Archives for September 2014

This Just In: Colossians (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series) by Christopher R. Seitz

Colossians (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible)
by Christopher R. Seitz


“No one has spent more time than Christopher Seitz over the past generation writing about the relationship of the two testaments to one another and how that issue constitutes the defining feature of the Christian Bible. He is no doubt one of the best theological readers of the Bible. This is the first time he has dedicated himself to the interpretation of an entire book of the New Testament, and it will become a landmark volume in this prestigious series.”
Gary A. Anderson, Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Theology, University of Notre Dame


The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible advances the assumption that the Nicene creedal tradition, in all its diversity, provides the proper basis for the interpretation of the Bible as Christian scripture. The series encourages readers to extend the vital roots of the ancient Christian tradition to our day.

In this addition to the acclaimed series, renowned scholar Christopher Seitz offers a theological exegesis of Colossians, bringing his expertise in canonical reading to bear on his interpretation of this Pauline letter. As with other volumes in the series, the book is ideal for those called to ministry.

Christopher R. Seitz (PhD, Yale University) is senior research professor of biblical interpretation at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto, in Toronto, Ontario, and is an ordained Episcopal priest. He previously taught at the University of St. Andrews and Yale University. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including The Character of Christian Scripture,Prophecy and HermeneuticsThe Goodly Fellowship of the Prophets, and Nicene Christianity.


Praise for Colossians:

“It is a real pleasure to commend this commentary on one of the jewels in the New Testament by one of today’s leading Old Testament scholars. Colossians is sometimes the neglected Pauline epistle among preachers because of its similarities to Ephesians. Nevertheless, it contains some unique Pauline themes, including the way in which believers in Christ have in some sense already been resurrected in Him. Preachers, teachers, and thoughtful Christians will all appreciate Seitz’s clarity, insight, and theological acumen as he navigates technical matters while pressing home theological and pastoral application.”

Carl R. Trueman, Paul Woolley Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary, Pennsylvania

“Over against the trend in many contemporary commentaries, Christopher Seitz refuses to treat Colossians as a single, isolated letter. Instead he views Colossians as embedded in the world of Paul, imprisonment, Christian fellowship, and the scriptural canon as a whole. What emerges from Colossians is the sound of a brave and confident Pauline voice, singing of grace, truth, and shared ministry, surrounded by the full and rich choir of Scripture. This is a powerful and deeply theological commentary.”
Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor of Preaching, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

“That Colossians comes to us as part of a collection of Letters of Paul is a fact everyone who opens an edition of the New Testament will immediately acknowledge. The more striking fact is that very few commentaries explore the reading instructions expressed in this simple observation. Christopher Seitz with his deep appreciation of the canonical context shows how an enigmatic text like Colossians will come to life when readers find the courage to listen to the voice of canonical Paul and not get lost in unsolvable historical riddles. Beautifully crafted, richly annotated, and an excellent example of meaningful narrative interpretation in a historical context.”
David Trobisch, director of the Green Collection


Praise for the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series:

“What a splendid idea! Many preachers have been longing for more commentaries that are not only exegetical but theological in the best sense: arising out of the conviction that God, through his Word, still speaks in our time. For those of us who take our copies of Martin Luther’s Galatians and Karl Barth’s Romans from the shelves on a regular basis, this new series in that tradition promises renewed vigor for preaching, and therefore for the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church in our time.”
Fleming Rutledge, author of The Bible and The New York Times and The Seven Last Words from the Cross

“This new series places the accent on ‘theological’ and reflects current interpretive ferment marked by growing resistance to the historical-critical project. It may be that scripture interpretation is too important to be left to the exegetes, and so a return to the theologians. We will wait with great anticipation for this new series, at least aware that the outcomes of interpretation are largely determined by the questions asked. It is never too late to ask better questions; with a focus on the theological tradition, this series holds the promise of asking interpretive questions that are deeply grounded in the primal claims of faith. The rich promise of the series is indicated by the stature and erudition of the commentators. Brazos has enormous promises to keep with this project, and we wait with eagerness for its appearing!”
Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary

“The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible makes a most welcome contribution to the church, the academic world, and the general public at large. By enlisting a wide range of Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox theologians who differ on much, but who agree on the truth of the Nicene Creed, the series also represents ecumenical activity of the very best kind. It is always a daunting challenge to expound the church’s sacred book both simply and deeply, but this impressive line-up of authors is very well situated for the attempt.”
Mark A. Noll, University of Notre Dame

