Archives for June 2012

The Weekly Hit List: June 29, 2012

A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good by Miroslav Volf received an award in ForeWord Magazine’s 2011 Book of the Year Awards.

The book was awarded silver in the Religion category.

ForeWord Magazine characterizes itself as a publication that “reviews good books independently published.”

Each year, ForeWord chooses titles from hundreds of submissions that “expand a reader’s world, introduce a voice society needs to hear, offer practical knowledge where none existed before or simply entertain so compellingly that all distractions fall away as the reader turns the next page.”
 
 

Speaking of Dying Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to Brady Shuman, Evan Kuehn, Tony March, J.D. Jespersen, and Leisa Wooten.

They have each won a copy of Speaking of Dying: Recovering the Church’s Voice in the Face of Death by Fred Craddock, Dale Goldsmith, and Joy V. Goldsmith on The Brazos Blog.

Keep checking back for our next giveaway.

Lectionary Reflection for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Psalms for All Seasons, commenting on Psalm 130:

Psalm 130, the eleventh of the Psalms of Ascents and one of the seven penitential psalms, is a profound expression of the human predicament and a strong statement of God’s grace.

It is often identified by its opening words in Latin de profundis, and has been associated with prayers to God in concentration camps and prisons, hospitals, and places of devastation.

The central motifs of the psalm are waiting for God and the pardon and redemption that God provides for a people who have taken the wrong path.

Though confident of God’s sovereign grace, the psalm ends with a call to hope in the Lord.

 

A prayer for reflection:

When we realize the depth of our sin, O God, we are driven into dark despair.
It is only when we realize the height of your mercy
and the breadth of your forgiveness,
that we begin to see the dawning of new life in Jesus Christ.
Thanks be to you, O Lord our Redeemer. Amen.

 

©2012 Faith Alive Christian Resources. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Job Description for the Dying Pastor

This is an original post by Dale Goldsmith, co-author of Speaking of Dying: Recovering the Church’s Voice in the Face of Death.

Dale Goldsmith (PhD, University of Chicago) taught for several years at McPherson College and at the Baptist Seminary of Mexico. He is the author of New Testament Ethics and lives in Amarillo, Texas.

———————————————————-

© Corliss Metcalf

When a pastor knows she or he is dying and wants to stay on the job, what should that job description look like?

If that question seems like it is irrelevant or a joke, I would suggest that if you have a dying pastor, it is a most relevant question. Admittedly, while my knowledge of employed but dying pastors is limited to about a dozen, every one of whom I know insisted on working right up to the end.

And in every case, their churches allowed and supported them. The tacit job description for the terminal leader was as follows:

Keep on doing whatever you want to do and can. The church will support you in your fight to recover, so you will not need to address any issues of dying. The church program and preaching should carry on as usual, and your (excuse the use of the term) dying need not be addressed in any way—not even in informing the mission, ministry, or teaching of the church.

The appalling result was that the pastors’ struggle with death never (with one exception) factored into the sermons or into improving or expanding the ministry of the church to address issues of dying.

In Speaking of Dying, we were told stories of ten Christian communities in which dying was happening before their very eyes, week in and week out (in one instance over a five-year period), and nobody seemed to notice it—or if they did, no one suggested that the congregation’s life of study and mission be informed by the first-hand experience that they were having with life’s final labors.

This is where the dysfunction of these churches found, if not its beginning, then at least its fertile ground. Churches ignored the dying part of the dying pastor and, in focusing on the pastor, lost focus of pretty much everything else. In Speaking of Dying we report some of the major catastrophes that befell these churches.

Dying and death are not topics that Christians can avoid; indeed, the resources accessible in the great treasures of the church give us both technique and content for addressing dying in the most helpful ways.

In addition to our christological, biblical, and ecclesiastical resources, a dying pastor’s experience gives practical resources to bring the congregation into the valley of the shadow of death in the most remarkable ways. For pastors with terminal illnesses who want to continue in ministry, their uninvited yet permanent guest need not instill the silence of terror or avoidance. Instead, pastors and their congregations—can offer the hospitality that leads to deeper understanding and appreciation of the guest.

As Dr. Craddock points out in his chapter on preaching on dying, the congregation can co-minister with the pastor as its members assume responsibility for acknowledging and discussing dying. The dying pastor and the caregiving congregation need not spend their final time together denying death. To the extent that all are open and honest, their fears and sorrows can be shared, and their ministry can reach out to all of the rest of us who can ignore but never evade life’s final moment.

The job description for the dying pastor can be a new covenant with the congregation:

We will support one another as we proclaim the gospel of Christ, the kingdom of God, and the strength of the Holy Spirit in these days of uncertainty.

I (the pastor) will, with God’s help and to the extent I am physically, mentally, and spiritually able, faithfully live my vocation as the pastor of this congregation:

attending to the priestly (administrative) duties of the church
giving care to the pastoral duties for those in need
committing to the prophetic (preaching, teaching) opportunities given to me

We (the congregation) will, with God’s help, support the pastor now compromised by a terminal illness by making ourselves available for those tasks for which we have the gifts and training and resources. We will be ever conscious that our covenant, while eternal in love, is contingent on the weakness of the flesh, and that the time will come when our working relationship as pastor and flock will terminate. This termination will be the result of our regular mutual conversations.

