Page 6, 15th August 1980

15th August 1980
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Page 6, 15th August 1980 — Religious Books
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Religious Books

Faith in History & Society. Johann Baptist Metz. (Burns and Oates. £6.50)

THE AIM in this work is towards a practical fundamental Theology, but this does not mean "fundamentalism", but rather what the writer calls political theology. The identity crisis of Christians today, the crises that affect the Church. There is nothing wrong with the Christian message but how is it accepted by individuals, by the community, and the institutional Church? The author tries to give the answers, but it is a difficult book to follow.

Becoming Catholic even if you happen to be one. .1. Killgallon. M. 0Shaughnessy. OP and G. WLher. (Chapman. ri.:2.95) THOUGH two of the authors were well known for their Catechetical work, this book is not an explained Catechism. Rather it is to help those thinking of becoming Catholics, and those whose Catholicism is a bit dimmed.

One could say it was popularly written, but this is its great advantage. It is very scriptural: it could he said to be cheerful; and it would not hurt anyone to spend time going through it if only to improve their Christian outlook.

Morality: Religious and Secular by Basil Mitchell (Clarendon Press, £7.50),

THIS is a revised version of the Gifford I.ectures delivered at the University of Glasgow. The author. opens his book with a chapter on "Our Contemporary Moral Confusion".

This confusion, he writes "arises out of a largely unacknowledged conflict between rival moral theories." Hence there are differences as to what is right and wrong and so what moral concepts to employ and, if morality does exist, what is its purpose.

In the following chapters he gives an appreciation of different moral attitudes. There are those, for example, scientific humanists, who base morality on a study of the nature of man; others who align it with love of life, a sub jective moral philosophy and others who base it on social ideals 'which in turn is a necessary condition of the realisation of any human ideals".

Professor Mitchell would argue in his book that contemporary confusion about morality arises from the loss of religious sanctions, His main thesis is that religion belief must colour and guide morality if this confusion Is to be avoided.

"The moral confusion", he writes "consequent upon the breakdown of a traditional culture is already with us and has been for several generations." He is not saying that religion produces an exact moral code.

What he is saying is that morality is concerned with the nature of man and his needs and that christianity provides an understanding of what that nature is and how it should operate.

"I have not claimed", he writes at the end of the book. "that there can he no morality without religion, but I have suggested that much of the Western ethical tradition ultimately makes sense only if a religious view of the world is presupposed."

Theology of Purgatory by Robert Ombres, 0, P. The Mercier Press, £1.80.

THIS book gives in clear outline the history of the development of Christian theology concerning Purgatory and the nature of this pause in the passage from earth to Heaven.

The author commences with the Biblical and Patristrie origins.

Wisely he does not put too much emphasis on particular texts of Scripture as proofs since it is difficult to see how any one of them can provide it. He writes "It is unlikely that these texts would he tight enough as 'proofs' for the whole truth of Purgatory, and so it is better to examine how Purgatory emerges from a number of larger truths," In the second part of the book Father Ombres draws upon the Scriptural and Patristic traditions under the general title of "Images of Transformation" to show how the doctrine has become clarified and formulated. A well thoughtout and scholarly work. Preaching through Saint Paul by Derrick Greeves (Moybrays, £3.25).

IT IS not the intention of the writer of this book to provide a series of set sermons on St Paul's writings. His purpose is to stimulate thought to be, in his own words "A nudge to the brain", This he does well interspersing the sermons with many Pauline texts and interpreting them in a clear and meaningful manner. God in Christ, Baptism, suffering to some purpose and faith are some of the subjects dealt with from the Pauline point of view.

The sermons are divided into different sections according to the calendar of the Christian year. This is clearly a book written by a student and lover of St. Paul.

Theology and Fantasy by Elise Brooke, RSCJ (Mercier Press, £1.80).

THE purpose of this book is to show how certain writers have made use of fantastic tales to convey religious truths. Sister Brooke has chosen four: George MacDonald, a congregational minister, C. S. Lewis and Charles Williams, Anglicans and' J R R Tolkien, a Roman Catholic, The themes of these writers are best expressed in the author of this book's own words "In George MacDonald's books the main attributes are Almighty Power, Providence and Wisdom; for C. S. Lewis the idea of Redemption and Love is strong, and for Charles Williams the Power of Transforming Love is the most fundamental characteristic in each novel.

In Tolkien's epic, though the name of God is never used, the whole movement of the story is between Eternal Good and Eternal Evil; ..." An interesting book. '

The Broken Heart by James Lynch (Harper and Row).

THE AUTHOR writes "The stimulus for writing this book was my deep concern about our apparent drift toward increased human isolation, fragmented human relationships and Revolt from the Church by Donald Gillies (Christian Journals, f 1.95).

HERE is strong uncompromising testimony to the sufficiency of Christ by an influential Presbyterian. I was startled to learn in the introduction that in 1845 the United States General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church had, by a big majority, voted that baptism by an RC' priest was invalid.

Relief caste a sentence later when we read that there was important dissent from this view. Somehow I had always assumed that in the most Protestant quarters, an infant, not yet acquainted with the serious errors of Rome, was considered baptisted, even if "done" by one of her priests. So it is useful to know what deep distrust was once inherited, I had also been taught long ago that all the baptised had a basic unity.

I respect Donald Gillies's clear examination of his own position the vigour of his style. And to the belief that "where Christ unites nothing should divide" I can only say: "hear hear".

Constance North




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