A Radically Different Imaginative Landscape

Through the mouth of Jeremiah, God urges exiles to plant gardens, build homes, and pray for the prosperity of the cities to which they’ve been dispersed. A brief review of church history reveals that we foreigners in the many strange lands on earth have prioritized that command but often in unhealthy ways. What might this command mean for the church today? How do we “pray for the prosperity of our land” without conforming to the models and definitions of prosperity exemplified by people in the land? (After all, Hosea warns us not to consecrate ourselves to idols, for we will “become detestable like the things we loved,” Hos. 9:10.) The church, suggests Rowan Williams, needs to offer the world “a radically different imaginative landscape, in which people can discover possibilities of change — and perhaps of ‘conversion’ in the most importance sense, a ‘turning around’ of values and priorities that grows from trust in God” (p. 73). 

9781472946119Williams’s book, Holy Living: The Christian Tradition for Today,* is a collection of thought-provoking essays (even if certain essays seem better fitted for a different volume). Drawing from the deep wells of Christian tradition (from early church writers to contemporary theologians, preachers to professors), each essay reflects upon Christian disciplines in contemporary Christianity. The chapter “Urban Spirituality” helps respond to the questions I’ve raised above. Continue reading

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Prayer for Ascension Day

Alpha and Omega:

You descended into hell,
lower still,
in the shadow of Sheol.
We wept.
You are the end.

Three days later you rose
from the dead. With your body
still scarred, but without a wound.
We hoped.
You are the beginning.

By the sea, you promised.
You ascended into heaven,
farther still,
into the encompassing mystery.
You are…

Ten days later you poured
out the Holy Spirit. With your fire
still burning, but within our woundedness.
We spoke.
You are the beginning.

All these years, and all our failures,
you priest us still. Call us to
worship. We will eat and drink,
in remembrance of you, until
you come again. You are
the end.

Amen.

GIVEAWAY: Nearly Every N. T. Wright Book

I’m not sure how else to put this. YOU NEED TO ENTER THIS GIVEAWAY. Kurt Willems, the self-proclaimed “theology curator,” is outdoing himself with this one. Click here to sign up.

If you’re still reading, I’ve obviously not convinced you. Here’s the list of the more than 50 books included in the giveaway (valued at nearly $1,100):

  • New Testament for Everyone (entire 18 vol. devotional-commentary set!)
  • The Day Revolution Began
  • Simply Jesus
  • After You Believe
  • Surprised by Hope
  • Scripture and the Authority of God
  • How God Became King
  • The Case for the Psalms
  • Surprised by Scripture
  • Simply Good News
  • Paul: A Biography
  • The Kingdom New Testament
  • Simply Christian
  • Climax of the Covenant
  • The New Test and People of God
  • Jesus and the Victory of God
  • The Resurrection of the Son of God
  • Paul and the Faithfulness of God
  • Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections
  • The Lord and his Prayer
  • What Saint Paul Really Said
  • For All God’s Worth
  • The Meaning of Jesus
  • The Challenge of Jesus
  • The Resurrection of Jesus
  • Paul in Fresh Perspective
  • The Meal Jesus Gave Us
  • For All the Saints?
  • Judas and the Gospel of Jesus
  • The Scriptures, the Cross, and the Power of God
  • Evil & Justice of God
  • Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision
  • Small Faith, Great God
  • Pauline Perspectives: Collected Essays
  • Paul and his Recent Interpreters
  • The Paul Debate

Seriously? You’re still reading? Enter the giveaway now!

Reading Christian Theology in the Protestant Tradition

In this thick volume, Kapic and Madueme have compiled a resource students of church history will find especially helpful. The editors recruited scholars from an array of traditions who confidently acquaint the reader to key figures and works from the church’s 2,000 years of theological reflection. While this volume does not include selections from the primary sources, it provides expert introduction and summary to the work of fifty-eight indispensable Christian theologians.

The book is split into five sections based on major periods (Early, Medieval, Reformation, 17th and 18th Centuries, and 19th and 20th Centuries). Each period is prefaced by an introduction that orients the reader to substantial theological developments and social movement during the era. Additionally, the editors have provided lists of other major works for each period that are not summarized in this volume. Finally, within each section, there are summary length treatments of what the editors discerned to be the essential books for making sense of Protestant theology today. Continue reading

Learning to Introduce the Trinity

“Isn’t God awesome? I mean, God is three and one!” Imagine, if you can, hearing someone say that for the first time. Wouldn’t it strike you as odd? It isn’t immediately clear why that is awesome. In truth, the person hearing it for the first time probably isn’t very impressed, because they’re not at all sure why it matters and less sure of how it works. The person might be tempted to ask “How is it so?”

Don’t answer that question. Not yet. Continue reading

Everything Happens for a Reason

This book is worthy of every rave review it has already received. Everything Happens For a Reason by Kate Bowler, who wrote the first history of the prosperity gospel, is a captivating memoir of one women’s bitterly ironic journey with her faith and health. (Many thanks to Random House for sending me a copy to review.)

As of this post’s publication, the book is climbing Amazon’s charts (at #27 in print best sellers overall; #8 in Religion and Spirituality). Bowler writes beautifully, in a voice completely her own. She will make you laugh when you feel like you shouldn’t be laughing and she will carry you into the darkness she has faced until you feel its weight. Most of all, she will offer you hope. “Joy persists somehow and I soak it in,” she writes. “The horror of cancer has made everything seem like it is painted in bright colors. I think the same thoughts again and again: Life is so beautiful. Life is so hard” (p. 123). Continue reading