The Weekly Hit List: December 19, 2014

Nonviolent Action (February 2015) by Ronald J. Sider received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

“In this persuasive book, Sider (Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger) argues that nonviolence is the best way to defeat the sword. Using case studies primarily from modern history, he asserts that nonviolence is not only more ethical and successful than warfare, but more practical: the nonviolent action that liberated India from Britain cost only 8,000 lives, whereas the violent revolution that freed Algeria cost a million.

“Even bloodthirsty regimes like Nazi Germany couldn’t suppress nonviolent protest: in Bulgaria, civil disobedience saved 50,000 Jews. More recently, nonviolent action has toppled oppressive governments in East Germany, Liberia, the Philippines, and Tunisia.

Sider recognizes that civil disobedience often functions as only one factor among many in ending oppression—but often the one that tips the balance. Nonviolent action will cost lives, Sider says, but it cannot be taken seriously until people are willing to die for its cause. Proponents of just war and pacifists need to recognize they are often on the same side and work together to make war a true last resort. History shows they can. (Feb.)”

 

Can We Still Believe the Bible? by Craig L. Blomberg won Christianity Today‘s 2015 Book Awards Award of Merit in the Apologetics/Evangelism category.

“Although the title might lead one to think this is a beginner’s book, it is not. But neither is it a book only for seminary professors. It is for those who are ready to move on from the shelves full of introductory ‘case for’ books and want to see if the Bible (mainly the New Testament) can stand up to scrutiny from critical scholars. Blomberg answers the toughest challenges in an evenhanded and gracious manner.” —Craig Hazen, professor of apologetics, Biola University

 

Kingdom Conspiracy Media:

PARSE listed their interview with Scot McKnight as one of their “Top 14 of ’14.”

Dr. Conrade Yap reviewed Kingdom Conspiracy.

The Christian Humanist reviewed Kingdom Conspiracy.

Timothy Hawk reviewed Kingdom Conspiracy.

Kingdom Conspiracy was chosen as one of Joshua Reich’s “Favorite Books of 2014″ and one of Mechanic Hedge Preacher’s “7 Best Reads of 2014.”

 

Quick Hits:

Craig Detweiler, author of iGods, appeared on Mornings with Katrina Roe on Hope 103.2.

Wesley Hill, author of Spiritual Friendship (April 2015), was mentioned in The Washington Post.

Generous Spaciousness by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter was discussed on Anabaptist Redux and chosen as one of Grace for Sinners’ “Staff Picks for Favorite Books of 2014.”

A Beautiful Disaster by Marlena Graves was excerpted on Gifted for Leadership.

 

Ebook Specials:

Holy Teaching: Introducing the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas by Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt is only $2.99 (90% off) from participating retailers through December 22.

Every volume in the Ancient-Future Bible Study: Experience Scripture through Lectio Divina series by Stephen J. Binz is only $0.99 (92% off) from participating retailers through December 31.

The Truth Shall Make You Odd: Speaking with Pastoral Integrity in Awkward Situations by Frank G. Honeycutt is only $1.99 (90% off) from participating retailers through December 31.

Lectionary Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

This excerpt comes from Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey, commenting on Luke 1:26-38

As the curtain rises on this second scene, Mary is described simply as “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David” (1:27). That is all.

There is no description of her domicile; it is simply inferred from the verb (eiselthon, “entering,” typically used with reference to “coming into” a house) that she is at home privately, precisely as one would expect a young woman of that time to be, in seclusion from the gaze of men. In such a culture, the virginity of a young woman was both her own and her family’s central concern, a matter of honor.

We, who live in a time of sexual laxity more resembling Roman than a normatively halakic Jewish culture, may too easily underestimate the degree to which sexual purity was then integral to both personal and family honor.

It is exceedingly unlikely that a man other than her father or younger siblings would have access to a young woman in her familial home. Thus, we should not be at all surprised that Mary was taken aback by the appearance of the angel Gabriel. Here we need to bear in mind that there is no reason for us to imagine that Mary was confronted with one of the angels as imagined by the painters, whose wings are visual attributes designed to distinguish them symbolically from humans: Dan. 9:21, for example, refers to “the man Gabriel.” That he was not, however, human but a divine emissary must have been suggested by his bearing or radiance.

