Andrew Wilson - Spirit and Sacrament: an invitation to Eucharismatic worship
Zondervan 140 pages ISBN 978 0 310 53648 2 Price £11.89
I like the idea of this book; I have spent my life seeking to avoid a narrow stereotype of evangelical spirituality by straddling various streams of spiritual insight. In this brief book, Andrew Wilson outlines his case/manifesto/dream/vision of church life not is not confined to a narrow band of one form of Christian spirituality but one that embraces the best of both worlds.
Think about the following line from the book: “Show me your architecture, and I’ll show you your theology.” What do people see when they step into our churches; what subtle messages are communicated?
The book is rooted in the theme of God’s grace, which the author rightly says gives us the words Charismatic and Eucharist. Wilson explores what it means to be Eucharistic and Charismatic, offering testimony of meeting with God through both forms of church life.
Perhaps, one of the best insights of this book is the value of reinstating the place of the public reading of Scripture in our meetings. I have always thought that this ingredient in a service was always guaranteed to come with God’s blessing.
In reading the book I have not been sure whether the authors’ idea of eucharismatic is a vision, a dream or a nightmare. Certainly, there are drawbacks to blended worship; it can become bland, cluttered, defuse and lacking focus; more Bride of Frankenstein than Bride of Christ.
I wonder whether Andrew Wilson is being too optimistic in this book. The danger of the enthusiastic optimist is that some facts tend to be ignored. One reviewer has highlighted the lack of evidence concerning a link between ancient and contemporary expressions of charismatic practice. What cannot be ignored is the need to develop a sensitivity to the full range of spiritual expression that Scripture warrants. The Church misses something when it allows itself to be parked in a remote lay-by rather than taking to the open road to explore all that God has for us.
John Woods is pastor of Lancing Tabernacle in West Sussex