Thanks to those who responded to our last two BookNotes offering some extra sales on Lent and Good Friday and Easter books. It is such a central few days in the church calendar, we were glad to offer some resources for attending to it well.
In a Zoom Bible study I help with we’ve been studying the Epistle to the Hebrews. It struck me on Wednesday how the last few chapters seemed so appropriate for Holy Week, reminding us to consider Christ’s great sacrifice and suffering and then to run the race inspired by those who “by faith” knew the power of the gift of our great High Priest. Several times it takes a turn to the practical, reminding us that because of this great grace offered by God and recalled during our Holy Week commemorations, we are to encourage each other, help the hurting and show hospitality, even to strangers. We are to visit prisoners and work for peace. Like so much of the best theology in the Epistles it moves from the grandest of themes to the most direct action.
On Maundy Thursday Jesus starts with a grand performance of key moments of the Old Testament — the Exodus of passover and liberation, covenant and captivity, promise and deliverance — then picks up the towel and kneels down. Love one another, he says. Serve others. I’m sure you heard sermons this week about both the large theological claims and the clear, if radical, mandates.
What books might help us better understand and actually live this way, kindling the spark you may feel to want to go deeper and live more faithfully? Some books are exclusively theological, and that’s fine. Some are all about personal morality and we need that, too. Some are highly rigorous and academic, and some are breezy and inspiring in a practical sort of register. We’ve got all sorts, so do reach out to us if you have inquiries or need help or ideas.
Here are three that combine robust theological insights and serious consideration of the implications of it all. These are resources that are a special sort of blend of serious scholarship and compelling, creative writing to help move you to deeper discipleship and more faithful living as one who follows the enigmatic, suffering servant of Isaiah 53.
Maybe by the time you read this you’ll have moved into Easter joy, ready for what I sometimes call resurrectionary reading. This side of that first Easter, every day and every season is ultimately resurrectionary, so rejoice in that. But still, I wanted to name these books here in this darker mood of these darker days where it may still be “Friday” (even if “Sunday’s coming.”)
These three are not books about the Triduum (order A Glorious Dark: Finding Hope in the Tension Between Belief and Experience by A.J. Swoboda if you want a thoughtful but accessible one about that, or Between Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday by Alan Lewis if you want something even deeper.)
These are books about living out Christian faith that I was inspired by the Maundy Thursday mandates to tell you about. They are about community and hospitality and discipleship, about suffering and hope and enduring joy, inspired by three particular authors.
Since the Epistle to the Hebrews reminds us to encourage one another, it seems there is something to be said about holding up a few living examples of the “great cloud of witnesses.” These three books are what are sometimes called festschrifts — books done in honor of a scholar or teacher, a book about their work. Honoring Brian Walsh’s work in campus ministry and in the streets and fields (as urban activist and farmer), we have A Sort of Homecoming: Essays Honoring the Academic and Community Work of Brian Walsh, one of the most interesting and unique collections of essays I have read in decades. Regarding the most important books on hospitality and community written in our lifetime, those by Christine Pohl, we have a book exploring her work put together by friends and former students, Practicing the Kingdom: Essays on Hospitality, Community, and Friendship in Honor of Christina D. Pohl. A similarly arranged book exploring the excellent work of Scot McKnight on discipleship and ministry in the way of King Jesus, that came out this fall is Living the King Jesus Gospel: Discipleship and Ministry Then and Now edited by Nijay K. Gupta & Tara Beth Leach and others.
These three books offer remarkable chapters that are profound reminders of a whole-life, missional approach to discipleship, explained and teased out, sometimes with prophetic bite, sometimes with some playful winsomeness, in each of the three, by way of telling about the work of these three important scholar-practitioners. Walsh, Pohl, and McKnight deserve much acclaim and their biographies are fascinating, but these are not biographies but are more academic or polemical pieces designed to engage their work, explore their teachings, explain their books, and wonder, together, how to live out the implications of their public witness in the world. (There are more stories about Brian Walsh in the one that honors him than in the other two, by the way, which are mostly in conversation with the authors’ published books.) While I have more personal connection to the first (Brian is a friend and he has been to our store) each of these volumes are spectacular. They deserve to be known and discussed. Sadly, they are most likely not in most Christian bookstores or church libraries. It falls on us, good friends of Hearts & Minds, to buy the books and spread the word about them. They will (to swipe the language of whoever wrote Hebrews) “strengthen the tired hands and weak knees.”