That Mary is a virgin, moreover, is emphasized by repetition of the term parthenon. This firm identification heightens the sense of the extraordinary in the event of Gabriel’s direct address to Mary (Hebrew Miriam), since, as we have seen, it was so unusual in Jewish culture for any man, let alone a strange man, to salute a woman, especially an unmarried woman, directly (Lightfoot 1979: 3.25).

But what he says is still more extraordinary: “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:28). The term kecharitōmenē (“highly favored one”) is highly unusual, precedented in the Septuagint only in Dan. 10, where Gabriel is likewise the speaker, and it establishes here a connection between Mary as singular “chosen one” and her most saintly Old Testament predecessor in relationship to the eschatological fulfillment of God’s purpose to redeem his people.

Mary is perhaps to all outward appearances quite ordinary, but in the divine perspective she is to be revealed as extraordinary on a level yet unimagined in her culture. (Gabriel’s form of address to her, his calling her kecharitōmenē , suggests in historic Catholic exegesis her having found favor before the angel declares it; the parallel with Daniel supports that implication.)

The subversion of normative cultural expectation is heightened in several ways, some highlighted by the pairing of this narrative with that of the announcement to Zacharias of John’s birth: special births in scripture had always been announced to the father to be; this time it is the woman who hears first. Gabriel says to Mary, “The Lord is with you,” not merely in greeting but in the context a strong affirmation of her chosenness. The following phrase, “blessed are you among women” (Luke 1:28), is missing from some manuscripts but anticipates the response of Elizabeth in 1:42.

All of this together makes the angel’s greeting a stunning indication of Mary’s importance to what follows.

 

©2012 by David Lyle Jeffrey. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Ebook Special for Holy Teaching by Frederick Bauerschmidt

Now through December 22, the ebook of Holy Teaching: Introducing the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas by Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt is only $2.99 (90% off) from the following participating retailers:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

CBD

 

“Here is a book that, by rights, should transform the way that Aquinas is taught among undergraduates and seminarians. [Bauerschmidt] has introduced the Summa Theologiae, thoughtfully produced extracts of it, and then expanded on it with rich explanations and examples in footnotes. . . . Bauerschmidt is to be applauded for succeeding remarkably well in maintaining the mystery of this holy teaching.”
Scottish Journal of Theology

Dante once wrote that Aristotle was “a master of those who know.” This description applies equally to the great theologian St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), who was declared a doctor of the church in 1567. Along with St. Paul and St. Augustine, Aquinas stands as one of the towering figures in the history of Christian theology.

In the Summa Theologiae, Aquinas attempts to set forth the whole of Christian theology in summary form. It was written, he says, for “the instruction of beginners,” but few Christians today have the time or inclination to reach for the five thick volumes that comprise the standard English-language edition.

Frederick Bauerschmidt wants to change that. In Holy Teaching, he presents some choice selections from the Summa Theologiae, along with commentary that unpacks the selections and places them in context.

With Bauerschmidt as a reliable guide, readers can follow Aquinas as he travels the length and breadth of Christian doctrine. Aquinas begins the Summa by proving the need for theology and then moves quickly to examine the attributes of God, vexing questions about living the Christian life, a study of the two natures of Christ, and the nature and purpose of the sacraments.

Holy Teaching is an ideal introduction to the work of Aquinas that will give students, pastors, and interested laypeople a greater appreciation for our common Christian inheritance.

Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt (Ph.D., Duke University) is associate professor of theology at Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland. He is the author of Why the Mystics Matter and Julian of Norwich and the Mystical Body Politic of Christ.

Between the Lines: A Conversation with David F. Ford – Part 2

We recently had the chance to talk with David F. Ford about his book The Drama of Living: Becoming Wise in the Spirit.

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.

Part 1 of this interview is available here.

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What is “Scriptural Reasoning,” and what is its potential impact on religion and society?

