This Just In: Divine Sex by Jonathan Grant

Cover ArtThe digital revolution has ushered in a series of sexual revolutions, all contributing to a perfect storm for modern relationships. Online dating, social media, internet pornography, and the phenomenon of the smartphone generation have created an avalanche of change with far-reaching consequences for sexuality today. The church has struggled to address this new moral ecology because it has focused on clarity of belief rather than quality of formation. The real challenge for spiritual formation lies in addressing the underlying moral intuitions we carry subconsciously, which are shaped by the convictions of our age.

In this book, a fresh new voice offers a persuasive Christian vision of sex and relationships, calling young adults to faithful discipleship in a hypersexualized world. Drawing from his pastoral experience with young people and from cutting-edge research across multiple disciplines, Jonathan Grant helps Christian leaders understand the cultural forces that make the church’s teaching on sex and relationships ineffective in the lives of today’s young adults. He also sets forth pastoral strategies for addressing the underlying fault lines in modern sexuality.

 

Jonathan GrantJonathan Grant (ThM, Regent College, Vancouver) is the leader of St. Paul’s Symonds Street, one of the largest Anglican congregations in Australasia, located in the heart of Auckland, New Zealand. After beginning his career in law and investment banking, Grant pursued ordination training in the Church of England, serving in pastoral ministry at St. Mary’s Bryanston Square, London.

 

Praise for Divine Sex:

“There are few issues in life that confront each of us multiple times a day like human sexuality….Every man and woman wrestles with the lies of sensualized culture while holding at bay the effects of pervasive isolation and intense loneliness. In Divine Sex Jonathan Grant guides us through this journey with wit, grace, and honesty while being both wholly theological and profoundly real.” – Chap Clark, Fuller Theological Seminary

“This is an exceptionally important and timely book….Grant addresses the issues directly yet sympathetically, countering contemporary folly with solid data, biblical wisdom, and grace.” – Craig M. Gay, Regent College

“With well-researched pastoral truth and grace, Grant moves us beyond denial and dissonance, deception, or despair. He compassionately exposes the powerful influences that orient us away from the heart of the Christian story by disordering our desires, explores the Christian reality of our shared life as sexual human beings in communion, and encourages us toward practices that embody the wholeness of cruciform life together–and he does so with candor, wisdom, and hope.” – Cherith Nordling, Northern Seminary

“In the intensely sexualized culture of the secularized West, Grant’s thoughtful treatment is a valuable contribution to our understanding not just of our cultural conditioning but of God’s design and the true sexual liberation we can experience as followers of Jesus.” – Sam Metcalf, president, CRM-US

“This is a book that needed to be written….Absorbing Grant’s insight, analysis, and constructive argument should not only deepen how we are talking about sex and discipleship; it should also give us new intentionality about the church as a formative community, enabling us to live into a different script that is good news–that our sexual lives are hidden with Christ in God.” – James K. A. Smith (from the foreword)

 

This Just In: 2 Samuel (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible) by Robert Barron

Print2 Samuel (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible)
by Robert Barron

 

The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible encourages readers to explore how the vital roots of the ancient Christian tradition should inform and shape faithfulness today.

In this addition to the series, highly acclaimed author, speaker, and theologian Robert Barron offers a theological exegesis of 2 Samuel. He highlights three major themes: God’s non-competitive transcendence, the play between divine and non-divine causality, and the role of Old Testament kingship.

As with other volumes in the series, this book is ideal for those called to ministry, serving as a rich resource for preachers, teachers, students, and study groups.

 

Robert Barron (STD, Institut Catholique de Paris) is rector of Mundelein Seminary and president of the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois.

He founded Word on Fire, a Catholic ministry of evangelism, and has written numerous books, including Catholicism(over 100,000 copies sold), The Priority of Christ, The Strangest Way: Walking the Christian Path (winner of a Catholic Press Association Book Award), and Heaven in Stone and Glass.

