4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Urgently relevant and biblically sound teaching,
This review is from: Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities (Paperback)
For anybody who has grappled with the concept of a God who, on the one hand, is described as a loving Father yet on the other hand, can condemn the victim of a cruel, abusive marriage to a life-sentence - read "Divorce and Remarriage in the Church". It sorts out the confusions and contradictions of centuries of church doctrine.
The Church's traditional teaching is dealt with in a completely new way. The author shows that there are four Biblical grounds for divorce (not just adultery) and that remarriage is acceptable (after a Biblical divorce). He gives clear, realistic and wise guidance about this which is both practical and fair - something urgently relevant to the contemporary church.
But before I go any further, let me immediately set your mind at rest about any fears you may have that this is little more than a well-meaning attempt to manipulate Biblical teaching in order to make it pastorally (and socially and politically) more acceptable. When you read the book you will be reassured that it is thoroughly Biblical!
You may well be wondering how on earth there can be a "new" interpretation of the traditional teaching of divorce! Well, to understand that you do have to read the book - I can't tell you in a few sentences.
In the opening chapter, "Confessions of a Confused Minister" Dr Instone-Brewer explains how his time as a young Baptist minister led him to "look again" at the Bible's teaching. His subsequent work as a Biblical scholar in Cambridge (with numerous academic works to his credit), researching the background literature of the Bible, showed him that the original hearers of these teachings would have understood them very differently to us today.
Written in a conversational, friendly style it does well to get across some fairly detailed ideas and arguments, but as the author himself recommends, it is probably best not to pick and choose certain bits but to read the book as a whole. A highlight for me was that it anticipated questions and was careful to both raise and answer them. Other chapters include: "Divorce on Demand?", "When your Partner Walks Out", "Till Death us Do Part?", "The Teaching which Time Forgot" and "Conspiracy - Why has No-one Explained all this Before?". A bonus is the chapter at the back, "Dear Pastor" in which the author gives a selection from his obviously busy e-mail bag, together with his replies. Usefully, too, is a section of Study Guides for Small Groups" - leaders notes and questions for 6 sessions.
I was motivated to write this review because I want it to become widely known and available people who are confused and hurt by the Church's teaching - I believe it will help. Be warned though, it doesn't find a "loophole" for all who are trying to find a way out of their marriage. In fact, I'd recommend the book as much for the way it affirms (and actually enhances) the traditional teaching on the sanctity of marriage vows - the author urges the need for forgiveness and repentance. Particularly helpful is the sensible and compassionate advice given to divorcees who are suffering from guilt at the break-up of their former marriage with guidelines for how the church can best help. "Divorce and Remarriage in the Church" is also probably one of the few books that really is essential reading for all who are involved in Church leadership and those responsible for pastoral care.