Book of the Month: January 2012

‘The Naturalist and the Christ’

by Tim Heaton

“Carefully researched, elegantly written and well presented.“ -The Rt Revd Dr Graham Kings, Bishop of Sherborne.

“An Impressive piece of work…entirely readable.”  -The Revd Canon Edward Probert, Chancellor of Salisbury Cathedral.

 

This is a much meatier tome than most aiming to support
group study in Lent. Heaton’s starting point is the 2009 film ‘Creation’, a biographical portrait of Charles Darwin which focuses on the personal and theological travails which arose from his developing theory of natural selection, and the death of a deeply loved daughter.

Heaton proposes a familiar group approach, 5 ninety-minute sessions with a consistent and detailed structure, including discussion, silence, readings and prayers, as well as clips from the film. The sequence of sessions follows the Lucan narrative of Christ’s temptations.

Heaton stresses that participation in this course should above
all be fun, and that the study and reflection elements go along with the social.  He has a pleasant, readable style, but doesn’t patronise his reader. The range of sometimes challenging
subjects addressed should not be undertaken by those hoping simply for a biscuit and a chat: 19th century English thought and religion; competing theories of geology and evolution; science and fundamentalist creationism; doctrines of the Fall, original sin, and salvation; 20th century theologies of the suffering of God. Yet this isn’t all dry theorising, because it begins with a human narrative in film, and along the way picks suchup other interesting individuals as ‘Woodbine Willie’.

Well led, and with a motivated group of participants, this
course can be an extremely fruitful way into areas which most Christians barely grasp, opening up the development of thought in science and theology, the interaction (or failure to interact) of these fields, and how the personal and corporate experience of suffering can be well, or badly, integrated with faith.

For those who get fired up by the film and this course,
Heaton provides tools to take things further: he includes a biography of Darwin, and rounds the book off with an extensive bibliography. The book is also suitable for individual study.

-The Revd Canon Edward Probert.

Quote Sarum College Web-page to order this book at the reduced price of £7.49 and postage free. Study groups ordering 5 or more copies will qualify for the special price of just £6.99 per copy,

(rrp £7.99)

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