Thursday, 27 December 2018

Book review: “In His Own Strange Way” by Geoff Thompson

Geoff Thompson, “In His Own Strange Way”: A Post-Christendom Sort-of Commentary on the Basis of Union, 2018:  MediaCom Education.

Reviewed by Bob Faser.

I need to make one admission at the outset.  When I was asked to review this book, my initial thought was “But hasn’t the Basis of Union been done to death already?” 

However, by writing this book, Geoff Thompson has provided the Uniting Church with a strong resource for ministry, for three compelling reasons.

The first reason is that Thompson prefers to allow the Basis of Union to speak to us on its own terms, rather than placing the Basis into any particular doctrinal straitjacket, whether “evangelical”, “progressive”, “neo-orthodox”, or any other.

The second reason is in the description of this book as “Post-Christendom”.   This study takes seriously the fact that the relationship between the Christian churches and the broader society, both in Australia and in other western nations, has changed radically in the decades since the Basis of Union was written and the UCA was inaugurated.

The third reason is in the fact that this study is structured in sixteen segments that can be used for group sessions.  Each session contains a brief commentary on the relevant section of the Basis of Union, brief statements on how our “Post-Christendom” situation relates to the particular section of the Basis, discussion questions, and relevant passages of scripture. 

This book looks like a good starting point for reflection by a more ambitious adult study group in a local congregation, one which wants to spend an extended time with a single resource.  It would also work well with a group of Ministers of the Word, Deacons, Pastors, and Chaplains in a local area wanting some sustained opportunity for group theological reflection.  If a group such as this exists in your congregation or presbytery, this may be the resource for them.  In either case, competent group leadership is essential as this is not a pre-packaged small-group study.

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Constructive comments, from a diversity of viewpoints, are always welcome. I reserve the right to choose which comments will be printed. I'm happy to post opinions differing from mine. Courtesy, an ecumenical attitude, and a willingness to give your name always help. A sense of humour is a definite "plus", as well.