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Colloquium 33.1 (2001)



 

 

 

BOOK REVIEWS

 

 

 

KARL BARTH

John Webseter

(Continuum: London, 2000) 181 pp. ISBN  0826450792

 

 

This excellent work by John Webster, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford, is the most recent volume in the series Outstanding Christian Thinkers, a series that has already proved to be invaluable. Webster is a committed and renowned Barth scholar who has previously published imposing work on the subject. This particular book is introductory, of course, but remarkable in the way it covers Barth’s enormous primary corpus in such a comprehensive and thorough way.

Barth is the most significant Protestant theologian since Schleiermacher. He almost single-handedly turned theological method on its head and, according to Webster, still awaits the recognition that his thought deserves. He was a pastor and a theologian, at once terribly complex and essentially simple, with a wonderful sense of delight and amazement in God, together with a passion for theological construction based on the initiating revelation of God through the Word.

The strength of this book is that Webster does not simplify Barth’s complicated thinking to the point of abstraction. The author allows Barth to speak for himself. The sense that we gain through reading this work is that in some measure we have heard and been involved with Karl Barth, himself. This is quite an achievement for a book of fewer than two hundred pages!

A short chapter on the life and work of Barth discerns a powerful, complex personality, entirely focused on the vocation of theological pursuit. Webster’s method is to turn then to some of the chief theological concerns that occupied Karl Barth throughout his long career. But because of the symphonic nature of the theologian’s corpus, in which he constructs his account by producing “an extensive set of variations on a few basic themes” (Barth is a cumulative, not a sequential thinker) that proves to be difficult. Therefore the author has to return again and again to themes and ideas throughout his short account. This, in itself, gives it that sense of authenticity that pervades the work. The major themes thus delineated by Webster cover Barth’s turning from Nineteenth Century liberalism, his ideas of God, creation and humanity, reconciliation, ethics and politics.

Occasionally Webster pauses and expands on the thought of his subject in order to further explain or illustrate his thinking, as he does, for example, on the subject of “Jesus Christ the Prophet” and again in working through Barth’s engagement with the German church struggle of the 1930s. These are useful digressions into specific and significant areas, although there are other subjects that are somewhat lacking and might have been pursued: resurrection, the eschatological motifs in Barth’s theology and the important area of male-female relations within his ethical inquiry. All of these are significant areas both in Barth’s own thinking, but also in contemporary theology (that is, theology not only after, but also concomitant with Barth, himself).

The book closes with a thought-provoking chapter on “Barth and the tasks of Christian Theology’. Here, in short compass, Webster seeks to question Barth’s place and significance within contemporary theology. He insists that Barth remains “only half-understood, because selectively read’. Indeed, this has been a major complaint, or refrain, throughout the book. And, certainly, one never senses that Webster has only half-understood Barth, or that he selectively reads him, himself. For the writer, part of the necessity of another introduction to Barth is the fact that all his corpus needs to be brought into focus and consideration if we are to get a grasp on his thought. It is for that reason the Webster introduces works other than Church Dogmatics into the discussion, notably The Epistle to the Romans (of course), but also The G√∂ttingen Dogmatics, Ethics, his writing on both the theology of Calvin and of Schleiermacher, and other texts.

The chapter turns briefly to examine attempts to position Barth in pre-modern, modern and, even, post-modern perspectives. Finally, Webster asks what may be learned from Barth about the nature of Christian theology and its responsibilities. He suggests that two lines of reflection suggest themselves. First, Barth situates theology in the perspective of gospel, church and faith. Barth insists that we cannot adopt the stance of the “idle onlooker” and, more deeply, that every period of the Church is a time of revelation, knowledge and confession. Second, the place of theology will be determined by the impetus of its own domain – that is, theology is primarily exegetical and dogmatic. With those suggestive avenues of thought, the writer leaves us contemplating theology as a discipline within the faith community.

