New year, new books

Over the next few months, we’ll be publishing new titles on everything from black preaching to catholic social teaching, and church growth to Matthew’s gospel. Here’s a run-down of what’s in the pipeline.


January

“This book is like the very best kind of guidebook to a great city you’ve not visited before – or perhaps have visited and largely forgotten.  It takes little for granted, it clearly and vividly maps the territory, and it whets the appetite to spend time looking, learning and absorbing the riches around you.  A really first class introduction to the ‘new city’ of classical Christian faith and practice.” – Rowan Williams

Love Makes No Sense is an introduction to a theology that refuses the abstract, and sees no distinction between theology and practice. 

Aimed at people looking to explore Christian theology more deeply, be they life-long Christians who want a deeper understanding of their faith, new Christians, or those  looking for a way in to more serious theological study, the book is by Peter Groves, Jarred Mercer, Jennifer Strawbridge who together form a part of the St Mary Magdalene School of Theology, which 
exists to provide people—lay and ordained—with the theological resources for an active Christian life. 


Mara is one of the most marginalised regions in Tanzania, which in turn is a country in the most marginalised continent on the planet, and yet, Stephen Spencer argues, the church in the region has exhibited remarkable growth. In Growing and Flourishing: The Ecology of Church Growth , Spencer looks beyond the usual dimensions of church growth discourse, and weaves in his own experience in Tanzania, finding in that wholly different context an approach to church growth which entirely changes the discourse in the global north. 

Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds says of the book: “Careful and encouraging, provocative and challenging, this book is much needed. Spencer shows effectively how the Church in the West can learn from distant cultures, and bears the fruit of strong international partnership links.” 


February

Theological Reflection: Methods (by Elaine Graham, Heather Walton and Frances Ward) has been a go-to textbook for generations of students developing their skills in theological reflection. In February, we will publish the first new edition of the book, since it was published over ten years ago. 

The book offers a comprehensive collection of models of theological reflection. By bringing this diverse collection together in one place, the editors create a unique reference work that allows a clear and visible contrast and comparison as each model is treated formally and in a standard format. Throughout each chapter the distinguishing features of the model are examined, the geneology and origins are discussed, worked examples of the model applied to contemporary theology are provided, and critical commentary, future trends and exercises and questions are provided.

Now firmly established as an essential text on theological reflection, this new edition has been revised and updated with a new introduction, updated examples, and refreshed bibliographies


Studies of preaching and preaching style have up to this point often focus almost exclusively on a western eurocentric understanding of good preaching. In Preach It: Understanding African-Caribbean PreachingCarol Tomlin encourages students, both vocational and scholarly, to look beyond these approaches and to learn from traditions with which they are less familiar.

The distinctive style and techniques that African Caribbean Pentecostal preachers have inherited has been shaped by historical, political and socio-economic factors impacting on black Caribbean people (including clergy).

Using a variety of socio-linguistic and theological approaches, Preach It reflects on these techniques, and outlines how preachers across church traditions might learn from them and use them in their own contexts.

David Muir at the University of Roehampton says of the book “Tomlin’s excellent book throws light on the morphology of this performative practice in a critical and authentic way that will be appreciated by scholars, practitioners and students of this sacred art”


Described as ‘the Catholic church’s best kept secret’ Catholic Social Teaching provides a rich body of thought, and finds a particular resonance as all denominations in the church seek to engage with the needs of contemporary society. Yet beyond the immediate context of the Catholic church, it is all too readily ignored. Resolutely aimed at those who come from traditions beyond the movement’s traditional catholic heartlands but who seek to view their ministry through the lens of generous orthodoxy, Love in Action: Catholic Social Teaching for Every Church offers a deeply scriptural but accessible introduction to this vital approach to the church’s ministry in the world.

The author, Fr Simon Cuff, is a Tutor and Lecturer in Theology at St Mellitus College, and Coordinating Fellow of the Centre for Theology and Community.


March

Continuing our efforts to bring out new editions of some of our best loved and most used SCM Studyguides, the 2nd edition of the SCM Studyguide to Theological Reflection, like its predecessor offers newcomers a step by step introduction to understanding what theological reflection is and helps them to explore which of the methods introduced best suits them and their particular situation. It is practical in emphasis, providing students with a wide variety of worked examples and opportunities to carry out their own exercises.

The new edition brings the content up to date, offering a revised and improved bibliography and updated and refreshed examples and exercises, including new sections on scriptural reasoning and contemplative theology.


Finally two books with a similar aim – to engage with the ordinary experience and ordinary theology of Christian disciples as they work to develop and deepen their discipleship learning. The first 
Everyday Matthew , by John Holdsworth, brings the situations of ordinary readers into conversation with the scholarship to help make Matthew’s gospel accessible and  pastorally useful. 

How might a young student be inspired by the sermon on the Mount? 
How can environmentalists, anxious for the future of the world, connect with Matthew’s concerns about the End? The book is predicated on a belief that such connections are possible; that there are ways of seeing the pastoral or practical usefulness of the text, and, ultimately that there is some point in reading, preaching and teaching from Matthew’s gospel.

John Pritchard, former Bishop of Oxford, says ‘The Bible has been well described as a conversation betweenearth and heaven. John Holdsworth demonstrates the value of this metaphor inthis immensely readable volume. Because he inhabits the text so fully he canopen it up with clarity and style, taking us through scholarly debate with asure, light touch, and allowing familiar passages to communicate afresh. Theresult is a lively approach that makes Matthew available to thoughtful,twenty-first century readers who are open to contemporary wisdom from anancient source, a true conversation between earth and heaven.’

Similarly, Everyday Public Worship (by the Reverend Susan Jones) links the reader’s everyday experience with the key influences that have shaped the Church’s understanding of public worship, with the Scriptures, with Christian doctrine, with Church history, and with the landmarks in Christian liturgy. The book explores the themes raised by a serious and thoughtful consideration of public worship by engaging in conversation with three Christian disciples who came from very different backgrounds and who have very different experiences of and expectations for public worship.

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