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St John's College


Please browse this section to discover publications by staff, students and alumni of St John's College.

Reason and Wonder

Reason And Wonder: Why science and faith need each other

Editor: Eric Priest

Published by SPCK, 2016

Written for general readers of all religious backgrounds, Reason and Wonder introduces some of the most fruitful discussions now taking place between leading thinkers in science and theology.

As Professor Priest writes in his Preface: ‘In this integrated approach, the notion of science as a monolithic concept is shattered. Instead, the sciences and humanities represent a rainbow tapestry, linked by a common search for understanding, using reason and imagination.’

This fascinating book includes accounts of key points of convergence in areas such as astrophysics, biology, mathematics, neuroscience and psychology, and ends with a stimulating set of questions for group discussion or personal reflection.

The book features articles written by Rev. Professor David Wilkinson: The Origin and End of the Universe – a Challenge for Christianity?, Bishop Tom Wright: Can a Scientist Trust the New Testament? and Professor Keith Ward: God, Science and the New Atheism.

Purchase the book at SPCK

When I Pray, What Does God Do?

by Rev Dr David Wilkinson

Published by Monarch Books, 2015

The question of how, and whether, God answers prayer has been intellectually shaped by the rise of science, the problem of evil and the nature of the biblical records. Scientist and theologian David Wilkinson shares his own struggles with the question of how God answers prayer.
Science does not rule out God acting in the universe in surprising ways; the Bible shows a God who acts in the world in response to people's prayers. Yet there is always a mystery about the nature and outcome of prayer, not least in the experience of unanswered prayer.
The author shares his struggles with praying in the midst of his wife's long-term illness. What we believe affects how we pray. God is neither a slot machine, nor an indulgent parent, nor a divine dictator, nor a ruler in absentia.
How does God work in a world of science? Why doesn't He answer more often? Has God acted in history? How did Jesus pray? How, in a world governed by law and grace, should we pray?

Pre-order at amazon


"Deeply illuminating and highly accessible" – Rt Revd Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York

"This is an exciting book because it comes from a writer who has engaged deeply and skilfully with science, the Bible and human experience, and refuses to short-change any of them.” John Pritchard, former Bishop of Oxford

"If you are terrified by books on prayer this isn't one of them! This combines humour, personal experience and informed intelligence. Rather than amplify human effort in praying, David walks us through all the obstacles to prayer into a new awareness of the God who responds to people trying to find him. An excellent read." -- Joel Edwards, International Director, Micah Challenge and former General Director, Evangelical Alliance UK

The Introvert Charismatic

by Rev Mark Tanner

Published by Monarch Books, 2015

Extrovert characters, exuberant worship, large crowds and noisy fellowship seem central to charismatic churches – but do we really need to shout before God will move in power? Introverts can find charismatic culture off-putting, even disagreeable, and yet love what God is doing. How can they engage in a healthy manner? Is introversion something to be overcome, grown out of, even healed?

‘It is none of those things’, emphasizes Cranmer Warden Mark Tanner. ‘Introversion is a creation gift. It is part of the image of God.’ He explores the richness of worshipping God with the personality you have been given. The Church, the Kingdom, and the world need charismatic introverts and this book is a thoughtful and practical guide for introverts and extroverts alike.


‘Mark Tanner is an insightful and thoughtful man with a great deal of experience both in theological training and growing churches. This book encapsulates his wisdom.’ Nicky Gumbel

‘A really helpful book that raises important issues, concerns and questions. Drawn from real life experiences, deep reflection and thoughtful consideration, readers be they extrovert or introvert will glean many insights, help and encouragement in their own lives and in and understanding and relating to others. A good, accessible read and valuable resource for all personality types and not just those who find themselves in charismatic circles.’ Revd Roy Searle, leader, Northumbria Community and former President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain.

