Spring 2021 at SCM Press
Here's an early look at some of the titles we have coming over the horizon this spring...
What is the place of faith in public life in the UK? Beyond 'secularism' that seeks to relegate faith to the margins of public life, and a 'Christian nation' position that seeks to retain, or even regain, Christian public privilege, there is a third way. Faith in Democracy: Framing a Politics of Deep Diversity , by Jonathan Chaplin, Research Associate at the think tank Theos, calls for an approach that maximises public space for the expression of faith-based visions within democratic fora while repudiating all traces of religious privilege.
Stephen Timms comments that it is "A fascinating and helpful work for Christians grappling with politics at any level. Engaging confidently with contemporary political theory, Chaplin argues robustly for “religiously integrated citizens” to engage faithfully in politics."
The Church is currently experiencing a transition in the way it understands and practises both mission and ministry. It is to be outward-looking, engaging with the wider community, involving all its members in mission and clergy are to play the role of enablers and equippers of the ministry of the whole church. However, ministerial formation in colleges and courses throughout the country lags behind this emerging consensus. 'Theological education' is still largely based on academic models.
Written by David Heywood, Reimagining Ministerial Formation offers a new way forward, where 'ministry' comes to be about the whole church, and ministerial formation is about collaboration between clergy and laity. It argues strongly for a shift away from 'front-loaded' training, to a new focus on formation as a life-long process.
"This should be the blue print for the future of ministerial education!" says Mandy Ford, Dean of Bristol.
The body is crucial to religious life, but there has been little practical attention to how to make a helpful reality of this fact. Strong forms of philosophical dualism have been widely abandoned by post-war theologians in favour of a more integrated view of human nature, but guidance on the role of the body in Christian spirituality remains fragmentary.
Focusing particularly on drawing out practical implications for religious life and ministry, A Plea for Embodied Spirituality by Fraser Watts surveys the many ways in which the body plays an important role in religions and spiritual life, drawing on scientific research, theology and philosophy.
Even the most casual contemporary observer of Christianity must recognise that the notion of Christian community being identifiable through the mutual love of its members (John 13:35) is difficult to reconcile with the schismatic reality of current ecclesial life. Nonetheless, disagreement remains an ethical subject neglected by theologians.
Christopher Landau's A Theology of Disagreement examines how New Testament texts inform Christian approaches to disagreement. Drawing on New Testament themes, the book explores the nature of an ethic of disagreement, and its practical implications for the church's public theological witness, as well as its liturgy.
The experiences of infertility and childlessness, while not worse than other griefs and disappointments people experience, are nevertheless distinctive in a number of important respects. Unlike other griefs, they often take place in private, with no body, no funeral, and no public acknowledgement of the loss.
Wise and profound, A Pastoral Theology of Childlessness, takes author Emma Nash's own story as a starting point, examining several distinctive features of this painful human experience. She asks what biblical and theological resources offer consolation, and what liberative action individuals and churches might take to make an appropriate response.
Weaving trauma theology together with personal experience, Nash offers a profound and heartfelt theological reflection which breaks the barriers between pastoral resource and carefully constructed theology.
'Love has its speed. It is a spiritual speed. It is a different kind of speed from the technological speed to which we are accustomed. It goes on in the depth of our life, whether we notice or not, at three miles an hour. It is the speed we walk and therefore the speed the love of God walks.' Once we grasp that in Christ God chooses to walk amongst us, it changes our whole understanding of the speed of love, and the speed of theology. In Three Mile an Hour God, renowned Japanese theologian Kosuke Koyama reflects beautifully on a theme lost to western theology and western culture in general - the need for slowness. Repackaged for the first time since its original publication, this edition includes a new foreword from John Swinton.
The story of the Bible us most often told as the story of men, from patriarchs to prophets, kings, disciples and apostles. But women are there, sometimes in the background, sometimes striding powerfully onto the stage. Their story is moving, prophetic and good news for the congregations to whom we preach. In Out of the Shadows: Preaching the Women in the Bible, Kate Bruce and Liz Shercliff seek to enable preachers to see these often marginal characters in a new light, offering ideas about how to communicate their stories with power, resonance and punch.
The Rt Revd Alison White, Bishop of Hull says that the book offers "intelligent writing which opens doors for imaginative preaching", whilst the priest and broadcaster The Revd Kate Bottley comments that it is "an important, accessible and comprehensive account of the too-long silenced voices of women of the bible...I commend it to you with urgency"