Local Priest Publishes Christian Dictionary
Author Michael Counsell writes:
My new book, A Basic Christian Dictionary, which is published this month, was written before Professor Dawkins published The God Delusion. So it would be wrong to call it an answer to fundamentalist atheism. But I think my pocket-sized summary of Christian beliefs shows that Christian thinking is more reasonable than many doubters realise.
Christians are called to share with their neighbours, as simply as possible, the good news that God loves them. But in explaining how we know this, and how we should respond, we are bound to use words in new ways. To explain the Ďtechnical termsí of Christianity you need a dictionary.
It is a good thing that people should argue about religion, because religion is concerned with our present happiness and our eternal future. And because those matters are so important, it is right that people should feel passionate about them. Where argument becomes non-productive, however, is when people are arguing from ignorance. Many people think they are attacking Christianity, when what they actually oppose is a caricature of the faith, which no thinking Christian could believe in either. Yet Christians sometimes try to defend what they think are Christian doctrines, but which are in fact not the official beliefs of their own or any other denomination. Disputes often arise between members of different denominations because they are ignorant of what their opponents believe, and unsure of the reasons for what they themselves belief. It was in the hope of resolving these misunderstandings that I compiled my dictionary.
Having trained as a scientist before I became a clergyman, I am aware of the delicate balance between reason, faith and tradition. These have been described as the three-legged stool: knock any one of them away, and you will fall down! So although reason will only take us so far, before faith is required, I am not prepared to accept anything which appears to me to be unreasonable. Yet I believe a great many of the central teachings of Christianity can be defended on reasonable grounds, and I have tried to show how this can be done.
For instance, anyone looking under Proofs of the existence of God will find nothing. But if you turn to Arguments, you will find many matters of daily concern which are hard to explain if there is no God. Each of these, therefore, points to a probability that there is a God. We are free to take the less likely explanation in any of these arguments; but to take the least probable alternative in every case would be unscientific.
But there are other beliefs which I address, which are held by some Christians and not by others. It is a pity that the word Ďabortioní comes so near the beginning of the alphabet, because this meant I had to launch myself, at the very start of my book, into a debate in which different Christians feel equally strongly on both sides. Here I have tried to present both sides of the argument fairly, and left the readers to make up their own minds. No doubt my own beliefs become obvious, but I should be alarmed if anyone agreed with me at all points.
It has been a difficult, but satisfying, task to compile this dictionary. I hope that anyone who intends to write or speak for or against Christianity, or discuss it with their friends, will have a copy of my book in their pocket or handbag and consult it to check that they are accurate in what they say. There are entries on most of the subjects concerning Christian belief, together with an A to Z section on great Christian teachers, and another on Christian churches and movements, with a summary of membership statistics. There is an appeal for understanding and tolerance between people of different faiths, but there was no room to discuss what other religions believe. If the book helps people understand why Christians believe what they do I shall be well pleased.
Brief biography of the author
Michael Counsell was born in Birmingham, and educated at King Edwardís School in Edgbaston. After National Service in Hong Kong, he read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, then transferred to Theology and studied for ordination at Oxford. He was a curate in Handsworth before going as a missionary to Singapore. Then he served four years as British Embassy Chaplain in Saigon during the Vietnam War, after which he became Dean of St Paulís Cathedral in the Seychelles Islands. He returned to Birmingham as Vicar of St Peterís Church, Harborne from 1976Ė89; during that time his small son was killed by a drunk driver. After a year with Inter-Church Travel, Michael moved to the parish of Honor Oak, in London, and retired in 2000. He then moved around Europe in a camper-van, spending six months as a chaplain at the Oberammergau Passion Play. He was locum priest at several Anglican chaplaincies before settling for three years in Athens, where chaplaincy to the Olympic Games was an exciting part of his duties. In 2004 he returned to Birmingham where he lives in a small flat in Northfield, helps with local churches, writes books, sings and plans further travel.
Some other books by Michael Counsell, all published by Canterbury Press:
A Basic Christian Dictionary is published by Canterbury Press, Norwich, on 29 March 2007 at £9.99, ISBN: 978-185-3-11776-3. Order through your local bookshop, or online at www.canterburypress.co.uk
|The Church of England, 1 Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 2BJ
Tel: 0121 426 0400 email: email@example.com
Site map Website designed by Morse-Brown Design and Penguin Boy