‘The process of prayer - of offering God all that we are as we drink deeply at that never-ending well - is pivotal for every Christian. Yet I have never yet met anyone who found it easy. With immense self-awareness and pastoral wisdom, Mark Tanner offers profound insight here for particular people - introverts - whose concerns and contributions are seldom identified yet widely experienced. The whole Church has much to learn here as it seeks to be conformed to Christ.’ Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

Igniting the Heart: Preaching and Imagination

By Rev Dr Kate Bruce

Published by SCM Press, 2015

It has been said that the day of the sermon is over. Cranmer’s Deputy Warden Kate Bruce argues that the day of the poorly conceived, ill prepared, dull, disconnected, boring, irrelevant, authoritarian, yawn-inducing, patronizing, pontificating, pointless and badly delivered sermon, is indeed over. Imagination can help to engage the hearer in a sermon which seeks to evoke rather than to inform. Imagination frames how we see the world and ourselves in it. As such it has a vital role in how preachers see the preaching task itself, which in turn affects how we go about the task.

A theology of imagination is presented to demonstrate the central importance of imagination in the life of faith. Allied to this is an analysis of the sacramental nature of preaching and the role of imagination in enabling the ‘aha, now I get it’ moment of sacramental ‘seeing-as’. Connected to enabling new seeing, preaching in the lyrical voice is defined and discussed along with the importance of preachers shaping sermons for the ear.


‘Just occasionally weary preachers stub their toes against treasure hidden beneath the surface of a well-trodden path. In this book Kate Bruce draws on her considerable experience as school teacher, parish priest, theological college tutor and stand-up comic. … This is a book for preachers who would prefer their sermons to dance and sing rather than trudge, hobble and plod.’ David Day, former Principal of St John’s College, Durham

‘Expect to be enriched, challenged, encouraged and inspired by this book. Kate Bruce argues that the sermon is essential in the life of the Church and that imagination is essential for preaching that ignites the heart. An exploration of the theology of imagination and language, examples from sermons, models of preaching and guidance for good practice are offered in a book which will appeal to a wide readership. I commend this book to all preachers who hope that through their sermons God will be encountered as the Spirit breathes life into their words and hearts are warmed.’ Ruth Gee, Chair of Methodist Conference (2013-14)

‘Kate Bruce skips the conventional wisdom related to preaching and tackles the peculiar challenges and demands of the craft itself. She walks the reader through the creative process toward a fuller realization of the sacramental imagination. Her valuable book will remind us all--whether beginner or busy pastor--to love and cultivate the art we practice.’ Richard Lischer, Duke Divinity School, Author of The End of Words and Reading the Parables

Towards a Theology of Church Growth

edited by Rev Dr David Goodhew

Published by Ashgate in its Contemporary Ecclesiology Series, 2015

There has been substantial church growth in Britain between 1980 and 2010. This is the controversial conclusion from the international team of scholars gathered together by David Goodhew, leader of Cranmer’s Centre for Church Growth Research. They draw on interdisciplinary studies and the latest research from across the UK. Such church growth is seen to be on a large scale, is multi-ethnic and can be found across a wide range of social and geographical contexts. It is happening inside mainline denominations but especially in specific regions such as London, in newer churches and amongst ethnic minorities. Church Growth in Britain provides a forceful critique of the notion of secularisation which dominates much of academia and the media - and which conditions the thinking of many churches and church leaders. This book demonstrates that, whilst decline is happening in some parts of the church, this needs to be balanced by recognition of the vitality of large swathes of the Christian church in Britain. Rebalancing the debate in this way requires wholesale change in our understanding of contemporary British Christianity.


This is an important book that includes contributions from over a dozen leading scholars, and a foreword by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. It has already been widely reviewed:

‘For years, the media have fed us a diet of stories and comment to the effect that the Church in this country is in terminal decline. This excellent book, by a team of leading international researchers, challenges this dominant narrative by providing firm evidence that the truth is much more complex: alongside decline in some areas, substantial church growth has taken place in Britain in recent decades.’ Church Times

‘Goodhew rounds off this very interesting collection by arguing that the religious landscape of the UK is more complex and dynamic than previously thought. I agree and recommend this text as core reading for anyone with an interest in the unfolding dynamics of Christianity in the UK.’ Theology

