barry Vendy  (14/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Lion Hudson
Published: 24 August 2012
ISBN: 978-0-745-95588-9
Paperback
Price: £6.99

1536 - The Year That Changed Henry VIII



by Suzannah Lipscombe


Suzannah Lipscombe carried out this research when Associate in the Knowledge Transfer Partnership between Historic Royal Palaces and Kingston University. I found this very readable and liked the way she discussed the opinions of other Historians, not discrediting their findings but in the process of research reinforcing her own theory that 1536 was a pivotal year in the life of Henry and as a result crucial in the formation of what we know as the Church of England. It is amazing how many letters and other documents are still extant. As well as those written about in this book, there are others mentioned in a 2009 TV programme, and this gave yet another view. A fascinating subject that as Research Curator at Hampton Court Palace, Suzannah Lipscombe will hopefully write more about.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (30/04/09)
Jacket
Publisher: Lion
Published: October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-745-95332-8
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Where Has The Body Been For 2000 Years?



by David Pawson


This is a substantive sweep of the churches history. It seeks to track the timeline between the close of the New Testament and today. Most of the mistakes made have happened before and in learning, that there is wisdom available. We can draw inspiration and examples from the spiritual giants who went before us with David Pawson's ambitious sweep of almost all ages, BC & AD!
There is commitment to much learning and wisdom here.

Review by Johnny Douglas  (22/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Anchor Recordings
Published: March 2012
ISBN: 978-0-956-93767-4
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Law, Power and Justice In Ancient Israel



by Douglas A. Knight


The author’s aim is to describe law as it was understood and practised in ‘Ancient Israel,’ but making a distinction between that law and the law as described in the Old Testament texts. He describes his method of reconstructing Israelite law as ‘triangulation.’ By using ancient texts, evidence from neighbouring cultures and history recoverable from the findings of archaeology, triangulation may be achieved. The reader will have to judge whether this approach works, and whether law among the Israelites emerges with any certainty from the application of these principles. Nevertheless, it all makes for a most stimulating read in what must be for many, unfamiliar territory.

Review by Ian Gibbs  (20/09/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press from Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: 2011
ISBN: 978-0-664-22144-7
Hardback
Price: £12.99

Christian Music

- A Global History

by Tim Dowley


This is a beautiful book. Within its copiously illustrated pages (264 of them, from title page to index) it charts the history of Christian music of all kinds, both inside and outside the church, and across many cultures. It begins with a look at the instruments and practice of Old Testament times, and runs through to the start of the 21st century. The book has 21 chapters, interspersed with feature articles (again well illustrated) from guest contributors. Throughout, the text has clear sub-headings, and the style is very readable. All these virtues make it a joy to dip into.
To cover so much ground in a relatively small space is a remarkable achievement, and when you read the book from cover to cover, a couple of the shortcomings mentioned in the foreword do become apparent:- the mistakes, and an inevitable tendency for some parts of it to be little more than name-checking lists. Also, while the illustrations of people and places are lovely, I found myself wishing for a few more examples of music to illustrate what the text was describing.
None of this detracts from the pleasure this book gives. It makes a fine coffee table book, and at about 10 x 8 inches is suitable even for small coffee tables.

Review by Martin Brasier  (10/09/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Lion
Published: September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-745-95324-3
Hardback
Price: £20.00

Christian Beginnings from Nazareth to Nicaea, AD 30-325



by Geza Vermes


Geza Vermes’ scholarship is widely acclaimed. His recent book follows the development of Christian ideas during the first three centuries when the struggle to do something with that ragbag of experiences, memories, hopes, misunderstandings, was being formulated into a faith called Christianity. Here it staggered through persecution only to be faced with political ownership. Geza Vermes uses the earliest, most authentic documents to chart the process. For those who want their faith to come out of the Bible fully formed then this book will be an irrelevance. If however you struggle to understand what happened to make the words of an intuitive and charismatic prophet’s ministry about a kingdom that was more topsy-turvy than any child’s fairytale, into the stereotypical faith we find in most of our Churches, this book will help, though it may also sadden you.
It is clearly and helpfully written, so that we are not overburdened by the more arcane arguments of the early Church Fathers. Geza Vermes concentrates on the development of early Church liturgy and practice, and on the discussions about who Jesus really was, and how belief in his divinity matured. These are things that should be discussed much more widely and I recommend the book most strongly.