 

Praise for 2 Samuel:

“Robert Barron is a great teacher of the Church and a gifted biblical commentator who breaks open the Word of God for our day as Ambrose and Augustine did for theirs.”
George Weigel, distinguished senior fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

“In this book, Barron brings his theological erudition to the task of interpreting sacred scripture. The result will be a delight for all his readers. Not only will they relish the many profundities of the text, but they will be able to join the author in wrestling with its various conundrums. Even the challenging parts of David’s life are handled in fresh, creative, and—most important—productive ways.”
Gary Anderson, Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Theology, University of Notre Dame

“Robert Barron has written a beautiful commentary on 2 Samuel, and it will be a tribute to the series. He has a keen sense of the subtlety of the narrative and the imagination to draw theological and spiritual meaning from particulars. Yet he is neither doctrinaire nor heavy-handed; his interpretations always grow out of the story and do not become theological disquisitions. Barron writes well, and this commentary is a pleasure to read. Even serious readers of the Bible will delight in the surprising things he discerns in the narrative.”
Robert Louis Wilken, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of the History of Christianity Emeritus, University of Virginia

“In this impressive example of theological exegesis, Robert Barron shows that he is both an outstanding theologian and a masterful interpreter of scripture. The unforgettable narrative of the rise and fall of King David springs to life in Barron’s hands. Along the way, he demonstrates that the book of 2 Samuel is not just a literary masterpiece but an essential bridge between the Old and New Testaments.”
Brant Pitre, Notre Dame Seminary; author of Jesus the Bridegroom

“Robert Barron is one of the clearest and most compelling Christian communicators I know. He is a scholar, yet he relates easily to all the faithful. As a preacher he reaches both mind and heart. Now, in this major biblical commentary, he has given us a book that measures up to the standard already established by this excellent series. The story of 2 Samuel ‘lives and breathes’ in Barron’s words.”
John H. Armstrong, president, ACT3 Network, Carol Stream, Illinois

 

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

This Just In: Spiritual Friendship by Wesley Hill

Friendship is a relationship like no other. Unlike the relationships we are born into, we choose our friends. It is also tenuous—we can end a friendship at any time. But should friendship be so free and unconstrained? Although our culture tends to pay more attention to romantic love, marriage, family, and other forms of community, friendship is a genuine love in its own right. This eloquent book reminds us that Scripture and tradition have a high view of friendship. Single Christians, particularly those who are gay and celibate, may find it is a form of love to which they are especially called.

Writing with deep empathy and with fidelity to historic Christian teaching, Wesley Hill retrieves a rich understanding of friendship as a spiritual vocation and explains how the church can foster friendship as a basic component of Christian discipleship. He helps us reimagine friendship as a robust form of love that is worthy of honor and attention in communities of faith. This book sets forth a positive calling for celibate gay Christians and suggests practical ways for all Christians to cultivate stronger friendships.

 

Wesley Hill (PhD, University of Durham) is assistant professor of biblical studies at Trinity School for Ministry. He is the author of Paul and the Trinity: Persons, Relations, and the Pauline Letters and the much-discussed Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality.

Hill is on the editorial board of and is a columnist for Christianity Today. He also contributes to Books & Culture and First Things.

 

Praise for Spiritual Friendship:

“Wesley Hill’s courageous, thought provoking book seeks to recover ‘friendship as a genuine love in its own right.’ At one level, it is a historically rooted and theologically nuanced essay that opens up fresh perspectives on a topic that is crucial but too rarely pondered. But at another level, Spiritual Friendship belongs to the classic genre of Christian confessional autobiography, a genre that can be traced back to St. Augustine; it is both searing in its honesty and moving in its chastened hope for grace. This is a book that challenges all of us—whatever our sexual experience or longings may be—to think more truthfully about the meaning of love and the complex ways in which our communities either stifle or nurture it.”
Richard B. Hays, dean and George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament, Duke Divinity School

“This is a remarkable book. Drawing on a deep reservoir of biblical wisdom and theological imagination, Wesley Hill explores the possibilities for a truly Christian picture of friendship. And because this exploration requires him to think also about how his friendship both contributes to and differs from the fellowship that all Christians share, he makes here a significant contribution to the general theology of the church as well. Here is a book everyone interested in Christianity, and everyone interested in friendship, can profit from reading.”
Alan Jacobs, Honors College, Baylor University

“Medieval monks expressed their love for one another with what to us is cringe-inducing intimacy, and not so long ago Christians still entered formal bonds of friendship by taking vows that sound like marriage vows. We don’t do that anymore, with our commitment to uncommitted freedom, our turnover habits, our sexualization of everything and everyone, and our resignation to loneliness. Wesley Hill’s very personal book is an elegant, theologically rich plea on behalf of the love of friendship that uncovers fresh ways to improvise on a lost Christian tradition of committed spiritual friendship.”
Peter Leithart, president, Theopolis Institute, Birmingham, Alabama

