Faithful responses

faithReview by Alan Ray

Book | A faith to live by (Volume 2) | Roland Ashby

Is Christianity a quaint, harmless hobby like quilting or trainspotting? Or should it permeate all aspects of our life? This volume provides a smorgasbord of topical theological and social justice issues from leading thinkers. It follows the highly acclaimed first volume.

In 31 interviews we learn from Archbishops Justin Welby and Kay Goldsworthy, N.T. Wright, Tim Costello and others.

The conversations range from a woman archbishop’s personal testimony to insights on St Paul’s theology from influential theologian Tom Wright. There is a section on understanding and engaging with Islam. This interview caught my eye because it spoke of the ‘jihad’ of Jesus.

Today in Australia, when church attendances are falling, church buildings are being sold and more of our fellow citizens are declaring they have “no religion” on the census form, this is a timely publication. Philip Hughes and Stanley Hauerwas reflect on the future which they see for faith when the Christendom era is over.

This Synod of the Uniting Church has tasked each congregation to envision what needs to be done to make our parishes viable and relevant in five years’ time. Encumbered with an ageing demographic this is an urgent problem. In hard-hitting chapters such as “Mission is not about ‘scalp-hunting’ for Jesus” and “An Activist for Gospel Justice” by Stephen Cottrell and Tim Costello respectively, we are drawn to new visions.

We are also privileged to share in Pope Francis’ spirituality. It is based on the spiritual exercises of the Spanish mystic St Francis of Loyola, who founded the Jesuit order. Protestants are rediscovering these and other spiritual exercises: meditation, lectio divina, Celtic spirituality. All are explored here.

The subtitle of this volume sums up its challenge to us all:  “What an intelligent, compassionate and authentic 21st century Christian faith looks like”.

In just 170 pages, these incisive interviews distil the essence of the Gospel and enable us to be nourished by it.

Available from Morning Star Publishing, RRP $19.95

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