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Take the Plunge: Timothy Radcliffe.

Timothy Radcliffe.

Take the Plunge

ISBN: 9781 4411 1848 6

Bloomsbury, 298 pp.  £10.99

To ‘take the plunge’ means: to be baptized.  The subtitle of the book is ‘living Baptism and Confirmation’.   The author, Fr Timothy Radcliffe, was at one time the Master of the Dominican Order in the Roman Catholic Church, and he is well known both for his scholarship and his ecumenical approach. In this book he expounds the theme of baptism and the meaning of the rite, but his scope is much wider.  He teaches what it means to live the baptized life in all its fullness.

He writes very attractively, incorporating much orthodox theology, and keeping the reader’s attention by including lots of stories and personal anecdotes.  The story that I like best is that of Herbert McCabe who was accused by his mother of committing what may have been a mortal sin when he was six years old.  He replied that this was impossible because he had not yet reached the age of reason.

Fr Timothy points out that most religions use water, and that the story of creation in Genesis links the origins of life with the springing up of water.  He endorses the teaching of St. John Chrysostom, who said that in baptism we are publicly enrolled as God’s friends.

In the teaching on confirmation there is a plea that we should take the study of Christian doctrine more seriously.  There is mention of a university student surrounded by learned books on various subjects, but whose only book on theology was ‘a book of cartoons fit for a ten year old’.

This is an enjoyable book and is very easy to read.  But it is also full of challenges, which makes it all the more profitable.

Martin SSF