BOOK REVIEWS

400 Evangelicals and an Anglo-Catholic

BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF EVANGELICALS

Edited by Timothy Larsen

IVP, 790pp, hbk

0 85111 996 4, £29.99

 

When more than two hundred contributors provide around twice that number of Evangelical biographies, this indicates some editorial seriousness. The publishers are consciously establishing a landmark and have gone to some lengths to find writers (mainly but not all Evangelicals) who know their subjects (mainly but not all English-speakers). When it comes to recent or living achievers, some have enthusiastic eulogies (‘a gracious man of deep spirituality … courageous … brilliant’ etc), while others have their warts gently examined. To produce such a book at all is a triumph of patient, persevering organization.

David Bebbington, consulting editor alongside Mark Noll, suggests four defining marks of Evangelicals: conversionism, activism, biblicism and crucicentrism. Here is a useful if not euphonious rule of thumb, allowing space for Arminius and Calvin, Darby and Spurgeon. So we welcome a reasonably-priced compilation which will prove indispensable for reference, notably for the past century or so. We do not turn to it for new insights into Tyndale or Simeon, though many assessments (Newton, Livingstone) are finely and fairly done. Its main value is for the study of more recent names, and a wealth of detail not readily available elsewhere, whether our interest lies in Anglicanism, academia, mission or hymns.

That said, the volume raises two major concerns. My copy fell open at ‘Lindsay, Hal (1929- ), author of best-selling prophecy books’, etc. The writer of The Late Great Planet Earth (1970) gets four full columns; that is, two pages or some 1,500 words. The first of the Dictionary’s alphabetical entries is William Aberhart; another 1,500 for another eccentric transatlantic figure. Lest this should seem like unfair selection, the editor’s own introduction sets his chronological boundaries as ‘from John Wyclif to John Wimber’. Such a phrase, even tongue in cheek, betrays a worrying lack of perspective in such a book.

So British readers may feel overloaded with detail on the Jerry FaIwells, Bob Joneses, Oral Robertses, Pat Robertsons and Jimmy Swaggarts of this world, some complete with pious parents, multiple wives and varied offspring. We can always skip such entries, but if this is Evangelicalism as perceived by contemporary chroniclers, we have some self-inflicted wounds to recognize.

The other problem: someone decided on nearly 800 pages for the 400 subjects. The average length is not hard to work out. So while some are allowed a generous 4 pages (Charles Hodge, Isaac Watts, John Wesley, George Whitefield), none gets much less than two. Some of the detail even seems like padding (Fanny Crosby’s parents, Bev Shea’s holiday cottage) – an extraordinary feature in a book where succinctness is of the essence.

Even if the shared North American readership requires entries on obscure people and esoteric controversies, why is there not more variety in the length of the items, allowing for a far richer wealth of subject? That is, keep the 800 pages but double the number of entries, never mind the price.

For example, the Common Worship calendar commemorations deservedly include Wilson Carlile, Allen Gardiner, James Hannington, Janani Luwum, and John Venn. None features in this Dictionary in his own right. If Evangelicals are so honoured beyond their particular constituency, how come they are not recognized by their own kind? And if American sales are the key, what will those readers make of the unexplained ‘Series Three Eucharist’?

If I added the absentee names of James Gilmour, Eric Liddell, Joshua Marshman, Alan Neech, Stephen Neill, Leith Samuel, Eugene and Sarah Stock, or John Sung, you might suspect a further marginalization of mission. If I mentioned the non-appearance of Henry Francis Lyte, Ian Paisley, David Sheppard or George Thomas, you might rethink that definition of ‘Evangelical’; but there is room for Frank Buchman and Arthur S Peake. A few poets get in via their hymn-writing, but Robert Southey and Jack Clemo are among several left in the cold. And no Susanna Wesley!

Of the Michaels, Cassidy and Harper are in, Baughen, Green and Griffiths out. Coggan and Carey yes, Chavasse and Blanch no. The African American Richard Allen, present (and excellent); the missionary prophet Roland Allen, absent.

