Choice, Desire, and the Will of God by David Runcorn

This book is a delightful romp through a posse of the author's reflections on the interaction of our human condition, and the consequences for our understanding of God. The chapters are very much bite sized reflections, which take you rapidly, though by no means lightly through a series of subjects ranging from the omnipotence of God ('a mistake' according to the author) through human freedom, having always the clear understanding that love is central to all these topics.

The author is currently Director of Ministry Development in the Diocese of Lichfield, having had a diverse career as Director of Pastoral Studies at Trinity College Bristol, and, according to the cover biography notes, as an accordionist, a hermit and a fast bowler. He is certainly an enthusiast, and this shows. He delights in arresting, perhaps even shocking his readers with some magnificent declamations. He begins the third chapter with the sentence 'God is useless', before bringing us to see that this is an inevitable consequence of our understanding that God is complete in himself. He goes on to show that this means our existence owes itself to God's pleasure, and his extravagance shown throughout creation.

He keeps up a relentless barrage of images throughout the book which stimulate, excite, and demand the attention of the reader. Before this begins to sound like a complete reverie I should add the book is not without error. At one point Runcorn cites Ephesians 5:21-32 as showing that eros can describe the relationship between Christ and his church, as in this passage it is linked to an analogy of marriage. Unfortunately the Biblical text uses agape throughout, rather undermining his point.

I thoroughly enjoyed this volume, which I would happily recommend to anyone who would enjoy a spiritual challenge, and quite possibly those who wouldn't, but should know better!

Simon Cawdell, Vicar of Claverley, Shropshire, 17th February 2004

Choice, Desire, and the Will of God by David Runcorn is publiched by SPCK, 2003
ISBN 0-281-05313-4, paperback 125pp, £6.17 (Amazon)

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