Academic

Textbooks for Students and titles suitable for readers of Academic books.

If God, Then What?

- Wondering Aloud About Truth, Origins and Redemption

by Andrew Wilson


At last apologetics that are fresh, dynamic & faithful! It wonderfully grabs and connects with truth that isn't dull, imagination that's not fluffy and reason without argument. Too often what is labelled `Christian apologetics' comes across as boring, and settles in the dust of weak philosophy, daft lines of thought or pseudo-scientific argument. The ground covered in this is ontologically rich around the existence of God and the explicitly Christian claims about sin and death, resurrection and life. There is a light touch, strong insight and much good humour to help everything settle with a security and assurance palpable in this search of God and His character.
There is a energetic creativity that enhances and enlivens orthodox Christianity in a pacey conversational way. The nine core chapters engage with truth and direction powerfully and yet with unassuming grace. People are tired of an arrogant swagger whether from fundamentalists, new atheists or bigots. Here we are offered kindly-spoken evidence and a plausible interpretation of that evidence. Then it is left to us.
As a friend of mine said after reading a few chapters; ‘This book will not argue the sceptical reader into the faith, but they will not be able to dismiss Christians as mindless dogmatists afterwards!’ Christians will enjoy reading this because it will help them to see some things in a new light, and because it will help equip them for those God conversations with sceptics. Open-minded, accessible and all-around brilliant!

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Review by Johnny Douglas  (28/08/12)
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Price: £8.99
Publisher: IVP(Inter Varsity Press)
Published: March 2012
ISBN: 978-1-844-74569-2

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Science and Belief

- The Big Issues

by Russell Stannard


This is an impressive must-read book for all thinking people, atheists and believers alike. It succeeds in making it reasonable to be both scientific and religious, to be up-to-date in both fields, to hold a chair in physics and be a lay minister in the Church of England. Russell Stannard has the gift of expressing complex science in very accessible language, in a book that is based on his twelve-episode video series in DVD format now in 40% of UK secondary schools and in 7,500 churches. In only 173 pages, he covers a lot of scientific ground with chapters on evolution, intelligent design, morality, creation, the anthropic principle, extra-terrestrial intelligence, psychology, and miracles.
Here is a rich buffet of ideas, not dogma, and we are encouraged to take our pick. He writes ‘throughout this book I have tried to keep my own opinions in the background. Not always successfully I know’. Indeed, from time to time he asserts that ‘the defining characteristic of God is that he is a God of love’ (p106), but that is not self-evident so he admits ‘the basic unfairness of the evolutionary process’ without analysing sufficiently the problem of suffering and the ‘cruel death of his Son on the cross’ which for Stannard is the way ‘we know God loves us’ (p33).
Stannard is aware that ‘fundamentalists’ will take issue with him in his evolutionary approach to both science and theology. In his sections on creation and the anthropic principle (his two hardest chapters for secondary schools) he verges on the God of deism rather than theism, despite asserting ‘God as Sustainer’ (p57). Nevertheless his theology is usually interesting, and his communication of science so outstanding in its clarity and plausible links with religious beliefs, that it deserves to be a best seller to rival Dawkins. Instead of conflict or independence between science and religion, Stannard illuminates how there can be interaction and some integration.

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Review by John Morris  (25/08/12)
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Price: £8.99
Publisher: Lion
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-745-95572-8

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Psalms As Torah

- Reading Biblical Song Ethically – Studies in Theological Interpretation

by Gordon J. Wenham


Gordon Wenham writes 'I follow those who see the Psalter as a second law, the law of David to be meditated upon like the law of Moses, the Pentateuch.' (p. 205). Professor Wenham recognises that understanding such an approach is in its early stages, but he makes a convincing argument. Why should ethical behaviour outlined in the Psalms have such an influence? Because, 'To pray a psalm is to address both God and fellow worshipers...Liturgy does not simply invite assent; it demands it.' (Ibid.). The psalms / prayers shape the ethics of the community and are 'Torah' ('law') because they are means by which instruction is given. It is no coincidence that the Psalter, like the Pentateuch, is divided into five 'books'.
After the 'Series' and 'Author' Prefaces, and an 'Introduction', the first four chapters look at the general background of the Psalter, while the following five outline the ethics implied or taught by the psalms. The final chapter examines how the writers of the New Testament use the psalms to define a 'Christian ethic'. Notes are included in the text; there is a 'Selected Bibliography' as well as 'Scripture', 'Author' and 'Subject' Indexes.
While this is an 'academic' book, the author's style makes it a gentle and compelling read. Even if one simply uses the relevant Index, one gains greater understanding of the psalms, so making 'praying the psalms' a richer experience, especially for those who celebrate any of the daily Offices of the Church.

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Review by J.Nicholas Latham  (25/08/12)
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Price: £12.99
Publisher: Baker Academic imprint of Baker Publishing from SPCK
Published: 01 February 2012
ISBN: 978-0-801-03168-7

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Making Sense of Sex

- Modern Church Series

by Adrian Thatcher


This is a very good little book. It sets out and discusses with an absolute economy of words some of the key issues that concern us with regard to sex, sexuality and gender. One of the points the author makes is that all discussion of sex takes place within a particular strand of Christian tradition. This stands in that of liberal theology and is helpful in both showing how to draw on that tradition and also what some of the results might be when applied to contemporary issues.
The author, an Anglican who teaches in the United States and is also a visiting professor in the Department of Theology and Religion at Exeter University, is the editor of Modern Believing. He is rooted in a parish church – Christ Church, Estover, Plymouth – where he leads the choir, and this no doubt is a factor in his producing a book that is scholarly but quite accessible to non-scholars in ordinary congregations.
For anyone that has to preach or teach about sexual ethics or how the Church should respond to matters of sex and gender, this is a very useful book to acquire and use as an aid to reflection. It begins by explaining the difference between liberal and more conservative approaches and how liberal theology and ethics go about their work. There follows short chapters discussing major themes – sexual desire, the body, sexual differences, homosexuality, marriage and spirituality. Dr Thatcher ends by looking towards that day 'when a robust faith in Christ and a joyful sex life are integrated together for all of God's children who seek them irrespective of their status, sex or orientation.'