It is good to meet hymnwriter Margaret Clarkson (the standard two pages), but could no-one find a paragraph for the pioneering Anne Steele, the unique Ann Griffiths, or Timothy Dudley-Smith, Norman Warren (Journey into Life) and Henry Kirke White? There are no Gordons, Houghtons or Woods; the only Barclay is Oliver, the only Blanchard is Jonathan, and the only Rees is Paul. There is no eighteenth-century trace of Grimshaw of Haworth, Romaine of London or Walker of Truro. Yet Peter ‘church growth’ Wagner has 36 lines on his ‘better known’ books alone!

Moving back a little, whatever happened to ‘Little Bilney’; the Reformation martyr who led Hugh Latimer to Christ? When Thomas Bilney is out and Stuart Briscoe is in, the word ‘trivial’ springs to mind. Where, come to that, are Bishop Edward Reynolds and Archbishop Robert Leighton, good puritans both? Their (written) works follow them; but not here.

In terms of subjects, usefully indexed, BCMS, CPAS and TEAR Fund have one entry apiece; the Church Association, Church Society, Church of England Newspaper and Crosslinks, nil. Several local churches appear, but not those in Brompton or Bishopsgate. The famed parish strength of English Evangelicalism does not transfer well to a Dictionary, but Morden’s Tom Livermore and Islington’s Peter Johnston belong somewhere.

Raymond Johnston, Festo Kivengere, Marcus Loane, Dick Lucas, John Pollock, Alan Stibbs and John Wenham feature among more recently influential figures in a separate index of names but do not rate complete articles; Gladys Aylward, John Chapman, John Laing, Leslie Lyall, Alec Motyer, Ernest Oliver, Alfred Owen, Luis Palau, Dick Saunders, Stafford Wright and Julian Thornton-Duesbery do not appear in either. And what of BCMS’s dauntless tyrant Daniel Bartlett? This may be easy sport for reviewers, but even a few lines on some of them would greatly enhance the total picture. On the credit side, we warm to the appearance of Norman Anderson, Gilbert Kirby, Henderik Rookmaaker and Helen Roseveare. If the cut-off birth date were not 1935/6, Joel Edwards would be among the crowds queueing for inclusion.

Other notables in the index only are Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan (4 references), Clinton and George W Bush; Jimmy Carter has his own article too. All we can offer in return is Harold Wilson (no article) and some royals.

Every browser will have smaller quibbles: the major entry for John Stott overlooks his qualified pacifism; T C Hammond’s renowned authorship of In Understanding Be Men needs the adjustment provided under Douglas Johnson’s name. William Cowper’s two pages could be improved; George Ella’s work on the poet deserves a mention.

But here it is, and we cannot do without it. Despite such limitations, the book should be a major, enduring and rewarding resource for many years. CMI

 

MARTIN TRAVERS 1886–1948

Rodney Warrener and Michael Yelton

Unicorn, 76 Gt Suffolk St, London SE1 0BL

352pp, hbk, £35

Although catalogues have been made of his work, this is the first full appraisal and biography of this church designer and artist. Many may have imagined that, because of his considerable involvement with the ‘Back to the Baroque’ movement of more advanced and Romanist Anglo-Catholicism in the era of the Anglo-Catholic Congresses of the 1920s and his being virtually the tame graphic designer of the Society of SS Peter & Paul and the Congresses, he must have been a devout Anglo-Catholic. Strangely, he was not. He was an avowed agnostic, as well as being a principled pacifist during both world wars, and his private life betrayed more of an adherence to Bohemian traditions than strict Christian morality.

In his earlier days he had worked for a short time under Ninian Comper and had been friendly with George Sedding, son of the great architect JD Sedding and a devout Anglo-Catholic churchman and who was, sadly, killed in the First World War. It is probably because of these connections that he was introduced to Fr Whitby and thence to a number of other leading Anglo-Catholics of the period, like Fr Maurice Childs and Mr Samuel Gurney. Lesser known myths about him, about the place of his birth and the supposedly irregular circumstances of his first marriage are exploded by the authors and we are able here to find a man of flesh and blood.

