Archives for October 2014

The Weekly Hit List: October 31, 2014

Scot McKnight, author of Kingdom Conspiracy, was interviewed by Patheos blogger Zach Hoag.

“I have been thinking about and writing about kingdom for nearly twenty years now, and I first published something about kingdom at an extensive level in 1999 in A New Vision for Israel. At that time I was already connecting ‘kingdom’ to ‘Israel’ but I was in a historical mode and not much of a theological mode.

“As my life shifted into college student teaching, I began to think about that view of kingdom more and more theologically so that I could explain the significance of kingdom to students who were wondering why this term even mattered. I published a few observations about kingdom in this more theological mode in books like Embracing Grace, One.Life, and The King Jesus Gospel.

“But I wasn’t happy because (1) I wasn’t sorting out what I was seeing in the Bible comprehensively enough and (2) I was hearing an increasing use of this term in ways that bothered me because the uses were veering far from what the Bible means.

“So, there, that’s why I wrote this book: to set out my thoughts in the context of an increasing popularity of a term that was being used in ways significantly different than the Bible’s use.”

Read the entire interview, “Skinny Jeans, Ruffled Feathers, and Kingdom Mission,” here.


Other Kingdom Conspiracy Media:

Scot McKnight wrote “What Does Kingdom Mean?” on Jesus Creed.

David Fitch continued his review of Kingdom Conspiracy.

Matthew94 shared some highlights from Scot McKnight’s recent talk at Northeastern Seminary.


Brazos Press ECPA Cover Award:

iGods by Craig Detweiler won an Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Top Shelf Book Cover Award.

Congratulations to art director Paula Gibson for her input and direction on this excellent cover.

The 2014 Top Shelf Book Cover Awards were presented during a PUBu session held on October 21 at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.


Quick Hits:

Jerry L. Walls, author of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory (February 2015), was quoted in the Religion News Service article “Does purgatory have a prayer with Protestants?

Patheos blogger Ben Witherington began reviewing Can We Still Believe the Bible? by Craig Blomberg. Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 are posted.

Kevin Schut, author of Of Games and God, was interviewed for WORLD Magazine article “Virtual games, real empathy.”

Lectionary Reflection for the Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Psalms for All Seasons, commenting on Psalm 107:

Psalm 107, the first psalm in the fifth and final of the Psalter’s five books, is a psalm of thanksgiving for God’s faithfulness, deliverance, and covenant love in response to human repentance, turning away from sin and toward God.

This is celebrated through a repeated pattern of describing various groups of people who have experienced calamity, turned toward God, and experienced deliverance (vv. 4-9, 10-16, 17-22, 23-32).

The psalm concludes with a general hymn of praise to God (v. 33-41) and a proverb-like refrain that calls on the wise to “take this to heart.”


Prayer for reflection:
Good and loving God, in Jesus you know the paths your children walk
and all that can frighten and discourage us.
Make your presence real to us as we make our journey,
that at any time and in every circumstance
we may remember your blessings—and rejoice! Amen.


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

This Just In: The Drama of Living by David F. Ford

The Drama of Living: Becoming Wise in the Spirit
by David F. Ford


“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 Micheal O’Siadhail. . . . A familiar theme for Ford is sounded in this book: the urgent need and opportunities for interreligious understanding and cooperation. Religious traditions at their best are about the pursuit and application of wisdom.”
Christian Century


How can we live wisely in the twenty-first century, alert to God and to other people amid the ups and downs of modern life? We find ourselves in the middle of complex situations, relationships, responsibilities, ongoing dramas, and challenges. Our response to these circumstances requires us to draw on many sources and to constantly exercise imagination, discernment, and judgment.

In this sequel to his well-received book The Shape of Living, renowned theologian David Ford offers insights into living wisely in the Spirit in a culture of distraction. Ford provides a reflective contemporary Christian spirituality that is drawn from the Gospel of John, the work of internationally respected poet Micheal O’Siadhail, and his own life experiences. He explores themes such as the ordinary and public dramas of living, the centrality of face-to-face relationships, the habits that shape our lives, friendship and love, aging and dying, and jazz. Discussion questions for individual or group use are included.

