As an author, Robert Cornwall is uniquely qualified to write just such a volume. He is the Pastor of Central Woodward Christian Church in Troy Michigan and he holds a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. What that means is that Cornwall brings together the concerns of both the Pastor and the Scholar as he leads the reader through a study of Ephesians. Indeed Cornwall has this say about the volume: "Faith and understanding are not mutually exclusive categories, and this study seeks to draw them together" (1v).
The method used for this study is lectio divina ("holy reading"). This method is steeped in over 1800 years of Christian history and tradition. Using the "four movements" (Reading, Meditating, Praying and Contemplating), Cornwall leads the reader through 8 lessons that cover the Epistle to Ephesians. Each lesson has:
- An opening prayer
- A reading from Ephesians
- The lesson for the section
- A set of discussion questions
- An exercise to help reinforce the lesson and the experience
- A historical/theological reflection
- A closing prayer
Another strength is the way the reader is introduced to the wider Christian tradition. The opening closing prayers of each lesson are taken from the various hymn and prayers that have been handed down to us across the years. In one lesson the reader begins with a prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr (20th cent) and concludes with one from St Dionysius (3rd cent). In this fashion, the reader interacts with and appreciates the continuum of Christian worship throughout history.
The volume is complemented by a useful appendix listing some recommended "tools" for doing Bible study. This is particularly helpful since several of the exercises include reading in Bible dictionaries or commentaries. Cornwall's selection will help the reader to find and use a quality resource.
I commend Robert Cornwall and Energion Publications for producing a thoughtful study guide that does not spoon feed information to readers and supply with trite solutions to make it through life. Rather, this volume will challenge the reader to think as well as learn. It would serve either an individual or group study, but I think a group setting would make the interaction all the more valuable. I look forward to seeing other similar study guides in the future.
The release date for the Ephesians guide in January 3rd.
I have decided that I will do a giveaway with this volume. Leave your full name in the comment section of the post. I will take names until 11:55pm on Thursday, December 16th. I will choose the recipient on Friday.