A Sort of Homecoming: Essays Honoring the Academic and Community Work of Brian Walsh edited by Marcia Boniferro, Amanda Jagt & Andrew Stephens-Rennie (Pickwick) $34.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $27.20
I don’t know if it is exactly right to put it this way, but it seems to me that Brian Walsh, who this book honors, likes, or at least appreciates and values more than many, Lent and Holy Week. I’ve been wanting to write again about this book which honors him and now feels like the right time now when we are pondering this counterintuitively “good” story that feels so bad. When Brian was a CRC campus minister at the University of Toronto, pastoring a group called “Wine Before Breakfast”, he would send out a pastoral letter about the importance of, the hardships of, and the possible healing and renewal that comes from following Jesus in this complicated and disorienting road towards the cross. If we are followers of Jesus, the New Testament says over and over, we share the hope and joy of His Kingdom coming but, paradoxically, we enter into that, as Jesus did, through suffering. I have told before about Brian’s sensitivities to the world’s great sorrows and how he was one of the first — perhaps channeling Walt Brueggemann — who taught me about the Biblical basis for lament. His emailed Holy Week newsletters to his “Wine Before Breakfast” companions were passionate and honest and raw and the best stuff I’ve ever read on why contemporary Christians should pay attention to the part of the Jesus story that starts on Palm Sunday.
Many of the chapters in A Sort of Homecoming are tinged with this upside-down spirituality of sadness— not highlighting a religion of power and success but of brokenness and humility — and some are brilliantly about just that. For instance, Richard Middleton’s excellent chapter “Voices from the Ragged Edge: The Gritty Spirituality of the Lament Psalms” is worth the price of the book and don’t miss James Olthius’s creative essay, “The Wit(h)ness of Suffering Love.”
But yet, after Maundy Thursday and the Stations of the Cross and the Seven Last Words (it was Brian who I first heard name the cross and crown of thorns for what it is: a coronation) and the silent mystery of Holy Saturday, there is resurrection joy. It seems to me, however, that to keep this glory from being taken over by maudlin sentimentality (or co-opted by commercial pleasantries) we need to think in fresh ways about what is going on in our confident, Easter affirmation of resurrection.
(In the last BookNotes I suggested N.T. Wright’s book The Day the Revolution Began, as one way into this topic; if renewing and restoring the whole creation is the “end game” of the cross and resurrection, how might that hope of “creation regained” inform how we understand, interpret, and preach the texts about the cross? I might suggest, by the way, that it is likely that Tom would say he learned at least some of how to think about this as he does from his interactions with his friend Brian Walsh forty some years ago… that Wright’s magisterial The New Testament and the People of God is dedicated to Brian is itself quite a tribute! Tom wrote the foreword, too, to Brian’s amazing, short, but powerhouse book, Subversive Christianity: Imaging God in Dangerous Times.)
One of the remarkable contributions Brian and his circle of friends have made for those of us wanting all the Biblical help we can get in describing the death and resurrection of Jesus, who want faithful fresh language for our faith and for our life in God’s Kingdom, is seeing Christian salvation in terms of homecoming.
Naturally rooted in a vital understanding of the meaning of humankind’s task in Genesis 1 and 2, and perhaps drawing on the wondrously rich language of returning to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile, and Jesus’s own appropriation of that language, Brian (and co-author of Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement, Steven Bouma-Prediger) introduced a way of getting the big picture of the Biblical drama by using language and rhetoric that goes like this: the shalom of creational home / the alienation from place by exile / the joy of creational homecoming. (Astute readers will see that this is no Woodstocky “got to get ourselves back to the garden” sentiment but mirrors the popular Biblical summary of the interconnections of creation/fall/redemption.) Sylvia Keesmaat — who also studied with Tom Wright and is married to Brian — has also used this language generatively in her own work. You see it in all her published chapters and classes and, in her powerful call in her chapter to resist colonization by way of Leviticus and Luke.
Both Steven and Sylvia have unforgettable chapters in A Sort of Homecoming and they each stand up to repeated readings. Steven’s chapter is called “Holiness and Homemaking: The Christian Doctrine of Creation Performed” and Sylvia’s is entitled “Home Is Where the Wild Rice Is.”
