Archives for May 2016

The Weekly Hit List: May 20, 2016

Cover ArtBethany Hanke Hoang was interviewed about The Justice Calling on Equipped with Chris Brooks.

“As we look at the evil in the world, we may be tempted to toss up our hands in despair and ask ‘Is it even worth trying to make a difference for good?’ Guest host Susie Larson will talk with author and speaker Bethany Hoang. They will remind us of the One who is the source of justice and who calls us to join Him in His victorious work in the world!”

Andrew Wilson reviewed James K. A. Smith’s You Are What You Love.

You Are What You Love is a wonderful book: rich, readable, searching, provocative, theological, practical. For a book on how to live the Christian life well, it has remarkable depth; for a book on worship and character formation, it has remarkable bounce. I highly recommend it.”

Quick Hits:

At Godspace, Christine Sine reflected on Lisa Graham McMinn’s To The Table, and share the excerpt “Every Meal Holds the Hope of Life“.

J. Todd Billings, author of Rejoicing in Lament, reviewed When Breath Becomes Air for Christianity Today.

Spiritual Friendship, by Wesley Hill, was featured in the Christian Century’s Take & Read.

First Things will be hosting a book talk and reception with theologian and pastor Victor Lee Austin, author of Losing Susan.


Pre-Order a June Release for Free Brazos Bag & Notebook

We are excited to be bringing you three new Brazos Press books this June: Public Faith in Action by Miroslav Volf and Ryan McAnnally-Linz, Return to Justice by Soong-Chan Rah and Gary VanderPol, and Losing Susan by Victor Lee Austin. All three books will be in-store on June 21.


With your preorder any of these books, you can also receive a Baker Academic/Brazos Press book tote and Brazos Press notebook (USA only)!

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Lectionary Reflection for the First Day After Pentecost: Trinity Sunday

This excerpt comes from Psalms 1-50 (BTCB) by Ellen Charry, commenting on Psalm 8:1:

The two clauses of 8:2 sit uneasily together. The first is one of the most arresting phrases in scripture—“You established strength from the cries of babies and nursing infants”—after which the poet rushes to a shockingly different context—“for the sake of your enemies to make an end of the enemy and avenger.” How are they related? Early Christian and Jewish commentators labored over this verse, especially its insistence that God established his might (ʿōz) through the weakest and most dependent of creatures, human infants, who yet mature to become its most powerful.

Here I follow the path begun by Augustine and Calvin to interpret this challenging verse. A reasonable translation would read these clauses in reverse order: “For the sake of putting an end to enemy and avenger you established strength in the cries of the defenseless and suckling infants.” Without the parallelism, this translation offers an arresting “take” on the consequences of observing one scene for a particular set of onlookers. The cries of the weak and helpless are so poignant and compelling that they pierce the heart of those who might summarily take advantage of them. Their very existence proclaims the majesty of God, and that is what inhibits those who would harm them.

Enemies of the helpless are, after all, enemies of God. Not only the vastness of heaven and earth but also the weakness of God’s children testify to the majestic power of the Creator, and that testimony, through their cries, converts God’s enemies into precisely the Christians Augustine seeks. Calvin is correct; helpless infants can bring down the enemies of God, that is, transform them until they cease being vengeful against the weak. Psalm 8:2 is thus a piercing elaboration of 8:1, which claims that earth and sky tell the splendor of God.


©2015 by Ellen T. Charry. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Lectionary Reflection for the Day of Pentecost

Cover ArtThis excerpt comes from Acts (BTCB) by Jaroslav Pelikan, commenting on Acts 2:1:

Although, as the defenders of orthodoxy had to acknowledge, there were not early liturgical prayers addressed to the Holy Spirit (→5:3–4) as there were to the Son of God (7:59), so that they could not use such prayers as proof texts for the deity of the Spirit (→4:24–30)—the great exception being the Gloria Patri, with variants in the prepositions that became themselves the occasion of controversy—the definitive formulation of the dogma of the Holy Trinity by the First Council of Constantinople in 381 eventually gave rise to such prayers to the Holy Spirit. Before the formal opening of the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom the priest prays to the “Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, who art everywhere and fillest all things”; and in the Latin West, probably in the ninth century, there arose this prayer for the fullness that the Holy Spirit grants:

Veni, Creator Spiritus, Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,

mentes tuorum visita, Vouchsafe within our souls to rest.

imple superna gratia, Come with thy power and heavenly aid,

quae tu creasti, pectora. And fill the hearts which thou hast made.

