Coming soon to SCM Press
We've got a busy few months ahead. Here's what's coming...
It's easy to slip into either negativity or blind optimism about the state of the church, but The Promise of Anglicanism (October), by Robert Heaney and William Sachs, seeks to offer neither lament for a tattered tradition nor facile hope for an expanding one. The book finds fresh consensus among Anglicans in surprising places, and very often centered initiative and innovation at the grass roots of the church.
Moving beyond Anglicanism, the same questions are being asked. What state is the church in, how did we get here, and where do we go now? Stefan Paas brings these questions to bear specifically on the subject of mission. In a post-Christian society, what actually does 'mission' come to mean? How can Christians keep their missionary drive when very few people are interested in the faith, and when the impact of the church on its society is almost invisible? An important introduction to contemporary thinking on mission and the church, Pilgrims and Priests (November) draws on the latest thinking from a wealth of disciplines including biblical studies, sociology and church history. Published in November
For many years, one answer to the question of what should the church look like now has been to point towards the emerging church. But several years on from these early expressions of fresh expressions, what have we learnt? Presenting the lived practice of the church in mission through a longitudinal lens, and eschewing the rose-tinted approach, First Expressions (December) explores the reality of emerging churches - their birth and death, their creativity and conflict, their dreams and despair. A picture of a church that is neither gathered and parish nor independent and networked emerges as author Steve Taylor brings the biographies of mission into dialogue with a very ancient expression of mission, the birth of Philippians as a first expression of church in Europe. Published in December.
It's a common story - clergy and regular churchgoers feel that the church is being used and abused by families seeking a baptism, when they perceive them to be looking for `just an excuse for a party'. On the other hand, families seeking a christening in their local churches are baffled by the lack of enthusiasm and encouragement they find when they approach their local church.
A Rite on the Edge (October) by Sarah Lawrence reflects theologically on the findings of research conducted by Sarah Lawrence into baptism in the Church of England and in English culture more widely. It offers a profound challenge for those struggling to comprehend how `outsiders' understand baptism, and asks how the Church of England can remain 'present and available for all' at a time of heightened tensions and confused expectations about who the church is `for'.
Connecting expectations with realities, and exploring the language used when we talk about church is very much the focus of the latest SCM Research title, too. In Shop Window, Flagship, Common Ground: Metaphor in Cathedral and Congregation Studies Judith Muskett considers how cathedrals and churches understand themselves. Are they shop windows, through which to gaze at the riches on offer within the Christian life? Are they beacons of hope? Are they places of common understanding for all? This novel and innovative volume focuses attention for the first time on analysis both conceptual and empirical in nature designed to illuminate the power of metaphors used of cathedrals and churches.
The question of how theology affects the everyday reality of our worship and our discipleship (and vice versa) is at the heart of two of our December titles. Faithful Living: Discipleship, Creed and Ethics by Michael Leyden asks how the things we do and say in Church might impact our lives and shape the decisions we make on a daily basis. What kind of life is implied for people who believe the things that Christians believe?
The book attempts to think through these questions and considers the formational impact worship can have on Christian ethics, and therefore on the lives of Christian disciples. Putting the spotlight on one of the central liturgical practices, the Nicene creed, as a framework to guide the book's structure, Leyden offers an ethical commentary on the Creed's key ideas and themes, challenging Christians from all traditions to think through their faith in order to live faith-fully before God.
In Hopeful Influence: A Theology of Christian Leadership, Jude Padfield considers the impact of Christian eschatology, the hope of a new reality in the Kingdom of God on our understanding of leadership. Engaging with the work of influential theological voices such as Leslie Newbigin, Tom Wright, Graham Tomlin and Martyn Percy, he argues that it is in the process of helping others to see, participate in or experience the world to come that Christian leadership becomes manifest. With contributions from influential leaders in different spheres of life, including Bishop Jill Duff, Stephen Timms, MP, theologian and activist Selina Stone and Esther Swaffield-Bray from the charity International Justice Mission, Jude Padfield explores how this eschatologically-fuelled vision might lead us towards a new manifesto for future leadership in the church, in politics, in business and the third sector, and in the home.
Finally, we're excited to be following up Mark Scarlata's acclaimed commentary on Exodus The Abiding Presence, with The Kingdom of Our God, a theological commentary on Isaiah by Jenni Williams. The story told in the Isaiah is one of power, fall, loss and restoration. It speaks not only to its own time and place but to us today in a world of political unpredictably, upset and division. In such a world, Williams asks, what does the Kingdom of God really mean? What does God's sovereignty really look like? Can people who don't know about God's kingdom still serve it? Do we need to worry about unjust leaders or should we just say `Jesus is the true Lord so it'll all be fine'? The commentary, written particularly with preachers, ordinands and lay people especially in mind, will offer a timely, relevant and fresh introduction to the whole Book of Isaiah.