Another layer of what is integral and not incidental to this approach to redemption as homecoming and renewed homemaking is radical hospitality. They realize that if we are busy building the Lord’s place, if we are to be a new Jerusalem (that is, a “city of shalom”) we must wonder about who is included (and who may be excluded.) Miroslav Volf’s heavy, stunning Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation has echoes of this, as does the work of Christine Pohl, such as her Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition; Brian in his “Wine Before Breakfast Group” and during his time as a “theologian in residence” at a homeless shelter, and then at the “Russet Farm” ecological homestead that he and Sylvia steward, explored questions of such hospitality. What does it mean to offer a safe haven — a home, even — in a world of exclusion and exile? It makes sense that early on in his ministry of transforming visions he worked to include those who are often marginalized — native peoples, the addicted and abused, the poor, LGTBQ+ persons, folk who had been rejected from conventional Christian churches.
Indeed, one of the very impressive chapters in this collection (by Rachel Tulloch) is “Hospitality as Hermeneutic and Way of Life.” What a tribute to Brian that, in the start of her essay, she notes,
“What stands out to me about Brian’s academic career is how difficult it would be to talk about Brian’s work without talking about his life.”
Those who know his amazing Wine Before Breakfast devotionals (John Before Breakfast and Habakkuk Before Breakfast: Liturgy, Lament and Hope) know how beautifully diverse their community of inclusion had become. Many saw this explored in his and Sylvia’s mind-blowing and much discussed Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire. It comes to even fuller fruition in Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire/Demanding Justice. Rarely does one find such robust and serious Bible study with such insightful cultural analysis and such curious application as in that amazing, creative “un-commentary” on Romans.
Homemaking. Hospitality. Feasting. Farming. Caregiving. Sabbath. A bit of Wendell Berry agrarianism and some liberation theology and a nod to a sort of Dutch neo-Calvinism. Prayer and politics and a rowdy soundtrack from the best of rock music, from Cockburn to Cohen. And always the Bible, the whole story of God for the whole people of God. Brian loves the Bible.
For what it is worth, Brian and Sylvia are friends with the very important writer Norman Wirzba. I know putting together a book like this on a quick timetable with a rag tag committee of eager friends doesn’t always allow for a perfect production, but I missed a chapter by Wirzba in here; it would have been icing on the cake. This year Wirzba released the beautiful and rich This Sacred Life: Humanity’s Place in a Wounded World (Cambridge University Press) and University of Notre Dame announced the August 2022 release of the must-read Agrarian Spirit: Cultivating Faith, Community, and the Land. (We are, of course, taking pre-orders.)
A few of the folks who did contribute are somewhat famous (Biblical scholars N.T Wright and Andrew Lincoln) and a few have done major books — besides the previously mentioned Steven Bouma-Prediger and J. Richard Middleton, we’ve got here Matt Bonzo, who co-wrote an early book on Wendell Berry, and the prolific Rodney Clapp, now of Wipf & Stock. One of the contributors who has written a few books is Greg Paul, of inner city Toronto’s Sanctuary Ministries, who has an incredibly moving chapter, about Brian sharing his bereavement over the death of homeless friends and their affection for hard-up guys like Frenchy, Dana, Iggy, and others who were a part of their community. Greg’s chapter is “Iris and Nereus here and now” and if you’ve read Romans Disarmed, you will get the references. It is a heart-rending essay, and a good tribute to Brian’s care for his friends at Sanctuary.
When I wrote about this remarkable book almost two years ago, I said, “This may be one of the books released in this hard year of our Lord 2020 that I feel as close to as any.” That remains the case. I saw it in early manuscript form, but I was sworn to secrecy about it because it really was a true festschrift — a surprise collection of essays and contributions surreptitiously published in honor off Brian’s retirement from campus ministry. They kept him in the dark for most of the publishing process even though there were folks all over the world in on it. I am truly impressed by the brilliance of some of these pieces, and am time and again struck by the fruitfulness of this metaphor of homemaking.
As I wrote in 2020, “It is an honor to help celebrate Brian’s ministry and writing and for his friendship with us as he encourages us in our work.”