Travers was much in demand for his skill in reproducing a Baroque style in church furnishing and direction, seen at St Mary’s Bourne Street, St Augustine’s, Queen’s Gate, and other places. A great altarpiece was set up at St Saviour’s, Hoxton, but that church was bombed in the Second World War and, like a number of other pieces of Travers’ work, it no longer exists. He did, in fact, do work in other churches that were not necessarily of a Catholic stance and, although we see, so often, his Baroque pieces which betoken a very continental Roman style of worship, he did also design the type of English altar, with two candles and the dorsal or, more usually in his case, a reredos and riddle curtains so often associated with the more Medieval English style of worship encouraged by Dr Percy Dearmer and others.

He also produced a distinctive style of graphic design for the publications of the Society of SS Peter & Paul and of the Anglo-Catholic Congress organization, whose functions were eventually consolidated into the Church Literature Association and the Church Union. Here again the style is Baroque, almost as if stepping straight out of seventeenth-century Italy or Spain, and to the modern eye with any knowledge of that particular bit of past you immediately know where you are – in the midst of that confident Anglo-Catholicism of the inter-war years.

There is a rather more restrained style, which can be very pleasing and is shown at its best in St Magnus-the-Martyr, London Bridge (a more dignified and English Baroque, suitable for a Wren building) and some country churches. It is sad that the chapel of Tonbridge School (where he had been as a boy) was recently destroyed by fire, because it meant the loss of a fine high altar and reredos designed by him. Where he really is at his best, in my own view, is in his stained glass or painted windows. These are quite numerous, mainly in the South of England, and have that pleasant feature of a fair amount of clear glass, thus letting in far more light than earlier heavy, gloomy Victorian styles. His figures are clean and appealing with some character of their own.

Not being qualified as an architect, he could not work on church building projects on his own, but was responsible for a few buildings, in collaboration with a qualified member of RIBA, like the Good Shepherd at Carshalton and the Holy Redeemer, Streatham Vale.

The Second World War meant a lot of damage to his earlier work, but, with its end, he was busily at work with commissions for rebuilding, restoring and the setting up of war memorial windows. He died suddenly of a heart attack in 1948, at a time when his order book was bulging, and his assistants had to complete quite an amount of unfinished work.

 

Michael Farrer is Secretary of the Anglo-Catholic History Society.

 

GLORY

The Spiritual Theology of Michael Ramsey

Douglas Dales

Canterbury, pbk, 190pp

1 85311 535 5, £16.99

This book deserves to stand alongside Professor Owen Chadwick’s great biography of Archbishop Michael Ramsey. The new book is appropriately given the title ‘Glory’, because this was central to Michael Ramsey’s theology, and Douglas Dales explores his themes with great clarity. The deep spirituality of the late archbishop shines through every page of this book, and those of us who knew him can almost hear him speaking through the copious quotations from his writings. Many of his own books are sadly out of print, and it may well be that this renewed interest in them will lead to a demand for some new editions.

Dales points out that Michael Ramsey’s conversion to Anglo-Catholicism took place when he attended St Giles, Cambridge, during his time as a student. But he never renounced his Congregational background from which he learned so much. These two strands were both influential in steering him towards a theological standpoint which was both Catholic and Evangelical. He was certainly at home with traditional Catholic worship, saying that it helped towards ‘the sense of mystery, and awe, and of another world, at once far and near’.

We are given an insight into his devotion to the transfiguration, with ample quotations from one of his finest books, The Glory of God and the Transfiguration of Christ, and also into his belief in the Catholic ministry of the Church, exhibited in his first book, The Gospel and the Catholic Church (published in 1936). He developed the theme of the priest as the ambassador of Christ, and he believed strongly that the episcopate is of the esse (or being) of the universal Church.

Dales, when interpreting Ramsey’s doctrine of priesthood, talks of ‘he or she’. This is unfortunate. Ramsey died in 1988, four years before the Synod’s vote in favour of the ordination of women. Whereas he saw that it might come at some future date, he has gone on record as saying, ‘I am not in sympathy with the ordination of women because I think that if God had meant his Church to have women priests, he would have made it known rather sooner than he has done.’ (This quotation comes from Owen Chadwick’s biography.) Although his position somewhat weakened in the light of criticism, he always remained unhappy about the prospect of women’s ordination, mainly on ecumenical grounds.

Dales mentions that Bishop Michael was more at home with the Book of Common Prayer than with modern liturgies, though Chadwick told us that in his old age he normally celebrated with one of the newer liturgies in his private chapel. His interpretation of the words in Cranmer’s prayer of oblation ‘we offer and present unto thee this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving’ stops short of the doctrine of Eucharistic sacrifice, for he said that these words referred to ‘the worship offered by mind and heart’.