Spiritual Friendship weaves together Scripture, Christian history, art, and personal experience. This is a portrait, not a treatise. It depicts friendship’s flaws and failures but also shows how friendship can bear spiritual fruit and help us build up the kingdom of God. Wesley Hill challenges us all to strengthen our own friendships and those around us and offers guidance in these tasks from his own experience and from the Christian past. Honest and poignant, Spiritual Friendship is like a conversation with a good friend who has learned much from books but more from loving and being loved by others.”
Eve Tushnet, author of Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith

“Love is the most complicated thing in the world–and even more so for gay and lesbian Christians who have experienced a vocation to celibacy. With disarming frankness, Wesley Hill charts the loss of friendship from our world and mounts a compelling case for its recovery as a communally celebrated form of Christian love. Hill’s is a voice that needs to be heard. His book is a powerful challenge to the contemporary church as well as a profound meditation on the difficult, wonderful, risky business of loving and being loved.”
Benjamin Myers, Charles Sturt University, Sydney, Australia

“Wesley Hill not only wants to think about what friendship might mean for a celibate gay Christian but indeed wants to recover a richer, more substantive, and especially more promising understanding of friendship for everyone. In a highly engaging and very accessible manner, Hill uses examples from art, literature, film, and especially his own life to explore what in our culture today most endangers friendship, how Christianity redefines our understanding of friendship, and how our churches can be the best settings for nurturing the faithful, challenging, and blessed relationships Hill presents to us. Spiritual Friendship is a timely gift the reader will quickly take to heart.”
Paul J. Wadell, professor of theology and religious studies, St. Norbert College; author of Becoming Friends: Worship, Justice, and the Practice of Christian Friendship

“This book is a rare find! Hill eloquently speaks into one of the great spiritual crises of our day: the meaning of love and specifically of friendship in Christ. This courageous personal and theological account of friendship will both challenge and illuminate those seeking to renew the church’s witness today. Hill gives us a glimpse of what we’ve forgotten–a rich Christian vision of friendship. Whether readers agree or disagree with Hill’s theological vision, there is no doubt that this book will be a conversation changer!”
J. Todd Billings, Gordon H. Girod Research Professor of Reformed Theology, Western Theological Seminary, Holland, Michigan

“Wesley Hill captured my imagination by presenting a vision of friendship—spiritual friendship—that has been our Christian heritage. Each of us who make up the body of Christ will be enriched and our corporate witness to a broader culture enhanced if we can find a way to live into this vision.”
Mark A. Yarhouse, Rosemarie S. Hughes Endowed Chair and professor of psychology, Regent University

“Too gay for some and too chaste for others, for many Wesley Hill is not supposed to exist. But exist he does, even to flourishing. Challenging settled convictions on all sides of the sexuality debate, he testifies here—alongside countless celibate Christians before him—to the richness of intimate friendships that dare violate our society’s sole remaining commandment: ‘Thou shalt have sex.'”
Matthew Milliner, Wheaton College

This Just In: Traces of the Trinity by Peter J. Leithart

Traces of the Trinity

Signs of God in Creation and Human Experience

by Peter J. Leithart

 

As the Triune God created the world, so creation bears the signs of its Creator. This evocative book by an influential Christian thinker explores the pattern of mutual indwelling that characterizes the creation at every level. Traces of the Trinity appear in myriad ways in everyday life, from our relations with the world and our relationships with others to sexuality, time, language, music, ethics, and logic.

This small book with a big idea—the Trinity as the Christian theory of everything—changes the way we view and think about the world and places demands on the way we live together in community.

 

Peter J. Leithart (PhD, University of Cambridge), a former pastor, is president of Theopolis Institute in Birmingham, Alabama, and adjunct senior fellow of theology and literature at New Saint Andrews College. He is the author of numerous books, including 1 & 2 Kings in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible and Athanasius in the Foundations of Theological Exegesis and Christian Spirituality series. He is also a contributing editor forTouchstone and a regular blogger at firstthings.com.

