27/08/2006

Include Me Out! (by Colin Morris)

'Include Me Out!' is a forty-year-old short book by a Methodist minister, Colin Morris. He starts by describing the shock he receives when an impoverished man dies of starvation not far from his front door. He is stopped in his tracks, realising that his previous preoccupation with theology and church dogma is really irrelevant in the scheme of things. Jesus told us to do as he did: to heal the sick, to feed the starving, to reach out to the world. Not to debate, ad nauseam, fine details of Scriptural interpretation.

Moreover, as his denomination was currently discussing, at great length, possible unity with the Anglican church, Morris sees the irony clearly: does it really matter what happens to leftover consecrated bread, when a human being dies in the street for lack of any kind of bread?

Much of the book might be considered 'unsound' by many modern evangelicals, yet it would be hard to argue with the author's principles and logic. He focuses very much on 'works' - not as a means of salvation, necessarily, but of evidence of God using men and women, whether or not they acknowledge him. Is an atheistic Communist handing out bread to the starving actually following Jesus more than a Christian debating fine points of theology, while ignoring the starving? Not an easy question. But the parable of sheep and goats kept coming to mind, as well as the parable of the men who built their houses, respectively, on the rock and the sands.

Probably not a popular book in today's world, but I found it refreshingly radical and thought-provoking. Well worth reading for anyone interested in real Christianity, or for Christians wondering why so much time is spent on debate and teaching, and so little on practical ministry in the world.

2 comments:

Jim said...

Agreed - wonderful book. Read it in late 70's at a time when I was a new Christian (conservative evangelical type!). Recognized easily that there were theological views I did not hold to but the power of the book and the hard truths were undeniable.

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

This book changed my life Sue. I was starting my training for minstry when, I found this on the shelf of a second-hand bookshop.

The book was, and still is, totally eye opening; and after reading it I then looked at both the Church and my theological college in a new way.

I would like all Christians to read it, but it should have a health warning on the cover. 'Reading this book can seriously damage your way of thinking and acting!'