I enjoyed this slim volume immensely. Its contributors point out that faithfulness means clarity about the gospel and about contemporary delusions about sin. The contributors are realistic about the pressures facing faithful servants of God in Anglican ministry especially. It was well embodied, for example, in one of evangelical Anglicanism’s luminaries, Bishop J. C. Ryle.
I know that the three contributors embody the faithfulness of which they write. I studied the doctrines of grace under the late Mike Ovey. I heard Mark Pickles speak in chapel and attended a graduate seminar in which Lee Gatiss spoke.
Mike Ovey, with his consummate brilliance and simplicity of diction, wrote here about the contemporary challenges to faithfulness within the Anglican Communion. These concerned the call to repentance, the mediatorial status of Jesus Christ, and current delusions about righteousness. He movingly speaks of the theology of the cross, in which is embodied the call to repentance, the promise of forgiveness and cost of discipleship.
Mark Pickles deals with faithfulness in regular parish ministry. He expounds the concept of faithfulness and then applies it to the work of ministry. This includes the challenges from within the minister — his doubts, fears and capacity to compromise and seek popularity — to attacks from without that can erode zeal, and lead to capitulation or even retreat. He writes with both pastoral kindness and biblical authority.
Lee Gatiss talks about J. C. Ryle as a faithful servant of Christ. I was touched by his reference to Spurgeon’s commendation of Ryle’s faithfulness. Ryle came from a wealthy home, was academically accomplished and an outstanding preacher. He remained in the backwater of rural Suffolk for many years, refusing calls to stations of wider influence. He was faithful throughout his disappointments over his sons. When appointed Bishop of Liverpool, he immediately began to plan for mission and evangelism among Liverpool’s poorest communities.
I appreciated this book and believe its call of faithfulness is as strong to non-Anglicans as to Anglicans.