Here, in fact, is something I sent them as an endorsement and blurb for their own publicity:
It is fabulously fun that a book in honor of author, chaplain, activist, and scholar, Brian Walsh is cribbed from a U2 song; Brian has exegeted popular music (including the boys from Dublin) in all of his work, scholarly and pastoral, for 40 years or more. Most of these contributors in this surprise festschrift are not musicians but their writing here sings, rocks, even, as it amplifies the good work of Walsh, offering creative, brilliant chapters about the things Brian has taught us to care about. And what a book it is, deliciously filled with essays on faith and public life, theology and place, justice and passion, city life and ecology, the church of Jesus the suffering King and its mission to include the outsider, the excluded, the ignored, the hurt. And the Bible; always the Bible, speaking wild and free to those with ears to hear. This book will open your ears to the hope and homecoming embedded in the Scripture’s story, with a chorus of voices serving as an encore to the vivid work of Brian Walsh. You should take in this show, and then read it again. It’s that good. And that important.
Seminary prof and author Christopher James put well.
Be forewarned, this collection will leave you with a case of holy homesickness. This bouquet of contributions explores a range of themes in Brian’s work – eschatology, empire, ecology, and exegesis – held together by a robust thread of home. Poetry, places, and stories make it more than a festschrift; it’s an ode to the beauty of home and a prayer of longing to be at home–with God, one another, and all creation. –Christopher B. James, author of Church Planting in Post-Christian Soil
There are so many good chapters in this book, each helping us name the brokenness and sadness in our lives and in this world, and each helping us develop a prophetic imagination that sees differently, that embraces God’s vision for what might be. Holy homesickness, yes, but pointers and guides showing us the way home. There are chapters on caring for the homeless (see, especially, the fabulous piece by Alan Graham) and on the arts (see “The Reconciling Power of Public Art in a Broken Home” by Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin and Jonathan Chaplin, both working in the UK.) A literature prof (Deborah Bowen) ruminates very nicely on her own attentiveness to creation about her, and how places shape us.
There is a spectacular chapter by Stephen Martin who is fluent in the reformational worldview tradition of Brian’s earliest networks (not to mention the music of Bruce Cockburn, one of Brian’s great loves.) It is called “Springtime in Cape Town: The Sacramental, Prophetic Imagination of Desmond Tutu” and it brings together much of Brian’s own work, his own deepening into a “sacramental worldview” and a “prophetic imagination.” With a lovely but somehow remarkably astute bit of insight about Tutu, he shines a light on Walsh’s books and work. It is, I think, a central chapter.
Don’t miss Andrew Stephens-Rennie’s inspiring and honest piece called “Revillaging the City” about how “one congregation transformed its charitable food ministry into an agent of shalom.” And if you like good Biblical scholarship, you’ll be intrigued by several outstanding chapters. I loved the work of Wright on 2 Corinthians, an intriguing bit about jewels in the apocalypse by Grant Lemarquand, even Hendrik Hart’s dense piece about Jesus as the Face of God in John. One of my favorite chapters was by Beth Carlson-Malena, who told of how Brian and the Wine Before Breakfast community encouraged her to do a queer sort of church plant in Vancouver; the chapter is like a sermon, called “Of Tents and Temples” and it works just a bit with 1 Corinthians 3.
I like this description on the back cover. In this week after Holy Week, I really want to commend A Sort of Homecoming to you. It offers fresh images for faith and life and radical ways to be shaped by the grace of the gospel, even amidst what Paul calls in Romans a “groaning creation.”
We live in a culture of collective fear over climate change and mass migration, and we experience increasing intense personal anxiety and despair. How might the Bible’s themes of homecoming and homemaking address our physical, emotional, and spiritual displacement? This collection of essays honors the academic and community work of Brian J. Walsh upon his retirement as Campus Minister at the University of Toronto Christian Reformed Campus Ministry. The collection is a stunning mosaic at once academic and personal—representing the many elements of Brian’s life as pastor, theologian, professor, farmer, mentor, and friend. In an age when “home” feels physically and spiritually elusive for so many, this volume reawakens our imaginations to the foundational biblical themes of homecoming and homemaking. Academic, pastoral, personal, and timely, this volume honors Brian’s career and equips readers to engage the fear and anxiety of our age with the hope of the gospel.
