A Christology of Everyday Life
Category: Doctrine and Theology
Christ in Practice: A Christology of Everyday Life is 'an exposition of the meaning of Christ as discovered through and related to, the practice of human living.' (p.xi) Clive Marsh takes us through everyday relationships and situations to find out where and how Christ is present in the world other than in the Church.
Having recently completed a course in Christology, I was intrigued by the title of this book. On reading, it bore little resemblance to the Christology I had studied, and was much more of a sociological approach to finding and defining Christ. This book would certainly appeal to people with a sociological interest, but that's not to say Marsh's theology is weak. The writing is quite dense and I did not find it an easy read, but social theology is definitely how I would describe its genre.
Marsh is steeped in Bonhoeffer's Christology and it forms the backbone of the book. Not being familiar with Bonhoeffer's theology, I could have been slightly lost, but Marsh gets around this by giving a crash-course in Bonhoeffer in the first chapter. This is helpful, and probably necessary for the rest of the book, but feels a bit like a hurdle. Marsh's main aim in dealing with Bonhoeffer is to go beyond what he refers to as his ecclesiocentrism, and to analyse how Christ is found in other situations. He begins with situations of injustice and 'ethical challenge', and then devotes a large part of the work to looking at Christ as 'a community of practice', which he borrows from social theorists Wenger (no relation!), McDermott and Snyder. In this context he looks at Christ as a community of practice (a conceptual term) in relationship to work, family, friendship as well as the church (concrete daily experiences).
In his quest for a less church-focused Christ, Marsh may well tread on some theological sensibilities. It is in some ways a brave book, and may raise eyebrows as it goes beyond the more orthodox views of where Christ is found. But for a new perspective on Christ's presence in our ethnicity, in our business meetings, and in situations of injustice, then I would recommend taking up the challenge of reading Marsh's views.
One aspect that I felt was not given enough airtime was Christ's presence in the marriage relationship. Although volumes could be written on this, I thought that it was somewhat neglected here. However, he does devote part of a chapter to Christ in friendship. This is refreshing, as is the way Marsh manages to successfully weave theory and practice together, although he shies away from calling his work 'applied theology'. (p.20)
Marsh has been working on this project for ten years and this is the second of his two-part study. In this book, several references are made to his first work, Christ in Focus: Radical Christocentrism in Christian Theology. Although Christ in Practice is self-contained, I would think it necessary to start with Christ in Focus to get the full benefit of Marsh's extended study.
One thing I learned on my Christology course was that our Christology should impact every other 'ology' we have in life. This book certainly helps to see Christ's impact on our sociology, and takes Christology out of the textbook and into the daily lives of us all.
Caroline Wenger, October 2006
Having tried the Alpine life for more than a year, Caroline Wenger is soon to be coming down the mountain to live in a town not far from Zürich. She enjoys reading (albeit slowly), cooking and travelling and finds it sometimes hard to stay awake in sleepy Switzerland.Order from www.christianbookshops.org | Order from St Andrew's Bookshops
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