Review by Peter Scott  (10/09/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Allen Lane imprint of Penguin, from Gardners
Published: 07 July 2012
ISBN: 978-1-846-14150-8
Hardback
Price: £25.00

The Missional Church in Perspective

- Mapping Trends and Shaping the Conversation

by Craig Van Gelder & Dwight J Zscheile


If you feel lost in the missional conversation, this book will go some way to clarifying things for you! Thoughtful and informative, it traces the history and development of the missional conversation, revisiting the 1998 book entitled Missional Church (ed. Darrell Guder) and considering how thinking has progressed since then. The classification of approaches to missional church is particularly helpful in its breadth and depth of study. The second half of the book then seeks to develop the missional conversation in various ways: attention is given specifically to its theological frameworks, understanding of culture and congregational and leadership practices in the missional church. I very much enjoyed my readings in this book and expect to go back to it more than a few times for reference purposes. This one is worth buying.

Review by Chloe Lynch  (28/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Baker Academic imprint of Baker Publishing from SPCK
Published: 01 May 2011
ISBN: 978-0-801-03913-3
Paperback
Price: £11.99

Jesus: A Short Life

- The Historical Evidence

by John Dickson


An excellent book! I enjoyed it as a reader and then put on my ‘book selling hat’ and thought how good the book was for a general bookshop or a Christian bookshop and the wide range of potential customers from student to confirmation candidate to general reader. John Dickson tackles the old challenge of ‘Did Jesus really exist?’ in a clear, lively and very readable manner, using the latest thoughts and evidence. Having read similar more academic tomes, I found myself re-visiting evidence in a fresh way and therefore gaining new insight, so even if you think you know the answers, reading this book can refresh your belief and discussion. If you then wish to go further there are detailed notes and a bibliography to do follow up reading. Refreshing that an academic can bridge the gap and produce a book which informs and reads well without being too formal and stiff.

Review by Carole Burrows  (28/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Lion Hudson
Published: 18 May 2012
ISBN: 978-0-745-95578-0
Paperback
Price: £6.99

The Redemptorists in Ireland 1851-2011



by Brendon McConvery CSsR


The author, who is himself a Redemptorist and teaching theologian, writes of the immense contribution the Redemptorists, both men and women, have made to Irish Catholic life. Founded by five Europeans in the eighteenth century, the order has been more than a century and a half in Ireland where they made their mark in particular after the Great Famine. They are still at work, not only in parish ministry but in the Northern Ireland peace process. They are also renowned for their work in foreign missions, in India, Brazil and beyond. This study of the order, which examines in detail its 160 years’ work in Ireland, is well-researched, comprehensive, and enlightening.

Review by John Irvine  (13/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: 29 June 2012
ISBN: 978-1-856-07759-0
Paperback
Price: £19.99

Reaping the Harvest

- Fifty Years After Vatican II

by Suzanne Mulligan


The subtitle of the book is Fifty Years After Vatican II and it examines the impact the Second Vatican Council of 1962 had on the life of the Catholic Church. It looks especially at how the Church changed, becoming less defensive and more relevant in the contemporary world. The three contributors, one a woman, are all teaching theologians who have published widely. After the Council the centrality of the Word in scripture and the dignity of the conscience became paramount. The parish was seen as a community with the role of the laity emphasised as never before. The writers recognise that there are still shortcomings and much remains to be done to fulfill the promises of the Council. This is a courageous and challenging book full of constructive suggestions for the way forward.