It is sung not only at Pentecost, but for ordinations and for the opening of synods and church councils—and any church council that sings it at its opening must be prepared to deal with the possible consequences! It is also the text for the first movement of Gustav Mahler’s Eighth Symphony.

The sneer “they are filled with new wine” (2:13) and Peter’s dismissive and even humorous (→12:13–16) response to this canard, “These men are not drunk, as you suppose, it being only the third hour of the day” (2:15 TPR), do call to mind the contrast drawn by Paul between the right and the wrong way of being filled: “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart” (Eph. 5:18–19). It is right to want to be “filled” with something, and the drunkard quite properly recognizes that human nature stands in need of some power that will take it out of itself (as alcohol and drugs do). But this need also includes the requirement that such fullness will in the process not corrupt and destroy it (as alcohol also does), but fulfill it by loosening the tongue and making it sing—but “to the Lord.” As Cyril of Jerusalem paraphrased Peter’s words here, “They are drunken, with a sober drunkenness, deadly to sin and life-giving to the heart, a drunkenness contrary to that of the body; for this last causes forgetfulness even of what was known, but that bestows the knowledge even of what was not known.” This paradox was to become a theme especially in the literature of Christian mysticism in both East and West.


©2005 by Jaroslav Pelikan. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

The Weekly Hit List: May 6, 2016

Cover ArtAt Comment Magazine, Christen Borgman Yates reviewed The Justice Calling, by Bethany Hanke Hoang and Kristen Deede Johnson.

“Hoang and Johnson have given us a gift in The Justice Calling. In a world with so many distracting voices, they’ve helped clarify the biblical account of God’s desire for this world to be set to rights, and have invited us to practice renewal in a thousand small, daily ways.”

Jonathan Storment, at Jesus Creed, finished his series on James K. A. Smith’s You Are What You Love.

Quick Hits:

At Relevant Magazine, J. Todd Billings, author of Rejoicing in Lament, discussed how lament could help us fight racism.

Matthew Skinner’s article Exposing a Government’s Abuse of Power was featured at Sojourners, and drew from his book Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel.


Lectionary Reflection for the Seventh Sunday of Easter

This excerpt comes from Revelation (BTCB) by Joseph L. Mangina, commenting on Revelation 22:17:

The cry of “come!” is threefold. The first utterance is that of the bride, anticipatorily embodied in the worshiping assembly, crying out in expectation of the bridegroom’s coming. The terrors and beauties disclosed in John’s visions serve only to heighten longing for the arrival of that day. The second utterance is that of the individual worshiper, who is invited to speak with the bride, and indeed as the bride. No one who has heard the Apocalypse and is willing to “keep the words of the prophecy” should be excluded from the feast. To invert Bonhoeffer’s famous saying, we could say that while grace is not cheap it is free—as free as the waters of life, which flow from the throne of God and the Lamb to anyone who is thirsty. This third member in the triad does not bid the listener to say “come!” but simply to come, to slake one’s thirst at the waters that cannot be bought. Revelation is a book that draws many sorts of boundaries: between the church and the world, between the holy and the unholy, between the life appropriate to God’s people and the life of Babylon. The urgent call to holiness of life is reiterated in these closing verses (22:11, 14–15). Yet like the gates of the city, the doors of the church are or should be fundamentally open. All are invited not to “come as they are,” but to come as the bride. John would have been bemused at the notion that seriousness about witness and seriousness about Christian holiness are somehow in competition. In fact, they demand each other.

©2010 by Joseph L. Mangina. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.