Archives for May 2014

The Weekly Hit List: May 30, 2014

A Beautiful Disaster by Marlena Graves (June 2014) was reviewed in the June 14, 2014, issue of CBA Retailers + Resources.

A Beautiful Disaster examines the many and varied “disasters” that Graves endured from childhood to adulthood. She transparently shares numerous life-altering events that compelled her to seek Jesus more intimately.

“Because life is fraught with difficulty and pain, Christians must make peace with that truth and build their faith upon the foundation of God’s love and His Word. Graves tenderly opens the deepest of her own heart’s wounds while demonstrating that God is always present in our pain, always attending to us in our troubles, and always at the ready to provide us the strength and grace to endure.”

The text of the full review is available to subscribers of CBA Retailers + Resources.


Quick Hits:

The May issue of Border Crossings is now available.

Generous Spaciousness by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter was mentioned by Publishers Weekly.

Generous Spaciousness was reviewed on A Queer Calling.

Generous Spaciousness was also recommended by the CRC’s YALT and Norville Rogers.

The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns was recommended by Rachel Held Evans.

Miroslav Volf, author of A Public Faith, delivered four lectures at the Re:Thinking a Public Faith conference in Sydney. The lectures are available via the Centre for Public Christianity.

The Liberating Image by J. Richard Middleton was discussed by Scot McKnight on Jesus Creed.

Lectionary Reflection for the Seventh Sunday of Easter

This excerpt comes from 1 & 2 Peter (BTCB) by Douglas Harink, commenting on 1 Peter 5:6-11:

Among the “elect exiles of the Diaspora” humility toward one another in the community is grounded most fundamentally in our relationship with God. In all things the triune God is the source, power, and end of the messianic life.

As Peter now comes to the end of his letter he again acknowledges the exilic vulnerability of the messianic community, which is so often under attack and therefore subject to anxiety and suffering. He calls the community to live its life within the gracious care of God.

Peter’s point in saying “humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God” (5:6) is not to “put us in our place” before God, but rather to call us to entrust ourselves to God’s care in the most radical sense.

The messianic life is possible only under this condition—that we trust God absolutely in every circumstance. Only such trust will free us from the constant and normal temptations to assert our own power in circumstances, to take down the enemy or oppressor, to seek our own good, to establish our own rights, to attain our own position of honor, or, most basically, simply to defend ourselves and secure our own safety.

Without humble trust in “the mighty hand of God,” how would we be able to follow the way of the Messiah, who did not do any of those things, but rather, “entrust[ing] himself to the one who judges justly” (2:23), walked the journey from divine glory to the cross?

All messianic life must, therefore, be other than a mere imitation of Christ carried out by the sheer power of human will. It must be a participation in Christ whose own life of trust (which is the root of his sinlessness) precedes, defines, bears, and completes ours.

The Messiah is the Alpha and Omega of the messianic life. He humbled himself under the mighty hand of God, entrusted himself radically into God’s hand, and endured shame, suffering, and death, in order that in him we might also humble ourselves and trust God.


©2009 by Douglas Harink. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Starting Monday: Blog Tour for A Beautiful Disaster by Marlena Graves


Brazos Press has organized a blog tour for Marlena Graves’ debut book:

A Beautiful Disaster: Finding Hope in the Midst of Brokenness.

The tour will run for the next two weeks (June 2-13) and has an impressive list of participating bloggers, including Rachel Marie Stone, Micha Boyett, Joel Willitts, and Amy Simpson.

During the blog tour, we are running a giveaway with a grand prize of 5 books:

 A Beautiful Disaster: Finding Hope in the Midst of Brokenness by Marlena Graves

 A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C. S. Lewis by Devin Brown

– Darkness Is My Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness by Kathryn Greene-McCreight

– Be Not Afraid: Facing Fear with Faith by Samuel Wells

– Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm

We will also be giving away an additional five copies of A Beautiful Disaster by Marlena Graves.


Be sure to check out the blog tour at

The Weekly Hit List: May 23, 2014

On Monday, President Barack Obama unexpectedly showed up at Jim Wallis’ son’s Little League game.

Jim Wallis, author of The (Un)Common Good, wrote in TIME:

“Some of my baseball parents know that the President has been a friend of mine for a long time. I was a member of his original faith council and have worked with him on issues like poverty and immigration. But I had no idea he was coming and he was as surprised to see me as I was to see him. ‘Wallis, what are you doing here!’ Obama yelled with a big smile as he walked onto Friendship Field. Like the best moments in sports—some things just happen.”