David F. Ford
(PhD, University of Cambridge) is Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge, where he has taught for more than twenty years, and director of the Cambridge Inter-Faith Program. He is also a Fellow of Selwyn College and the author or editor of more than fifteen books, including The Shape of Living.

Ford is one of the founders of Scriptural Reasoning and has been extensively involved in generating new modes of engagement for inter-faith relations in the post-9/11 world.


Praise for The Drama of Living:

“This is a tour de force. We all take part in the drama of living, and Ford’s wisdom shapes our engagement with its depths and fullness. This extraordinary book draws on the riches of his own experience, contemporary poetry, and the mysterious Gospel of John. It both explores the complexities of daily life and inspires wise and creative responses.”
Micheal O’Siadhail, award-winning poet

“David Ford here combines a treatise in individual and social anthropology with a reading of the Fourth Gospel in order to assist us while we join him in the ‘search for wisdom in the drama of living.’ The interweavings among the themes are further strengthened by frequent citations in verse from the Irish poet Micheal O’Siadhail. Altogether this is a book that may properly engage the attention of theological and humanistic readers alike.”
Geoffrey Wainwright, professor emeritus of Christian theology, Duke University

“By tearing down the wall of hostility between autobiography and theology, David Ford draws theology into dailiness, discarding the modern division of ‘head’ from ‘heart.’ This memoir unself-consciously blends personal experience, poetry, fiction, drama, jazz, Scripture, and the suffering of the disabled, those of the Shoah, and the dying, inviting us to read our own interiority through the great minds and tragic moments that have nourished us on the paths we have trod.”
Ellen Charry, Margaret W. Harmon Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary


The Weekly Hit List: October 24, 2014

Kingdom Conspiracy by Scot McKnight was reviewed by David Fitch.

“In Scot McKnight’s latest book, Kingdom Conspiracy,he has an axe to grind. He’s doing some honest complaining.

“The way he sees it, the word ‘Kingdom’ has become muddled. The phrase ‘Kingdom of God’ has lost its moorings. It has come to mean many different things to different people within the Christian world.

“As a result, the word ‘Kingdom’ has lost its impact. And McKnight thinks this word is too important to the Christian mission to get sloppy with.

“I think he has a righteous complaint.”

Read the entire review here.


Other Kingdom Conspiracy Media:

Englewood Review of Books included Kingdom Conspiracy as one their recommended new releases.

Ryan Dueck reviewed Kingdom Conspiracy.

Justin Hiebert reviewed Kingdom Conspiracy.

Jay Guin reviewed Kingdom Conspiracy.

Scott of The Prodigal Thought recommended Kingdom Conspiracy.


Quick Hits:

Craig Blomberg, author of Can We Still Believe the Bible?, was interviewed by Ben Witherington.

Ben Witherington also reviewed Can We Still Believe the Bible?.

Generous Spaciousness by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter was reviewed by Philip Zoutendam.

A Beautiful Disaster by Marlena Graves was mentioned by Byron Borger on Hearts & Minds Books.

Lectionary Reflection for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Psalms for All Seasons, commenting on Psalm 90:

Psalm 90, the first psalm in the fourth book of the Psalter, is a meditation on the everlastingness of God and the brevity of human life.

It lauds the everlasting love of God (vv. 1-5), laments the current conditions of life (vv.6-12), and concludes with a plea for God’s blessing (vv. 13-17).

The psalm seeks both wisdom in the face of human limitation (v. 12) and the kind of divine blessing that offers both delight and prosperity of the fruit of human labor (v. 14-17).


Prayer for reflection:
God of every time and place,
apart from you, our life is brief and meaningless.
In you we experience endless abundance.
Reveal to us all we can comprehend of our place in your design for eternity.
Help us to receive each new day as a gift, and to use your gift wisely and well,
so that we may live in joy and bring glory to Christ your Son, our Lord. Amen.

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

Who Is Jesus? (an Excerpt from The Drama of Living by David F. Ford)

The following is an excerpt from chapter one of The Drama of Living: Becoming Wise in the Spirit by David F. Ford.


Who is Jesus? John’s Gospel has perhaps been the single most influential book in the history of Christian theology, especially in Christology, the doctrine of the person of Jesus Christ. John’s Prologue (1:1–18) alone has been one of the most discussed texts century after century.