At the close of the introduction, John Webster confesses the hope that the book, “may stimulate the reader to explore Barth’s own writings and engage at first hand with this compelling thinker. If it does so, it will have fulfilled its end.” I would be surprised if it misses its mark. Webster is clearly utterly absorbed by Barth’s genius and conveys it by quoting primary texts and by convicting commentary. At the end of the work, as throughout, we are confronted with an outstanding Christian thinker with whose work we want to re-engage. Much as a travel brochure compels a visit to the “real” thing, so Webster drives us to reading the primary text. Surely, that’s a mark of a good introduction.

Michael Parsons

 

 

 

MISSION WITHOUT CHRISTENDOM: EXPLORING THE SITE, ESSAYS FOR BRIAN SMITH.

 

Edited by Martin Sutherland.

(Auckland: Carey Baptist College, 2000)

 

This further contribution to the absorbing question of mission theology and strategies for the allegedly post-Christendom West is a welcome festschrift from teachers and past students of the Carey Baptist College in New Zealand. It contains a number of stimulating essays from scholars across theological disciplines. The competency and knowledge in each essay indicates the development of theology in the NZ Baptist leadership.

The Biblical section begins with a reflection by Tim Bulkeley on how cross-cultural mission experience illuminates reading scripture with and through its cultural matrix and the power of dream and vision in key biblical stories. Neville Emslie contributes a study in “Mercy: God’s Strong-arm Tactic” with a rich study of the Magnificat.

Harold Pidwell contributes a fine study which examines Luke’s redaction of the Gospel in favour of the Gospel for the “poor’, in which the likelihood of persecution of the church becomes a possible context for the advocacy of a life free of riches. Not only may the Parousia be near, but a church in mission needs to sit lightly to possessions. In-depth studies are offered of the rejection of Jesus at Nazareth and the conversion of Zacchaeus. In the latter, “Zacchaeus” retention of half of his goods shows quite clearly that one does not have to be poor in order to be a disciple, but one must identify with the poor and the outcast and use possessions rightly” (60). Thus, “Responsibility is the key word, not eschatalogical exclusivism” (62).

Laurie Guy continues the theme of the first essay by examining the difficult verses Luke 17:20-21 in the perspective of the yin-yang balance. His careful examination of the difficult “Kingdom of God is within/amongst you” is refreshing and illuminating and a good resource for expository preaching.

The theological section commences with an essay by Steve Taylor on“Atonement for Madonna’s World”. Atonement theory is not context-free, as examples from Barth and Anselm show. What, then, will be relevant to Madonna’s world where image is the priority and consumerism the all-prevailing value? Where the term “lifestyle” is the vogue and self-expression the priority? “Contemporary life is, like a mouse on a treadmill, an unending, lifelong, all-encompassing lifestyle search for new fashion, sensation, style and experience” (92). This self-focussed culture features irony and distrust of foundations which “responds to a world with crumbling metanarratives by resorting to pastiche and parody” (94).

If communication of the atonement for Madonna’s world will need to be more local, wholistic, corporate, feminine and self-authenticating (100) what images will work? Taylor’s sudden turn to the local congregation (“The future of atonement theology will rest with the local congregation” 101) seems an inadequate ending to a serious search. Greater explanation of his explorations of Anzac images, and environmental and rave atonement would have been helpful and probably energising. What may Madonna’s recent turn to motherhood and marriage in an ancient monastic church now signify?? More work on atonement theology for the present Western culture would be helpful to us all.

John McLean, a parish minister, contributes a valuable essay on George Lindbeck and the Holy Spirit in which Lindbeck’s principles of cultural-linguistic theory of doctrine is tested against the biblical understanding of the person and work of the Holy Spirit in the church. He tests the principles of solidarity, authority and vitality and finds that for each the cultural-linguistic understanding . . . unlike cognitive-propositionalism, encourages the life-bringing aspect of the personal experience of God, but places it, unlike experiential-expressivism, in its right context: the community of faith” (129). It is good to see evidence of such competent theological reflection from someone from the charismatic and conservative streams of the church.

It is Martin Sutherland’s contribution “Pine Trees and Paradigms: Rethinking Mission in the West” that raises real challenges. This is the first serious challenge I have read to the prevailing appeal to paradigm shifts as the mode for rethinking strategies for mission. Sutherland vigorously claims that the vision of new paradigms is “flawed and misleading” (132); that “the apparent elegance of Kuhn’s paradigm change model begins to look crude and simplistic” (133). As a result “when the general paucity of hard evidence is added (to) the doubts which surround the very paradigm model . . . these popular approaches to serious missiological questions are exposed as worse than useless’(136). A serious challenge indeed!

