Book review by Maxwell Stewart
“A missionary church cannot rely on the professional ministry for the primary work of mission. The role of the laity is critical because it is the lay members of the church who have the greatest contact with those who are outside of the normal structures of church life. In such a situation the task of clergy is not so much to engage in mission themselves, as to support the laity in their mission.”
― Martin Robinson, The Faith Of The Unbeliever
Recent readers of Perspective will be familiar with the review of last year’s “Postmodernism” lectures by Don Carson. The thrust of the very readable book The Faith of the Unbeliever, is similar, in that it attempts to describe where people are “at” today. The author is the Director of Mission and Theology of the Bible Society in the UK, and writes with an ease that points to a real familiarity with his subject. While Robinson does make generalised statements about the intellectual and philosophical world in which we live, examples of his own frequent contact with unchurched people give credibility to his observations.
This book is an excellent introduction to the world of ideas for those with little or no study in philosophy. As such this book provides an excellent resource for anyone who is keen to meet the challenge of communicating their faith. The book is also an excellent aid to ministers – its easy style encourages you to devour the material. This is not a philosophical `tome’ that will sit unread on your shelf.
What does the book contain? It’s divided into three sections titled; “The world of the Unbeliever”, “Beliefs of the unbeliever” and “Communicating with the Unbeliever”. Chapters in each section give helpful insights and descriptions of the world we live in. I found that the simple (but not simplistic) reviews of the philosophical legacies of the Enlightenment, Post modernism, and Neo-paganism stimulated me to think about the world in new ways. Further, the insights provided into the beliefs of the unbeliever resonated with my experience of unchurched people. This book really works – it stimulated me to think of new ways to communicate and defend the gospel in my own immediate context. And it will do the same for you.