Holding Together by Christopher Cocksworth

I didn’t want to blog about this book until after the Clergy Book Group today when we were discussing it but now as it has happened I will.

The book has a sub-title Gospel, Church and Spirit – the essentials of Christian identity, and clear on the very first page of the preface are these words:

The aim of this book is not in any way to go beyond the simple gospel of salvation and the conviction that the Bible is the inspired word of God that I learnt from my spiritual fathers and mothers.  It is to go deeper into the scriptural gospel, to mine more of its depths, to receive more fully of its fullness, to grasp more of what it means to be a gospel person, an evangelical.

I always think it is good when a theological author nails their colours to the mast right at the beginning, at least then you know what position they are writing from, and Christopher Cocksworth despite the grand title of Holding Together – the evangelical and Catholic traditions within the Church – in my view fails as there remains throughout the book, the undercurrent of the evangelical way is the right way.

That being said doesn’t however take away from some of the very good stuff inside the book.  I would be interested to know just what an evangelical thinks about the chapter on Mary, are you one have you read it?  The chapters on Touching Grace and Breaking Bread I enjoyed and were well described by one person in the group as generous and I think his own brief sentence when introducing the discussion between formalised liturgy and freedom beyond any fixed liturgy expresses this tension well ‘God’s immediacy is mediated.’ p158.  The chapter Making Disciples is also worth delving into, and on the whole that is what I feel about this book, there are bits worth delving into but as a whole I found it stodgy and unreasoned, more like a collection of ideas for several books rather than a completed work in itself, but then as I said at the group I don’t think I was his target reader.

{It is worth saying, especially if you are considering buying the book and wanting other views before parting with your £16.99 – I got mine for 12p+p&p – that while some shared the views expressed above others didn’t, one person (who arrived late and will remain nameless was very enthusiastic about it all, although he hadn’t finished it!).  One person found it very Church of England, that totally escaped me and still does.  I along with at least two others of the group would have probably not got past the first chapter if it hadn’t been for the discipline of it being the Book Group book.}


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