Troubador Navigating by the Son

Released: 28/01/2021

ISBN: 9781800462335

eISBN: 9781800468665

Format: Paperback/eBook

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Navigating by the Son

Finding Our Way in an Unfamiliar Landscape


Some years ago I discovered that my son is gay. We came to different understandings of what the Bible says on this topic. This in no way dented my love for him, and in many ways deepened my admiration for his amazing example of Christian discipleship. At the same time parts of the church were falling prey not only to division but at times to vitriolic and un-Christlike behaviour in response to this topic.

This book is an exploration of how Christians can live with deep disagreements. It is about what is important to a healthy church (and society) in rapidly changing times when anger and division are the easy and common responses. Starting with how Jesus lived, the books examines what it means for individuals, and for a church to be Christlike.

What does it mean to say that Jesus was fully human? Unless we give this it’s full weight, how can we realistically be expected to follow Him?

Why did Jesus invite obedience, but never coerced it? Should the church ever take on the role of a law enforcer? Can institutions be Christlike? Does a multicultural and diverse society illuminate understanding of the Bible? Is there a healthy place for human anger? What is truth? Is it ideological, or is it personal, and what are the implications of all of this for politics and civic life in an age of populism?

It is far too undemanding to seek simply to be ‘right’. We aren’t called to be ideologues, we are called to be Christlike. Grasping this afresh will help us be good news, not only to gay and straight people, but to all sides in the growing ‘culture wars’, and to those weary of ‘religion’.

Being a functioning Christian can be difficult, never more so than when genuinely sincere people disagree about God's intentions. This has always been a challenge for the Church and as all kinds of societies all around the world fragment, the volume of argument and even confrontation is rising. And yet Jesus said we would be known by our unity. Stephen Cox brings nearly 50 years of Christian life, most of it as an ordained minister, to this problem.

'Navigating by the Son' is meticulously referenced but accessible. It is beautifully written but also practical.. And by taking us to first principles, to the unarguable foundations of our faith, he demonstrates how we can believe with passion whilst remaining in unity with those whose passion takes them to alternative conclusions..

It is a very important book for our times,

by Richard Eyre

In a society increasingly marked by divisive politics, online trolling, and distrust, this book is a timely and well-argued exploration of how Christians need to respond in a Christ-like way to disagreement.

Too often the Church does not have a good track record in handling difference and disagreement well.

With humility and compassion, the author sets out extensively how we need to refocus on the teaching and values of Jesus: so we can respond with grace and wisdom to those who disagree with us.

It is a very engaging book, from a pastor's heart, that calls for the Church to live out the grace that Jesus Christ extends to all (including those who may differ from us).

This is an important book for the age we live in, to be read and taken onboard.

by Mark Shell

I am so grateful to have read this book. In these difficult times, where contempt and unkind public ‘point scoring’ on social media are polarising and dividing us, Stephen shows us that Christians can and must be more like Christ when we disagree. A powerful message for our generation.

by Alexandra Sanderson

Review of ‘Navigating by the Son’…By Rev Stephen Cox
“We live in an age of mounting anger and increasing dishonesty. If the church is disputatious, bitter, angry or lacking integrity, it will not matter whether we win our arguments or lose them. We will have denied Jesus by who we are.” …So begins this challenging and deeply thought provoking look at putting Christian life into practice and rethinking some of our shibboleths concerning themes such as Churchmanship, Self-denial, and, yes, sexuality and same sex attraction.
“Until we are used to thinking of "us sinners" rather than "those sinners" we can hardly have the mind of Christ who identified with us sinners in His baptism.” and “People followed Jesus because He was compelling, not because He was coercive…. So saying Steve makes the case that we are not called to love our enemies solely for their benefit. We need them and their perspectives if we are not to be trapped in an endless self-reinforcing echo chamber of opinions just like ours.
On disagreement, he says, “Christians often have a bad reputation for arguing, condemning and falling out” I have no argument with that.
And, “While contempt is always sinful, among religious people it is all too prevalent as the common currency of the self-righteous” Ouch!
He says we need to learn to disagree agreeably. “It is necessary that we recognise Jesus Christ in our opponents or enemies.” How challenging is that!

Steve’s thinking about same sex attraction has resulted from knowing many gay people, including his own elder son, but his approach is rooted in his deep reverence for what the Scriptures actually say. He observes that while “In many ways homosexual people have been treated as outcasts in church and society. Jesus has a very great deal to teach us about, and through the outcasts of his day.” And he does not absolve himself of blame that “Whenever the discussion takes on the tone of ‘us righteous against those sinners’ we find ourselves in a dangerous and deeply unchristian place”

Steve worked with CMS in Iran forty five years ago, and most of his life since has been spent in multicultural settings where his own faith set deep roots. One of his conclusions in this book is that ‘Ideology is what you have when you don't have faith’. In this book he shares how Navigating by the Son is a walk of faith, not a bandwagon of ideology. It is the most thought provoking book I have read in years.

by Rev Charles Overton

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