God-soaked life: Discovering a Kingdom spirituality by Chris Webb

by
01 December 2017

Cally Hammond reads a guide strong on love if weak on judgement

MY FIRST impression of this book might seem a trivial one, but I was pleased by the quality of its production — an attractive-covered hardback, with discreet page decoration that made it a pleasure to handle and read.

Chris Webb has done a fine job of making problems in the spiritual life seem like opportunities. He writes with a positivity that I found appealing, perhaps because my own view of spiritual guidance is to emphasise the importance of putting the bar as low as possible, so that people can begin with progress, not failure. “Never let a day pass in which you haven’t spoken with God” is enough for most people to begin with, long before the dizzy heights of daily Office and Bible-study, communion, and meditation.

The “God-soaked life” of the title turns out to be a way of describing how we can link up the Jesus of the Gospels with the human beings God puts before us every day, and learn to love them, and love ourselves, with honesty. It explores stories of Jesus’s love, and suggests how we can draw insights from them, to saturate our existence with the divine presence. Some of the points made are basic, and none the worse for that. This is a book capable of standing alone as an introduction for Christians wanting to take the first step after an adult affirmation of faith, or a rediscovery of lost faith.

My only quibble with its content is the minimising of the part that God plays as judge, which Webb approaches through the rather obscure lens of the commination service in the Prayer Book (where it is subtitled a “denouncing of God’s anger and judgements against sinners”). True, Jesus never spoke of God as an angry parent needing to be placated; but the God whom Jesus shows us is not devoid of judgement, along with mercy (Mark 3.28-30).

This book, refreshingly unplatitudinous, is designed for personal or group use. Each section ends with short passages of scripture and reflection, to stimulate a good discussion. It makes me feel a bit curmudgeonly to be pointing out that “this sceptr’ed isle” comes from Shakespeare before Churchill. By the way, anyone reading this review who wants to experience the aforementioned commination service, is welcome to come to Caius College Chapel in Cambridge on Ash Wednesday morning. A bit of judgement once a year is like leaven to the dough of a God-soaked life. Discuss.

 

The Revd Dr Cally Hammond is the Dean of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

 

God-soaked life: Discovering a Kingdom spirituality
Chris Webb
Hodder & Stoughton £12.99
(978-1-473-66526-2)
Church Times Bookshop £11.70

100 Best Christian Books

How many have you read?

Visit the 100 Best Christian Books website to see which books made our list, read the judges' notes and add your own comments.

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

The Church Times Podcast

The Church Times Podcast, hosted by Tim Wyatt and Ed Thornton, features a mixture of interviews and news analysis. Listen online

Forthcoming Events

16-18 February 2018
Church Times Festival of Faith & Literature

Our literary festival with a theological slant in Bloxham, Oxfordshire. Speakers include Francis Spufford, Ruth Valerio, Eve Poole, Mark Oakley, James Runcie and many others. Find out more

5-6 May 2018
Church Times Festival of Poetry
With Sarum College, Salisbury. More details coming soon - register your interest here

Subscribe now to get full access

To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read seven articles each month for free.