Similarly Sutherland challenges the current simplistic use of the word “Christendom” as an analysis which is deeply flawed. Christendom perhaps lasted three hundred years but was in serious decay by the time of the Reformation. Any other use of the word is to “seriously confuse categories” (137). He instances quotations of despair about the future of Christianity from previous centuries very similar to our own. A welcome breath of historical realism, in my view. Even the Enlightenment is deconstructed as a massive over-simplification of a much more diverse and at times contradictory mix of philosophical and spiritual movements. A similar problem exists in discussing post-modernism. As a result of these oversimplifications missiological theory for the West has been impoverished. Sutherland’s challenge to current views of the present and potential impact of post-modernism and post-Christendom need to be faced before we allow the current search into missiology to be overly dominated by them.

Brian Smith concludes in “Good News to the Poor?” with an anguished analysis of why the church still cannot communicate the Gospel to the urban poor - the “working class’. Beyond the generally accepted reasons of  “the middle-class captivity of the Gospel” he offers an analysis of the middle class as “pro-active” and the working class as “re-active” and wary of a religion that would challenge them to change from a generally defensive attitude to life. The essay feels a bit dated but expresses a deep honesty and concern. It is weakened by not including a consideration of the apparent success of some Pentecostal groups amongst urban poor in both western and “third-world” contexts.

This set of essays indicates the wide range of issues involved in formulating both theological and strategic missiology today. The competence of each contribution is a further sign of developing maturity in New Zealand theology. It is enriching to receive such a gift from the Baptist community which shows commendable vigour and wisdom in its mission in New Zealand.

Donald H Battley

 

PURPOSE AND CAUSE IN PAULINE EXEGESIS: ROMANS 1: 16-4:25 AND A NEW APPROACH TO THE LETTERS

 

Wendy Dabourne

(Cambridge: University Press, 1999) 257 pp ISBN 0521640032

 

Much of Dabourne’s work grows out of a highly developed and fully explained methodology, of which there are two major parts: teleological exposition and causal exposition. Teleological exposition is that concerned with explaining Rom 1:16-4:25 in terms of the purpose of Paul’s letter to the Romans (“where is this text going to” p. 23); while causal exposition is the “examination of the major theological presuppositions underlying what Paul was intending to say” (p. 23).

Teleological exposition shows that while Paul’s letter to the Romans is usually read as theological exposition, this is inappropriate. Instead, it is best to regard it as a letter in which Paul is preaching to believers about the problem of the status of Gentiles within Christianity. He does this using the device of a narratee, a believer responding to the gospel from within a conservative Jewish frame of reference.

This teleological perspective brings with it a different reading to the text, as illustrated by the contrast that Dabourne makes between how Luther read Romans, and how it might be read from a teleological perspective. For Luther, “sin is the problem, and it draws a great deal of theological attention . . . In Paul’s situation, grace is the problem, and sin is a background datum” (p. 187). Thus, for Dabourne, reading Rom 1:16-4:25 as an answer to the problem of sin is to miss the point Paul is making. Mind you, though Luther’s reading of Paul was wrong from a exegetical perspective, he was right in understanding Paul’s underlying theology (p. 207). This emerges from a causal exposition of Rom 1:16-4:25.

There are several helpful insights that come from this new perspective. For example, in the early chapters of Romans, Paul is not trying to show that all non-believers are sinners. Rather, Paul is showing “every believer is a sinner justified by God’s grace” (p. 24). This methodology also makes sense of the great deal of attention that is given in the epistle to the matter of Jews and Gentiles within the family of faith. It is also refreshing to see what can emerge from the relatively simple observations that this is a letter written with a purpose. Thus Dabourne, though conscious of the debate as to whether or not if such a thing exists it can be identified, confidently asserts the need to seek “authorial intention” (p. 80).