Read the rest of Jim’s article here.


Quick Hits:

Jim Wallis spoke on leadership for The Washington Post series “On Leadership.”

Craig Detweiler was interviewed about iGods on The Wednesday Bookmark on Family Radio (CHRI, 99.1).

Luke (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible) by David Lyle Jeffrey was reviewed by Stuart Dunn.

Generous Spaciousness by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter was mentioned by Englewood Review of Books as a new book release “worth checking out.”


Ebook Specials:

Today is the last day of our ebook special for every book in the Ancient-Future Bible Study series by Stephen J. Binz. Each volume is only $1.99 (83% off).

Click here for links to purchase each volume from participating retailers.

Lectionary Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Easter

This excerpt comes from 1 & 2 Peter (BTCB) by Douglas Harink, commenting on 1 Peter 3:13-22:

Here again we see why the call to “be subordinate” is good news. Those who have no worldly image, honor, authority, and rule to gain or lose, to horde or defend, also need not be troubled by or “fear what they [the ones doing harm] fear” (3:14). Freed from such fear, God’s people are also freed up for the goodness to which they are called.

Having relinquished their own desires and labors toward sovereignty by being subordinate, they make “holy room” (hagiasate, “sanctify”; 3:15) in their hearts for only one sovereign, Christ the Lord, who, as Peter repeatedly reminds us, enacted his sovereignty on the cross. He is the one in whom our desires find their end and fulfillment. In him we already share, as much as we allow, in the gracious infinite fullness of the triune God. What more do we need? What is there to fear?

Such a free and revolutionary life as lived by the followers of Christ will surely provoke a host of questions from those who observe it, from those whose hopes, expectations, and habits of thought and practice have been withered and misshapen by the powers of this age: How can a person reasonably follow Christ?

How can anyone live such a “subordinate” life?

How can it be good, especially if it brings suffering?

How can you think that justice is being done in the world by it?

How can you turn the other cheek, walk another mile, give your shirt as well as your coat?

How can you not desire to wield the power that the rulers and masters do, so that at least you can do the good and the justice that they are not doing?

How can families, societies, nations, and empires be expected to live in such an anarchic manner?

Would that not be the end of the world as we know it?



©2009 by Douglas Harink. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

“Sexuality Is Relational” – An Excerpt from Generous Spaciousness by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter

The following is an excerpt from “Understanding Holistic Spirituality,” chapter 7 from Generous Spaciousness: Responding to Gay Christians in the Church by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter.


I would submit that human sexuality is, fundamentally, relational. The key to our sexuality is not our biological sex; the key to our sexuality is that we are created to be in relationship.

Our experiences of relationship, particularly covenanted and consummated ones, are impacted by biological sex and gender. However, to make biological sex the foundation of all understanding of sexuality reduces our image bearing of God to a construct that does not describe our Triune God.

Is God’s essence connected primarily to maleness or femaleness, masculinity or femininity? Or is God’s essence love—relational, self-giving love? If it is the latter, then that ought to be the foundation from which we understand human sexuality as image bearers of God.

While holistic understanding of human sexuality is often promoted and defended by the church, it is not applied to gay followers of Jesus. Instead, it is all too common to encounter depersonalized reductionism. It would seem at times, in the church, that a person’s entire spiritual formation is reduced where they land on the question of sexually consummated same-sex relationships.

Rather than seeing the integrative beauty of our sexuality as part of our interaction with God, others, and creation, some Christians compartmentalize gay persons’ sexuality as disordered, undesirable, and something to be mastered. While same-sex attraction may not be viewed as inherently sinful, it tends to be seen as overwhelmingly negative.

The reality is, however, that human sexuality reveals both our immense value and pervasive imperfection. This is true whether the attractions one experiences are toward the same sex or the opposite sex. Our experience of sexuality is both beautiful and broken.

Across the board, our sexuality retains a connection to the goodness of creation and the devastation of the fall. But, more often than not, those in the sexual majority are unable to see the fallenness of their own sexuality.