Review by John Irvine  (30/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Columba Press
Published: 12 June 2012
ISBN: 978-1-856-07789-7
Paperback
Price: £8.50

Thy Kingdom Come

- The Past Present and Future of Evangelical Christianity

by Christopher Catherwood


Thy Kingdom Come is an interesting but uneven look at the state of Evangelical Christianity. It’s interesting because of the global perspective it offers and its rich appreciation of evangelical history. It’s uneven because of some the subject matters (a chapter dedicated to eschatology for example) and for this reader the chapter order. The book also contains lengthy extracts from the Lausanne Covenant and two churches vision statements which in a short book is quite a lot of someone else’s thinking. The book opens with a look at evangelicals’ core beliefs but it would have been a much more dynamic opening had it started with chapter 3 and the overview of global evangelicalism. It also ends without any real conclusion so the book just seems to fizzle out.
Thy Kingdom Come offers an interesting British perspective on evangelicalism today that counters some of the more prevalent misconceptions around today.

Review by Phil Whittall  (26/07/12)
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Publisher: Roperpenberthy Publishing from Trust Media Distribution
Published: 2010
ISBN: 978-1-903-90537-1
Paperback
Price: £8.99

The Reformation Experience

- Living Through the Turbulent 16th Century

by Eric Ives


An engrossing account of the Reformation, debunking the idea that it was all brought about by Martin Luther’s enlightenment in Europe and Henry VIII’s marital woes in England. Eric Ives explains how an accurate vernacular translation of the Scriptures led to widespread debate about faith and good works, indulgences, predestination and the nature of the Eucharist – and was fought every step of the way by the established church. Beginning with a description of the pre-Reformation status quo, we are shown the unfolding panorama of Christian belief against a backdrop of politics, power-broking, coercion and mixed motives. The influence of Henry and his wives and how the ‘fault line’ between Protestant and Roman Catholic thought came about is explored, along with the deadly denominational ping-pong that occurred as first one and then another of his children assumed the throne. The penalty for having the wrong convictions at the wrong time was, of course, death by burning, and we owe much of our present-day freedom of conscience to the courage of martyrs. Thoroughly recommended for anyone with an interest in the making of history and how it still shapes us hundreds of years later.

Review by Diane Morrison  (26/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Lion
Published: 12 December 2012
ISBN: 978-0-745-95277-2
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Sacraments and Worship

- Key Readings in the History and Theology of Christian Worship From the New Testament to the Present

Edited and introduced by Maxwell E. Johnson


This large historical anthology of writings about worship is a very welcome arrival for anyone interested in the theology and practice of liturgy. Just dipping into it is an education; and with its Introduction and concise notes it is an amazing resource alongside recent histories of liturgical worship. It is organised in seven sections, relating to sacramental theology, liturgical theology, Initiation and baptism, Eucharist, liturgies of the word, ‘occasional’ sacraments – including penance, marriage, and ordination – and the liturgical year. In each section it contains key statements from recognised authorities in all periods of Christian worship, and from West and East. Within each, the selected documents show where there has been consistent evolution, where debate and dispute, and where – as even in baptism and the Eucharist – the most central acts of worship have unclear origins. It thus displays much of the richness and much of the ambiguity of Christian resources. It even sometimes shows where women had recognised roles in the early church, though of course it is an anthology of writings received into widespread orthodoxy, not of excluded writings. Highly recommended!

Review by Su Reid  (21/07/12)
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Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: April 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06803-6
Paperback
Price: £25.00

Overcoming Violence



by Johnston McMaster


This book examines the roots of violence in Irish history. It starts with a detailed look at the last four centuries of Irish history, examining the wars, battles, skirmishes that were rooted in religious differences. He looks closely at the theological arguments that have been used to justify the violence and at the differences in culture and politics as well as religion which have been at the core of the sectarian divide. ‘Peace does not come through military victory’ is the author’s rallying cry. He then looks forward to a new culture of justice, peace and compassion. He does not take sides but points out to all parties the path to reconciliation and forgiveness. This book is a valuable contribution to the search for a lasting peace in Ireland.

