The Pastor in a Secular Age: Ministry to People Who No Longer Need a God

Andrew Root. Baker Academic, $26.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-8010-9847-5
In the fantastic second volume of his Ministry in a Secular Age trilogy, Luther Seminary professor Root (Faith Formation in a Secular Age) analyzes the “vocational identity crisis” faced by many contemporary pastors. Root, drawing on the work of theologian Charles Taylor, writes that “the very idea that there could be a personal God who orders and acts in the cosmos has become unbelievable” and then presents ways in which pastors have effectively reached their congregations despite this societal movement toward individual conceptions of truth. Root offers a historical overview of six pastors who serve as archetypes for their era: Augustine, 12th-century Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket, 19th-century American revivalist Jonathan Edwards, congregationalist Henry Ward Beecher, liberal 20th-century minister Harry Emerson Fosdick, and contemporary Evangelical pastor Rick Warren. Examining how the clerical role has changed, coinciding with changing perceptions of the supernatural, Root traces the pastoral identity across the centuries and provides a composite template for how a pastor can navigate modern concerns. Highlights include Becket’s insistence that priests’ sacramental actions can protect believers from evil spirits, Edwards’s belief that faithful living depends not on “what you do, but how you do it,” and Warren’s conviction that the pastor’s role is to provide resources to help individuals discern their life purpose. Identifying many challenges facing clergy today, Root offers a persuasive vision for how pastors can effectively reach their audience. (July)
Reviewed on : 04/18/2019
Release date: 06/01/2019
Genre: Religion
Hardcover - 978-1-5409-6208-9
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