©2014 by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Ebook Specials for Ancient-Future Bible Study Series by Stephen J. Binz

The following volumes in the Ancient-Future Bible Study: Experience Scripture through Lectio Divina series by Stephen J. Binz are each only $1.99 (83% off) through May 23 from participating retailers:

Abraham: Father of All Believers
Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Paul: Apostle to All the Nations
Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Peter: Fisherman and Shepherd of the Church
Amazon / Barnes & Noble
David: Shepherd and King of Israel
Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Women of the Torah
Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Women of the Gospels
Amazon / Barnes & Noble


Ancient-Future Bible Study incorporates contemporary study of the Bible with an experience of the church’s most ancient way of reading Scripture, lectio divina. This time-honored practice consists of five basic movements: biblical study (lectio), reflection (meditatio), prayer (oratio), discernment (contemplatio), and contemplative action (operatio). In these six clearly written volumes, bestselling author Stephen Binz helps readers study the Bible in a way that leads to spiritual transformation and brings them closer to God.

“A method of Bible study that has a long and celebrated history in the church is given renewed momentum with this series. The goal here is more than instruction. The five movements of lectio divina are an invitation to immerse oneself in the riches of our biblical tradition and to give flesh to that tradition in our daily lives. This series will be a wonderful aid for the development of one’s spiritual life.”
Dianne Bergant, CSA, professor of Old Testament studies, Catholic Theological Union

The Weekly Hit List: May 16, 2014

Wendy VanderWal-Gritter, author of Generous Spaciousness, wrote
“Gay Christians Go to Your Church. How Should the Church Engage Them?” for OnFaith.

“‘Gay Christian’ is not an oxymoron. Many gay women and men hold on to a resilient faith despite hostile religious environments and culture war complexities. It isn’t easy to be a Christian in the gay community; it isn’t easy to be gay in the Christian community.

“Among gay Christians there can be a fair bit of diversity. Some experience God’s grace in a mixed-orientation marriage (that is, they are married to an opposite gender spouse, despite being same-sex oriented). Others have committed to a celibate life. Many are searching and struggling and unsure of what to believe about the potential of a committed same-sex relationship. Yet others have promised to be faithful to one life-partner in whatever civil capacity is available to them.

“Regardless of how they are navigating their life of discipleship, these men and women and fellow-followers of Jesus need the fellowship of a hospitable church community as much as any other Christians do.”

Read the rest of the article here.


Quick Hits:

Miroslav Volf, author of A Public Faith, was interviewed by the Centre for Public Christianity.

Can We Still Believe the Bible? by Craig Blomberg was recommended by Dr. Jimmy Latimer.

Learning for the Love of God by Donald Opitz and Derek Melleby was recommended by Hearts & Minds Books.

Lectionary Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Easter

This excerpt comes from 1 & 2 Peter (BTCB) by Douglas Harink, commenting
on 1 Peter 2:2-10:

As those newly begotten by God through the word, we now, like hungry infants, turn all of our desire toward that “milk of the word” with which our lives are fully nourished until the day of our salvation.

We receive this nourishment through the church’s preaching and sacraments. We receive it in the sanctorum communio, the concrete, gathered life together of the messianic community.

We receive it through the practices of corporate and personal scripture reading and study under the rule of faith. We receive it through the testimony of the saints and the writings of the Christian tradition. In each of these ways, and more, Christ gives himself to us as our food.

Quoting Ps. 34:8 in 1 Pet. 2:3, “Taste and see that the Lord is good,” Peter subtly and imaginatively makes an aural connection between milk or food and Christ himself.

Muers writes: “The passage we are considering [1 Pet. 2:2–3] is not explicitly Christological, but the words of verse 3—in their materiality, in the sounds they make—contain an echo; chrestos ho kurios, ‘the Lord is good,’ Christos ho kurios, Christ is Lord. This echo in turn serves as a reminder that the addressees of 1 Peter are being asked to relearn their desire in relationship to Jesus Christ. The indispensable condition of their need being met, of their being able to ‘grow up into salvation,’ is a particular human body.”

Peter appeals to our spiritual sense: the food that is Christ himself is not merely “good for us” because of its “nutritional value.” It is also delectable: it tastes good! Our desire for this food is moved not only by hunger, but also by delight; not only by need, but also by attraction; not only from our lack, but also from the savory allure of that which will abundantly fill it—God’s goodness. “He has filled the hungry with good things” (Luke 1:53).