I (the pastor) accept this covenant and commit to it as long as I am able and according to the guidance of our mutual decision-making.

Facing dying with honest and commitment from all participants will surely result in a ministry full of hope for all.

The Weekly Hit List: June 22, 2012

Kicking at the Darkness by Brian J. Walsh was granted the 2012 Nonfiction Book — Academic book Award of Merit from the Canadian Christian Writing Awards.

The Canadian Christian Writing Awards are “designed to raise the profile of Canadian writers who are Christian, and to encourage them in the pursuit of excellence in the art, craft, practice and ministry of writing.

“The awards are sponsored by The Word Guild, a national organization of Canadian writers and editors who are Christian. Formerly known as The God Uses Ink Awards, these writing prizes have been awarded annually since 1988.”

 

Quick Hits:

Spirituality and the Awakening Self by David G. Benner was reviewed on Semper Reformanda.

The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith was reviewed on The Gregorian Blog.

A Public Faith by Miroslav Volf was recommended on the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s blog.

The June issue of Border Crossings (the Brazos Press newsletter) is now available.

In case you missed it: James K. A. Smith, author of Letters to a Young Calvinist,  was interviewed on WGVU-FM.

Lectionary Reflection for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

From 1 Samuel (BTCB) by Francesca Aran Murphy, commenting on 1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49:

Of course the story is about Christ vanquishing Satan. Caesarius of Arles recognizes that the new thing Christ did, the leap into a new state of affairs achieved in Christ’s conquest of Satan, lies behind this story. David’s unprecedented courage is a shadow of an event yet to come.

“Why,” asks Caesarius, did the Israelites “not dare to” fight “against their adversaries”? “Because David who typified Christ had not yet arrived. . . . Who was able to fight against the devil before Christ our Lord freed the human race from his power? Now the word David is interpreted as strong in hand; and what is stronger, brothers, than he who conquered the whole world, armed with a cross but not a sword” (Sermon 121.5, in Franke 2005: 268-69).

The duel between David and Goliath . . . is not just reinterpreted by Christians to mean Christ’s defeat of death. The combat between an apparently weaker hero and his overweening opponent becomes something new, because of Christ’s conquest of the evil won.

Caesarius’s love of the doctrine of Christ’s descent into hell is reputed to have led to the insertion of the line descendit ad inferos into the Apostles’ Creed. This victory, no less historical and no less a triumph of apparent weakness over apparent dominion than David’s defeat of Goliath, was, Caesarius says, “prefigured in David” but “accomplished by our Lord Jesus Christ; for he strangled the lion and the bear when he descended into hell to free all the saints from their jaws” (Sermon 121.4, in Franke 2005: 271).

 

©2010 by Francesca Aran Murphy. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Book Giveaway: Speaking of Dying

In order to celebrate its release, we’re giving away five copies of our newest Brazos Press title: Speaking of Dying by Fred Craddock, Dale Goldsmith, and Joy V. Goldsmith.

This book reminds the church of its considerable resources when it ministers to the terminally ill and shows what is lost when the church abdicates its own resources of faith in the face of dying. The authors, who all have personal and professional involvement in end-of-life issues, outline a practical theological response to terminal illness and the event of dying. This is a book on the process of dying and how the church can more faithfully and effectively engage those facing death.

“This is an essential book for any church leader, pastor, teacher, or active member. When so much is at stake, we cannot continue to fail practicing our dying faithfully.”
—Rob Moll, author, The Art of Dying; editor at large, Christianity Today

 

This giveaway is now closed.

The Weekly Hit List: June 15, 2012

Broken Hallelujahs by Christian Scharen
was reviewed on Jesus Creed.


“Scharen’s book is well-written, thoughtful, clear, and provocative. It offers a needed corrective. . . .

“The best part of Scharen’s book to me was his discussion of the theology of glory and the theology of the cross. He shows that brokenness can be ‘true.’

“Art must be listened to with the kind of heart that desires to know more of it. Scharen calls this ‘knowing with’ art and proposes that this kind of listening enables us to see things about ourselves that we didn’t know were there.”

 

Quick Hits:

Speaking of Dying by Fred Craddock, Dale Goldsmith, and Joy V. Goldsmith was reviewed by Publishers Weekly.

Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey was reviewed on Mark Braye’s blog.

Psalms for All Seasons was reviewed on the iCrucified blog.

The Pangea Blog featured a video of Miroslav Volf speaking on “What Still Surprises Miroslav Volf about America.”

In case you missed it: Peter Enns was on The (Re)vangelical Podcast discussing The Evolution of Adam and how science and Christianity can relate.

Lectionary Reflection for the Third Sunday after Pentecost

From 1 Samuel (BTCB) by Francesca Aran Murphy, commenting on 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13:

God tells Samuel, “The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (16:7 NKJV). . . . The human heart evades literal analysis. It is a wayward thing that humans can know only partially, by contemplation, and that only God can see in full. The heart symbolizes what is personal to the human agent, because it is the concealed force directing all human action.