 

“Peter Leithart deftly discovers traces of the Trinity in the world we inhabit day to day, from dirty coffee cups to a lover’s embrace. These reflections—each chapter an exquisite essay—prompt us to gaze at the divine presence we’d so easily neglect without his seasoned eye and unstilted pen. Occasionally whimsical, often lyrical, invariably insightful, this book isn’t intended to be the final word on the Trinity, but it should be the first.”
Jack Levison, W. J. A. Power Professor of Old Testament Interpretation and Biblical Hebrew, Southern Methodist University; author of Inspired, Fresh Air, and Forty Days with the Holy Spirit

“This is the most delightful book I have read in a long time. One of its delights is its clear, gracefully written prose, which easily engages the reader. The book presents a cogent case for a highly significant point: the whole created world images the divine Trinity. Leithart argues this thesis comprehensively, demonstrating that the divine perichoresis—the mutual indwelling of the three persons of the Trinity—is reflected in every area of human life, including perception, thought, language, sex, time, space, music, and imagination. Leithart’s argument has the potential, therefore, to bring major change to our study of all these areas of reality, and thus to all the ways we live in the world.”
John M. Frame, Reformed Theological Seminary

“This book has a bit of a scholarly feel to it, making it more for those that already have an understanding of God and the Trinity but want to go deeper.”
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This Just In: Rejoicing in Lament by J. Todd Billings

Rejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ
by J. Todd Billings

 

 

“Along with disclosing his wrenching questions, fears, and hopes, Billings explores ‘the ways in which God’s story intersects with the cancer story.’ His poignant insight into the role of lament in faithful Christian living makes this a work of both astute scholarship and powerful testimony.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 
 
 
At the age of thirty-nine, Christian theologian Todd Billings was diagnosed with a rare form of incurable cancer. In the wake of that diagnosis, he began grappling with the hard theological questions we face in the midst of crisis: Why me? Why now? Where is God in all of this? This eloquently written book shares Billings’s journey, struggle, and reflections on providence, lament, and life in Christ in light of his illness, moving beyond pat answers toward hope in God’s promises. Theologically robust yet eminently practical, it engages the open questions, areas of mystery, and times of disorientation in the Christian life. Billings offers concrete examples through autobiography, cultural commentary, and stories from others, showing how our human stories of joy and grief can be incorporated into the larger biblical story of God’s saving work in Christ.

 

J. Todd Billings (ThD, Harvard University Divinity School) is Gordon H. Girod Research Professor of Reformed Theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, and an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America. He is the author of several books, including Union with Christ, winner of a Christianity Today Book Award, and Calvin, Participation, and the Gift, winner of a 2009 John Templeton Award for Theological Promise

 

Praise for Rejoicing in Lament:

“In his remarkable book . . . [Billings] presents an unflinching look at how life changes after a medical death sentence. In the same tradition as C. S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed and Joan Didion’sThe Year of Magical Thinking, Rejoicing in Lament is brave, honest, and probing. But this book has one important difference. Most writers in this genre look at death and dying through the eyes of a family member who survives. Billings surveys the same terrain, but through the lens of someone who is dying. . . . Billings is refreshing when he grapples with the cosmic questions that accompany suffering. . . . This does not mean that Billings strikes a note of uncertainty. He is a practicing Christian, in the best sense of the word. In his effort to understand the theological issues related to illness and death, Billings turned to the foundational texts of his faith, combining them with the elemental disciplines of the Christian life. . . . Rejoicing in Lament is both a comfort and a guide for all who labor along the same path as Billings does. It also provides insight to family members and friends of those suffering from cancer or other serious illnesses. Others will benefit from engagement with spiritual and theological reflection in the venerable tradition of ars moriendi (the art of dying). They will discover that we are all traveling in company with Billings—not as prisoners trudging through life under a grim sentence of death, but as pilgrims making our way to the house of God in the undiscovered country, singing Psalms of ascent.”
—John Koessler, Christianity Today (5-star review)

“J. Todd Billings has written a book that stands in a long line of distinguished books written out of deep suffering and reflection in faith and for the church. This book is informed—or better, formed—by the entire Bible, including those passages we often overlook. It is formed by the witness of the church, its history and struggles. It is formed by the mysterious, wrenching, and beautiful conversation between his own experience of incurable cancer and the Christian faith. Rejoicing in Lament is a profound witness to the gospel. I can hardly find words to express its intelligence, honesty, and richness.”
Gerald L. Sittser, professor of theology, Whitworth University; author of A Grace Disguised and A Grace Revealed

