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Following the enormous social changes of the second half of the 20th century, the Church - in common with other institutions- began increasingly to question its own historic role and the role of its ordained clergy. In the wake of the growth of management consultancy in this period, and its application to all apects of social endeavour, many of the Church's leaders began to call for a new understanding of the role of the priest or minister, in which 'function' rather than theology would be given centre stage. In this groundbreaking study the author offers a devastating analysis of the growth of functionalism in the Church - a phenomenon which he attributes to a 'loss of nerve' on the part of a disproportionately powerful liberal establishment - and offers instead a programme for renewal based upon a return to theological and sacramental roots. In a Church that is confused by the increasingly alien culture that surrounds and is inimical to it, the priest must concentrate on a Kingdom-centred rather than World-centred theology, and seek for a sense of that which is perennially valid, rather than temporarily fashionable.
Only by a return to the theology of the Church Fathers can a path be found away from anthropocentrism and towards theocentrism. Arthur Middleton has written that rare book, a short study that is at one and the same time a powerful critique and a positive statement of values. His work will be of immense value to all those involved in the ministry, as well as to laity who wish to gain an understanding of why things are the way they are, and how they could be improved in the future. Arthur Middleton is an Anglican priest in the diocese of Durham in England.