“Preachers and teachers in particular, but thoughtful Christians more generally, have long lamented the slide of biblical scholarship into hyper-specialized critical studies of ancient texts in remote historical context. It is no wonder, therefore, that the Brazos Theological Commentary is being so warmly welcomed. The outstanding array of authors, beginning with Jaroslav Pelikan’s splendid commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, are, at long last, reclaiming the Bible as the book of the living community of faith that is the church.”
Richard John Neuhaus, author of American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile

“Contemporary application of the Bible to life is the preacher’s business. But no worthy contemporary application is possible without a thorough understanding of the ancient text. The Brazos Theological Commentary exists to provide an accessible authority so that the preacher’s application will be a ready bandage for all the hurts of life. We who serve the pulpit want a commentary we can understand, and those who hear us expect us to give them a usable word. The Brazos Commentary offers just the right level of light to make illuminating the word the joy it was meant to be.”
Calvin Miller, author of A Hunger for the Holy and Loving God Up Close

“For pastors, wanting to get at the theological heart of a text, there is some good stuff. When I am preaching, I usually try to take a peek at the Brazos volume.”
Nijay K. Gupta, assistant professor of New Testament, Northeastern Seminary, Roberts Wesleyan College

The Weekly Hit List: September 26, 2014

Kingdom Conspiracy by Scot McKnight (October 2014) was summarized and reviewed by Trevin Wax for The Gospel Coalition.

Kingdom Conspiracy is a book that challenges some commonly held beliefs and assumptions among evangelicals. Scot McKnight will rile up people on both the left and the right, as brilliant Anabaptists always do. I’m a Baptist with a strong affinity for the Kuyperian vision, and so there were aspects of this book that resonated with me and aspects that frustrated me.

“Overall, however, Kingdom Conspiracy‘s primary goal is one that I appreciate. It offers an ecclesio-centric view of the kingdom that refocuses our attention back on the church as the centerpoint of God’s plan in our world today.”

Read the entire review here.

Read the entire summary here.



The Drama of Living by David F. Ford (October 2014) was reviewed on The Christian Century.

“A sequel to Ford’s The Shape of Living, The Drama of Living could be characterized as sapiential theology—reflection on theology that draws out its wisdom for daily living.

“Ford weaves together a mélange of sources, especially the Gospel of John and the poetry of his friend Michael O’Siadhail. A corollary to the theme of Jesus coming into the world is John’s theology of the Spirit who comes and invites us into the ongoing, improvisational drama of following Jesus and living out the love of Jesus in our lives.”

Read the entire review here.


Quick Hits:

Scot McKnight was interviewed about Kingdom Conspiracy on the Newsworthy with Norsworthy podcast.

Kingdom Conspiracy was recommended by Jason Micheli.

Presence and Encounter by David G. Benner was recommended by Byron Bolger on Hearts & Minds Books.

A Beautiful Disaster by Marlena Graves was reviewed by Dr. Conrade Yap

Educating All God’s Children by Nicole Baker Fulgham was reviewed by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson for Urban Faith.

Lectionary Reflection for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 21:23-32:

There is no place one might go to know with certainty that Jesus is who he says he is. To know that Jesus is the Son of God requires that we take up his cross and follow him. Having taken up the cross, Christians discover they have no fear of the truth, no matter from where it might come.

Jesus is not through with the chief priests and elders. Indeed he is just getting started. We have seen him use parables to instruct his disciples to understand the character of the kingdom of heaven. Faced with the chief priests and scribes, he uses the parables to help them see the challenge he presents to their rule.

He asks them to consider (“what do you think?”) a man with a vineyard who had two sons. He asked the first son to work in the vineyard, who declined, only to later change his mind and go to the vineyard. The father went to the second son with the same request, and this son readily agreed, but did not go to the vineyard.

Jesus asked the chief priests and elders which did the father’s will. They were, of course, forced to answer that it was the first.

Jesus draws for them the unmistakable conclusion, that they are the second son who has failed to do the father’s will. Therefore, the tax collectors and prostitutes will enter the kingdom of God before them because the tax collectors and prostitutes believed John’s proclamation that the kingdom had drawn near and recognized that they must repent.

The tax collectors and prostitutes had their lives changed, and so they—but not the chief priests and elders—believed in John.


©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

This Just In: Presence and Encounter by David G. Benner, PhD

Presence and Encounter: The Sacramental Possibilities of Everyday Life
by David G. Benner, PhD

The most vital and significant moments in life are moments of encounter. Whether we encounter ourselves, others, or God, these moments let us know that life is meaningful. And presence is what makes encounter possible. When we are truly present, everything that has being becomes potentially present to us.