The first chapter of the work is intriguing. It cites a confessional statement from the Basis of Union of the Uniting Church of Australia concerning the Word of God which is heard in the Old and New Testaments, and insists that the answer to the modern Church’s alienation from scripture must be discovered in better knowing the biblical story. The chapter then gives reasons for the Church’s need for sound scholarship. Yet this theme is not returned to until the last three pages of the text of the book, which comment that the methodology adopted for studying Paul has been well received by those ministers and parishioners who have heard it. One wonders about the purpose of this “inclusio.” Perhaps it expresses a hope that the book will have a wider readership than just those within the academic community. The chapter may alienate some academic readers unnecessarily, and what is in the rest of the book is intelligible without it. On the whole, the work is a helpful contribution to the continuing academic dialogue concerning Paul’s letter to the Romans.

 

Robert K. McIver

 

 

 

AUSTRALIAN THEOLOGIES: THEMES AND METHODOLOGIES INTO THE THIRD MILLENNIUM

 

Gideon Goosen

(Strathfield, NSW: St Pauls, 2000) ISBN 1876259260

 

Gideon Goosen’s book is a good first step in documenting Australian theology, in all its contextual and multicultural diversity, at the beginning of the third millennium. It is well written and easily accessible, giving a good general overview without ever becoming bogged down in the technical detail. It would make a good introductory text for a course on the contemporary Australian, especially Roman Catholic, theological scene.

A variety of theologies, in the plural, is presented against the background of a grid. Along one axis, there is the variety of methodologies as outlined by Stephen Bevans (75ff.), which gives the author a useful measure of what theological method is being employed. Given the importance of Bevans’s book, it is surprising that it is not mentioned in the bibliography. Along another axis, represented by the spectrum of colours, is the thematic variety of theologies. This ranges from indigenous spirituality (chapter 3), to the traditional themes of a “first theology” in chapter 4 (blue, violet, indigo theologies - themes that Goosen unfortunately seems to associate with “manualistic topics for theology”) through to “second theologies”: the theological treatments of land, everyday life, work, sexuality and the specifically Australian theme of mateship, in chapter 5 (red, orange, yellow theologies). If the connections with the colours of the spectrum seem a bit tenuous here, there is an obvious connection in chapter 6 - green theologies are ecological theologies - and in chapter 7, where green, white and violet denote feminist theologies. Black is (surprisingly) associated with economics and theologies of work, in chapter 8. Each of these thematic chapters places the theologians discussed on the methodological axis provided by Bevans. The book begins with three introductory chapters, in which the author defines what he means by Australian theologies (see p. 30), and concludes with a chapter suggesting some future lines of development. 

The book is unfortunately not without its limitations. First, in its focus on the contemporary, there is no concern to plot the history of Australian theologies prior to the 1980s. Though strictly beyond the scope of the book, some of the historical background may have been helpful, and its absence pinpoints a future project for anyone who would take Goosen’s first step a little further. I’m just not convinced, as the author seems to assume (59), that theology was ignored in Australia prior to the mid-1960s (or even the mid-1970s). I have some other historical quibbles as well, even though they might not be central to the author’s theme - for example, where he dates the split between ascetic and academic theologies to the 16th century (38), I would suggest a date four centuries earlier.

Secondly, although the author frequently (and correctly) refers to the need for any contemporary theology to be ecumenical, and despite his occasional detailed discussions of ecumenical texts, his major focus is upon Roman Catholic writers. This leads to some unfortunate omissions. Preece’s important book on the theology of work is mentioned in the bibliography, but receives no attention in chapter 8, where I would expect it to be discussed in some detail. I was personally disappointed that the only reference to John Gaden’s work is to a 1985 article - the author seems unaware of the collection of Gaden’s major papers published by E J Dwyer in 1994. There is one reference to a John Smith (138), but it’s not to the popular Australian evangelist of that name. And why doesn’t Philip Adams get a mention?  He may not like to be thought of as a theologian, but - like Feuerbach - this widely read Australian journalist just can’t leave theology alone! More seriously, Goosen’s treatment of Aboriginal spirituality in terms of a basic sacramentality (115) fails to notice the strong growth of pentecostalist theologies in some Aboriginal communities. But then, pentecostalism does not rate a mention in the index either. Goosen is often unduly critical of evangelical theologies. This is unfortunate because these theologies are too popular to be dismissed so lightly: they need to be taken seriously in the Australian context. The positive side of this is that it allows Goosen to place in the reader’s hands a useful methodological tool for questioning the all too common Australian combination of sophisticated analyses drawn from other disciplines with naive theology (272ff.) My question, however, is this. Why is this such a common phenomenon in Australia?  But the answer to this will be given by someone who writes another book asking the wider-ranging historical question about the marginalised place of theology in Australian public education over the past hundred and fifty years.