A lovely quotation from Michael Ramsey comes on the last page of this book: ‘The Anglican church … is sent not to commend itself as the best type of Christianity, but by its very brokenness to point to the universal Church.’

Many would agree that Michael Ramsey was the greatest archbishop of the twentieth century. This book gives some fresh insights which would appear to support this view.

 

Brother Martin SSF is Mission Secretary of the Society of St Francis.

 

SHORT PRAYERS FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP

Nick Fawcett

Mayhew, 96pp, bklt

1 84417 016 0, (£9.99)

This is a simple collection of 561 short prayers, only a few of which are intercessory, for use in public worship, which presumably means freestyle services of the Word. The admirable intention is to put a limit to open-ended and unending extemporary prayers. A simple collection of largely simple prayers.

What makes it interesting are the titles for God. Cast your mind back to the Seventies and the full rush of enthusiasm for the new liturgies. Church worship was to be more approachable and closer to the people, more immediate, more direct. And if that was to be true of the worship of God, then why not of God himself?

The God of the Seventies was to be approachable, and so (Roman Missal users can confirm this) he was to be addressed above all as ‘Father’. However, what is approachable and inclusive and people-friendly in one decade may prove to be the exact opposite in the next. ‘Father’, now (but not then) is self-evidently (!) sexist, unfriendly and excluding of women. And so we must think of new titles with which to address the Almighty. (Incidentally, old-fashioned, traditionalist, chauvinist Cranmer addressed only one collect to God as Father, on the First Sunday after Easter.)

Father? Not a single prayer in the 561 is addressed to God as Father. The only references are in three of the prayers for Trinity Sunday, when he is suitably chaperoned by the Son and the Spirit. How times change. It is interesting to run through the options in this collection, for they may well be the dead weight versions a later generation will come to despise.

The Lord Jesus Christ is addressed directly in nearly half (itself a distinctive choice) but of the rest, we have mainly the ‘nice’ attributes of God. Gracious God is the most frequent, but there is also Living God, Loving God, Sovereign God, Eternal God, Merciful God, Faithful God, Creator God, and occasionally (recalling Cranmer’s transcendent vision we were so keen to get away from three decades ago) Almighty God. AS

 

LITURGY AND THE SACRED

The Proceedings of the Eighth International Colloquium of Historical, Canonical and Theological Studies on the Roman Catholic Liturgy

CIEL, 208pp, pbk

0 9538361 3 4, £13

The annual CIEL ‘Red Book’ is not nearly well enough known. CIEL, incidentally, stands for Centre International d’Etudes Liturgiques. Do not confuse CIEL with ICEL: I don’t know which of the two would irritate you most. CIEL is a scholarly society founded in France in 1994 but now with a flourishing branch in Britain, which sponsors a packed-out mass each May at the old Spanish Embassy church of St James, Spanish Place, according to the pre-Vatican II Roman Rite; the mass is usually solemn and pontifical. The society internationally has an annual conference, usually in France, of which this volume is the record and contains English translations of the papers read. And the liturgy they are dedicated to studying is the Old Rite.

Sometimes it seems that Western Christians are mesmerized by the thought of the ancient spiritual riches of any liturgy to the east of Corfu. No harm in that. (But there is harm in the ‘Celtic’ fashion, for most of what it throws up ‘in the Celtic Spirit’ bears no relationship to the actual surviving Celtic texts.) Yet the West also had its own ancient rites, the stateliest, most lapidary of which is the rite found in the venerable books of the Roman Church.

It was the view of Dom Gregory Dix that ‘the old Roman Sacramentaries have preserved into modern use an incomparably larger body of genuinely primitive – and by this I mean not merely pre-Nicene but second and even first century Christian liturgical material (if we only knew how to look for it) than any other extant liturgical documents.’ Except, of course, that the appalling translations into English perpetrated in the 1970s threw up a barrier against the appropriation by a new generation of this rich inheritance. Mercifully, Rome is now insisting on remedying that act of vandalism. And CIEL is throwing new light upon not only the texts but also the religious culture which they presuppose.