Scriptural Reasoning is a practice in which Jews, Christians, and Muslims (and now sometimes those from other traditions too) come together in study and conversation around their scriptures. It has been one of the best surprises of my life since I got involved in its beginnings about twenty years ago.

I had spent fifteen years living in multireligious Birmingham, Britain’s second city, but was never gripped by what I found there in interfaith relations, worthy though much of it was. It was only through Scriptural Reasoning that I realized what was missing: a practice that enables people from very different faiths to engage with each other long term in a way that lets them be fully people of faith in their own traditions. These scriptures are wonderfully rich and deep, have been interpreted for centuries, and now continue to be important around the world. You never come to the end of their meaning and implications. In The Drama of Living I tell the story of Scriptural Reasoning and some of the exciting developments that have been happening around the world in Europe, America, China, and elsewhere. I describe it as a wisdom-seeking practice that at its best (especially when done year after year) leads to a multiple deepening. It can draw us deeper into our own faith, deeper into understanding the faiths of others, deeper into commitment together to the common good of our world, deeper into community—and often friendship—with those of other faiths, and deeper into the disagreements as well as the agreements between us.

That last point is important: it is not likely that, for example, Jews or Muslims will be able to agree with the message of the Gospel of John on Jesus as the full self-expression and self-giving of God, but it is good to be able to explore what is meant by that and other disputed teachings. We speak in Scriptural Reasoning of “improving the quality of our disagreements”—which, when you think about it, is desirable in many other relationships too, including engagements with fellow Christians and with our spouses, children, friends, enemies, and colleagues.

As regards the potential impact of Scriptural Reasoning on religion and society, I think it is immense. Professor Peter Ochs, the Jewish professor of philosophy at the University of Virginia who has been central to Scriptural Reasoning since it began, speaks of “hearth-to-hearth” engagement. Scriptures are at the center of each of our communities, they are places of warmth (and dangerous fire!) where we gather to understand what is most important to us. In Scriptural Reasoning something of this warmth can be shared across traditions, while yet respecting the differences. Peter has been working to find ways of applying this in situations of tension and conflict, as have the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme and the new center of reconciliation near Carlyle in the North of England, Rose Castle. The director of Rose Castle, Sarah Snyder, has been at the forefront of introducing Scriptural Reasoning to the USA, the Middle East, and local communities around the UK. I have had fascinating times doing it not only in the UK but also in China, the USA, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, Jordan, Israel, and Oman, and have just received an invitation to do it in the leading Muslim University of Al Azhar in Egypt.

The most recent major initiative that partly owes its inspiration to Scriptural Reasoning is the Global Covenant of Religions, which seeks to bring together the religions at the international, regional, and local levels in order to resist religion-related violence and encourage peacemaking, better quality education, and respect for religious minorities. It is only a beginning, but watch this space!

 

What is the importance of “face-to-face” engagement, and how does it change how we interact with others? What does it mean for how we interpret texts?

The Drama of Living holds that the primary perspective on human life is the face-to-face. It is important to have broad frameworks, big concepts, and attempted overviews, and also to pay attention to each person’s interior life, but in the drama of living the central dynamics are face-to-face. This is, I think, common sense—you just have to note how the most popular television programs and films make this central. Likewise most of the Bible is stories about people engaging face-to-face. Even in apparently big impersonal organizations, corporations, and governments you usually find face-to-face relationships are vital at every level from the board or cabinet at the top to the local teams and offices. And of course it is the primary perspective of love.

I think there are two main implications for interpreting texts.

First, it is important to realize that most of them had their origins in face-to-face dramas of living, with conflicts, debates, special interests, and complex issues. Their context matters, even when we do not know much about it. So there can be no simple application today of, for instance, the Gospel of John, and John is very good at recognizing this—it is why he uses that important little word “as” so much, as discussed already. For example, when the risen Jesus says to the disciples as he breathes the Holy Spirit into them, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (20:21), that encourages not only reflection on the drama of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in order to understand his mission from the Father, but also reflection on the ongoing drama in the past and today in order to improvise appropriately in the ongoing drama of the twenty-first century.

