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Trust Trust
A Radical Manifesto

Steve Chalke and Anthony Watkis
ISBN 1850785864 (9781850785866)
Authentic, 2004
£4.99

Category: Emerging Church & Postmodern Faith

The British: we're a cynical menagerie of creatures, aren't we? I've just been perusing a few of my older book reviews from this here site and, let me tell you, I'm not exempt from that accusation. What we need is a little bit more Trust. Those in positions of authority and stewardship need to be trained in garnering it effectively, and we average 'oft-tempted-towards-anarchy' Joes on the street need to get better at giving the threatening, goggle-eyed monsters of authority the benefit of the doubt.

Whilst Jesus turned his nose up at pompous, stuffy, disengaged politics and religion, he was also no proponent of apathy, urging his followers towards hands-dirty social action. Jesus had things to say about how we invested our money (how often do we give everything away to the poor, anyway?); our time (we said that believers should be nothing but bums-on-pews on the Sabbath. Meanwhile, Jesus was out working); in short, all our resources, to further his kingdom.

The polarity which exists between spirituality and social action is not Christ-invented. We did it. And Steve Chalke, minister, writer and pioneer of Oasis Global and the Faithworks Movement, makes that painfully obvious. He is passionate about closing the spirituality/social action divide and rediscovering a holistic Gospel which simply loves God's people and the world they live in, no questions asked, no ulterior motives.

The problem, as is most always the case, is us and our attitudes. Where once the Church existed as pillar of Britain's community — an integral influence in areas such as health, education, media and community-building — it, and other major establishments ('government, the media, the royal family… the police, the law lords') have 'tumbled from their pedestals' (pg.1). 'Establishment' is a dirty word. 'Organisation' is a dirty word. And what ever you do, don't put the words 'Church' and 'politicians' next to each other in the same sentence, will you?

Rather than sitting around our pub tables apathetically mourning this national loss of trust, Chalke — with fellow Faithworks writer Anthony Watkis — calls all parties involved (pun intended) to deliberate action.

In this accessible, challenging and thoroughly practical 'manifesto', Chalke and Watkis ask, firstly, whether the Church can trust the government, and secondly, whether the government can trust the Church. They urge both establishments — to be further reconciled, working closely to reshape communities and re-inspire the public's trust in their work — and then us Christians in the community — to obey Jesus' command to invest our resources in our God-appointed leaders, whether secular or religious. Because, as far as the command to love one another and be engaged in our communities goes, perhaps 'secular or religious' is a false dichotomy anyway.

Mark Burnhope, February 2006

Mark Burnhope is a graduate of London School of Theology. He is a 'trying' novelist and poet with a Masters Degree in Creative and Transactional Writing from Brunel University, and an alternative worship/emerging church obsessive.

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