So, in this year’s Red Book you will find a thought-provoking article on church architecture. When trendy architects talk about new buildings for a new millennium, what they often mean is endlessly repeating Le Corbusier’s clichés at Ronchamp in the 1950s. Are they aware that Classical, and in particular Romanesque, models are now being found increasingly serviceable? Would it have occurred to you that Professor CH Dodd’s perceptions about ‘testimony’ texts in the New Testament would inspire a distinguished historian of the early history of Gregorian chant to develop some fascinating speculations about how the earliest settings of some liturgical texts throw light on the Church’s understanding of them?

Have you given full weight to the fact that the very concept of revelation presupposes concealment (Paul’s ‘the mystery now revealed’), so that veils, curtains, icon-screens, rood-screens are not pre-modem junk to be thrown out but at the heart of healthy liturgical theology? That we cannot approach unless we have previously stood outside? That no place can be sacred unless there is a zone which is not sacred?

There are some contributions which fall short of the standard of the best, but even they craftily redeem themselves by including quotations from earlier writers whom we have impoverished ourselves by forgetting.

 

John Hunwicke compiles the ORDO.

 

THE SAVOY CONFERENCE REVISITED

Colin Buchanan

Grove, 80pp, bklt

1 85174 519 X, £4.95

Whatever one thinks of his judgements, Bishop Colin is always an excellent teacher on the Book of Common Prayer, and this is a most valuable little book.

In 1660, with the restoration of the monarchy, it became vital to consider what form of Prayer Book should express the new political order. In that year, the Presbyterians were in the majority, but after the General Election of early 1661 the Cavaliers controlled the new Parliament. After which, the Savoy Conference brought together both sides to thrash out all the technical details of revision; again a similar pattern emerges, with the Presbyterians beginning in the ascendancy only to decline in the face of an increasingly confident episcopal party.

The bulk of this booklet prints out the Exceptions (or objections) put forward by the Presbyterians to the 1604 BCP text, which acted as the working draft, and the Answers given to them by the Bishops, to which the author adds helpful notes on the background, the theology behind the objections, and the final outcome.

We may read the historians’ accounts of seventeenth-century liturgical controversies, but it is not always easy to grasp the issues involved. Working through these contemporary and detailed points, some profound, others amusing, some long dead and others still with us, gives a much more vivid and memorable picture of what the Prayer Book meant and why ‘1662’ has so firm a place in the nation’s story. SR

 

From the Savoy Conference

The Presbyterian Exception to the indiscriminate baptism of infants:

There being divers Learned, Pious and Peaceable Ministers, who not only judge it unlawful to Baptize Children, whose Parents both of them are Atheists, Infidels, Hereticks, or Unbaptised, but also such whose Parents are Excommunicate Persons, Fornicators, or otherwise notorious and scandalous Sinners; We desire they may not be enforced to Baptize the Children of such until they have made due Profession of their Repentance.

The Bishops’ reply:

We think this desire to be very hard and uncharitable, punishing the poor Infants for the Parents’ sakes; and giving also too great and arbitrary a power to judge which of his Parishioners he pleaseth, Atheists, Infidels, Hereticks, &c. and then in that name to reject their children from being Baptized: Our Church concludes more charitably, that Christ will favourably accept every Infant to Baptism, that is presented by the Church according to our present Order: And this she concludes out of Holy Scriptures (as you may see in the Office of Baptism) according to the Practice and Doctrine of the Catholick Church, Cypr. Ep.59, August. Ep.28. & de verb. Apost. Ser.14.

 

SEVEN WORDS FOR THE 21st CENTURY

Ed Edmund Newell

DLT, 110pp+CD, pbk

0 232 52469 6, (£12.99)

The initiative for this book came from Edmund Newell who invited friends ‘to reflect on how the seven last words spoke to them’. Adrian Snell provided the music to enrich the meditations. The Bishop of Oxford introduces the theme recalling instances of the use of the ‘seven words’ in history, music, and today’s changed situation in liturgy and biblical scholarship.

