A helpful resource to engage with LLF
A review of Martin Davie's Living in Love and Faith: A Concise Introduction & Review
The Living in Love and Faith project can feel at times both overwhelming and all-consuming. The good news is that Martin Davie (once again) has produced a clear and concise entry way into the LLF enterprise. Davie helpfully begins by narrating the background to LLF (p.1), its organisation (p.2), resources (p.2), purpose (p.3), and next steps (p.3). Davie then walks us through the structure of the 468-page LLF book, carefully and fairly summarising each section (pp.4–12). With the LLF book freshly mapped out, Davie dedicates the bulk of his booklet to reviewing its contribution, offering both positive and negative reflections.
Positively, Davie appreciates the LLF book’s clarity on who God is, where we fit within the divine drama, and the need to reflect God’s holiness. Davie also commends LLF’s presentation of the orthodox understanding of marriage (pp.12–15).
Negatively, Davie highlights nine problems with the LLF book (pp.15–30): (i) Its insufficient account of the contemporary world and contemporary science; (ii) A downplaying of creation’s authority; (iii) Its failure to affirm the clarity of Scripture regarding sexuality; (iv) An undercooked account of Jesus’ teaching; (v) The elevation of experience for moral reasoning; (vi) An ambivalence regarding what constitutes right Christian conduct; (vii) A confusion about the “mind of the Church”; (viii) Its failure to address other important ethical issues or offer advice on pastoral care; (ix) Its inadequate account of the role of bishops to guide the church. Davie concludes by surveying the other LLF resources, criticising their inability to “help people assess the various arguments . . . . ‘Go on then, make sense of that lot’.” (31). Davie then closes his booklet by suggesting several ways forward, highlighting the need for clarity about who God is, what the world’s really like, why biblical teaching is good news, how to live and love well. The LLF resources touch on who God is, but “those who want help with the rest will need to look elsewhere” (32).
Davie’s booklet is well researched with up-to-date references and offers insightful questions throughout. Those seeking a little more biblical and theological depth should probably look elsewhere (e.g., some of Davie’s other works). For example, how does the dispensation of creation relate to redemption? What is the dogmatic function of “human nature” from creation to consummation? But for what it sets itself up to be, Davie’s booklet provides an accessible way in and overview of the LLF project. It is a helpful resource for churches to understand and engage well with the whole LLF process.
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Revd. Sam Ashton is an ordained minister in the Church of England and he is currently a PhD candidate at Wheaton College, Chicago. His research explores the theological and moral significance of sexual dimorphism.