Second, the priority of the face-to-face applies to our process of interpretation. Central to our efforts to go deeper into the meaning of the Gospel should be intensive conversation with others about the text. One of the formative things for me in reading John was six months during which two New Testament scholars, Richard Hays and Richard Bauckham, met with me for twenty-one three-hour sessions, one on each chapter of John. I am also deeply grateful to other groups, in many academic settings, in various churches, and in Scriptural Reasoning, for fruitful explorations of this inexhaustibly rich text.

One conclusion that is constantly reinforced through such conversation and argument is that the text is endlessly generative of fresh meaning. A key text in John is the promise that the Holy Spirit “will guide you into all the truth” (16:13), and I think that happens most reliably through the discipline of conversation with others and through attending to the wisdom gathered over many centuries in communities of worship, study, and practice. We need to remember that, through writings and traditions, we are always in the presence of the unseen faces of those in previous generations who have been part of this conversation.

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Next week Dr. Ford will discuss L’Arche communities, as well as why rereading is so fundamental for learning.

For more information on Dr. Ford’s new book, The Drama of Living, click here.

The Weekly Hit List: December 12, 2014

Presence and Encounter by Dr. David G. Benner was reviewed by Englewood Review of Books.

“For being a relatively short book, it is contains a deeply powerful message. Although at times what Benner writes is complicated because of some philosophical language, it is challenging nonetheless.

“Most are seeking life change, and most seek it by adding more to their lives. We are told that that if we only had this thing or went to this seminar, then we could be changed. The truth is, true transformation starts with being present and will lead us to encounter with the divine. . . .

“Presence is such a powerful idea, but most of us miss it everyday. David Benner’s book presents us with a message that we all need to hear.”

Read the entire review here.

 

Quick Hits:

Scot McKnight, author of Kingdom Conspiracy, was quoted extensively in “The Painful Lessons of Mars Hill” in Leadership Journal.

Generous Spaciousness by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter was reviewed in Christian Courier and on Disembodied Beard.

Wendy VanderWal-Gritter spoke at Trinity Western University.

The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith was reviewed on One Theology.

 

Ebook Specials:

Creating a Spiritual Legacy: How to Share Your Stories, Values, and Wisdom by Daniel Taylor is only $1.99 (88% off) from participating retailers through December 13.

A Cross-Shattered Church: Reclaiming the Theological Heart of Preaching by Stanley Hauerwas is only $2.99 (85% off) from participating retailers through December 15.

Every volume in the Ancient-Future Bible Study: Experience Scripture through Lectio Divina series by Stephen J. Binz is only $0.99 (92% off) from participating retailers through December 31.

The Truth Shall Make You Odd: Speaking with Pastoral Integrity in Awkward Situations by Frank G. Honeycutt is only $1.99 (90% off) from participating retailers through December 31.

Ebook Special for Creating a Spiritual Legacy by Daniel Taylor

Now through December 13, the ebook of Creating a Spiritual Legacy: How to Share Your Stories, Values, and Wisdom by Daniel Taylor is only $1.99 (88% off) from the following participating retailers:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

CBD

 

We establish wills to pass on our possessions and property to family members and friends, but what about the things that really matter: our values, beliefs, wisdom, and stories? Those are the things of lasting significance, the things that make up a spiritual legacy. Daniel Taylor, a heralded teacher, bestselling author of Letters to My Children (over 50,000 sold), and a proven master of preserving spiritual legacies, shows how anyone–not just professional authors or those who consider themselves creative–can preserve and pass on their vision of life.

No matter what age or stage of life you’re in, creating a spiritual legacy both enriches your own life and blesses the lives of those you love. Chock full of practical guidance, exercises, and examples, this hands-on book helps ordinary people identify wisdom and core values and articulate them in an enduring story form. Taylor promotes the importance of spiritual legacies and shows how to express them not only in writing but also using audio-visual formats and crafts.

