Sharing Friendship represents a post-liberal approach to ecclesiology and theology generated out of the history, practices and traditions of the Anglican Church. Drawing on the theological ethics of Stanley Hauerwas, this book explores the way friendship for the stranger emerges from contextually grounded reflection and conversations with contemporary Anglican theologians within the English tradition, including John Milbank, Oliver O’Donovan, Rowan Williams, Daniel Hardy and Anthony Thiselton. Avoiding abstract definitions of character, mission or friendship, John Thomson explores how the history of the English Church reflects a theology of friendship and how discipleship in the New Testament, the performance of worship, and the shape of Anglican ecclesiology are congruent with such a theology. The book concludes by rooting the theme of sharing friendship within the self-emptying kenotic performance of Jesus’ mission, and looks at challenges to the character of contemporary Anglican ecclesiology represented by secularization and globalization as well as by arguments over appropriate new initiatives such as Fresh Expressions.
John B. Thomson is Bishop of Selby in the Diocese of York. He has been Director of Ministry in the Diocese of Sheffield, vicar of an inner urban parish, a theological educator in England and South Africa and a youth chaplain in a suburban parish. He has lived and worked in central and southern Africa and in South Yorkshire, England. Published works include The Ecclesiology of Stanley Hauerwas: A Christian Theology of Liberation (2003), Church on Edge? Practising Christian Ministry Today (2004), DOXA: A Discipleship Course (2007) and Living Holiness: Stanley Hauerwas and the Church (2010). He has also written a number of articles on church, ministry and mission most recently ’Sharing Friendship: God’s Love in Ordinary Church Life’ in Jeff Astley and Leslie J Francis, eds., Exploring Ordinary Theology - Dimensions of Everyday Christian Existence and the Life of the Church (2013) and 'Let us cook you your tea, vicar!' Church, hermeneutics and postmodernity in the work of Anthony Thiselton and Stanley Hauerwas’ in Stanley E. Porter and Matthew Malcolm, eds., Hermeneutics, Paul and Theology: A Festschrift in Honor of Anthony C. Thiselton (2013).
’Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources, Thomson develops an account of friendship to help us better understand how to be church in the world in which we find ourselves. I am humbled by Thomson’s use of my work for shaping the argument of this book. But then, that is what friends do, that is, shape one another. I am so fortunate that Thomson claims me as a friend.’ Stanley Hauerwas, Professor Emeritus, Duke Divinity School, USA ’Thomson touches with distaste on the modern celebrity culture, but recognises that it is a culture at least offering conversation points with those of Christian conviction. Fresh Friendship entitles a discussion of the Fresh Expressions Movement. Thomson’s appraisal of this movement is cool, patient, and measured.’ Church Times