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By Peter McDowell
The numbers of people attending church are declining. Churches are closing and the influence the church once had in society is waning. The natural response is to immediately look for solutions to the problems. However, finding appropriate solutions depends on a correct understanding of the problem.
In ‘At Home in Exile’ Peter McDowell shows how the experience of exile in the Old Testament can provide a way for the church to understand its current experience of marginalisation. The feelings associated with the three stages of the exile experience resonate with our current experience. The first stage is entering exile, and has associated feelings of shock and denial. The second stage, being in exile, has feelings of anger and depression. The third stage, departing from exile, is associated with acceptance and integration.
“Peter’s book is an invaluable companion for the people of God being taken into exile. Its challenging insights, observations and analysis are complemented by encouragement and hope to journey into an unknown future with a known God and to be at home in exile.”
“The imagery of exile is increasingly popular as a way of describing the experience of Christians in western societies as the era of Christendom fades and we negotiate the transitional phase known as ‘post-Christendom’. Peter McDowell’s book is a welcome addition to the literature on what he describes as ‘a new paradigm.’
If this analogy between the experience of Israelite exiles in Babylon and that of Christians in post-Christendom holds, we will benefit from reflecting carefully on the exilic literature of the Old Testament. McDowell helps us do this, arguing that we should be especially attentive today to this part of Scripture.
Two distinctive aspects of this book are the Northern Irish context from which McDowell writes and his creative use of the ‘stages of grief’ as the framework for his exploration of the exilic literature. McDowell’s exegesis and insights provide helpful guidelines for us as we learn to be ‘at home in exile’ and to seize the fresh opportunities as well as facing the challenges of post-Christendom culture.”
Anabaptist Network and author of ‘The Power of All: Building a Multivoiced Church’, ‘Post-Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World’ and other books.
A comprehensive review of the book can be found on Gladys Ganiel’s blog. Click here.