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.

Book Review: From Nature to Creation

After a long holiday season, I am delighted once again to be immersed in reading and thinking. In four short months, Lord willing, I will be graduating from Duke Divinity School. In order to graduate, however, I must complete a thesis project. I have the great privilege to craft my thesis under the guidance of professor Norman Wirzba. Professor Wirzba is well known for his work in the field of theology, ecology, and agrarian studies. From Nature to Creation (Baker, 2015) is his latest addition to that field of writing.

The cover of From Nature to Creation by Norm Wirzba.In From Nature to Creation, Wirzba invites the reader to develop “an imagination for the world as created, sustained, and daily loved by God” (3). Few Christians would argue that we ought not to have such an imagination — nearly all Christians confess such a belief. So, the problem is, then, living as if that is true. In each chapter, Wirzba reviews certain characteristics of modern culture that make it difficult for Christians in the west to live as if God created, sustains, and daily loves the world and all in it. Once Wirzba has described the characteristics and their theoretical underpinnings, he presents a Christian theological response to the problem. These responses are founded upon biblical exegesis, theological traditions, and Christian disciplines. In all, Wirzba confronts five problematic characteristics of modernity.

First, Wirzba draws attention to Nietzsche’s now famous assertion that “God is dead.” What God’s death implies is not that God actually ceased to exist, but that God has been replaced by or, perhaps, misplaced into other things. Modernity is characterized by an infatuation with “scientific reductionism, the autonomous self, instrumental reasoning, unencumbered individualism, technophilia, and the dis-embedding of communities” (8). Such infatuation reduces things that were once meaningful, because God gave them meaning, into amoral, material elements. We no longer have reason to see nature as creation or people as creatures and thus intimately related to God. All things are, then, the result of meaningless, random events. In turn, it becomes difficult to see that we have certain innate, moral responsibilities related to creation and other creatures. Christian grammar, however, provides a powerful alternative to this description of the world. Instead of being random, meaningless, and amoral, Christian grammar teaches us that all that exists is created by God and imbued with God’s self-offering love. Drawing from Scripture (namely the Christ hymn in Colossians 1) and early Christian theologians, Wirzba concludes that Christians must name the world and all in it as Creation. Doing so will enable us to recognize that Christ’s participation in creating and redeeming the world gives all things inestimable value. Nothing is amoral and nothing is random; all is God’s beloved creation. Continue reading

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