This raises a third issue: the theologies discussed are almost all by professional theologians. No account seems to be taken of the possibility that much theology in Australia till very recently might have been done in sermons, occasional popular articles (like the Saturday editorials in the Melbourne Age), and within student and para-church circles. Renata Howe’s forthcoming history of the Australian Student Christian Movement will, I hope, fill in some of the gaps. I am glad Caroline Jones is mentioned (246), but her wide-ranging interviews are not plumbed for the rich source of Australian theology they in fact are.

Finally, I have to confess to some disappointment at Goosen’s tendency to see the Australian quality of the theologies he discusses embodied in what are really just the externals. The Australian imagery of cask wine and bush barbecues in Tony Kelly’s book on the Trinity is mentioned (144), but not the theologically interesting thing about this book - that, contrary to the widespread current interest in the social Trinity, Kelly seeks to revive the Augustinian psychological analogy. I’m glad Kelly refers to wallabies and frill-necked lizards in his theology (161), but these are not the things that make his theology distinctively Australian. The far more interesting question is: what is it in the Australian context that impels Kelly (or any of the theologians discussed) to write in the way they do, and address the themes they do?  Why is it, for example, that land is emerging as an important theological theme in Australia?  Goosens, to his credit, does ask this question, but too often he gets sidetracked looking for the wallabies! At worst this can become a matter of list-making. Bruce Wilson’s reading list (141) may be mildly interesting, but does it really help us understand what Wilson wants to say about God in Australia? I think not.

All this may sound unduly harsh. I do not want to lose sight of the genuine achievements of Goosen’s book. The author’s bibliography and general breadth of reading are impressive, as is his preparedness to take notice of newer and less “mainstream” theological themes. The book is a good read for anyone wanting to acquaint themselves with a range of contemporary Australian theologies.

 

Duncan Reid

 

GROWTH IN AGREEMENT II: REPORTS AND AGREED STATEMENTS OF ECUMENICAL CONVERSATIONS ON A WORLD LEVEL 1982-1998

 

Edited by Jeffrey Gros, Harding Meyer, William G. Rusch

(Geneva:, WCC Publications; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000) xiii + 956pp.

ISBN 2825413291

 

This large compendium continues the useful publications of ecumenical agreements inaugurated by the publication of this work’s predecessor, Growth in Agreement I, in 1984.

The collection is divided into four parts. Part A is the fruit of those conversations which have taken place between churches and Christian world communities which mostly belong to the World Council of Churches. Part B is devoted to those dialogues in which the Roman Catholic Church has been involved. Part C is the results of the Joint Working Group of the World Council of Churches and the Roman catholic Church. Part D, almost an exaggeration as it is only four pages long, has documents from the World Council.

I found two disappointments in the collection. The “General Introduction” is a very short page and a half long and was disappointing if some commentary on the theological content of the documents was looked for. There was no attempt to draw out some of the common theological themes or issues within the collection.

Secondly, given the terminus ad quo of the collection in 1998, it was regrettable that two important agreements were omitted from the book. The “Porvoo” Common Statement and Agreement between the British Anglican Churches and the Nordic and Baltic Lutheran Churches was achieved that year. So also was “On the Way to Visible Unity” or the Meissen Agreement between the Church of England, the Federation of the Evangelical Churches in the German Democratic Republic and the Evangelical Church in Germany. Neither of these two agreements are found in the collection. Yet both represent theological breakthroughs to unity between Churches with and without the historic episcopate, and are regarded as major theological resources for other dialogues between Churches with similar polity’s.

