Living Faithfully: Following Christ in everyday
Church Times Bookshop £9 (Use code CT842
I WONDER about the Bishop of Oxford. While most of us were
watching (or trying not to watch) the Olympics last year, he was
writing yet another book.
We should be grateful. John Pritchard's bibliography is an
interesting one. He has written material that is useful both for
those who know their church (intercessions handbooks) and those who
are not so familiar with what goes on. He has written one of the
few modern books about being a priest today. His style is easy,
readable, and funny. Important things are wrapped in digestible
In this new volume, Pritchard addresses the old question what it
really means to be a Christian when it is not Sunday, one is not in
church, and one is not necessarily in the company of other
like-minded persons. In other words, how can one begin to be a
faithful Christian in today's world?
All too often, the focus of so much church life is on the Church
rather than the world that it is meant to love, serve, and
transform. Centuries of drawing too much of a distinction between
the sacred and the secular have taken their toll. Too much
discourse in our churches is directed towards the edification or
improvement of the individual, or is over-concerned with the
individual's relationship with Christ ("vertical Christianity").
Too much talk about "lay ministry" is actually about getting lay
people to do more churchy things; too much talk about "mission" is
about getting more people to come to church.
Pritchard will have none of this. Churches should grow, and jobs
need doing - of course they do. But none of this will be authentic
if it is not grounded in the lives and actions of men and women who
really feel that what they say they believe in makes a difference
to them every day of the week.
Pritchard starts at the beginning, with our relationship with
God, and our need to accept God's grace. Stage two is about
accepting ourselves and our need to rely on that grace in all
things. He then examines how we might face the world with the eyes
of faith (questions of peace and justice, economics and work), how
our faith might affect our relationships with others, near and far,
and, finally, how we might face the future without fear or worry,
but, rather, hope.
Each of the short chapters has a similar structure. After an
introduction to the "problem", the reader is invited to think more
deeply, and then consider different approaches that a Christian
might take: "what might we do differently?" in Pritchard's words.
Each chapter is rounded off with quotes, a Bible passage, and
questions for individual or group consideration.
This book, although written in an easy style, does not offer any
easy answers, and rightly so. The reader is properly left to work
out what the questions raised might mean in his or her context.
What does it mean to follow Christ in your everyday life? Working
out the answer is what we might call "theology".
The Revd Peter McGeary is Vicar of St Mary's, Cable
Street, in east London, and a Priest-Vicar of Westminster