Two more sons, Abinadab and Shammah, are lined up for viewing and passed over. After seven sons have been displayed, Samuel asks if there are any more in the offing. There is, Jesse says, “the youngest,” out “keeping the sheep,” too junior to be recalled from work and invited to the sacrifice.

This naïve pantomime parade, a childish story of the passing over of the outstanding eldest for the insignificant youth, is put on to show that God is making a break with the natural run of things and starting over, as only God can start over, from the spirit or inside out. The contrast between external spectacle and invisible interior worth is telling us that the authentic measure of sight is God’s way of seeing.

God can see someone that everyone else has forgotten or doesn’t know about: and when they brought the youngest in, “he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to” (16:12). Up the sleeve of the divine providence was a boy who even looks better than his elder brothers. Maybe Samuel was cheered up by this divine joke against himself.

©2010 by Francesca Aran Murphy. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

This Just In: Speaking of Dying

Speaking of Dying
by Fred Craddock, Dale Goldsmith, and Joy V. Goldsmith

ISBN: 9781587433238
Price: $19.99
Category: Pastoral Care

This book reminds the church of its considerable resources when it ministers to the terminally ill. Typically, a terminal diagnosis triggers denial of impending death and a full-scale resort to the techniques and resources of modern medicine. If a cure is not forthcoming, the patient and his or her loved ones experience a sense of failure and bitter disappointment.

Speaking of Dying shows what is lost when the church abdicates its own resources of faith in the face of dying. The authors, who all have personal and professional involvement in end-of-life issues, outline a practical theological response to terminal illness and the event of dying.

They explain how the liturgy—particularly baptism—prepares Christians to die and how the Eucharist sustains us in our dying. They also discuss how to talk to a dying person and how to preach on death and dying. Thus this is not a book on grief or even on death so much as it is on the process of dying and how the church can more faithfully and effectively engage those facing death.

Fred Craddock (PhD, Vanderbilt University) is a widely acclaimed preacher and author, selected by Newsweek as one of the twelve most effective preachers in the English-speaking world. He has written numerous books on preaching, several commentaries, and The Cherry Log Sermons. He lives in Cherry Log, Georgia.

Dale Goldsmith (PhD, University of Chicago) taught for several years at McPherson College and at the Baptist Seminary of Mexico. He is the author of New Testament Ethics and lives in Amarillo, Texas.

Joy V. Goldsmith (PhD, University of Oklahoma) is associate professor and chair in communications studies at Young Harris College. Her books include Communication as Comfort and Dying with Comfort. She lives in Blairsville, Georgia.

 

“There is simply no question that too often we lack the words necessary to speak to one another about dying and death. . . . The essential story—the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ–that should form our dying as well as our living as Christians seems to have been lost. . . . This is a book we have desperately needed. I hope it will become a book widely studied in congregations and seminaries. We must learn to speak of dying. This book appropriately helps us recover our voices as a people taught to speak by the one who died on a cross.”
—Stanley Hauerwas (from the foreword)

“This is an essential book for any church leader, pastor, teacher, or active member. When so much is at stake, we cannot continue to fail practicing our dying faithfully.”
—Rob Moll, author, The Art of Dying; editor at large, Christianity Today

The Weekly Hit List: June 8, 2012

Miroslav Volf, author of A Public Faith by Miroslav Volf was granted the 2012 Nautilus Silver Book Award in the category of Religion / Spirituality — Western.

The Nautilus Book Awards recognize books “that promote spiritual growth, conscious living & positive social change, while at the same time they stimulate the ‘imagination’ and offer the reader ‘new possibilities’ for a better life and a better world.”

Volf delivered a lecture at the Christians in Political Science Conference at Gordon College on June 2, 2012: “A Public Faith: A Christian Alternative to Secular and Religious Political Exclusivism.”

 

Quick Hits:

The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith was reviewed on The Colossian Forum.

Brian LePort has continued to write a series of posts on the “historicity” of Adam, comparing The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns and Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? by C. John Collins. Read: Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. Part 7. Also: “A survey of views on the historicity of Adam and Eve.”

 

Brazos Press June Ebook Specials

Don’t forget that June ebook specials are currently running for multiple Brazos Press and Baker Academic titles.

All of these ebooks are at least 50% off (and, in most cases, more):

Church in the Present Tense: A Candid Look at What’s Emerging by Scot McKnight, Peter Rollins, Kevin J. Corcoran, and Jason Clark
Jesus and Money: A Guide for Times of Financial Crisis by Ben Witherington III
Death and Afterlife: A Theological Introduction by Terence Nichols
God Hides in Plain Sight: How to See the Sacred in a Chaotic World by Dean Nelson
The Forgotten Ways Handbook: A Practical Guide for Developing Missional Churches by Alan Hirsch with Darryn Altclass
Ephesians (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series)by Peter S. Williamson

You can read more regarding the special ebook sale prices at www.brazospress.com/ebookspecials.