Notwithstanding these criticisms, ecumenical theologians, ecclesiastical officials engaged in bi-lateral or multi-lateral dialogues, and all readers interested in some of the most important theological work of the late-twentieth century will find this collection invaluable. Within a single cover (though hardly a lightweight volume) there are authoritative editions of virtually all the bi-lateral church conversations that have occurred between 1982 and 1998.

Rowan Strong

THE THESSALONIANS DEBATE: METHODOLOGICAL DISCORD OR METHODOLOGICAL SYNTHESIS

 

Edited by Karl P Donfried and Johannes Beutler

(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000) ISBN  0-8028-4374-3

 

This collection of essays (with responses to the exegetical  contributions) is on the whole a thought-provoking and comprehensive  presentation and evaluation of developments in First Thessalonians scholarly discussion. It is not, however, by orientation only limited to that one text, as  the methodological proposals and critiques are in the main also of great  relevance to how we study the other works in the Pauline Corpus.   In broad terms, the present volume is divided into two parts, preceded by  an introduction. This introduction of about twenty-five pages, written by Karl Donfried, provides a good, clear exposition of the book’s content and the differing methodologies that underpin it. It is also the source of insight into  the valuable contributions the different approaches can offer. In light of the book’s subtitle, Donfried gives a hint of the answer to the question posed.  Synthesis is necessary. Yet for this to be possible much has to be done to  achieve clarity with respect to treatment of the traditional approaches and the  newer, more diverse and controversial readings. One of the points that Donfried happily insists upon is the need for exegetical/biblical practitioners to provide their audience with definitions of the terminology employed, as that is where misunderstanding and hindrance to wise and useful synthesis can be  unnecessarily spawned.   In many respects Donfried’s skilled and honed overview supplies the key to a fruitful reading of the essays that follow. As well, it tunes the reader’s mind into the complex and yet stimulating world of Pauline scholarship with its specific emphasis on First Thessalonians.

The two parts are dedicated to Text and Methodology respectively. Part One, covering about one hundred pages, comprises three exegetical essays (by Donfried, Holtz and Merk) accompanied by three responses (from Hoppe, Vos and Weima). Part Two, spanning about two hundred pages, contains eight  methodological analyses (two each by Lambrecht and Hughes, plus one each by  Schoon-Janssen, Wanamaker, Krentz and Collins). A great deal of what is written  here is not for the faint-hearted or for the beginner. So obviously it is geared  to an audience of well-informed, thinking readers. This aspect of the  contributions is evident in the international flavour of the individual authors  and their familiarity with a vast and exploding array of traditional and more  recent biblical approaches to First Thessalonians. The Bibliography of  twenty-three pages  testifies to this. As a proficiency in modern European  languages, especially German, in conjunction with the biblical languages is more  or less presumed by a number of the essays, there is no way to gain a reasonable measure of this volume if the reader is uninitiated in such. In addition, the complexity of the current trends and the sometimes confusing or indiscriminate use of jargon presume at least an awareness of where biblical studies has recently been heading in its dialogue with newer readings of texts.

Within the limited space of a prescribed review there is little of detail that can be offered with respect to the individual contributions. However, there  is one essential aspect that is perhaps worth noting, if only to make a general  point. The value of the present collection lies with a mounting realization that every effort must be made to become familiar with others’ opinions and critiques. When that is implemented here it makes for a good overlap and recall  of ideas. What is more it also alerts us to cautionary directives or corrective adjustments wherever exaggerations or assumptions have exceeded the limits of the evidence provided or implied. As mentioned above, the interconnection of the essays’ content and the blooming discussion or clear advances being made signals the worth of this volume. The overlapping repetition need not be therefore detrimental to the overall effect of the book’s content. Rather, it helps to give the whole collection something of a homogeneity that is sometimes not easy to attain when so many authors and complex arguments are at work.  

While in this edition of opinions and analyses there is a semi-natural progression from one essay to the next there is an abundance of approaches that make almost every page a vital part of a truly fruitful reading of First Thessalonians.   Having read this book, it is highly likely that some who are perhaps less  familiar with many of the elements of the technical overview will lay it aside a  little confused and still pondering its subtitle. Yet for this reader the whole is a stimulating and up-to-date study, representative of the world of thought and research that biblical studies, but more particularly Pauline Studies, must entertain and engage.  