In this unique resource, David Benner invites us to live with more presence so we can know the presence of God more deeply in our lives. Drawing on over thirty-five years of experience integrating psychology and spirituality, Benner examines the transformational possibilities of spiritual presence and encounter in fresh, exciting, and practical ways. He helps readers understand the personal and interpersonal dimensions of presence and encounter, revealing how they mediate Divine Presence and serve as sacraments of everyday life. His rich meditations are presented in a voice that is intelligent, compassionate, and engaging. The book includes end-of-chapter reflection exercises for individual or group use and a foreword by Richard Rohr.


David G. Benner (PhD, York University; postdoctoral studies, Chicago Institute of Psychoanalysis) is an internationally known depth psychologist, author, spiritual guide, and personal transformation coach who lives in Toronto, Ontario. He is a faculty member of The Rohr Institute’s Living School for Action and Contemplation, where he serves as a master teacher. Benner has authored or edited more than twenty books, including Soulful Spirituality and Spirituality and the Awakening Self. He lectures widely around the world and has held numerous clinical and academic appointments. For more information, visit his website at or his Facebook page.


Praise for Presence and Encounter:

“Having journeyed with Dr. Benner in a Transformational Coaching relationship for the past year and having experienced profound shifts through reading his many books before that, I am privileged to recommend the book you hold in your hands. I am excited about the potential for a beautiful unfolding in your life as you encounter practical sacredness, wisdom held humbly, and God’s luminous presence within these pages.”
—Lisa Whelchel, actress; author of The Facts of Life: And Other Lessons My Father Taught Me and Friendship for Grown-Ups

“With his trademark blend of scholarship and accessibility, psychological insight and spiritual depth, David Benner has done it again. Presence and Encounter goes to the heart of spiritual formation and direction, awareness of Divine presence. Whether in Eucharist or casual encounter, it is awakening to Presence that makes encounter possible.”
Gary W. Moon, executive director, Martin Institute and Dallas Willard Center, Westmont College; author ofApprenticeship with Jesus

“I always learn when I read David Benner. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that Benner expresses what I already know deep down inside, and he does so with such intelligence and eloquence that my heart just soars!”
Ruth Haley Barton, founder, Transforming Center; author of Life Together in Christ: Experiencing Transformation in Community

“In Presence and Encounter David Benner provides a simple but profound guide to experiencing the presence of Christ (even in absence) in everyday life. Every day holds sacramental possibilities if only we learn by God’s grace to be present and to authentically encounter and dialogue with each other and with God. I highly recommend it!”
Siang-Yang Tan, professor of psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary; author of Counseling and Psychotherapy: A Christian Perspective

“This book is a profound articulation of how the Divine Spirit pervades all things in the universe: the life force in all living things, the spirit that takes the form of our own spirits within us, and the energy that keeps the electrons in orbit in the atoms of a rock. This all-pervasive Spirit is what Jesus promised in John 14 when he said in effect, ‘The age of Jesus Christ is over. Now comes the age when God is a Presence as Spirit.’ Presence and Encounter clearly illumines our possibilities to be such a Presence to ourselves and each other that we experience in our encounters not just the dynamics of personalities but the numinous Presence of God.”
J. Harold Ellens, author of Light from the Other Side: The Paranormal as Friend and Familiar (Real Life Experiences of a Spiritual Pilgrim)

Presence and Encounter immediately draws a reflective reader into the essence of human living. It exquisitely points toward the possibilities of being totally engaged with all that is present in each moment–being available without reservation to oneself, to others, and to the Loving Presence that holds all. It is filled with joyous invitations to explore.”
Jeannette A. Bakke, author of Holy Invitations: Exploring Spiritual Direction, spiritual director, teacher, and retreat leader

“The words ‘presence,’ ‘awareness,’ and ‘encounter’ have experienced a vogue reappearance in recent years. But who is explaining these esoteric and ethereal concepts? My friend David Benner, that is who. In his probing, yet down-to-earth style, David gives us more insight into a spirituality that is at once contemporary and ancient. His work is winsome and practical; he explains and captivates like few can on topics this rich. If you have followed Benner’s work you will love this project. If this is your first book, you are in for a feast!”
Ron Martoia, Transformational Architect (


Six-week Online Discussion Group:

Between Monday, October 20, and Friday, November 28, Dr. David Benner will be hosting a six-week online discussion of Presence and Encounter on his Facebook page, with an additional feed through Twitter.