By the way: Brian wrote another of my all time favorite books, Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination. Brian is teaching an on-line course on Cockburn’s work and for those interested in how this particular artist has given voice to Biblical ideas over the course of an evolving career, you should consider signing up. . Mr. Cockburn will be making an appearance in the class, by the way, so it is going to be very cool. Get out your Bible and sign up. Scholarships are available. Here is a truly beautiful video of Brian explaining what’s going to happen and how to participate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVdvtr_-XAE
Practicing the Kingdom: Essays on Hospitality, Community, and Friendship in Honor of Christine D. Pohl edited by Justin Bronson Barring & Maria Russell Kenney with a foreword by David P. Gushee (Cascade Books) $29.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $23.20
The back cover of this great volume says it nicely. “Throughout her academic career, Christina D. Pohl has helped the church rediscover practices that used to be central to its life, like hospitality, community, and friendship. Perhaps best known for her groundbreaking Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition, she has also contributed significantly to discussions on Christian community, feminism and the academy, and the practice of friendship. Yet behind this lies a lifetime of “lived theology” that informs her life and her work, both inside and outside the academy.”
Besides the aforementioned “groundbreaking” and must-read Making Room Pohl’s Living Into Community: Cultivating Practices That Sustain Us is in a class by itself. Not too long ago I reviewed at BookNotes her very inspiring recently released (co-authored) book called Good Works: Hospitality and Faithful Discipleship.
One can immediately sense, like with the tributes to the seamless life of Brian Walsh (above) we have here with Christine Pohl, a person whose life illustrated her teaching and her academic writing and books grew organically from her own life of integrity. I gather that her work was perhaps a bit less colorful than Walsh’s, but there is nonetheless a nice similarity. This festschrift is a book of tribute, thoughtfully compiled by former students, colleagues, friends. The opening piece about how available and gracious Pohl was to a student — now an adult and colleague — illustrates the way a life well lived can have such influence on others. She has had a profound influence on many through her vibrant life and ministry (apart from the groundbreaking book, whose historical impact cannot be underestimated.) This is a book that is both challenging and incredibly inspiring.
Practicing the Kingdom does more than honor Christine Pohl, a person worth imitating. In these essays, one is reminded of the urgency of the challenge each generation of Christians has to live lives that provide a glimpse of the reign of God in a culture desperate for hope, honesty, and hospitality. Those who read this book will be challenged to embody the biblical ideas of community that are a preview of the kingdom of God. –Joy J. Moore, Luther Seminary
I could spend an hour describing chapter by chapter this very good collection. There are more than a dozen chapters in 220 pages. Some are by well known scholars who you should want to read —Richard Mouw (on “intellectual hospitality”) and Miroslav Volf (on “a religion of love.”) Most of the contributors are authors — some more academic, some having done important work on new monasticism and community and missional service. All are down to earth in their thoughtfulness, practical in their erudition.
There are four main “parts” or sections including several chapters within each. The first part has pieces about hospitality (don’t miss the lovely chapter called “Making Hospitality Ordinary: Living into Liturgical Seasons.”) The second part is about community, the third about friendship. The fourth set of four chapters is called “Practicing in Context: New Alliances and Good News.” It includes good stuff about disciple making, extending mission, an important chapter on feminism, and other insights about “practicing the Kingdom of God.”
This is a very readable book and includes plenty of tender and inspiring stories. Yet, most of the authors are scholars and there is plenty of creative, substantive, writing. One chapter on friendship is called “False Centers and Shifting Margins: Lamenting the Poverty of our Friendships” while another (by Justin Barring, one of the chief editors) is called “Transgressive Friendships, Subversion, and Fluid Hierarchies.” As you can guess, one of the themes of her writing has also been about cross-cultural friendships and authentic ministry partnership of mutual collegiality, not “us” helping or befriending “them.”
One especially poignant chapter is by Jamie Arpin-Ricci, whose work with the most vulnerable is well respected. (He has a book about community and Kingdom living in light of St. Patrick, and another drawing on St. Francis.) In “The Gift of Vulnerable Community” he writes about his own PTSD and depression and how his “Little Flowers” community became a safe space for him, eve as his the authentic nature of the relationships allowed for healing. And inclusion of others with complicated lives and deep needs. One can vividly sense the resonance here between the ethos and communities described in A Sort of Homecoming and in Practicing the Kingdom.
Even if most readers do not live in intentional commutes as described in a few of the chapters in Practicing the Kingdom — that is, not quite like Reba Place or Bruderhof or L’Abri and the like — the stories of doing life with others are striking and memorable. (Maria Russell Kenney, a prof at Asbury Theological Seminary, has an excellent piece which she calls “A Critique of Idealism”, which explores how concrete spiritual practices “ground life in community.” Tim Otto, a pastor of Church of the Sojourners in San Francisco, writes seriously about “the interdependence of individuality and community” in a chapter cleverly called “Resisting the Borg.” For anyone in families or close neighborhoods and certainly in congregations, this stuff is all very helpful.
