The Ascension (book review)

THE ASCENSION The Ascension Book
Humanity in the presence of God
By Tim Chester and Jonny Woodrow
Christian Focus / Porterbrook Network. 94 pages. £4.99
ISBN 978 1 781 911 440

As I write, it is Ascension Day, and it’s a Thursday — it always is. Perhaps this fact alone is one reason why so few sermons are preached on the doctrine. It’s also superficially implausible in an age bored by space flights. And precious few books have been written on it.

This outstanding little book is a counterweight to all those problems. It is written (mostly) at an accessible level, but Chester and Woodrow have read those salient works and digested them for us.

It is structured around Christ as Ascended Priest, King and Man, explored theologically and pastorally, supported by robust exegesis and insightful biblical theology. Because this book is slender I made the initial mistake of thinking I could skim it quickly: not at all. Many times I stopped reading, awed by a biblical connection I had never seen before.

I think it might have one weakness. The authors have thought hard, and occasionally they fish in extremely deep waters. There is nothing wrong with that, except that in a brief book most people might assume something more introductory was on offer. For instance, the discussion of T.F. Torrance and Einstein, on the issue of space and place, was breathtakingly short. I was taught by Torrance and so have an advantage, but even so pages 62-64 were densely packed and arguably over-ambitious. That section felt simultaneously incomprehensibly dense and yet superficial. I hope there is a much bigger book in here, waiting to come out, and I look forward to some of these rich but mind-bending ideas being given room to breathe.

The book concludes with a specially written hymn, structured around the themes of the book, which would be a joy to sing through at a home group working through it. My only recommendation is that the pastor prepares a study guide to help the group feed on this rich banquet.

Chris Green, 
Vice Principal, Oak Hill Theological College, and member of Grace Church, Highlands


(This article was first published in the July 2013 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information. 0845 225 0057)