Issues facing Christians today (4th edition)
John Stott and John Wyatt, Ed. RoyMcCloughry, Zondervan, 2006, 528pp. £11.99, ISBN 0 3102 5269 5
The first edition of this book made a big impact on many evangelical Christians as it helped to recover evangelical social concern. While we have moved on in the past 20 years, the key questions still need to be addressed for another generation of Christians and Christian leaders. Fully endorsed by John Stott, this edition is revised and updated by Roy McCloughry with a new chapter by John Wyatt. McCloughry is a lecturer in social theology at St. John’s College, Nottingham, and chair of the trustees of Third Way magazine.
Stott and McCloughry are reliable guides as we face the real live issues written about in this book. Crucially the first three chapters tackle the context we are thinking and living in: ‘Our Changing World: is Christian involvement necessary?’; ‘Our Complex World: is Christian thinking distinctive?’; ‘Our Plural World: is Christian witness influential?’. I would suggest these are ‘must read’ chapters while you might pick and choose others according to what you wish to study.
Work, business relationships, ethnic diversity, contentment, global poverty, human rights and other issues are addressed under three major headings: global issues like war and peace; social issues like the world of work and personal issues like same-sex relationships. We are steered through biblically-founded thinking on these issues, in contrast to much popular writing that is often more about prejudice and emotion in different measures. I thank God for these writers who help me have a biblical mind on such issues.
I found the chapter on human rights particularly helpful in the minefield that this issue has become. A biblical view based on human dignity, equality and responsibility helps us through that minefield. The issue of same-sex relationships is a hot potato and this chapter helps us see a clear, loving, repentant and scriptural set of arguments. Some Christians speak first and think later but Christian thinking on this important subject will be greatly helped by reading and studying this chapter.
In a new chapter for this edition, Professor John Wyatt tackles bio-engineering, ‘The new biotechnology’, with good clear thinking on a very complex area. He knows biology and the Word of God and continues the first-class method of bringing together the Word and the world. He gives a helpful model to help us work with contemporary questions and new questions that further research may throw up.
This title can help us think ‘Christianly’ about what we call ‘secular’ topics and equip us to have a Christian engagement with these issues. We have a wonderful foundation for Christian thinking and living that can do the church good.
I would suggest that this is a book every Christian leader should have, not necessarily to read cover to cover, but to refer too as a vital starting-point when any of the issues arise, as well as using its material and included study guide in the small groups context for which it is well suited.
Reveiwed by Andrew J M Barker
Headline Autumn 2007