John Bodycomb

John Bodycomb.

No Fixed Address. Faith as Journey.
2010. VIC: Richmond. Spectrum Publications. P/back. 285 pages.

John Bodycomb is a true non-conformist.

Ordained in the Congregational Church 54 years ago, No Fixed Address is the story of one adventurous life lived in ministry within two ‘old’ or ‘mainstream’ churches. And how these ‘great edifices’ have ‘collapsed’, with a suggestion of two that all may not be lost.

The book, which was launched at the Common Dreams2 Conference for Religious Progressives in Melbourne in April this year, is divided into five sections, each with several chapters, a conclusion, and some questions for further thought and discussion.

Section titles are inviting: (i) Born to dissent, (ii) The falling edifice, (iii) The new age of discovery, (iv) God, humanity and cosmos, and (v) The new mystics. And the subjects within each section include: the historical Jesus, G-O-D, resistance to change, formational theology, and pluralism.

While the Conclusion: “examines the practicalities of all this – [the issues raised in the five sections] – getting through to the pew and to the ‘church alumni’, and what might be some implications for leadership (either clergy or lay) in churches.”

And then this important sentence: “There is little hope of anything good eventuating from this disturbing of the waters without the right kind of leadership” (Pg:xiii-xiv).

This is an honest book about one life, one ‘journey’, lived within the church. It will upset some. It will also give others hope. It is addressed to those who are asking questions – big questions.

Above all I reckon this is a book which should be read by Uniting Church ministers and lay leaders. Indeed, by all ministers who have only been out of theological college for the last 10 – 15 years. And especially those ‘new chums’ who reckon their theology is more current than the theology of the past 40 – 50 years.

This Kenyan Prayer which can be found near the front of the book, has much wisdom within it: ‘From the cowardice that dare not face new truths, From the laziness that is contented with half truth, From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth, Good Lord, deliver me.’