Review by John Irvine  (14/07/12)
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Publisher: Columba Press
Published: 30 March 2012
ISBN: 978-1-856-07754-5
Paperback
Price: £12.50

Ultimate Price

- Testimonies of Christians Who resisted the Third Reich

Selected with an Introduction by Annemarie S. Kidder


Annemarie Kidder provides an informative description of the ‘church struggle’ in 1930s Germany, telling the reader about the Confessing Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Barmen Declaration, among other things. She then tells the inspiring story of seven Christian women and men who opposed Nazism at great personal cost. She summarises their lives, and then quotes from their own letters and other writing. We read about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, eminent theologian, hanged for his involvement in the conspiracy to assassinate Hitler; two Jesuit pastors: Rupert Mayer, who spoke out against the forceful secularisation of the Catholic Church, and suffered imprisonment and banning, dying of a stroke just days after the end of the war; and Alfred Delp, associated with the Kreisau Circle (see website below); Franz Jagerstatter, beheaded in 1943, for his refusal to take the oath of combat; Sophie Scholl, a 22 year old student and member of White Rose (see website below), executed for distributing flyers denouncing Hitler; Bernhard Lichtenberg, Cathedral Provost in Berlin, denounced and arrested on account of his stand for Jews, and dying on his way to Dachau in 1943 after spending 2 years in prison; and Jochen Klepper, a well-known novelist, broadcaster and hymn-writer, who committed suicide in December 1942, along with his Jewish wife, rather than divorce her. These powerfully moving stories challenge any cosy complacency of our own.

Related website:www.historylearningsite.co.uk/kreisau_circle.htm

Review by Barry Vendy  (10/07/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Orbis Books from Alban Books
Published: February 2012
ISBN: 978-1-570-75955-0
Paperback
Price: £14.99

The Future of the Global Church

- History, Trends and Possibilities

by Patrick Johnstone


Those who love maps, statistics and the graphic illustration of both, will enjoy this book. The information it contains is amazingly extensive, although it has to be taken on trust, because checking and referencing can only be done with the electronic component of this book - DVD Rom, website, and the like. There seems to be something for everyone with an interest in our world, here. The caveat is contained in the book’s title. The conclusions drawn from the material, and the aim to which the book is directed, do strike one as somewhat narrow, sectarian even; but that should not overshadow what is a fascinating achievement.

Review by Ian Gibbs  (16/06/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Authentic Media
Published: December 2011
ISBN: 978-1-850-78966-6
Hardback
Price: £24.99

The Ordained Women Deacons of the Church’s First Millennium



by John Wijngaards


I am not an academic but I was fascinated by the title of this book and wanted to know more.
John Wijngaards first published this book in 2002 as No Women in Holy Orders? and set out to disprove that statement. This new enlarged edition ‘presents fresh historical evidence of the sacramental ordination of women as deacons during the first nine centuries of the Christian church.’
A scholar would no doubt examine in great detail the evidence set out here, as an average reader I confess I did not read every word, but I did read more than I expected to. The author writes in a way that keeps you reading, the detailed descriptions of the very similar forms of the ordination rites taken from’ handwritten texts, usually copied on parchment, that are at present preserved in ancient libraries.’ have a strong resemblance with rites we are familiar with today.
Our knowledge of many individual women deacons is brought together here in profusion! They become wives, mothers and widows that we can relate to. Their faith and dedication is inspiring. Their duties are set out clearly in instructions to presiding bishops who had to oversee their lives and to the women, many of whom are remembered by their tombstones that tell of their lives and that the rich among them were generous benefactresses.
This book clearly shows that in past times men and women were considered equal in the eyes of the church and ordained in exactly the same words as we would recognise as ordination today.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (29/03/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Canterbury Press imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Published: 28 February 2012
ISBN: 978-1-848-25121-2
Paperback
Price: £18.99