Daniel Taylor (PhD, Emory University) is the author of ten books, including The Myth of Certainty, Letters to My Children, Tell Me a Story: The Life-Shaping Power of Our Stories, and In Search of Sacred Places. He has worked as a stylist on various Bible translations and is cofounder of The Legacy Center. He is also a contributing editor for Books & Culture.

 

Lectionary Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent

This excerpt comes from Psalms for All Seasons, commenting on Psalm 126:

Psalm 126, the seventh of the Psalms of Ascents, remembers the restoration of Zion and expresses hope in God’s continued restoration (see also Ps. 86).

Its imagery of transformation (weeping to rejoicing, sowing to reaping) makes this psalm rich with evocative possibilities, especially when linked with other scriptural texts that depict conversion, deliverance, or resurrection using the images of weeping and rejoicing (e.g., Ps. 30 or the raising of Lazarus) and sowing and reaping (Luke 8:1-9, 1 Cor. 15:36-42, 2 Cor. 9:6-10, James 3:18).

 

Prayer for reflection:
We are overwhelmed, O Lord, by your love and saving goodness.
In Christ Jesus you restore both our lives and our world.
Like reapers at an unexpected harvest,
we shout your praise and sing your goodness. Amen.

 

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

Ebook Special for A Cross-Shattered Church by Stanley Hauerwas

Now through December 15, the ebook of A Cross-Shattered Church: Reclaiming the Theological Heart of Preaching by Stanley Hauerwas is only $2.99 (85% off) from the following participating retailers:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

CBD

 

“This exciting book of profound and often challenging sermons by Hauerwas is to be warmly welcomed, as it will enrich the life of the Church and its proclamation of the Gospel–to say nothing of revitalizing relevant Christian theology.”
Expository Times

“‘Preaching Repentance in a Time of War’–not actually a sermon but an appendix to the book–should be required reading for all American Christians. Hauerwas’s sermons, like Karl Barth’s in Deliverance to the Captives, provide an accessible path into his theology.”
Christian Century

With passion and insight, eminent theologian Stanley Hauerwas shows how the sermon is the best context for doing good theology in A Cross-Shattered Church. He writes, “I am convinced that the recovery of the sermon as the context for theological reflection is crucial if Christians are to negotiate the world in which we find ourselves.” The book includes seventeen sermons preached by Hauerwas, which he considers his best theological work. They are divided into four sections: Seeing, Saying, Living, and Events. Sermon titles cover a broad range of topics, including (among others): Believing Is Seeing, The Glory of the Trinity, The End of Sacrifice, Was It Fitting for Jesus to Die on a Cross?, Only Fear Can Drive Out Fear, The Appeal of Judas, Slavery as Salvation, To Be Made Human, and Water Is Thicker than Blood. Professors and students of theology, pastors, and those interested in what Hauerwas has to say about theology and preaching will value this work.

Stanley Hauerwas (PhD, Yale University) is chair in theological ethics at the School of Divinity, History, and Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen. He previously taught at Duke University. He is the author of numerous books, including Cross-Shattered Christ, A Cross-Shattered Church, War and the American Difference, and Matthew in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible.

Between the Lines: A Conversation with David F. Ford – Part 1

We recently had the chance to talk with David F. Ford about his book The Drama of Living: Becoming Wise in the Spirit.

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.

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In this book, your sequel to The Shape of Living, why did you choose to concentrate on the Gospel of John and on the poetry of Micheal O’Siadhail?

The Shape of Living combined my experience of life with the earlier poetry of Micheal O’Siadhail and a variety of biblical themes. Since then, O’Siadhail has written several very fine volumes, including Love Life on thirty years of marriage and Globe on the contemporary world, and his publishers have also just brought out all he has written in his Collected Poems (Bloodaxe Books). I myself am now deep into a ten-year project writing a commentary on the Gospel of John and will be delivering the 2015 Bampton Lectures for Oxford University on the theme “Daring Spirit: The Gospel of John Today.” In addition, a good many things have happened in my own life since writing The Shape of Living fifteen years ago, including time in Rwanda, a great deal of interfaith engagement (especially with Jews and Muslims), and the extraordinary last six months in the life of my father-in-law, Dan Hardy.

