Vibrant Christianity in Multifaith Britain: Equipping the church for a faithful engagement with people of different faiths

Vibrant Christianity in Multifaith Britain: Equipping the church for a faithful engagement with people of different faiths

Author : Andrew Smith
£6.99

Equipping the church for a faithful engagement with people of different faiths


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Title Vibrant Christianity in Multifaith Britain: Equipping the church for a faithful engagement with people of different faiths
Author Andrew Smith
Description

Equipping the church for a faithful engagement with people of different faiths

Vibrant Christianity in Multi-Faith Britain is an accessible and thought-provoking approach that encourages readers to think seriously about how we live out our faith in an increasingly multi-faith society. Whether we meet people of different faiths or just hear about them in the media, this book will give Christians confidence to express our faith in a religiously diverse world. Drawing on scripture and the author's many years of experience, the book challenges preconceptions and offers practical advice.

Details
  • Product code: 9780857465719
  • Published: 19 January 2018
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 120
  • Dimensions: 130mm wide and 198mm high

Equipping the church for a faithful engagement with people of different faiths

Vibrant Christianity in Multi-Faith Britain is an accessible and thought-provoking approach that encourages readers to think seriously about how we live out our faith in an increasingly multi-faith society. Whether we meet people of different faiths or just hear about them in the media, this book will give Christians confidence to express our faith in a religiously diverse world. Drawing on scripture and the author's many years of experience, the book challenges preconceptions and offers practical advice.

  • Introduction
  • What do we think of other faiths?
  • A different question
  • Them and us?
  • The great commission
  • Doing dialogue
  • Being peacemakers
  • Cultural issues
  • The church: reaching out and welcoming in

This is the book I wish had been available when I first started to think about engaging with other faiths. Andrew is a safe guide to this rewarding and necessary aspect of contemporary Christian discipleship. He offers his long experience, godly wisdom and theological depth worn lightly in the stories and reflections that will amuse, reassure, but most of all inspire us to the best practice.
Revd Dr Richard Sudworth, Priest in Charge at Christchurch Sparkbrook

If 'proclamation evangelism' and 'diaconal service' are badly in need of a biblical redefinition; and if the two need to be synthesised into one cohesive whole that's organic and relational, then this is a 'must-read' about what the non-negotiable ingredients are; how they ideally blend together and what it could look like in practice.
Steve Bell, Author, speaker, Director of Interserve in Gt Britain & Ireland

'Vibrant Christianity' does exactly what the title suggests: it challenges Christians to think and pray and act in such a way that the Christian faith will continue to flourish in the United Kingdom for generations to come. This is a must read for anyone who wants to think about how to love their neighbour as themselves.
Revd Dr Tom Wilson, Director St Philip's Centre, Leicester

A welcome and significant contribution to a better understanding of the nation's search for meaning in life through the eyes of a committed Christian. Andrew's style is refreshing, not least because his working assumption is the recognition that he needs to learn more and that can only be achieved by asking questions rather than by expressing opinions. The breadth of issues covered serves to allow readers to use it as a reference book as well as a carefully coherent development of key themes. A challenging and radical book which is highly commended.
Sior Coleman, Faith producer/presenter BBC WM

Andrew Smith is Director of Interfaith Relations for the Bishop of Birmingham. Together with others, he set up the charity The Feast to develop Christian-Muslim youth work. He led the initiative to create the Ethical Guidelines for Witness produced by The National Christian-Muslim Forum 2006-2011.

Church Times, 24 May 2019. Review by Anna Poulson

In this short and accessible introduction to engaging with people of different faiths, Andrew Smith provides an exciting vision for how this calling is for all Christians rather than a specialist ministry for a few interfaith experts and cross-cultural mission partners.

As the Director of Interfaith Relations for the Bishop of Birmingham, Smith himself has become one such expert. But it is the practical wisdom and personal insights gained over the years of living and working with different faith communities in Birmingham which gives his argument authority and credibility.

Experience has taught Smith that interfaith engagement does not rely on the acquisition of academic knowledge about other faiths. Instead, Christians need a confidence and joy in unapologetically communicating their own faith, combined with a desire for genuine encounter and open dialogue, a willingness to listen and to learn, and an enthusiasm for peacemaking and friendship.

For this, Smith provides plenty of training — from his exploration of both the Great Commandment and the Great Commission as his biblical underpinning for this ministry, to his practical guidelines for dialogue and ethical evangelism, his exploration of basic cultural issues, and his invitation to be peacemakers.

In setting out his vision, Smith does not shy away from some of the more challenging issues: questions of salvation, evangelism, and conversion are faced head on with confidence, and tempered with generous amounts of humility and compassion. So, too, is the necessity of learning how to disagree well through dialogue (before a crisis forces the issue), and the paralysis caused by fear of the unknown.

What we don’t find here is a historical perspective on how Britain came to be the multi-religious society it is today, or an analysis of the extent to which Christianity is present and engaged in our cities and large towns. Neither does it explore the various theological paradigms that might have been brought into play, nor some of the ecclesiological questions that we would do well to be asking. But what we do find is inspiration for how we can be biblical Christians, who are faithful to the distinctiveness of the gospel and committed to graciously loving our neighbours from different faith communities and affirming all that is good within them.