Kevin Waldie

 

ANGLICAN RITUALISM IN VICTORIAN BRITAIN 1830-1910

 

Nigel Yates

(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999) 455 pp., 0198269897

 

Nigel Yates has brought his research into Anglican ritualism to a fitting climax in this book. It is a welcome addition to the large corpus of work into Victorian Anglo-Catholicism by providing a much needed history of Anglican ritualism and supersedes older accounts which were largely works of Anglo-Catholic apologetics. Yates’s book means that, in company with recent histories of the Oxford Movement and Tractarianism, the entire nineteenth-century of British Anglo-Catholicism has now been subject to a welcome revision.

Yates defines “ritualism” phenomenologically as “those ceremonial developments in the Church of England that were considered at the time to be making its services approximate more closely to the services of the Roman catholic Church”. Using this definition he explores a history of Anglican ritualism that predates the Oxford Movement, finding precursors in the seventeenth-century Laudians and their High Church successors in the eighteenth century. But the majority of the book is concentrated on the ritualism of the nineteenth century which, Yates argues, was a logical outcome of the catholicising belief propagated by the Oxford Movement. However, Yates successfully avoids the simplistic equation that Oxford Movement theology led necessarily to ritualism. His history is more nuanced than this, finding that ritualism attracted followers for a number of reasons including a reaction against the drabness and change of industrial society by a return to a medieval “golden age”. People could be adherents of Oxford Movement theology without a concomitant ritualism; and also devotees of a ritualist worship without having much time for the Oxford Movement or for the Catholic belief that most clerical ritualists believed it enshrined in parishes. Ritualists were not just clergy but also laity, such as the two women who selected the site of annual holidays according to where a ritualist church could be found. Indeed, Yates finds that it was the support of leading landed families and other powerful members of the establishment for ritualism that was a major factor in preventing the spread of ritualism after 1850.

Yates endeavours to advance the study of Victorian ritualism by examining its spread in a British, rather than English, context. So there are useful, though comparatively small, sections on ritualism in Scotland and Ireland, and a passing notice of the phenomenon in the United States and Australia. His examination of Scottish ritualism finds that it was assisted by the lack of an evangelical lobby in the Scottish Episcopal Church, but this rather overlooks the impact of the separated evangelical Episcopalian chapels, and the opposition of traditional High Churchmen in that country. However, there is also some useful attention to the development of ritualism in non-Anglican churches in the period, chiefly the Church of Scotland, Congregationalists. Perhaps more attention to the ritualist excesses of the Irvingite Catholic Apostolic Church would have been useful in providing a complete picture of British ritualism?

In addition to a thorough examination of the precedents to Victorian ritualism, Yates also provides clear and cogent chapters on its immediate origins, its locations and personnel (where he finds it was as much a rural as an urban phenomenon), the responses it engendered, the attempts to control it, and its impact on Anglicanism and the Church of England. His last chapter takes the history of ritualism well into the twentieth century to look at the climax of Anglo-Catholicism and its decline after 1950. This makes the dates given in the title a little curious as the book goes well beyond 1910 in this last chapter.

But these are quibbles over what is a thoroughly researched revisionist history of Anglican and other British ritualism. Placed alongside John Shelton Reed’s sociological study of Victorian Anglo-Catholicism it provides a much needed re-examination of this very significant aspect of Victorian religion.

Rowan Strong



BOOKS RECEIVED

Donald Battley, Lecturer in Communication of Faith, St John's College. Auckland, New Zealand.

Robert McIver, Senior Lecturer, Department of Theology, Avondale College, New South Wales.

Michael Parsons, Lecturer in Systematic Theology, Theology Program, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia.

Duncan Reid, Senior Lecturer in Theology, St Barnabas' Theological College, Adelaide, South Australia.

Rowan Strong, Lecturer in Church History, Theology Program, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia.

Kevin Waldie, Lecturer in Biblical Studies, Good Shepherd College, Auckland, New Zealand.




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