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Review by Alan Billings  (24/08/12)
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Price: £7.99
Publisher: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge)
Published: May 2012
ISBN: 978-0-281-06406-9

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Turning to God

- Reclaiming Christian Conversion as Unique, Necessary and Supernatural

by David F Wells


The emphasis of this book on conversion is clearly betrayed by the sub-title. David Wells is unrepentant in the narrowness and exclusive nature of his understanding of Christian conversion. As a priest who experiences conversion on a daily basis and is frequently brought closer to God by the divine working through non-Christians (including those of other faiths) Wells’ book is always challenging, but sometimes offensive.
Wells’ perspective is premised on an understanding of Christianity that is tightly aligned to a Western, capitalist and evangelical world-view rooted in a conservative reading of scripture. I find it hard, for instance, to keep reading a book that describes other faith traditions as the enemy of Christianity.
Yet for all this, Wells has a point that should be heard. The experience of conversion is the exclusive work of God (grace), it is unique (to the experience of the individual believer) and it is culturally contextual. Furthermore, it cannot be separated from the question of discipleship. ‘The test of conversion is a life of convertedness’. Above all, it is not about us, but about God.
All this would be affirmed by a majority of Christians. What a shame then that Wells must frame an otherwise helpful contribution to the missionary task of the church in language that is at times arrogant, presumptuous and negative towards cultures and traditions other than his own. The God I believe in is far bigger than this.

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Review by David Ford  (24/08/12)
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Publisher: Baker Books imprint of Baker Pub. from Lion
Published: May 2012
ISBN: 978-0-801-09700-3

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Fear and Friendship

- Anglicans Engaging With Islam

Edited by Frances Ward and Sarah Coakley


A stimulating little book for those who care about the relationship between these two ‘Abrahamic’ religions. Its subtitle is Anglicans Engaging with Islam, but I’m sure other Christians will find it interesting too. The underlying question is, ‘What is true friendship?’ The ten narratives contributed by a variety of writers tackle some really live issues, among them Islamophobia, honour, hospitality, offence and satire. In his characteristically thoughtful ‘Afterword’, Rowan Williams considers the fear caused to others by the ‘universalism’ of Islam or Christianity, and discusses the importance of conversion that does not resort to ‘the tools of control or manipulation’. He also suggests why the Church of England may be particularly able to offer an approach to dialogue without secretly seeking ‘the fantasy of universal control’.

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Review by Barry Vendy  (09/08/12)
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Price: £14.99
Publisher: Continuum - A Bloomsbury Company
Published: March 2012
ISBN: 978-1-441-10149-5

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Gift or a Given?

- A Theology of Healing for the 21st Century

by John P. Atkinson

ISBN: 978-1-780-99426-0
Price: £9.99

Published: June 2012
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Resilient Pastors

- The Role of Adversity in Healing and Growth

by Justine Allain-Chapman

ISBN: 978-0-281-06383-3
Price: £12.99

Published: 07 July 2012
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Jesus the Christ

- New Edition

by Walter Kasper

ISBN: 978-0-567-20964-1
Price: £14.99

Published: September 2011
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7 Truths That Changed the World

- Discovering Christianity’s Most Dangerous Ideas

by Kenneth Richard Samples

ISBN: 978-0-801-07211-6
Price: £10.99

Published: June 2012
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Mere Apologetics

- How to Help Seekers & Skeptics Find Faith

by Alister E. McGrath

ISBN: 978-0-801-01416-1
Price: £10.99

Published: 01 January 2012
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Making Sense of Faith in God

- How Belief Makes Science Possible - Modern Church Series

by Jonathan Clatworthy

ISBN: 978-0-281-06404-5
Price: £7.99

Published: May 2012
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God Unknown

- The Trinity in Contemporary Spirituality and Mission

by Ian Mobsby

ISBN: 978-1-848-25170-0
Price: £16.99

Published: 30 April 2012
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Christian Ethics

- A Case Method Approach – Fourth Edition

by Laura A Stivers, Christine E Gudorf & James B. Martin-Schramm

ISBN: 978-1-570-75966-6
Price: £18.99

Published: March 2012
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The Sacraments in Biblical Perspective

- Interpretation: Resources For Use of Scripture in the Church

by Ronald P. Byars

ISBN: 978-0-664-23518-5
Price: £26.99

Published: January 2011
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Faith and the Future of the Countryside

- Pastoral and Theological Perspectives on Rural Sustainability

Edited by Alan Smith and Jill Hopkinson

ISBN: 978-1-848-25117-5
Price: £19.99

Published: 31 March 2012
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The Quest for the Historical Satan



by Miguel A. De La Torre & Albert Hernaández

ISBN: 978-0-800-66324-7
Price: £12.99

Published: 08 August 2011
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The Holy Trinity

- Understanding God’s Life

by Stephen R. Holmes

ISBN: 978-1-842-27741-6
Price: £19.99

Published: September 2011
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The State of the Church and the Church of the State

- Re-Imagining the Church of England for Our World Today

by Michael Turnbull and Donald McFadyen

ISBN: 978-0-232-52881-7
Price: £14.99

Published: February 2012
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