Outcast Nation – Israel The Jews.....and You

- The Complete Story from Abraham to Armageddon

by Steve Maltz


A sentence on the back of the book expresses my feelings exactly, ‘Steve Maltz’s writing style ensures a lively, entertaining read, but is not a comfortable book. Prepare to be deeply challenged.
Pre-conceived ideas of Israel’s statehood and the position of the Jews as a nation in God’s eyes will be swept away and the position of individual Jews clarified.
The author takes us through the Old Testament account of God’s everlasting covenant with Abraham and on though the years that followed. Sometimes frequent Bible quotations can break up the continuity of what the writer is trying to say, but here they are so much part of the narrative that you are compelled to read every word with fresh eyes however familiar the words are.
The book is divided into three ‘Acts’, Covenant, Exile and Return, though strangely they are not named as such on the Contents page. The ‘Unavoidable Questions’ in the final chapter are particularly challenging, and need to be answered honestly, however uncomfortable they may make you.
Highly recommended for reading by as many people as possible, of all beliefs and none.

Related website:www.hebrewroots.com/

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (06/03/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Saffron Planet
Published: January 2012
ISBN: 978-0-956-22964-9
Paperback
Price: £10.00

Walsingham

- Pilgrims and Pilgrimage

by Michael Rear


Many will welcome Fr Rear’s book, and many of those with enthusiasm. Those who love Walsingham will be delighted to see, perhaps for the first time, photographs of the development of both the modern shrines. Fr Rear’s treatment of the history of the pre-Reformation shrine is rightly extensive, and makes a valuable contribution to the discussion of the shrine’s long history. What is still lacking is a major study of the Augustinian priory that housed the shrine. The history of the former would do so much to illuminate the latter. But while we wait there is so much here to savour.

Review by Ian Gibbs  (06/03/12)
Jacket
Publisher: St Pauls Publishing from Redemptorist Publications
Published: March 2011
ISBN: 978-0-854-39811-9
Paperback
Price: £19.99

The Siege of Jerusalem

- Crusade and Conquest in 1099

by Conor Kostick


Books on military history usually confuse me as they usually contain complex narratives on battle details which I never follow. This book, however, while covering the actual battles, neither confuses nor bores me, as the narrative is both fast paced and informative. The siege itself only took place after three years of travel across Europe and the Holy Land by nobility, clergy, knights and thousands of peasants who saw it as a pilgrimage rather than a military campaign. This was the first crusade against the occupation of Jerusalem to rescue the city from Muslim occupation. I am still convinced that the crusades, despite the call for them coming from the Popes, were just a land grab, as a European ended up as ‘King of Jerusalem’. There is a vast amount of background information which adds to not only an understanding of the undertaking itself, but points the way to an understanding also of later events in history up to the present day. For example, the massacre of Jews in the Rhineland by Germanic crusaders en route to their destination, and the conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims in the Middle East. The author, who is an academic and also a writer of fantasy novels, strikes a good balance between writing in a compelling fashion and giving the historic evidence. His appendix on sources is an interesting account on the approach to historical writing.

Review by Carole Burrows  (22/02/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Continuum - A Bloomsbury Company
Published: September 2011
ISBN: 978-1-441-13828-6
Paperback
Price: £10.99

The King James Bible

- A Short History from Tyndale to Today

by David Norton


Amongst the minor flood of books that have been published to mark the four hundredth anniversary of the King James Bible, few, as is the nature of things, will prove to be of lasting value. This is one that will last.
Although the author has the annoying and contentious habit of describing translations that pre-date the KJB as drafts of that text, nevertheless his detailed analysis of select passages show the reader how the translation arrived at its 1611 form. This goes much further than some more general surveys that do give the historical context, but leave the reader deprived of the ‘mechanics’ of translation. Norton’s book supplies the want.

Review by Ian Gibbs  (11/01/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (CUP )
Published: January 2011
ISBN: 978-0-521-61688-1
Paperback
Price: £14.99