The Drama of Living feels like a more intense fusion of those three elements than before. Perhaps it is the effect of being older, but the interplay between the poetry, the Gospel, and life today seems freer—there is more of the drama of my own life in this book, and I felt free to explore the big questions of meaning, truth, life and death in ways I had not before. I tend to think best while writing, and it was an exciting process, with all sorts of fresh insights and discoveries.

Why O’Siadhail’s poetry? I find him the best poet writing in English today (and it is good to see so many more people discovering him through his Collected Poems). He gets heart, head, and imagination together; his poetry is wonderfully musical, and he’s not afraid to use classic forms as well as inventing his own; and he is accessible. Above all, he takes on the great themes of life, love, meaning, and death. I see poetry at its best as the supreme form of meaning through language, and I find myself returning to O’Siadhail’s poems again and again.

Why John’s Gospel? I love all four of the Gospels, and at different times in my life have concentrated on each of them, but John’s is distinctive, mysterious, and both the deepest and the most dramatic. This Gospel is the result of many years of following Jesus and entering more and more into the depths of who he is and what it means to live “in the Spirit.” I also have come to see it as particularly well suited to the twenty-first century, and The Drama of Living tries to work out what that means. One of the things that fascinates me most about John is the sheer superabundance of meaning. There always seems to be more on every rereading, and he symbolizes that by images of abundance and overflow—large quantities of water turned into wine, water gushing up, wind blowing unpredictably, baskets of food left over after Jesus feeds the crowd, and so on—all summed up in the Spirit being given “without measure.”

 

What can the Gospel of John teach us about love? How is love central to the Gospel?

The first mention of the word love in John is God’s love for the world in chapter 3, but I see the key truth about love coming at the climax of the prologue in 1:18, where Jesus the Son is pictured, in the NRSV translation, “close to the Father’s heart”—literally “into the bosom of the Father.” This for John is the deepest secret of reality, the dynamic of love at the heart of the universe, and the whole Gospel can be seen as an invitation to readers to trust that this is so and be part of the reality of this love. At the Last Supper the beloved disciple (who I think is left unnamed so that everyone can identify with him, just as the mother of Jesus is not named at his crucifixion; and the term “beloved” gives the core identity of any disciple) is seen reclining “on the breast of Jesus,” and we are reminded of this again at the very end of the Gospel. So there is, as it were, a chain of love pictured through this image of intimacy: the Son close to the Father’s heart, the beloved disciple close to Jesus’s heart, and all the rest of us invited to be there with him.

The climactic act of Jesus is to lay down his life for his friends—only in this Gospel is discipleship described as friendship. And it is clear that this love, the embodiment of God’s love for the world, is for all: Jesus says, “I when I am lifted up will draw all people.” The crucifixion is the revelation of the love at the heart of the universe and is also utterly realistic about all that opposes that love: the drama of loving and hating, light and darkness, continues. The crucifixion is also the place where we get the deepest insight into the community Jesus desires to form. Only in John does Jesus bring those two unnamed people, the beloved disciple and his mother (who might, as I suggested, be seen as representing all of us), into a new community that includes family but transcends it. He says to his mother: “Woman, here is your son,” and to the beloved disciple, “Here is your mother”; and John adds, “And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home” (19:26–27). We are asked to imagine that this hidden life in a family-like community of friendship is where, in the coming years, the testimony and reflection took place that went into shaping this extraordinary Gospel.

This is what I call in The Drama of Living the ordinary, daily, and largely hidden drama of loving that all of us are part of. I see John as deeply concerned for this. Compared to the other Gospels there is little specific ethical teaching by Jesus (no Sermon on the Mount, for example), but the “new commandment” is summed up by Jesus as “Love one another as I have loved you.” That “as” challenges his followers to pray, think, and imagine in the Spirit what is genuinely in line with how Jesus loved. We are invited to read and reread the dramatic stories of the encounters of Jesus throughout the Gospel of John, and the extended farewell discourses in chapters 13–17, and then improvise on them in our situations. The Gospel can be read as an introduction to who Jesus is—the one who loves like this—and an invitation to take part in the ongoing drama of loving in which he continues to be the main character. We are given a script on which we improvise in the Spirit every day, and the main aim of my book is to try to help people do this wisely.