For now, the key point is that, for all the importance of the Prologue, the main way John tells us who Jesus is, is through the rest of the Gospel, and this is in the form of one dramatic encounter with Jesus after another.

It is carefully written to answer the question, who is Jesus? in multiple ways and at many levels, so the reader is constantly led to reread; to make new connections with the rest of the Gospel, the Synoptics, and the Tanakh/Old Testament; and to explore what the meaning might be of capacious, symbolic statements such as “I am the bread of life” (6:35), “I am the light of the world” (8:12), “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (14:6), and many others.

Such open, dense descriptions cry out to be meditated on again and again, and no one ever comes to the end of this process. The theological reason for this is simple: Jesus, who is identified through this drama and these statements, is alive and is present as God is present, so the Gospel is actually a means of relating to him in person, and no one ever comes to the end of that.

One of John’s favorite phrases, “eternal life,” is not so much about “life after death” as “life after the death and resurrection of Jesus”—life, with others, abiding in him, loved by him, and loving him (this approach to love and to death will be explored further in chapters 5 and 6). It is, as the title of O’Siadhail’s book says, Love Life.

The way Jesus is portrayed in the Gospel story is the main inspiration for our ideas and images of who Jesus is. It both disciplines our tendency to fantasize and to create self-serving or distorted images, and it frees us to go deeper and further, using our minds and imaginations in prayer, conversation, theology, the arts, relating to creation and other people, and acting in the world.

In other words, it is central in shaping our participation in the ongoing drama initiated by “Follow me!”


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

The Weekly Hit List: October 17, 2014

Scot McKnight, author of Kingdom Conspiracy, was interviewed by Jonathan Merritt on his Religion News Service blog.

“Hordes of American Christians are far less committed to their local church because they are committed to doing ‘kingdom work.’ Kingdom for many means the bigger things God is doing in this world.

“A proper kingdom theology leads people to the middle of the church, not away from it. So it makes a difference when church is on the decline and people are saying they are committed to the kingdom but not so much to the church. You can’t have kingdom without church.

“What you are doing for the common good should first be done for those in your local church fellowship. Let’s start there, and we’ll have a fellowship revival worth talking about.”

Read the entire interview here.


Other Kingdom Conspiracy Media:

Chris Woznicki reviewed Kingdom Conspiracy.

Matthew Forrest Lowe reviewed Kingdom Conspiracy.

Robert Cornwall reviewed Kingdom Conspiracy.

Eric Miller quoted Kingdom Conspiracy.


Quick Hits:

The (Un)Common Good by Jim Wallis was reviewed by Conversation in Faith.

Generous Spaciousness by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter was recommended by Matthias Roberts.

Lectionary Reflection for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 22:15-22:

[The Pharisees] ask Jesus whether he thinks it is lawful to pay taxes to the emperor. It is a clever question that is meant to put Jesus in an impossible position. If Jesus says that taxes should not be paid, it would make him a rebel against Rome. If he says that taxes should be paid, he will appear to be on the side of the Herodians, collaborators with Rome, and he will not be a credible prophet.

Jesus is not taken in by their flattery, not only recognizing them as hypocrites but naming them as such. He refuses to respond directly to their question but instead asks them to show the coin used for the tax. Rome, it seems, not only required a tax, but wanted the tax paid in Roman coinage.

Those who sought, like the devil, to entrap him brought the required coin to him. He asked them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered that it was the image of the emperor’s head. Jesus then told them that they should give to God the things that are God’s and to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s. When they heard this answer, they were amazed and left him.

Unfortunately, through much of Christian history, Christians have not been amazed by this answer. Rather, they have assumed that they know what Jesus meant when he said we are to give to the emperor what is the emperor’s and to God what is God’s. It is assumed that Christians are a people of a double loyalty to God and the state. Christians are told that they should never let their loyalty to the state qualify their loyalty to God, but they never seem clear when and if such a conflict might actually happen.

Jesus requests the coin, minted to pay the tax, to be given to him. He does not possess the coin. He does not carry the coin, quite possibly because the coin carries the image of Caesar. Jesus’s question is meant to remind those who carry the coin of the second commandment: “You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them” (Exod. 20:4–5).