Having once experienced this gourmet offering, which is truly good beyond imagining, how could we wish to return to the flavorless fast foods offered in the markets, malls, and carnivals of our society? In the kingdom of God the glorious, life-giving banquet is the big attraction (cf. Isa. 25:6; Luke 14:12–24). The aroma and flavor of Christ’s sheer goodness invite us: Come and dine!

©2009 by Douglas Harink. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

This Just In: Generous Spaciousness by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter

Generous Spaciousness: Responding to Gay Christians in the Church

by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter

“VanderWal-Gritter tackles one of the most controversial topics in the church today. She offers a new paradigm for how Christians can engage with gay and lesbian Christians by providing a framework for discussing diversity in a gracious way.”
CBA Retailers + Resources

Committed Christians may respond differently to gay and lesbian Christians. How can we engage those with whom we might disagree and navigate our journey together in a way that nurtures unity, hospitality, humility, and justice?

Through her extensive experience in ministering to gay and lesbian Christians, Wendy VanderWal-Gritter has come to believe we need a new paradigm for how the church engages those in the sexual minority. She encourages generous spaciousness, a hope-filled, relational way forward for those in turmoil regarding a response to gay and lesbian Christians. This book offers a framework for discussing diversity in a gracious way, showing that the church can be a place that welcomes a variety of perspectives on the complex matter of human sexuality. It also offers practical advice for implementing generous spaciousness in churches and organizations.

Wendy VanderWal-Gritter (MDiv, Tyndale Seminary) has been executive director of New Direction Ministries of Canada in Mississauga, Ontario, for over a decade. She is an internationally recognized contributor to conversations about faith and sexuality and is an active speaker. She is currently completing her doctoral dissertation on the theme of generous spaciousness at Knox College, University of Toronto.

Praise for Generous Spaciousness:

“VanderWal-Gritter . . . charts a middle course in the evangelical outreach to gay Christians. . . . Throughout, she is gentle in her urging for Christians to be more hospitable and for gays to be clearer about their expectations from any given congregation. Shying away from major debates about the Bible’s stance, VanderWal-Gritter remains faithful to an open if not fully affirming Christianity. Using the stories of individuals from across the gay/ex-gay spectrum, she articulates the complexity of the issues and leaves final solutions open ended. The work will be of particular interest to those in ministry attempting to navigate interactions with gay Christians.”
Publishers Weekly

“This book provides a model of how people can be agents of reconciliation within Christian communities that are polarized over how to relate to gays and lesbians.”
—Tony Campolo, Eastern University

“I can’t imagine a more timely book. Modeling the very ‘generous spaciousness’ that she advocates, VanderWal-Gritter’s heart is on every page. The church is at a crucial moment of transition in relation to gay sisters and brothers, and this wonderfully written book will prove to be one of the most helpful guides in the midst of change. Profoundly and deeply biblical, theologically rich, and rooted in years of humble, respectful, and vulnerable listening, VanderWal-Gritter’s wisdom is precisely what we so desperately need.”
Brian Walsh, Christian Reformed Campus Minister, University of Toronto; author of Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination

“‘Loving people changes you,’ says Wendy VanderWal-Gritter in this important new book. The author herself clearly has been changed by loving gay people, in a journey that began when she led a ministry in the ‘ex-gay’ movement. Now Wendy advocates a posture of ‘generous spaciousness’ and offers pastoral and relational insight from her time at the intersection of homosexuality and the church. This book is highly recommended for anyone who wants to minister in the world (and the church) we actually live in today.”
David Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and director, Center for Theology and Public Life, Mercer University

“This is a truly important book for our time. Regardless of your view, Wendy’s articulate, measured, and comprehensive approach to homosexuality will give you both food for thought and a means of moving forward. She evidences and argues for the kind of fearless vulnerability, rooted in deep conviction, that characterized Jesus himself. This is gospel with flesh on it.”
Greg Paul, author of Close Enough to Hear God Breathe and God in the Alley

Generous Spaciousness is an invitation to dialogue with someone who has courageously navigated and negotiated this issue not in a theoretical bubble but in the midst of real relationships. It will make you uncomfortable, perhaps angry, maybe even hopeful. You will not agree with everything Wendy says no matter where you position yourself in the conversation, but you will be stretched. Wendy has boldly put herself on these pages and you should read what she has to say.”
Gary V. Nelson, president, Tyndale University College & Seminary; author of Borderland Churches