“Good theology prepares us for suffering. Todd Billings has been giving us great theology for some years now. But in this book it is distilled through the rocky depths of an ongoing struggle with cancer. Every chapter brims with pools of insight, pointing us beyond platitudes to the God who has met us—and keeps on meeting us—in the Suffering and Risen Servant. This is a book not just for reading but for meditation and prayer.”
Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Theology, Westminster Seminary California

“If you are looking for an abstract theological treatise on God’s relation to human suffering, you will not find it here. In Rejoicing in Lament, Billings shares his intensely personal search for God’s presence even in his own devastating illness. He responds to his unbidden suffering with a lament much like that of the psalmist. As a devout Christian, Billings seeks the blessings amid the curses of his disease. His Jacob-like struggle with the Lord ultimately blesses not only himself but also his family, colleagues, students, and readers. Rejoicing in Lament will touch and shape those who give pastoral care and will offer hope and meaning for all Christians who face great suffering.”
Kathryn Greene-McCreight, associate chaplain, the Episcopal Church at Yale; author of Darkness Is My Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness

“Courageous, revealing, sometimes raw–this book reminds us that lament is an act of faith and that faith is a communal treasure. Billings’s testimony is that love is stronger than death. Unforgettable!”
Cornelius Plantinga Jr., author of Engaging God’s World

“Weaving theological and Scriptural reflection throughout the narrative of his struggle with cancer, Todd Billings gracefully models how to read one’s life in light of Scripture and Scripture in light of one’s life. Here there is no simplistic moralizing but a persistently questing witness to a God who is present in the midst of life-changing sorrow. To read with Todd is to join him in struggle and faith, doubt and hope, lament and praise.”
Marianne Meye Thompson, George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary

“This profound and heartfelt book is hard to describe succinctly. It’s an elegiac reflection on the pain illness and death bring to a family. A meditation on suffering guided by the cries of the Psalmist and the poetry of Job. An exposition of the importance of classical theism for the work of the pastor and the life of the believer. A critique of the trite sentimentality of so much of contemporary Christianity. A journal of the physical and mental effects of traumatic cancer treatment. Above all, it is a moving and deeply personal answer to the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism, What is your only comfort in life and death? This book is for all Christians, for sooner or later we must all face the challenge of our own mortality.”
Carl R. Trueman, Paul Woolley Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary

 

This Just In: Nonviolent Action by Ronald J. Sider

Nonviolent Action: What Christian Ethics Demands but Most Christians Have Never Really Tried

 

“[A] persuasive book . . . Sider recognizes that civil disobedience often functions as only one factor among many in ending oppression–but often the one that tips the balance. . . . 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.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 

 

 

 

There are numerous examples throughout history of effective nonviolent action. Nonviolent protesters defied the Soviet Empire’s communist rulers, Gandhi’s nonviolent revolution defeated the British Empire, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s peaceful civil-rights crusade changed American history. Recent scholarship shows that nonviolent revolutions against injustice and dictatorship are actually more successful than violent campaigns. In this book, noted theologian and bestselling author Ron Sider argues that the search for peaceful alternatives to violence is not only a practical necessity in the wake of the twentieth century—the most bloody in human history—but also a moral demand of the Christian faith. He presents compelling examples of how nonviolent action has been practiced in history and in current social-political situations to promote peace and oppose injustice, showing that this path is a successful and viable alternative to violence.

 

Ronald J. Sider (PhD, Yale University) is the founder and president emeritus of Evangelicals for Social Action and distinguished professor of theology, holistic ministry, and public policy at Palmer Theological Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. He is the author of numerous books, including the bestselling Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger and The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience.

 

Praise for Nonviolent Action:

“Every once in a while a book substantially changes the conversation, and even the posture, of the church. What Ron Sider’s Rich Christians in An Age of Hunger did to change how Christians think about poverty, Nonviolent Action promises to do for how we think about war. This book is for every person who is appalled by evil but conflicted in how to respond to it in a way that honors Jesus, the Prince of Peace. It is not just for pacifists. It is for skeptics, war hawks, liberals, and conservatives—but is not for the faint of heart, for in the end it is a clarion call to take the cross as seriously as we have taken the sword.”
Shane Claiborne, author, activist, and founding partner of The Simple Way

“Ron Sider’s powerful blend of scholarship and passion has gripped me! In recent years I’ve traveled often to the Holy Land, where unholy violence continues to beget more violence. This book affirms the wisdom of the peacemakers I’ve met—both Israelis and Palestinians—who refuse the path of violence. With their active witness in mind, I fully endorse Ron’s call to an organized, active campaign of nonviolence.”
Lynne Hybels, advocate for global engagement, Willow Creek Community Church

