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Divorce And Remarriage: Biblical Principles and Pastoral Practice (Biblical Principle and Pastoral Practice) Paperback – September 20, 2012
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It takes us behind local or denominational concerns to face the clarity of Christ's own teaching. If that teaching often startled and changed his disciples, it may yet do so for us. (Christopher Idle ~ Hymn writer and Hon Assistant Minister, Holy Trinity Church, Bromley Common, London)
...a balanced combination of biblical scholarship and practical experience, prophetic witness and pastoral wisdom, courage and compassion, truth and love. It will, I predict, ...become indispensable reading for everybody who is anxious to develop a Christian Mind on these topics. (John Stott ~ (1921-2011), Rector Emeritus, All Souls Church, Langham Place, London)
This is a challenging and stimulating book of great value to those in ministry who have responsibility for teaching about and being involved with situations of divorce and remarriage. (Dianne Tidball)
'The book we have all been waiting for' and 'one of the great books of our day.' (Alec Motyer ~ (1924-2016) Well known Bible expositor and commentary writer)
About the Author
Former director of training at All Souls, London and now pastor of All Saints Church, Crowborough, East Sussex.
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Cornes' D&R starts out by giving a theology of marriage, and a theology of singleness. He then moves into material on the biblical principal of divorce (Old and New Testaments), and a theology of singleness after marriage, after which he has a large, detailed part of the book dedicated to pastoral care concerns.
Without a doubt, Cornes has written a thoughtful, well reasearched book that most certainly deserves the attention of anyone studying this important ethical dillema. He deals with all the issues compassionatly, and never once did I get any sort of hint of him trying to be on a spiritual high horse, even though he takes a stong stand about calling all remarriage sinful and adulterous. He takes the indissoluble union view, in which any couple who gets married, stays married... regardless of if there's been a legal divorce. Therefore if someone is married, and divorced, they are still married in God's eyes, and should therefore not remarry.
By far the best part of this book is Cornes' writing on singleness. He challenges our society, where being single is almost seen as being suspicious. He states, "[some books have been written about the single life, but] they examine singleness exclusively from the pastoral angle, they see it as a 'problem' to be 'coped with' and their theological reflection is minimal" (p.85). Cornes, with much depth and detail, shows that the single life can truly be a blessing to one's walk with God and life in general, and we ought not put pressure of any sort on people to get married.
The second best part of the book is how Cornes deals with marital breakdown, etc., and people approaching remarriage. He notes that people need to stop seeing remarriage as a solution to hurt from their previous divorce, and that people need to see themselves complete in God with or without a spouse. His pastoral care section also deals very well with issues of educating people about marriage/divorce/remarriage, caring for people with marital breakdown and divorce, and working towards reconciliation.
I do have to say that I still disagree with him about my fundamental view of marriage, in that I don't see it as an indissoluble union. However, I will give a quick summary of Cornes' view of reason for divorce. About the Old Testament, he states that divorce was allowed, and so was remarriage, but remarriage was somewhat more resticted. He also concludes that God did divorce Israel, but only for a short time. About the New Testament, he teaches that Jesus and Paul Did allow divorce on the grounds of adultry, (Matthew 5:31-32, 19:9, I Corinthians 7:10-11), but they they expressly forbade all remarriage. He states that divorce for this ground was 'allowed' so that believers could follow the law (which required divorce for adultery), but they didn't have to divorce. Cornes goes on to say that he believes there are other reasons aside from adultery for seperation (pp 298-301), but that divorce should only be brought about if there's adultery involved. This is sort of a strange conclusion, because right in the same section, Cornes does point out that when Paul was writing, there would not have been a distinction between seperating and divorcing: yet Cornes suggests seperation without divorce for othe reasons aside from adultery. Also, his view on indissoluble union seems to contradict in the Old Testament vs. the New Testament, because although it was somewhat restricted, remarriage was certainly allowed in the Old Testament, whereas Cornes maintains that the New Testament striclty enforces that all remarriage is sin. The problem with this is that if marriage has been indissoluble ever since the beginning of time, then the OT would have been allowing something evil to happen to be in sync with culture in allowing remarriage. This clearly cannot be the case.
All in all, this was an excellent book. I only gave it four stars because I disagree with the indissoluble union viewpoint; but he has written exellently about it. For further reading, I recommend Dr. David Instone-Brewer's "Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: the Social and Literary Context" (Eerdmans, 2002) or his book "Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities" (Paternoster Press, 2003), available from Amazon.co.uk