A review of "The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity" by Robert Banks and R. Paul. Stevens. (IVP)
This is a very polished book by a selection of good writers and superb theologians. It also addresses one of the most glaring needs in theology - a theology of everyday life that looks at issues from credit cards to politics. Issues you won't find easily in a concordance or a systematic theology.
There is a great need for such a work. When I was preparing an article on "Money" I went to a very large and comprehensive modern systematic theology for some advice. The index went straight from "Monarchialism" to "Monism" and skipped "Money"! Finances seem to be not considered to be a "theological topic" - despite the huge amount of biblical material on it! "The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity" fills this gap with practical theological articles on everything from "abortion" and "addiction" to "worship" and "zoning" . These are the everyday issues that cause 90% of the pain and anguish in life and are not addressed in the pulpit or the textbooks.
There are some who would say that we ought to just work out everything from first principles and indeed that would be a good idea if we all could be bible teachers, preachers or theologians who are paid to sit and think things through. Your average Christian - even your average Christian worker, does not have the time to think about these things in depth and we need some answers from those who have done the thinking for us. For instance R. Paul Stevens has a series of articles on organizations and organizational change. Not every Christian organization has time to re-invent the wheel and come up with their own theology of organizational change - yet we desperately need one! To have it in print in "The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity" saves us time and gets us started on the road to solving our organizational problems in a Christian manner.
There are several ways to use the book. Firstly it can be useful resource material for topical bible studies, sermons and courses. The material is well presented and in a format suitable for group study. There are three indexes - the "Life Activities, Interests and Concerns Index", the "Life Experience Index" and the "Subject Index" so that the book is accessible from a number of different angles. Those preparing courses using "The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity" can save themselves a lot of trouble by using the first of these indexes - which groups the articles under headings such as "The Individual and Relationships" or "neighborhood, City and Society". Secondly it can be used as an excellent resource when one is faced with an ethical crisis or personal problem. Thirdly it can be an enjoyable read and a pleasure to browse through.
The articles are from an evangelical perspective which is consistent with the IVP's usually high quality of material. I found myself disagreeing with a couple of not-so-conservative articles e.g. on the area of evolution/creation but overall I found it to be a very stimulating and useful work . The article on "politics" was particularly helpful to me. It brought out new insights and helped me get a very balanced handle on Christian involvement in the political process. The book is thoughtful, deliberate and well within the evangelical mainstream.
I rate "The Complete
Book of Everyday Christianity" as the best new evangelical book of
1997 and one I will treasure and use for a long time. For a 1160+ page
tome it is a bargain at $29.95 (Australian) from Koorong
Books. "The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity" is a
vital book that should be on the shelf of every pastor and Christian leader.
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