Two more stops on the Blog Tour

Two more reviews are in.

Adam Nigh at Out of Bounds (read here)

One of the great strengths of this book … is the rejection of any dichotomy between theological reflection and Christian practice, between the intellectual and the moral, between doctrine and life. That is signified in the title: not just our initial justification but the whole scope of our lived faith needs to be understood by reference to the being, character and gracious work of the triune God.

Chris Woznicki at Think out Loud has another addition to his multi-part review, this one on Willimon’s chapter, “Preaching” (read here)

One thing that I really appreciated about this chapter is the importance Willimon places upon the task of preaching. Nowadays many people tend to see preaching as superfluous or as belonging to a bygone era. But according to Willimon this should not be so. A primary way that the Christian life is formed and sustained is by preaching...Life with a loquacious God demands disciplines of listening.

Blog Tour for Sanctified by Grace, first stops

Sanctified by Grace_cover_March62014The blog tour for Sanctified by Grace has begun! T&T Clark has introduced the tour on their blog and is offering a 30% discount on the book while the blog tour is running (until January 29)! Check it out here.

Three stops on the tour were posted yesterday and today:

Bobby Grow at The Evangelical Calvinist (read here).

“The book, as envisioned by Eilers and Strobel, is intended to function, for one of its uses, as a volume used in college and seminary classroom teaching; i.e. as a textbook for a Christian theology class, or maybe even for a rigorous Sunday school class at church involved in Christian Education, etc. I would say, beyond a doubt, this volume achieves that mark and more! In fact I would go so far as to say that any thoughtful Christian ought to take this book up and read (tolle lege)!”

W. Travis McMaken at Die Evangelischen Theologen (read here).

“It seems as though a not insignificant portion of the Protestant theological community in English speaking countries has become increasingly concerned over recent decades in “sanctification” broadly conceived…It was therefore only a matter of time before we were given a book of this nature, which seeks to consider the loci of systematic theology through the lens of sanctification. “

Chris Woznicki at Think out Loud (a week long review; read here and here)

“[Eilers and Strobel] notice that there is often a divide between doctrine and theology on the one side and spirituality and ministry on the other. In this book they hope to help tear down that false dichotomy.”

A new book, slowly underway

I have been working now for several years – and will be working for a couple more – on a new book. It is an anthology. This is the first anthology project I have done. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, producing an anthology is a monumental task! It will include selections from across the history of the Church and from every major Christian tradition (90 entries). Without my two very talented and wise co-editors, Ashley Cocksworth and Anna Silvas, I can hardly imagine finishing! And even if I could, the book is far better because of their partnership; I increasingly realize this as I work with them. Collaboration is a beautiful thing!

The topic of the collection is the Christian life. Readers will encounter how the Christian life has been represented, preached and sung about, reflected on, and refracted from Christians in every era and from every Christian tradition. I can say without hesitation, producing this book is fascinating and invigorating work! I feel like a student all over again, pouring over primary sources as I immerse myself in the Christian tradition.

My last two books inspired this project. The book I edited with Kyle Strobel, Sanctified by Grace, confirmed the importance of re-invigorating theological attention onto the doctrine of the Christian life. And doing so through an anthology was inspired by my book with David Buschart, Theology as Retrieval. You might say that this new book is the fruit of my previous two. I am doing the work of theological retrieval by producing an anthology that inspires, fuels, and directs teaching, preaching, and theological reflection on the Christian life for the sake of the Church.

Huntington University (where I teach) produced a short video that gives a quick snapshot of the book as it is taking shape. Enjoy!

Blog Tour for Sanctified by Grace

T&T Clark has organized a blog tour for the book Kyle and I published last year, Sanctified by Grace: A Theology of the Christian Life. Some great theology bloggers will be participating, and I will keep you “posted” as the tour unfolds (ha, blog humor!).

A blog tour is really simple. Over the next couple weeks various bloggers will review our book and the T&T Clark blog will provide links. We will also provide links to those reviews here. I am excited to participate in the conversations that will hopefully begin through the tour! I also hope that more professors teaching classes in theology, ecclesiology, and spiritual formation will consider the book for their courses.

With that in mind I will also be posting next week on the book. I have now used Sanctified by Grace several times in a course I teach on the doctrine of the Christian life. To great effect I should add! More on that next week.

