2013. Paper. 288 pp. $24.00 CAD.
Review By Wayne A. Holst
My early Christian education was catechetical -
where carefully selected questions were answered
with proper responses. The good student was the
one who most accurately answered as he or she
was expected to answer.
I now know that I had very little say in how the
great meanings of Christian faith became mine.
Fifty-five years ago, when I was first involved
in teaching Sunday School and working with
our church’s youth group, I was determined not
to follow blindly the models offered by the adult
generation of the time. I wanted my faith to grow
in my way and to be shared with others like me.
I also had to learn that I did not have to re-invent
the wheel, but that great Christians have always
had to discover their rich tradition as well as
their own experience.
As I learned my way through college and seminary,
my world expanded and I grew more convinced
that the times required different ways of forming
and sharing my faith.
It comes as no surprise, then, that I get the same
impression from many of those who write essays
in “Faith Forward.” Now, the times are again
quite different – we’re digital; we’re global;
we’re post-denominational; we’re interfaith;
we live in a world where those who doubt
must be respected, not marginalized.
Editors of “Faith Forward” have tried to capture
the essence of presentations and discussions
at the “2012 Children, Youth and a New Kind of
Christian.” conference. They call the contributions
“potluck” and “travel journals” – to “image” the
nature of this book’s contents. These are meant
as “road signs” rather than definitive directions.
They try to scope the current landscape rather
than provide the latest and best theories out there
or suggest how the “real ministries” are doing it
Back in my early ministry I began reading
the books of an Episcopalian priest and
teacher named John H. Westerhoff III. He
wrote texts like “Will Our Children Have
Faith?” which went through many editions.
His focus was on helping us to better read
the times so we could contribute to the faith
formation of our children. Then they could
share faith that reflected their own experience
rather than mere rote.
It was great to read Westerhoff again in the
summery chapter of this book – half a
century later – to be reminded that the
great themes of his seminal writings have
not really changed, but only the modern
context continues to evolve.
I commend Wood Lake Books for
publishing the results of this important
conference in readily readable ways.
It reminds me that the emerging church
is made of many different kinds of people
from many different spiritual backgrounds.
That speaks to me as Westerhoff once did.
Buy the Book from:
Wood Lake Website:
Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and helps to co-ordinates Adult Spiritual Development at St. David’s United Church in that city.
Colleagues List, Vol. IX, No. 7, September 22, 2013