‘Every church leader interested in church growth should buy a copy of this book, which challenges the universally acknowledged truth that Christianity is declining in Britain. It recognises that some churches in some areas of the country are declining, but that other areas have shown sustained growth over the past thirty years. Whether your own church is growing or declining, this book can help instil a message of confidence and hope in the Gospel and the way God is as work in Britain.’ Anvil

‘This volume has done well to bring together the findings of many research projects whether at postgraduate level or through funded research projects. Scattered research projects are thus made available on a wider front. …This is a positive, enjoyable and enriching book - all the more so for those who are familiar with the various stories here recounted.’ Evangelical Quarterly

Fairer Sex

by Rev Dr Richard Briggs

Published by Grove Books, 2015

The church is often accused of being obsessed with sex—and contemporary discussion is often contentious and has a very narrow focus. But Scripture has a lot more to say about sex, love and gender relations. In this fascinating and engaging study, developed out of talks and sermons given at Cranmer Hall, Cranmer’s Old Testament lecturer Richard Briggs offers a spiritual reading of some well-known episodes in the Old Testament that have surprising and striking relevance to the wider questions we face today.

This is one of several Grove Booklets that have been written by Cranmer staff: short, engaging contributions that are, in the words of the Grove website, ‘not the last word but often the first word’.

The PCC Member’s Essential Guide

by Rev Mark Tanner

Published by Church House Publishing, 2015

This accessible and informative guide, written by Cranmer Warden Mark Tanner, sets out in the simplest and most direct terms what being a PCC member entails. It answers the following questions and more:

* What is a PCC?

* What jobs does it have to do?

* Who will I meet on a PCC?

* How does it fit in to the bigger picture?

* How do the meetings run?

* Who decides the agenda?

* What does a PCC member's year look like?

* What will my role be and how should I prepare? What else am I letting myself in for?

* What about legal aspects: money, faculties, administration, and other technical things?

Although focused on responsible business, it keeps the focus throughout on mission and Christian living.


‘This is a really important book which will be a huge help to those new to the PCC or considering standing for the PCC (and perhaps also for those who have been on it for a while but not yet quite worked out what's going on!). It’s clear and easy to read and therefore very accessible for everyone.’ Revd Canon Kate Wharton, Area Dean of Liverpool North Deanery

‘Clear, simple, prayerful and with a sense of humour, this is essential reading for new PCC members and a valuable resource for existing PCCs, vicars, and anyone who wants to know what a PCC is and does. Ideally, every PCC in the land should get a copy for each member and study it together!’ Miranda Threlfall-Holmes

Other books published within the last 3 years by Cranmer staff include:


by Cranmer’s Free Church Tutor and Teaching Fellow, Rev Dr Andrew Byers

Published by Lutterworth Press, 2014

The Virtue of Bonhoeffer’s Ethics

by Cranmer Tutor Rev Dr Jennifer Moberly

Published by Wipf and Stock, 2013

Developing Our Pastoral Wisdom

A Grove booklet by Cranmer Tutor Rev Helen Thorp

Published by Grove Books, 2013

City of Angels

A Grove booklet co-authored by Cranmer Warden Rev Mark Tanner

Published by Grove Books, 2013

Fresh! An Introduction to Fresh Expressions

Co-authored by Cranmer’s Director of Ministerial Practice Rev Dr David Goodhew

Published by SCM Press, 2013

Science, Religion and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

by St John’s College Principal and Cranmer lecturer Rev Dr David Wilkinson

Published by Oxford University Press, 2013

Details on Theology and Ministry: An Online Journal can be reached by clicking here.

Andrew Orton has recently launched a book in St. John's College, Durham entitled 'Making Connections'. It was launched on the 30th of April 2014 and developed through research with John's own Wesley Study Centre. Links to the Book and some of its research are below.

Making Connections: Exploring Methodist Deacons’ Perspectives on Contemporary Diaconal Ministry

Diaconal Research

St John's College, Durham is a recognised College of Durham University and incorporates Cranmer Hall. Charity No. 1141701 Limited Company No. 113496 (England and Wales) VAT No. 334 6364 57.