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Two Small Books on Lay People and the Church

Publisher Zeus Publications
RRP $26.95

The title Two Small Books on Lay People and the Church belies the tone of a book that intensely challenges the Uniting Church and especially its laity.

Speaking as a dedicated layman, Emeritus Professor Rod Jensen uses his highly developed analytical skills to probe the reasons for the current and truly alarming decline in our numbers.

His language is measured but the implications of what he says will be controversial.

The central contention of Two Small Books is that the problem lies not in the message of the love of God through Christ but rather in the failure of our church culture to adapt to the culture of the post-modern world.

Churches need to be pew oriented, to develop a new honesty and respect for the mind of the laity, to resolve the fundamentalist-liberal schism and to cultivate spirituality rather than religion.

Jensen acknowledges the dedication of the clergy and lay folk but his insistence on the need for change will doubtless anger some.

Most laity will be intrigued and informed by his comprehensive overview of the role of the laity throughout Christian history.

He traces the emergence of Christianity from the small Christian sect, to the once dominant Roman Catholic Church, to the current smorgasbord of churches.

He identifies the 1640’s as the beginning of the divorce between religion and many aspects of life as Copernicus, Newton (both Christians) and others established science based on observable facts instead of dogma.

Conflict between science and religion has continued and nowadays theological correctness stifles the laity. Jensen queries why the church is defensive.

Two Small Books is not easy and it offers no readymade solutions. It is a discussion starter and should be required reading for all thinking members of the Uniting Church.

Reviewed by Merv Bengston