TF welcomes new contributor

It is exciting for me to welcome Zen Hess as a new contributor to Theology Forum! Zen was a student of mine at Huntington University and is now ZenProfileSmallercompleting graduate studies in theology at Duke Divinity School (read more about Zen here). Welcome Zen!

Over the years I have had many great students, some even exemplary, but Zen stands out as one of the best. He has also become a treasured friend, which is the best sort of telos for the professor/student relationship. This all makes it exceptionally satisfying for me to welcome him to our little band of theologians.

We have been blogging at TF since 2006, and I have come to realize that being theologians in the blogosphere is a unique sort of thing. Interaction in virtual spaces – even spaces that explicitly set out to be Christian – is so often vitriolic, combative, and impatient. None of which witnesses well to the church of Jesus Christ or her servants (theologians). It will be fun to see how Zen carries forward our modest aim to do theology in a joyful, irenic, and thoroughly  “churchly” way.

Time and Scripture

Guest post: Zen Hess

The freedom to read what I want as my semester at Duke winds down is a welcome relief! I have been mulling over Robert Jenson’s essay in The Art of Reading Scripture (2003). His argument explicitly raises questions about time, Christology and biblical interpretation. But it also had me asking questions about worship and Advent. Here is what I mean.

Jenson poses the question, “Is it not absurd to think of the Word as in any sense incarnate before the flesh existed, before Jesus was born?” The answer to this question has serious implications for how we interpret Scripture, specifically the Old Testament. One answer, supposed to be the right one Theotokosby many interpreters in modernity, is that it is, in fact, absurd. Supposing we might “find Jesus in the Old Testament” is to superimpose a foreign element onto the historical text. We are, however, in good company if we think that such a statement is not entirely true.

Believing that the Word preexists the Incarnation means that we may rightly find Christ’s voice in the Pentateuchal, the Poetic, and the Prophetic writings that are the Old Testament. “If the Word of the Lord,” Jenson writes, “came to Second Isaiah and made him a prophet was Jesus Christ, then the vision of Christ that the Church has derived from this prophet, of a ‘man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,’ is not a mere allowable trope but is in fact a product of Christ’s own testimony to his own character, given by the prophet.”

Jenson’s proposal requires us to reimagine how we understand time. Continue reading

On Receiving Strange Texts in the Classroom

I attended one of my favorite gatherings over the weekend, the biannual Prince Conference Centerconference of the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning (held at the Prince Conference Center, Calvin College). As an educator, my guild meetings don’t hold a candle to the value-added this conference offers. There is also – and maybe I value this most, even if its hard to put my finger on – an entirely different ethos at Kuyer’s conferences than I find at guild meetings. This is probably why I find excuses to attend and present my work at the Kuyer’s gatherings.

At the guild meetings there is quite a lot of chest-thumping and comparison, and I haven’t walked away from  them feeling all that good about myself. Certainly the fault sits with me for falling prey to it, but guild meetings are rife with status comparison. The temptation to present oneself as successful, productive and on top of one’s game presses hard on me. Frankly, I haven’t seen the best version of myself in that setting.

The good folks at the Kuyer’s Institute create an entirely different environment. Scholars from every academic discipline gather from around the world to pursue together a more robust expression of the Christian imagination in teaching and learning. Attendees and presenters are united by their commitment to teach “Christianly” – and to explore all that it means to say that for our pedagogy, course planning, evaluation, etc. The collaborative atmosphere is refreshing. This year’s conference was no exception. If you have the opportunity to attend – or want an excuse to skip your guild meetings in two years – the next meeting will the first or second week of October, 2017.

I presented a paper on developing empathy for culturally diverse expressions of Christian faith in the classroom. The dialogue which followed was rich and helpful for me as I continue refining my teaching in this area. Here are my final remarks from the paper:

C.S. Lewis suggested that we read in order to see as others see. We read because “We want to see with other eyes” he wrote, “to imagine with other imaginations, to feel with their hearts, as well as with our own…Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do” (An Experiment in Criticism, 137, 41). I challenge my students, Try and receive this portrait of Jesus by seeing Jesus through their eyes. Don’t merely consider the possibility that someone might actually see Jesus that way; attempt to see him that way yourself. The person and their communities who fashioned this portrait look upon the same Jesus as you. Receptivity enabled you to look into their face; hospitality enabled you to receive them into your company; empathy will enable you to see as they see.

Thoughts?