This book should be on the essential reading list of every ordinand and re-written as a Lent course for their congregations. The relational model at the heart of it will give them the confidence not simply to tolerate or live alongside people from other religious backgrounds, but to discover the joy of true encounter and transforming friendships with all our neighbours in this increasingly dynamic and complex multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. Smith is one expert from whom we should look forward to hearing more in the years ahead.

Review by Revd Dr Anna Poulson, Vicar of St John’s Southall Green, London

 

Preach, Winter 2018. Review by Ray Taylor

This is a very timely book. Contemporary Britain is now a place in which Christianity is no longer the dominant religion, but home to an increasing number of people from different faith traditions. Smith makes the point right at the outset that religion is rarely out of the news, usually for all the wrong reasons, and other faiths, particularly Islam, are much more visible (my stress) in politics, education, and popular culture.

The author is well-qualified to write about this field. He is the Director of Interfaith Relations for the Bishop of Birmingham; he co-founded the charity The Feast to develop Christian-Muslim youth work; and he led the initiative to create the Ethical Guidelines for Christian and Muslim Witness in Britain. It might be supposed that Smith's interests lie solely in the Muslim faith but this book also discusses Judaism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism. Smith often discusses the Muslim faith in detail, but his conclusions, advice and many biblical examples can equally be applied to other faiths.

What I really like about this book is how accessible it is. Smith has a deceptively engaging style that belies the seriousness of his subject. He adopts a sensible approach to the issues, occasionally provocative and challenging, but always underpinned by scripture and the example of Jesus.

One approach to improvement and developing good relationships is to remain friendly and agree to disagree. The analogy is that of a marriage -- it takes a brave spouse to tell their partner that what they believe is wrong! It is better to listen, ask why they have a certain point of view and then offer a different perspective. One of Smith's golden rules, whenever he is faced with something he doesn't know or understand, is to just smile and ask.

This book will useful for preachers when their message reflects on other faiths, aided by its extensive use of scriptural example.

Review by Ray Taylor

 

The Reader, Autumn 2018. Review by Claire Disbrey

This is an inspiring and practical book tackling one of the most pressing challenges to the Church in Britain today. Smith is director of interfaith relations for the bishop of Birmingham and writes from many years of experience, especially with Christian/Muslim youth work. He believes that, as more British Christians are finding themselves working with and living among people who practice faiths other than Christianity, they are having to rethink some of their assumptions and attitudes. The aim of the book is therefore 'to equip the Church for a faithful engagement with people of other faiths.' Coming from the evangelical end of the Church, Smith argues from scripture and discusses how to balance friendship, dialogue and evangelism and concludes that dialogue is an authentic medium for witness.

Review by Claire Disbrey

 

Reform April 2018. Review by Maggie Hindley, retired minister

At last! Thank you, Andrew Smith, for this invitation to evangelical Christians, to engage seriously, as equals, with people of other faiths. I know nothing else like it, and it is much needed in these times, when British Christians find themselves rubbing shoulders with people of other faiths as neighbours, colleagues and citizens.

Smith's argument is that we should stop thinking in terms of a 'spiritual scale' where some people are going to heaven and others not. Letting go of such dualistic thinking allows us to view our other-faith neighbour in a more complex way. The command to love our neighbour trumps the command to evangelise, and love shows itself in respectful service. If we approach the faith of another with an enquiring mind, we may find much to learn.

When we do invite others to faith in Jesus, Smith argues, we should do it without manipulation; we should listen as much as we speak and try to understand that they, too, have a right to invite us to their faith. Smith reproduces the Christian Muslim Forum's excellent 'Guidelines for Ethical Witness' in full. He also writes passionately on the need for mediation in times of tension, for cultural bridge building and for long-term commitment to interfaith friendship.

Each chapter begins with a piece of biblical narrative retold, and the book is thoroughly rooted in scripture. It is a very accessible read, made warm and vivid by Smith's attractive and often self-deprecating anecdotes about his own interfaith experience.

This is a book for interfaith enthusiasts as well as evangelicals. I was put off at first by Smith's assumption that his reader might worry about whether or not the neighbour of another faith might go to heaven - I don't, nor, I'm sure, do many 'Reform' readers. But how can we seek to understand our neighbour of another faith if we don't first listen to the concerns of fellow Christians across our liberal/evangelical divide?

'Vibrant Christianity in Multifaith Britain is divided into eight chapters, each followed by questions for discussion. At GBP7.99, it's a good choice for a book group or a four-to-eight session course.

Review by Maggie Hindley, retired minister

Magnet. Review by Juliet Campbell

Dr Andrew Smith is Director of Interfaith Relations for the Bishop of Birmingham and set up a charity - the Feast - to nurture Christian/Muslim youth work and understanding. Dr Smith had a lead role in creating the Ethical Guidelines for Witness, which was produced by the National Christian Muslim Forum (2006-2011).

He addresses a variety of topics: what Christians think of other faiths; them and us; the great commission; dialogue; peace-making; community; culture and reaching out and welcoming in - the Church.

Each chapter begins with a paraphrased passage from the New Testament, moving into the author's own experience and finishing with questions which can be used for discussion. This book is a straightforward but challenging read for contemporary Christians in an ever-developing multi-faith society. It challenges us to review how we see ourselves and those of other faiths in relation to sharing in the community we live in.

Review by Juliet Campbell