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Church, World and The Kingdom Of God
by Julie Gittoes, Brutus Green & James Heard
Publisher:SCM imprint of Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd
Anyone who has followed the progress of legislation to enable women to be Bishops in the Church of England will be aware that the church – certainly at its legislative level, General Synod – has undergone something of a revolution these past 18 months. In place of the adversarial debates, in which there are inevitably winners and losers, a process of intentional listening and conversation took place. It is this process that arguably has led to agreement between people whose views about women’s ministry remain very different. It is a practical example of a generous ecclesiology in practice.
As every Christian knows being part of the Body of Christ requires that we learn to live with people who are not like us. The Kingdom of God calls us to move beyond tolerance of difference to recognise that it is in the space created by difference that the Holy Spirit can work creatively; it is out of difference that something new, vibrant and energising emerges, to obscure the narrowness of our polarised attitudes. As we are reminded in the book’s Foreword, faith is not about us, but about God.
These nine essays – from a variety of viewpoints – explore the importance to the church’s mission of remembering that church life should reflect the generous abundance of God’s grace. Beginning with the polarisation of debate surrounding Fresh Expressions versus Traditional Church the authors seek to identify a fresh vision for the church’s mission that embraces both tradition and innovation. It is a tough objective in an area that generates strong emotions. Yet it is also a critical one. For modelling God’s generosity to us in our relationships with one another is foundational to our ability to be relevant in our missional work beyond the boundaries of church. There are no options here. If the Church cannot live as if the Kingdom is here, how can we proclaim it with any sense of credibility or integrity?
This is an important collection of essays that deserve to be read widely, and not just by English Anglicans.
Reviewer: David Ford (09/08/14)