Jesus’s answer that the things of God are to be given to God and not to the emperor is a reminder to those who produced the coin that the very possession of the coin makes them idolaters. Jesus is not recommending in his response to the Pharisees that we learn to live with divided loyalties, but rather he is saying that all the idolatrous coins should be sent back to Caesar, where they belong.

Just as Jesus knows no distinction between politics and religion, neither does he know any distinction between politics, economics, and the worship of God. Those who have asked him whether they should pay taxes to the emperor are revealed to be the emperor’s faithful servants by the money they possess.

That God and the emperor cannot both be served is, moreover, not solved. For many, this account of Jesus’s claim that we are to give to the emperor what is the emperor’s and to God what is God’s creates an insoluble problem because they do not see how followers of Jesus can then live in the world as we know it. But to recognize that we have an insoluble problem is to begin to follow Jesus.


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

This Just In: Kingdom Conspiracy by Scot McKnight

Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church
by Scot McKnight


“Over the past decade, McKnight . . . has emerged as America’s theologian. . . . His works provide an extra layer of theological undergirding for pastors and lay people who wish to go deeper in Bible study and live more consciously under the rule of ‘King Jesus,’ as he refers to Jesus Christ. McKnight’s writing is vivid, occasionally a little quirky. His book is valuable because he begins with the present state of churches: divided between what he calls the ‘skinny jeans’ and ‘pleated pants’ approaches. . . . This is a must-read for church leaders today.”
Publishers Weekly


According to Scot McKnight, “kingdom” is the biblical term most misused by Christians today. It has taken on meanings that are completely at odds with what the Bible says. “Kingdom” has become a buzzword for both social justice and redemption so that it has lost its connection with Israel and with the church as a local church.

McKnight defines the biblical concept of kingdom, offering a thorough corrective and vision for the contemporary church. The most important articulation of kingdom was that of Jesus, who contended that the kingdom was in some sense present and in some sense in the future. The apostles talked less about the kingdom and more about the church. McKnight explains that kingdom mission is local church mission and that the present-day fetish with influencing society, culture, and politics distracts us from the mission of God: to build the local church. He also shows how kingdom theology helps to reshape the contemporary missional conversation.


Scot McKnight (PhD, University of Nottingham), professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois, is a world-renowned scholar, writer, and speaker. His blog, Jesus Creed, is one of the most popular and influential evangelical blogs. He is the author or editor of fifty books, including The Jesus Creed,The Blue Parakeet, The King Jesus Gospel, and Sermon on the Mount.



Praise for Kingdom Conspiracy:

“Scot is relentless in his focusing our attention on Jesus’ Messiahship and what the identity of Jesus means for orienting us to the reality of the kingdom. His desire to ask the right questions of the biblical text is refreshing in that he is constantly bringing us back to Jesus as the central figure. . . . 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. . . . 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.”
Trevin WaxThe Gospel Coalition

“There is so much talk these days about ‘the kingdom of God,’ and yet there is so much confusion about what this phrase even means! For many, it simply represents whatever theological, political, and/or cultural ideals they deem best. The result is that a beautiful, powerful concept that should be uniting the church is now contributing to its fragmentation. This is why Kingdom Conspiracy is one of the most important and timeliest works to be written in recent years. Using airtight arguments solidly anchored in Scripture, McKnight brings much-needed clarity to what ‘kingdom of God’ means–and doesn’t mean–and how it relates to the church and its mission. He writes in a clear and informal style that is accessible to all. And that is a good thing, because this is a book that needs to be read by everyone–scholars and laypeople alike–who wants to understand and consistently live out what it means to be a follower of King Jesus.”
Gregory A. Boyd, senior pastor, Woodland Hills Church, St. Paul, Minnesota; author of Repenting of Religionand Benefit of the Doubt

“The misappropriation of faddish terms can be an unfortunate reality for American Christians. The casual manner in which we toss around phrases like ‘kingdom theology’ and ‘missional churches’ can have an adverse effect on our efforts to form a robust ecclesiology. Evoking ‘kingdom’ language has become the new vogue among missional communities–almost as in vogue as the word ‘missional’ itself. With prescient analysis and pastoral insight, Scot McKnight succeeds in providing a scriptural and theological text for those who have heard the word so often but failed to think through its meaning. McKnight offers a fresh take on the kingdom that will serve as a primer for followers of Jesus who seek first the kingdom of God in our own context.”
Soong-Chan Rah, Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism, North Park Theological Seminary; author of The Next Evangelicalism

