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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars

on 13 September 2013
Andrew Davison's Why Sacraments? is a timely and useful book to non-Anglicans who are thinking about the role of sacraments in the life of their respective denominations (or independent churches). The material in the book is rooted in the biblical and theological traditions shared by Christians. It shows ecumenical sensitivity at many points, drawing from Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Methodist, Reformed, and Pentecostal theological resources. The author is respectful in his accounts of different sacramental theologies within various streams of Christianity. Christians of any label will gain a deeper understanding of the two sacraments we share: Baptism and Holy Communion. Davison provides some really refreshing insights by discussing sacraments in terms of the Incarnation and the work of the Holy Spirit. He often incorporates beautiful hymn texts, ancient liturgies, personal accounts, and much-appreciated humour into his elucidations of theological points. His arguments for the sacramental nature of marriage, confession, anointing, confirmation, and ordination will, at the least, challenge readers to view each of these as genuine means through which the Holy Spirit communicates grace.

Davison's writing style is quite readable - almost conversational. There is remarkably little theological jargon, and what is there is explained well. (I'm having a twelve-year-old read Why Sacraments? as part of confirmation preparation). At the same time, theologically sophisticated readers will gain fresh insights and some sense of how they should be talking about sacraments with those who haven't a clue about these rites. It is one of those books that most every minister should have on hand.

Although I'm not an Anglican, I found the book really enjoyable and at times quite challenging. The reader shouldn't expect to agree with everything Davison writes, though I found the points on which I disagreed with him surprisingly few and mostly minor. He is undoubtedly a robust Anglo-Catholic. Would we want or expect a doctrine tutor to be wishy-washy? Part of what Christians have learned from ecumenical engagement is the need for each of us to bring to the table a robust account of our own tradition. My suggestion is that readers take any points of contention as fruitful opportunities for articulating their own beliefs with the same clarity and conviction with which Davison expresses his.
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on 18 August 2013
Having spent the last couple of months buffing up on Sacramental Theology, I am of the opinion that Davison's book on the theology of the Sacraments is on a par with that of Macquarrie's 'Introduction to the Sacraments' as a primer in this area of (Doctrinal) theology. This is in part due to Davison's ability to communicate complex ideas to those who may not consider themselves to be theologically literate, yet in a way which does not alienate those who are more theologically literate (an important skill for a lecturer in Doctrinal Theology at an Anglican Seminary!)

I was particularly taken by Davison's use of Christology and Pneumatology as ways of engaging with and understanding Sacramental Theology. By reading the Sacraments through these categories Davison links them back into the life of the Church and its members, without having to resort to clumsy (and infantilising) language, such as describing the Sacraments as 'kisses from God'. (Kisses though they may be, the relationship between the Kisser, God, and the recipient, us, is far more profound than such a term allows for.) This approach, of linking (and reading the Sacraments through) Christology and Pneumatology into is also consistent with Davison's interest in demonstrating the interlinked nature of theology and philosophy, by demonstrating how theology is inextricably linked to praxis.

Another advantage (and perhaps a surprise) is Davison's language, which is both robust, but also thoughtful and considered. Such language helps the flow of the book and keeps it from getting too far away from its (unstated) aim of linking theology with praxis. (Anyone who has tried to work out which chapters of 'For the Church' were written by Davison or Millbank, A will find their task that much more difficult having read this book!)

My only complaint (and it is a very minor one) is that Davison states that towns with Cathedrals in them are automatically considered Cities. Cities are normally formed by Royal Charter rather than by the presence of a Cathedral in their environs, thus Southwark is a Borough (of London) and not a city, despite the presence of three Cathedrals (Anglican, Catholic and Greek Orthodox).
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on 19 July 2017
New book - delivered on timescale. Andrew Davision is an English Anglican academic (no problem there) but writes as an apologist. This book defends classical Anglican theologies of the sacraments, entering into dialogue with Hooker and others: so it is a good survey of Anglican theology. The real problem for me with this work is that it assumes an ongoing status quo: that both Establishment and a parochially-based Church of England will simply go on. There is no real discussion of the changing spiritual landscape of Britain (or even England). There is more than enough credible research and quality publication of both our growing 'post-Christendom' landscape and the emerging churches' (NB. plural) questions which are not really addressed in this competent survey of how-things-were.
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on 19 December 2014
An excellent introduction and "raison d`etre"
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on 18 October 2013
A really useful book by a rather brilliant writer and teacher at Westcott House. Happy with all aspects of the purchase.
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on 3 December 2015
Very happy with purchase and service.
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on 18 June 2016
A really good and thoughtful look at the meaning of the sacraments. It really clarified my thoughts and understanding.
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on 9 February 2016
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on 6 January 2014
Andrew has managed to make this both a clear and straight forward explanation and include some deeper more searching analysis of the Sacraments.
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on 4 May 2016
useful book for the course I am on.
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