Breathtaking in scope and certainly ambitious in prospect, Adam Hamilton has written an important book that many people in congregations will find stimulating, challenging and, in the end, comforting.
With clear and understandable language, this book is not only an invaluable resource for ministers, but also a must-read for the growing number of book clubs Uniting Churches are establishing. This is a book that will bring the lay reader up to speed with the fruits of current Biblical and theological learning.
A scholarly and rich engagement with the scriptures underlies this work. Hamilton writes honestly and personally from a strong pastoral background borne of many years in ministry to those who are hurting and with those on the margins of society. Written from a United Methodist perspective, this book is similar in its heritage both in outlook and theology to the Uniting Church in Australia’s Reformed and Evangelical focus.
In the first section Hamilton addresses “The nature of scripture”. Here there is an overview of the Old and New Testaments which not only addresses the main themes, but tackles topics such as who wrote the books, why these books made it into the scriptures and the role of prophecy and revelation. In a challenging section, he asks “Is the Bible inspired? Is the Bible the word of God? Is the Bible inerrant and infallible?” Not everyone will be happy with what he says, but it will spark a discussion over the role and place of the Bible in individual lives and that of a worshipping community.
The second section of the book is titled, “Making Sense of the Bible’s Challenging Passages”. It is ambitious. Insights into the debates on creation and dinosaurs in Noah’s ark proceed to a focus on God’s violence in the Old Testament and the issue of suffering and divine providence. The list of topics goes on: authenticity of the gospel accounts of Jesus, women in leadership and homosexuality and gay marriage. Finally, the book concludes with chapters “Towards an Honest and Reverent view of Scripture” and “Reading the Bible for all it’s Worth”.
The Uniting Church is a church that values the Biblical witnesses of prophet and apostle and lays upon us the serious duty to study and preach from the scriptures. Hamilton’s book is a resource that will immensely aid in this endeavour.
Director, Pilgrim Learning Community