This week (Jan 23-28th) is Academic Book Week. The aim of the week is to celebrate the diversity, innovation and influence of academic books. At SBC we thought we’d give you a small insight into some of the theology books that have shaped our thinking in one way or another. (And maybe in time we’ll get some recommendations from students too!)
There are many books that influence you along the course of academic study and to choose just one is extremely difficult. The book I have chosen to comment upon is not necessarily the book that has most influenced my theology, but it has had a significance influence in the way that I approach theology. Kester Brewin’s The Complex Christ deals with emergence in relation to the church and covers a diverse range of approaches to the topic. Brewin is a first rate author and thinker particularly if you are looking for something challenging and fresh. He never backs down from a challenge and approaches theology creatively with his underlying thinking being strikingly innovative (of course this means that at times you might not agree with what he is saying but I think that’s okay – at the start of one of his books he quite readily states ‘I might be wrong.’) Brewin has published several books over the last decade – Other deals with how we engage with the ‘other’ in ourselves, God, and the wider world. Mutiny takes a creative look at pirates (of the Long John Silver kind) and how the church can engage in social change. After Magic, a self-published book, looks at a range of fiction (from Batman to Harry Potter to Shakespeare) and explores the theological theme of incarnation. And I think this is why I settled on Brewin’s The Complex Christ as a book of influence – it explores theological ideas in new and inspiring ways. It allows you to shake off the dust and engage afresh with theology. All of Brewin’s ideas might not sit comfortably with you but it will challenge you to think of the church in new ways. I think that is key to a good academic book – not necessarily agreement but provocation to think deeply.
For too long the Church has been a place that has excluded, rather than included. It has been very happy to set rigid dirt boundaries, but then it has not only been slow to re-evaluate the validity of them, but also has often refused either to step over them and show compassion to the ‘dirty’, or to even open its doors to them. (p142)
Kester Brewin, The Complex Christ , (London, SPCK, 2004)