Reflecting on the cross in the twenty-first century, Rowan Williams addresses two things: first the proclamation of God’s involvement in the cross speaking about power and risk and secondly, what makes this cross, among all others in its era, world-changingly significant. Edmund Newell wrestles with the identity of the forgiven in ‘Father, forgive’, Christian–Jewish relations, the religious intolerance prevalent in our world and the fact that each generation is in need of God’s forgiveness; Christ’s prayer is for us all. Giles Fraser’s meditation on the forgiven thief explores ‘some of the cross-over issues between film studies and theology as they pertain to our perspective as onlookers before the cross’. Peter Doll considers the consequences and failures of the first tree and the healing power of the second tree to correct them through confronting them in Christ; who invites us to accept his cross and journey with him, Mary and John and the whole Church, ‘our new mothers and fathers, and sisters and brothers – along a way to a new future’.

September 11th is the starting point for Tarjei Park’s reflection on ‘My God, my God, why…?’, yet ‘it is not permissible to equate everyday horror with what was happening on the cross. It is not theologically permissible.’ He gives many examples concluding that the hiddenness of God is not about a post-modern response to problems with theism, it is profoundly scriptural. Sabina Alkire considers the thirst of Christ on the cross and the thirst of Christ in the living poor are one and the same, illustrating it by the example of Mother Teresa and her sisters. How can we become such ‘beams of love’ amidst the litany of poverties that rise up from our planet is the substance of her meditation. The seventh word prompts Hugh White to question what the meaning of a crucifixion is that is a victory for God and salvation for man, and what our response to it should be. We must ask questions if we are to understand, feel, and allow the atonement to shape our view of God, our sense of ourselves before God, and our soul’s relationship with God. Comparisons between poets of past ages in Langland and Milton, impresses on us a range of difference over the atonement that can focus the choices we make today.

Helen Cunliffe wrestles with the paradox of trust in God, ‘Father into thy hands …’ and the sense of isolation and alienation, Augustine’s restlessness until ‘they find their rest in you’; what TS Eliot described as the ‘torment of love unsatisfied, the greater torment of love satisfied’. Monks found their way of handling this, the Roman and the Celtic, in the commendation of their lives and made a social difference in their time. As individuals must find their way of commendation to God, so too must communities. Each generation of Christians and the Church as a whole must work out a social dimension to the following of Christ by discovering that God is always there before we arrive and work on our commendation to God ‘might involve an exercise in greater maturity. The maturity of taking upon ourselves responsibility for our lives, our societies, our planet.’

Each chapter concludes with a meditation on its theme for which suitable music is provided on the CD. These are personal reflections, but everyone reading this book will have their minds stretched by these thought-provoking contributions and their hearts moved by new insights into the atoning love of God in Christ.

 

Arthur Middleton is a Tutor at St Chad’s, Durham.

 

BE NOT AFRAID

Overcoming the fear of death

BOOK REVIEWS

400 Evangelicals and two Anglo-Catholics

 

Johann Christopher Arnold

Plough Publishing House, 206pp, pbk

0 87486 916 1, £8

If you knew you were going to die in a few weeks’ time, what would you read? The gospels? The lives of the saints? Perhaps, also, Be Not Afraid. The Bruderhof Community excels in publishing books that engage the hopes and fears of contemporary society with the Christian Gospel. This book, written in the aftermath of 9/11, engages face to face with the fear of death. It is a kaleidoscopic construction of testimonies that sparkle with God’s glory as encountered in death, dying and bereavement.

For a book full of accounts of loss and bereavement it is remarkably encouraging. The overall thesis is stated in its last pages:

the best way – the only way – to truly overcome the fear of death is to live life in such a way that its meaning cannot be taken away by death … it means fighting the impulse to live for ourselves, instead of for others … choosing generosity over greed … living humbly, rather than seeking influence and power … being ready to die again and again – to ourselves, and to every self-serving opinion or agenda.

Be Not Afraid is written out of Christian conviction but in a way that presents faith as a quality essential to true humanity, which is an existence open to the world to come. The rich variety of stories make it a good book to give to those on life’s last journey or those who accompany them. The wide range of circumstances of death and dying are very likely to engage in some part at least. For those in need of a reminder of Christian basics it is also a great book, since it shows Jesus as unique Saviour in the face of man’s last and greatest enemy in real life circumstances.

 

Dr John F Twisleton is Chichester Diocesan Mission & Renewal Adviser.

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