This is a mixed and muddled bag of essays, from the truly worrying (theologically speaking) to the mildly insightful, if generally unhelpful. There are some from which the reader comes away feeling hopeful, others that offer an opinion, but one that really offer either insight or options for change. Sadly some of them contain some spectacular theological 'fails': e.g. the description of the Holy Spirit (the Third Person of the Glorious and Undivided Trinity) as 'the fuel for numerical church growth'. I am unclear where to begin with this description, whether as blasphemous or heretical (the reduction of God to an action of the church fits both criteria quite well).
There are some amusing articles in this book, in particular that by Susie Leafe, director of Reform. The main gist of her argument is that in order for the Church to grow, it needs to return to Biblical values and teaching, ones that are unsullied by outside influences such as modern thinking or teaching: that the meaning of the text should be allowed to shine through, rather than meaning being imposed on it. A laudable aim indeed, however it is one that ignores the fact that none of us approach the Biblical text as a tabla rasa, but through the lens of scholarship, tradition and culture. There is not (and never has been) a pure reading of the text, it is a process of constant interpretation and reinterpretation. Any reading of the Biblical text, whether by the Director of Reform, or by the Head of Inclusive Church will be equally as subject to interpretation, however much either may disavow such an approach.
There is little to commend this book to the reader, other than for those who missed (or like me, failed to read these articles) when they were first published in the Church Times in early 2014. There is a clear need for theological reflection on the current state of the Church of England and its current and future direction, however, it is not to be found between the covers of this book.