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No Fixed Address


2010, RRP $29.95

Reviewed by Noel Preston.

THE cover blurb of No Fixed Address justifiably claims, "Fifty-four years ordained, with nothing to prove or to fear, Bodycomb answers questions many have been afraid to ask."

The author addresses these questions in a readable, engaging and scholarly style, combining autobiographical reflections with well-researched theological argument.

The book has five parts: I Born to Dissent?; II The Falling Edifice; III The New Age of Discovery; IV God, Humanity and Cosmos; V The New Mystics.

John Bodycomb has been a parish minister, a Director of Christian Education, Dean of the Uniting Church Theological Hall in Victoria, and ecumenical chaplain at the University of Melbourne.

His career positions him well to criticise how theology is presented in most Australian theological colleges.

Citing Paul Tillich as the most significant theologian of the twentieth century, he argues that systematic theology has become "ossified" and a "pseudo-science".

Bodycomb was ordained as a Congregationalist – a fact which enriches this work and enhances its significance, as it provides something of a record about one of the traditions which spawned the Uniting Church in Australia.

It also partly explains his independent and critical approach to orthodoxy and ecclesiology, and why he numbers himself with those whose Christianity is inclusive and progressive, challenging certain traditional beliefs.

As I read the book, I found myself longing to hear more of his own spirituality; finally it is revealed as he writes in the final pages about "the intentional use of silence" and his confessed affinity with Quakers.

No Fixed Address is written for a wide audience.

It could be used as a text for study groups; there are "questions for consideration" provided with each chapter.

I hope it is read by students of the Synod's Trinity Theological College.

To assist in that aim, this reviewer's copy will be donated to the college library.