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Next week Dr. Ford will explain “Scriptural Reasoning” (and its impact on religion and society) and the importance of “face-to-face” engagement (and what it means for how we interpret texts).

For more information on Dr. Ford’s new book, The Drama of Living, click here.

The Weekly Hit List: December 5, 2014

Scot McKnight, author of Kingdom Conspiracy, answered readers’ questions on Rachel Held Evans’ blog.

“Let’s agree that evangelicalism is almost uncontainable in a definition. But we can give a ballpark generic-package, lump-into-one-ball idea: evangelicalism affirms the necessity of personal faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior; it affirms the primacy of Scripture in forming beliefs and convictions; it affirms the centrality of Jesus’ life, death, burial, resurrection and rule.

“Yet evangelicalism transcends its core beliefs and has a history of its people and that means there’s some sociology or social description in this term so that it refers to America’s Calvinist and revivalist and holiness and Anabaptist impulses. Some are very evangelical and some are barely.”

Read the entire post here.

 

Other Kingdom Conspiracy Media:

Scot McKnight wrote “Kingdom: A Proposal,” “The Biggest Mistake in Kingdom Talk,” and “The Character of the King” on Jesus Creed.

Missio Alliance discussed and recommended Kingdom Conspiracy.

Joshua Reich recommended Kingdom Conspiracy.

 

 

J. Todd Billings, author of Rejoicing in Lament (February 2015), wrote “Deadly Healing Medicine” for Christianity Today‘s The Behemoth.

“Incurable cancer.

“I could hardly believe it when I heard the diagnosis. My wife and I had just celebrated our tenth anniversary, and our lives were spinning in joyful commotion with one- and three- year-olds at home. Initial testing brought back some worrying results. I had researched the possibilities, and I didn’t sound like a likely prospect for this cancer.

“The average diagnosis age is about 70; I had just turned 39. But here it was: an active cancer that had already been eroding the bones in my skull, arm, and hip.”

Read the entire article here.

 

Other Rejoicing in Lament Media:

Billings wrote “Undying Love” for the December 2014 issue of First Things.

Aimee Byrd recommended Rejoicing in Lament.

 

 

Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins by Dennis Okholm was reviewed by Englewood Review of Books.

“[Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins] earns its spot as a highly useful tool for understanding sin in our own lives, and in our culture.  In a tone that is gentle but frank, it’s full of useful observations and counsel, from both the ancients and the moderns.

“Okholm delves into the monks’ focus on concepts such as the importance of habits – habits for good and habits that degenerate into sin, or, seeing sin in the context of community and its counterproductive privatizing impact. There’s a strong pastoral and devotional impact to this volume, and while it’s aimed at Christians who assume that sin is essential to address, a great deal will be useful to all students of the soul.”

Read the entire review here.

Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins was also reviewed by Philip Zoutendam.

 

Quick Hits:

Craig Detweiler, author of iGods, was interviewed by WORLD magazine’s Warren Cole Smith for Listening In.

Generous Spaciousness by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter was reviewed by Evangelicals for Social Action.

Presence and Encounter by David G. Benner, PhD, was reviewed by Leader Kick.

The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith was reviewed on Wineskins.

Marlena Graves, author of A Beautiful Disaster, was interviewed on Inside Out.

A Beautiful Disaster was recommended by Suzanne BurdenDorothy Greco, and Mark Votava.

 

Ebook Specials:

Every volume in the Ancient-Future Bible Study: Experience Scripture through Lectio Divina series by Stephen J. Binz is only $0.99 (92% off) from participating retailers through December 31.

The Truth Shall Make You Odd: Speaking with Pastoral Integrity in Awkward Situations by Frank G. Honeycutt is only $1.99 (90% off) from participating retailers through December 31.