Jesus, on the night before he was killed, gathered with his friends. Some of them struggled (John, later that night with the famous sword to the ear episode) with the ethics or way of life demanded by his holy mandate to love, always. Some of them, years later, were extolling the pastoral practices that made for lively and enduring communities of faith. Practicing the Kingdom is the kind of book that can help us all work out the implications of our own journeys of faith, offering hospitality, building community, giving ourselves to the work of lasting relationships. We are very glad to recommend it now.
Living the King Jesus Gospel: Discipleship and Ministry Then and Now edited by Nijay K. Gupta, Tara Beth Leach, Matthew Bates & Drew J. Strait (Cascade Books) $32.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $25.60
Wow, this book, a tribute to New Testament scholar Scot McKnight, is so full of solid chapters of solid Biblical insight about what it means to follow Christ today. As the title suggests (and drawing on, or at least alluding to, the lovely, accessible book by McKnight, The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited) you can tell this isn’t a narrowly understood, truncated, minimized gospel “of asking Jesus into your heart” but is a fully Biblical gospel of the Kingdom and our lives as citizens under this reign of God. It invites us not just to believe but to follow, not to cheap grace but, as McKnight put it in another of his many books, to living out “The Jesus Creed.” It is asking us what kind of Kingdom vocation Jesus and his followers once had and how that might be embraced today.
As Jeannine K.Brown (professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary) puts it, this book, in McKnight’s honor:
“offers fresh and compelling applications of Scot’s winsome vision for understanding the New Testament, church history, and ministry practice. Its cadences are both familiar and refreshingly insightful.”
And, naturally, as McKnight explores so well in his One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow, the gospel of the Kingdom calls us to realize that all of life, all aspects of our daily lives, are to be informed and shaped by our faith in Christ. We don’t have some separate “spiritual life” alongside some other public or “secular” life. We just have one life. And we follow Christ and live by His grace in all sides of that life and in all spheres of society and culture. So, yep, this “King Jesus gospel” presses us out into a quite robust, missional adventure. (That McKnight has done a commentary in the “Story of God” commentary series on the Sermon on the Mount ought not surprise us. As an Anglican, he sure seems to have some Anabaptist influences. Indeed, his soon-to-be-released small manifesto in the “My Theology” series will be called The Audacity of Peace. You should pre-order that asap.)
Living the King Jesus Gospel: Discipleship and Ministry Then and Now is arranged in three major parts. The first part includes 7 chapters in over 100 pages about the New Testament’s teaching on this theme. You’ll read essays by lively (and much discussed) authors such as Michael Bird, Drew Strait, Matthew Bates, Lynn Cohick, Nijay Gupta, Dennis Edwards and Dana Harris.
The second section of this ongoing conversation with McKnight’s work is called “Christian History and Tradition.” There are pieces here on how the church fathers viewed the nature of Christian living, a chapter on the Orthodox way, one on the liturgical renewal of the reformation churches, and a chapter on how the Anglican tradition might view the King Jesus Gospel, using the Book of Common Prayer as a formative tool for whole life discipleship and Kingdom living.
The final part (about 75 pages in five great chapters) explores “Christian Life, Discipleship, and Community Today.” From David Fitch (one of the essential chapters comparing and contrasting various views of the gospel) to Nancy Ortberg with a delightful message about “small things” to the chapter by Dave Ferguson & Tammy Melchien (“Living the Gospel as an Apprentice to Jesus”) there are wise essays on how the gospel influences or shapes us. This is mature and thoughtful stuff. And then there are some that are more specific, from Derwin Gray (author of the new How to Heal Our Racial Divide: What the Bible Says, and the First Christians Knew, about Racial Reconciliation) on the multiethnic church to Becky Castle Miller (on caring for abuse survivors.) (Ms Castle Miller, by the way, put together a few years ago a great collection of Bible studies and discussion guides that explore Scot’s work called Following King Jesus: How to Know, Read, Live, and Show the Gospel so she knows his work well.) That this collection ends with this sort of invitation to consider the implications of the Kingship of Jesus for our various gospel ministries is significant. It’s almost like the book ought not be over yet. Indeed, it isn’t. The next pages are written by us.
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