Each week, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, he will offer an excerpt drawn successively from the 14 chapters of this book and a question to aid readers’ reflections.

No registration is necessary; readers are invited to turn up and share in the conversation in ways that work best for them.

Readers are encouraged to purchase a copy in advance so they’ll be ready to engage over the six weeks of discussion.


The Weekly Hit List: September 19, 2014

Nicole Baker Fulgham, author of Educating All God’s Children, was interviewed by Religion News Service columnist Jonathan Merritt.

“All Christians, even those without school-aged children, have an incredible opportunity to be salt and light in our public schools. From loving and supporting teachers and administrators, to seeking out opportunities to serve under-resourced schools in our communities, each new school year brings with it countless ways to demonstrate God’s love.

“For those of us with school-aged children, public schools are often wonderful places for our kids to be exposed to students from a variety of cultures and backgrounds that prepares them to engage in an diverse and interconnected world. Far from undermining their faith, it gives them the opportunity to learn to be better neighbors, thoughtful citizens, and stronger Christians.”

Read all of “What Christian parents need to know about America’s schools” here.


Quick Hits:

A Beautiful Disaster by Marlena Graves was reviewed by Angela Shupe.

A Life Observed by Devin Brown was reviewed by Stan Bohall.

Wendy VanderWal-Gritter, author of Generous Spaciousness, will appear live on LifeLine (WDCX Radio) on Tuesday, September 23, from 4:00-5:00 p.m. ET.

Arthur Boers, author of Living into Focus, wrote “Too Busy to Be Faithful?” for Faith Today.

Living into Focus was quoted on Tides and Turning.

Lectionary Reflection for the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Psalms for All Seasons, commenting on Psalm 145:

Psalm 145, the first of six praise psalms that conclude the Psalter, is a grand hymn of praise.

As an acrostic where each verse begins with the subsequent letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the psalm alternates between vows to praise (vv. 1-2, 10, 21) and reasons for praise (vv. 3-9, 11-20), focusing on both the grandeur and the compassion of God.

The psalm explores in detail the quartet of divine virtues (covenant love, faithfulness, truthfulness, and righteousness) that have recurred throughout the Psalter.

The use of the terms “all” and “every” throughout the psalm highlights its theme of complete praise.

Some commentators have noticed correspondence between Ps. 145 and nearly every petition in the Lord’s prayer.

Prayer for reflection:
Great God, we exalt and worship you.
In Christ you offer us everything we need.
Embolden us to go out into the streets and alleys of our world,
urging others to come to your banqueting house;
and there may we discover the table of forgiveness and healing, of laughter and joy.

We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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

Video: Kingdom Conspiracy by Scot McKnight

In his new book, Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church, Scot McKnight asks hard questions of popular understandings of the kingdom, suggesting we have fundamentally misunderstood this central biblical theme.

Visit to learn more about the book Publishers Weekly called “a must-read for church leaders today.”

The Weekly Hit List: September 12, 2014

Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins by Dennis Okholm was reviewed by Leadership ConneXtions.

“In his extraordinarily insightful book . . . Dennis Okholm has done a great service, especially for those called to roles of ministry and leadership. Okholm, who is a Benedictine oblate, a pastor at Holy Trinity Anglican Church and a seminary professor takes us deep into the spiritual psychology of several great monastics. 

“Evagrius, Cassian, Gregory the Great and Thomas Aquinas are the important authors and developers of the Seven Deadly Sins. Okholm is intimately familiar with their writing, their theology, their spirituality and their contexts. . . .

For every deadly sin, Okholm provides the best practical remedies from the monastic tradition. He makes possible a greater self-awareness about these passions and sins.”

Read the entire review here.


Quick Hits:

Craig Detweiler, author of iGods, was interviewed by C. J. Stunkard.

Colossians (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible) by Christopher Seitz was recommended by Chris Woznicki.

Monk Habits for Everyday People by Dennis Okholm was reviewed by Michele Morin.

Lectionary Reflection for Holy Cross Sunday

This excerpt comes from Numbers (BTCB) by David L. Stubbs, commenting on Numbers 21:4-9:

The serpents can be seen to be a judgment upon Israel that reveals and symbolizes their sin. The souls of the Israelites have been poisoned by the deceiver so that they do not trust in the goodness of God and his provision and plan for them. The people who committed themselves to the covenant with God instead adulterously follow after Egypt and the way of life it represents—a life where their immediate desires are fed yet they are enslaved, a life that falls short of what God intends for them in the promised land.

