Wake Up Dead Man Wake Up Dead Man

Matt Stephens
ISBN 9780955480423 (0955480426)
Quick Brown Fox Publications, 2008 (130pp)
£6.99

Category: Emerging Church & Postmodern Faith

When is a review not a review? When, like this, it's largely in response to someone else's comments: I freely admit that I have yet to set eyes or hands on this book — but thanks to the publisher's generosity in making the opening chapter available for download (pdf, 392kb) I've seen enough to know that I want to.

The book was drawn to my attention this morning in the latest Bookseller. Stuart Anderson, Inventory Manager for Borders, Islington, writes:

Matt Stephens begins Wake up Dead Man [Quick Brown Fox], his book about the state of the church in the West, with righteous anger and he doesn't let up. In a post-Dawkins world, the book delivers an interesting riposte: rather than refute The God Delusion, Stephens instead worries about how the church in the West has managed to misrepresent God so badly.

But Anderson doesn't leave it there: he goes on to describe this as a book that has "genuine hope in its pages, with Stephens spelling out ways in which the church can once again become relevant and credible for today's society". As a Christian bookseller and reviewer, I couldn't ignore something like that, especially delivered in a secular magazine which, whilst not exactly anti-religious, is not renowned for commenting in favour of the Christian faith.

Nor could I ignore it after having just started reading Mission-shaped Questions, hot off the press from Church House Publishing. Mission Shaped Questions is ambiguously subtitled Defining issues for today's Church: is that the subject under discussion or is it what the book is setting out to do? Be that as it may, however, whereas Mission Shaped Questions is a carefully written collection of essays from a selection of eminent scholars, Wake Up Dead Man is one man's down-to-earth response to what he sees as a dying church, and his vision not for revival but for revolution.

Stephens writes, as Anderson has noted, with both anger and hope, and he wants us, his readers, to feel it with him: "I want you to feel my total and utter anger and pain, feel the passion and love, and let it get you angry... because then you just might act." (p.6).

And, he warns, it's going to be messy...

That's as far as I've got: to the end of Chapter 1; it's all I have to go on so far. But, as I said, it's enough to make me want to see where Stephens takes us next. Or, to be more precise, I want to see where God takes us next: after all, it's God's church, the 'Bride of Christ', so-called, for better or for worse.

Watch this space...

Update 1/5/2008: Wake Up Dead Man - Part 2

Phil Groom, April 2008

Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.

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