Book Review – Means of Grace, Hope of Glory

Means of Grace, Hope of Glory: An Anglican AnthologyWhat do Anglicans think? At a time when it is becoming increasingly uncertain who Anglicans actually are, Raymond Chapman’s compendium is a helpful contribution. He takes a dozen big themes (Holy Orders, Authority, Holy Communion, Preaching etc) and then offers snippets of Anglican thought through the ages on each topic. Over a hundred voices can be heard in these pages. They are mostly white, and mostly male and of course, mostly English – could we, should we expect otherwise?

The collection spans six centuries of spiritual writings. Reflections on many different aspects of the Christian tradition are present here, including the Evangelical Revival and the traditions of the Early Church. One of the themes which emerges is of Anglicans tolerating those amongst themselves with whom they disagree. However, it would need more rigorous historical understanding to determine whether this is indeed a dominant Anglican theme or wishful thinking in the mind of the compiler. That said, it is always interesting to see those who have gone before us wrestling with some of the same questions that arise today. Is that really Richard Hooker going into contortions to convince people the Confirmation should not be neglected and should best be performed by a bishop? He could have been speaking at Synod.

Means of Grace, Hope of Glory is a rich collection of titbits to mull over. It is perhaps more useful as something to dip into from time to time as a resource than as a textbook. As such it would be a handy book for anyone wanting to do some thoughtful reflection about what the Anglican churches are about and who Anglicans are.

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Published in inspires, the magazine of the Scottish Episcopal Church