MANY books are published each year for the benefit of “busy preachers and teachers”; fewer take sufficient account of the lack of time for reading such volumes, as the weekly sermon deadline looms yet again. The eight chapters of Kingdom Come comprise a handy starting-point for reflection, encouraging that busy preacher or teacher to avoid falling back on well-worn (and, truth be told, worn-out) truisms.
The book offers a helpful summary of some key theological ideas, such as “cross”, “covenant”, and “charism”, showing how they all come together in the overall concept of “Kingdom”: “the will of God, done on earth as it is already done in heaven”. The sub-title speaks of offering “essential” theology, but the author is at pains to emphasise that this is not a comprehensive treatise. Rather, Kingdom Come seeks to promote theological literacy, invaluable for those embarking on any kind of church-based teaching ministry. It also provides guidance in discerning a pattern of continuity and change across scripture, a helpful exercise for people taking first steps in biblical studies.
As well as accessible exposition of scripture and theology, Philps includes some notable illustrations from a global context. I was particularly intrigued by the Roman Catholic nun in East Timor and her miraculous barrel of rice, and the Siberian pastor admitting that he had managed to raise only five people from the dead. However interpreted, such stories are a prompt to examine faith assumptions in Western churches.
The book would have benefited from a Further Reading section, as well as suggestions for using the material as a resource for group discussion (another perennial need for many in ministry). Having said that, the author does acknowledge his own debt to the writings of N. T. Wright (“a breath of astonishingly fresh air”) and expresses the hope that Kingdom Come readers will go on to explore such scholarship themselves.
The Revd Naomi Starkey is a priest in the Church in Wales, based in the Bro Dwynwen Ministry Area on Anglesey.
Kingdom Come: Essential theology for the twenty-first century
Sacristy Press £9.99
Church Times Bookshop £9