13 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Powerful critique, 17 Mar. 2011
For most parish priests, battered over the head with the idol of Mission, this book will be a Godsend. It is the first theological response to the 'Fresh Expressions of Church' movement in the Church of England and points out that the idea at the core of Fresh Expressions - that there is some kernel of the Gospel that can be shoved into any old medium to sell it to the public - is not only untrue but is the precise reverse of the insight of the postmodernism that so many Fresh Expression practitioners are so keen to engage with. Form and content are inseparable and affect and determine each other.
Secondly, it asks the unpopular question of 'what is the Church?' It confronts the evangelical Protestant ecclesiology imported from the United States at the base of much 'Fresh Expression' and 'Mission Shaped Church' thinking and exposes it for what it is: unbiblical and unAnglican. Through a rich study of the Pauline epistles and the Gospels the authors demonstrate that in so much missionary talk these days, the church is selling he birthright for a mess of potage.
The book over-idealises the parish system and a second edition (for which we might heartily hope) ought to correct the surprisingly high number of spelling and type-setting errors. Yet, the over-idealising of the parish is a necessary correction to the ceaseless denigration of the parish which parochial priests across the country have had to be depressed by for so long. Further, much of their positive account of the parish is not so much a description of what all parishes are like but of what many are like and an ideal to inspire others to aim for. And at least the parish is capable of the ideals Davison and Milbank set before it, whereas so many Fresh Expressions of Church (which are neither the Church nor Fresh, unless you have the ecclesial memory of a goldfish) seem based upon a deliberate rejection of what the parochial system and the Church of England have stood for for many centuries.