“Unlocking what Jesus meant by ‘the kingdom of God’ is essential to our witness to the gospel. If Christians today are going to live in the world as the church, we need to understand the message of this book.”
Rich Stearns, president of World Vision U.S.; author of Unfinished and The Hole in Our Gospel

“As both a pastor and an activist, I can say that the punches Kingdom Conspiracy throws are as important as they are infuriating! At times it had me yelling ‘Amen!’ and at other times it just had me yelling. But if you keep wrestling, this book will inspire you to a greater vision of the church–greater than self-focused seclusion, greater than the coercion of a new clandestine Christendom, greater than personal social action. Scot is a kingdom pacifist picking fights with pastors and activists alike until we bleed with passion for what the local church is graced to be: where God’s will is done, where the kingdom has come, where the incarnation is continued, where God’s future is happening, now!”
Jarrod McKenna, Australian Peace Award-winning activist, pastor, and cofounder of First Home Project

“In Kingdom Conspiracy, McKnight critiques those of us who have reduced the kingdom to social action or personal salvation. He then issues an invitation to embrace a kingdom theology rooted in the church; it’s as simple as gathering and doing the things the church is called to do.”
Sara Barton, university chaplain, Pepperdine University; author of A Woman Called: Piecing Together the Ministry Puzzle

“Scot McKnight’s pastoral heart and concern for Jesus’ bride, the church, will bring tears to your eyes. The implications of Kingdom Conspiracy will move you to practice what it teaches! This is essential reading for the church in a post-Christian America. Do someone a huge favor; buy them this book, which needs to be read by every Christian.”
Derwin L. Gray, lead pastor, Transformation Church

The Weekly Hit List: October 10, 2014

Scot McKnight, author of Kingdom Conspiracy, was interviewed by Paul Pastor for PARSE: Ministry and Culture from Leadership Journal.

“Kingdom is misused because we all assume we know what it means. Like the word ‘gospel,’ which I examined in King Jesus Gospel, which constantly is used for ‘how to get saved’ or the ‘message that can be shaped into the plan of salvation.’ This is not how ‘gospel’ was used in the New Testament. So with the word ‘kingdom,’ which has become nearly synonymous with two different standard uses.

“For some ‘kingdom’ means acting in the public sector for the common good in order to create a world with better conditions, and for others it has come to mean little more than salvation, or what I often call ‘redemptive moments.’ If we care to shape our theology and our use of terms like “kingdom” on the basis of what the Bible says, then those two definitions are gross reductions of what the Bible says.

“Yes, of course, kingdom includes ethics (though they are not to be secularized as progressives sometimes do) and it brings redemption (as many Christians are prone to say), but those are only two aspects of a much fuller story about kingdom in the Bible. Until we get each of the elements into play we are not looking at what the Bible is saying.”

Read the entire interview here.


Other Kingdom Conspiracy Media:

Publishers Weekly included Kingdom Conspiracy as one of their October 2014 Religion Books of Note: “Over the past decade, McKnight has emerged as America’s theologian . . . . This is must reading for church leaders today.”

Hearts & Minds Books reviewed Kingdom Conspiracy.

Alvin Rapien reviewed Kingdom Conspiracy.

Claude Mariottini recommended Kingdom Conspiracy.

Chris Woznicki quoted Kingdom Conspiracy.


Quick Hits:

Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins by Dennis Okholm was reviewed by Dr. Conrade Yap.

A Beautiful Disaster by Marlena Graves was reviewed by Aleah Marsden.

Letters to a Young Calvinist by James K. A. Smith was reviewed on

Nonviolent Action by Ronald Sider (February 2015) was mentioned by Preston Sprinkle.

Presence and Encounter by David G. Benner was quoted on Stilling Learning.


Ebook Specials:

Living into Focus: Choosing What Matters Most in an Age of Distraction by Arthur Boers is only $2.99 (85% off) from participating retailers through October 15.