Church And Faith (1)
Thwaites says in his foreword that some people have asked him why the local church demanded so much of their time and energy and in return gave so little back to them; it seems that they wanted to know why the work of the local church was deemed to be more important than their everyday life and work. Thwaites wants to not only answer their questions, but also give to them a worldview that helps them to live out their answers. Does he succeed? Can church work as it was meant do? How was it meant to do?
The front cover sub-title for Webber’s book is “Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World.” Webber defines modernity as “Western Christianity…interpreted through the modern categories of science, philosophy, and communication theory.” He says that this view is dying today because of the current revolutions in these same fields of studies, and this new era is called Postmodernity.
The back cover of Webber’s book declares that ”The road to the future runs through the past”; thus these phrases sum up the author’s approach, methodology and conclusion. Webber declares that “You can best think about the future of the faith after you have gone back to the classical tradition.” His book focuses on “The demise of modernity, the rise of postmodern thought, and the creative calling to re-present a classical Christianity within a postmodern world.”
Moltmann’s intention was to write a book in which his practical concern was church reform; that is, “The transformation of the church from a religious institution which looks after people, into a congregational or community church in the midst of the people and with the people.” He explores his aim through seven sections:
The Dimensions of a Doctrine of the Church Today
The Church in History
The Church of Jesus Christ
The Church of the Kingdom of God
The Church in the Presence of the Holy Spirit
The Church in the Power of the Holy Spirit
The Marks of the Church.
The book “The Coming Evangelical Crisis” has as its subtitle: ‘Current Challenges To The Authority Of Scripture And The Gospel’, and I find it at once curious that Jesus appears to need no defending, but the Bible and the gospel do. Are we on the back foot yet again, desperately shooting at everything that dares to challenge our theological position? Only asking…
But then, on turning to the back cover I find another question, “Has the church lost its way?” I wonder if the Way has lost the church! The book is also asking “What will evangelicalism look like if it continues on the course it has followed in the past twenty-five years?” The alarm is being sounded, how should we respond? In the book’s introduction, Armstrong reasserts “Two vital truths of evangelicalism.” The first is Sola Scriptura and the second is Sola Fide. We will examine these in due course.
Willard’s book is attempting to examine a Christian spirituality that is focused on biblical truth rather than on denominational labels. He is appealing for a true New Testament discipleship rather than having a mere opinion or doctrine of truth, and he uses the Sermon on the Mount as his foundation. The author crusades against the ‘cheap grace’ that suggests that Christianity is all about the life to come. Richard Foster, speaking of “The Divine Conspiracy’, says that Willard never allows issues to stay theoretical, but that ‘he constantly weaves them into the warp and woof of daily experience.” Willard is therefore seeking to be practical; he is apparently not attempting to be academic or to write a commentary, though the length of the book might make you think otherwise!
Fiddes asks “How can our salvation in the present depend upon an event in the past?” Through this question, the author sets out to explore the many images by which the Christian church has tried to understand the idea of atonement through the cross of Christ. For Fiddes, the cross is central, because “The many strands of human experience run through the cross-roads of the cross.”
The author explores how that one cross event can impact upon all future (and past?) human life, how the cross relates to the continuous process of God’s saving activity, and how various relationships such as divine action and human response, justice and love, and the link between past and present are impacted by the cross.