The serpents’ venom, like bitter water, has entered into the people and caused bitter pain, showing that they have indeed gone astray. As with Adam and Eve, the venom of doubt about the words, ways, and goodness of God had taken hold of Israel and was leading to their “spiritual death.” In response to the serpents, Israel is moved to confession: “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us” (Num. 21:7). As a result of this confession, God does relent. He does not simply forgive them of their sin and heal them outright, but rather commands Moses to construct a “fiery serpent” and set it on a nas (“standard”).

The bronze serpent represents to the people all that the fiery serpents represent. In it they can see the sufferings of their journey. But in it they also can see the judgment of God about them. Like the raising of a battle standard, this action ironically represents who the people are truly following: the serpent, rather than God. This people, this generation, have rejected God and his ways, and are following instead the ways of the serpent, the envious desire for power, the lust for the easy comforts of Egypt that makes them turn back from entering the land. It is a fitting symbol for all the rebellions of the people.

But the raised serpent is more than a sign of judgment. It is also a sign of God’s victory over the serpent. Like the head of an enemy placed on the tip of a spear and shown to the people, the serpent lifted up shows that God is more powerful than the serpent. God is able to cure the physical effects of the serpents’ poison.

By offering to the people this symbol of victory over the serpent, it also becomes a symbol of God’s compassion and desire to heal them and to do them good. It is a symbol that God did not send Moses to his people in Egypt to condemn them, but to save them and bring them life.


©2009 by David L. Stubbs. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

On Presence and Encounter: An Excerpt from Presence and Encounter by David G. Benner, PhD

The following is an excerpt from the preface to Presence and Encounter: The Sacramental Possibilities of Everyday Life by David G. Benner, PhD.


Far from being merely a topic that I chose out of a desire to write another book, what follows is the fruit of a haunting interest that chose me over forty years ago. I have been pondering the nature of presence and encounter since first reading Martin Buber’s I and Thou as a university student. His assertion that “All real living is meeting” struck a deeply resonant chord in me. I recognized even then—and now know with much more certainty—that the most vital and significant moments in life are moments of encounter. Whether it is encounter with others, the Wholly Other, or myself, these are moments when I know that life is its own meaning.

Presence makes encounter possible. It also makes life meaningful. The search for meaning is really a search for presence, because grand systems of truth or meaning can never satisfy the basic human longing for life to be meaningful. Without presence, nothing is meaningful. But in the luminous glow of presence, all of life becomes saturated with significance.

Only in presence can we encounter anyone or anything. Others may be present to us, but we will not notice their presence until we are present ourselves. Once we are truly present, everything that has being becomes potentially present to us.

It was a glimpse of these possibilities, along with an encounter with Jung and Freud, that led me into clinical psychology. That same glimpse subsequently guided my efforts to make presence and encounter central to my psychotherapy, spiritual guidance, and transformational coaching. Usually, there has been a gap between my aspirations and my experience, but I have never lost my conviction that all real living is meeting, and that this is made possible by presence.

Yet instrumental applications of these powerful dynamics miss the point that in order to truly unpack transformational potential, presence must be a way of living, not merely something we attempt to do. Presence is not something that can be turned on and off like a tap. It is either an expression of our being or it is posturing and pretense.

Ultimately, we can no more control presence than we can control our being. Presence and being are so beyond our control that we are unable to even adequately define them. I will do my best to clarify what I mean by these terms, but you will quickly notice how big concepts such as presence and being resist containment in a string of words that we might offer as a definition. This is even more the case when we encounter them with an initial capital letter. When I speak of “Being” or “Presence,” I refer to God. Naming the deity in these ways reminds us that neither names nor definitions contain reality but merely and imperfectly point toward it. This is particularly true when words are used to point toward the Ultimate Reality we have conventionally called God. While these concepts are big, it is equally true that they have immense practical implications. It is these implications that most interest me, and we will keep them very much in focus as we explore this topic together.

I long to live with more presence. I long to know the presence of God more deeply. I long to learn how to make myself more available for encounter, and I am convinced that these things are all connected—that somehow my presence is essential to an encounter with the presence of anyone or anything, especially the presence of the One who is the ground of being and the source, therefore, of presence.

I write about these things not so much to communicate what I understand as to help me learn to live with more presence. Consequently, the voice with which I will be writing is a voice of one sharing ponderings rather than teaching truths. It is my hope that my ponderings will evoke your own, for it is in such reflection that the practical implications of the things we discuss will take root in your soul.


©2014 by David G. Benner. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.