An Uncertain Certainty: Snapshots in a Journey from ‘Either-Or’ to ‘Both-And’ in Christian Ministry

By Graham Buxton

An exploration of the pitfalls of certitude in Christian faith and ministry, offering instead a faith that embraces uncertainty, plurality and the unknown.

ISBN: 9780718893958


Many people in Christian ministry are tired of simplistic certainties; what they need is permission to live with uncertainty, with mystery, ambiguity, and paradox. Because we inhabit a world that is far removed from the modernist version of reality, with its rational, clinical, and superficial presentation of life, we need the courage and wisdom to embrace the presence of uncertainties in the midst of certainty. In this book, the author offers snapshots of a number of central Christian topics – God, the gospel, the church, salvation, ministry – inviting us to treat them as features of a landscape to explore, rather than as a set of propositional statements to sign up to. Each chapter – short enough to provoke interest and curiosity – will be a catalyst for deeper reflection and enquiry, inviting us to discover a new freedom in ministry as we embrace a more generous “both-and” perspective in place of a more narrow “either-or” interpretation of the Christian faith. In the process, we may find ourselves rediscovering “the Life we have lost in living” as we imaginatively participate in the life, ministry, and mystery of the triune God of grace in our midst.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 254

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Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

Graham Buxton is Director of the Graeme Clark Research Institute at Tabor Adelaide, Australia. He is the author of Dancing in the Dark (2001) and Celebrating Life (2007).


Foreword by John R. Franke

Introduction: “We also know there are known unknowns”

1. “Where is the Life we have lost in living?”
2. “The unexamined life is not worth living”
3. “Transcendent mystery and glorious immediacy”
4. “We have to become People of the Story”
5. “A hell of a problem”
6. “The wayfaring people of God”
7. “A communion corresponding to the Trinity”
8. “Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense”
9. “I am a bishop for you, I am a Christian with you”
10. “What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”
11. “A wager on transcendence”
12. “Earth’s crammed with heaven”
13. “For anything to be real it must be local”
14. “Now I know in part, then I shall know fully”

Names Index


Endorsements and Reviews

Graham Buxton is earthed in everyday ministry, life, and politics, and it is in that context that he inspires theological thinking of the highest quality. Both thoroughly biblical and thoroughly sensitive to contemporary culture, here you will find both grace and truth.
David Wilkinson, St John’s College, Durham University

When going forward is not doubted but a limp is developing, one realises that ministry today is not as certain as some suggest. For those times, this wide-ranging, insightful, faithful book will cast the soft light of hope on the path.
Scot McKnight, Northern Seminary, Lombard, Illinois

An Uncertain Certainty is unsettling, challenging and perhaps more than a little disturbing. Given the world in which we live this is a good thing … It is also accessible and an important resource for church leaders faced with the task of helping individuals and communities bring God’s love to a growing and changing world.
Michael K Jones, in Theological Book Review, Vol 28, No 1