“When Ron Sider talks, I listen. When he writes, I read. Whether or not one is a pacifist—I am not—one has something to learn about the power of nonviolent protest and resistance from Dr. Sider’s careful and thoughtful study of successful nonviolent movements against tyranny and oppression. He shows that sometimes nonviolence is the most effective way—and therefore the right way—to overcome injustice and protect its victims. In my view, that isn’t always the case, but Dr. Sider does the Christian community and everyone a great service in reminding us that sometimes nonviolence is the best option.”
Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University

“This wise, balanced, and inspiring book is a richly instructive guide for all who have pledged their allegiance to the Savior who is also the Prince of Peace.”
Richard Mouw, former president, Fuller Theological Seminary (from the foreword)

“Gandhi and King are not anomalies. Ron Sider shows that these outstanding witnesses to nonviolence are part of a long and often-successful tradition. Unfortunately, nonviolence has not been given the large scale study and trial it deserves. I hope this book of case studies inspires more people to seek the knowledge and training that Christian action for justice requires.”
David Neff, speaker, writer, and former editor-in-chief of Christianity Today

“Ron Sider provides a profound and illuminating account of the effectiveness of nonviolent, grassroots movements that challenge unjust and discriminatory social practices. He concludes with a summons to faith communities to equip themselves for generating and sustaining such movements in their own responses to oppressive social systems that abuse vulnerable human beings in the contemporary world.”
Thomas W. Ogletree, Frederick Marquand Professor Emeritus in Theological and Social Ethics, Yale Divinity School

“In Nonviolent Action, Ron Sider presents a compelling case for vastly increased investment by Christian churches and other faith traditions in the development of effective nonviolent strategies for resisting violent oppression and accomplishing social change. Creative thinking, solid training, and significant budgetary allocations could move nonviolence to the central role it ought to play. This convincing book makes an important contribution to a critical debate.”
Marie Dennis, co-president, Pax Christi International

“Despite the unprecedented violence of the last century, the twentieth century also saw many dramatic successes for nonviolent resistance movements. In Nonviolent Action, Ron Sider eloquently and persuasively describes how and why these movements have been so effective. He then compellingly argues for the need to embrace nonviolent action on a scale never before seen as we look towards the future. There are few people better qualified to write a book on this topic than Ron Sider, whose steadfast work for peace and justice for more than forty years never ceases to inspire me. I encourage anyone who cares about the future of humankind and wants to live out Jesus’s call to be a peacemaker to read this book.”
Jim Wallis, author of The (Un)Common Good, president of Sojourners, and editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine

“Thoroughly documented and clearly written, this book recounts how nonviolence has worked both in cases that are generally known and in cases that deserve greater attention. It explains how all persons can discern nonviolence to be both strategically and morally preferable to violence. It will be a valuable resource for understanding peacemaking as a needed skill.”
Edward LeRoy Long Jr., James W. Pearsall Professor Emeritus of Christian Ethics and Theology of Culture, Drew University

“This book is an inspiring addition to Ron Sider’s magisterial collection of writings, and in many ways a capstone to his consistent witness for peace. I strongly recommend this important contribution to the literature of Christian peacemaking—that is, Christian discipleship.”
David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics, director, Center for Theology and Public Life, Mercer University

“The facts are in: nonviolent action is often more effective than the use of force in the quest for justice. Sider argues powerfully that both pacifist and just war Christians should join together in struggles for such nonviolent change. A powerful book.”
David Hollenbach, SJ, University Chair in Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College

“Ron Sider is a vigorous and well-informed advocate for nonviolent action as the best way forward as we confront the deep problems of the twenty-first century. He brings his comprehensive knowledge of both just war theory and pacifism to bear on an impressive range of case studies from British India in the 1930s to the Arab Spring of the 2010s. I am happy to recommend this book very strongly both to peace activists who are looking to deepen their historical and theological knowledge of the basic issues and to theologians who are searching for a more experiential and pragmatic approach than what a simple reiteration of pacifist convictions offers.”
John Langan, SJ, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Professor of Catholic Social Thought, Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University

This Just In: Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory by Jerry L. Walls

Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: Rethinking the Things That Matter Most
by Jerry L. Walls

 

“Walls may not tell us everything we would like to know about what happens after death, but he tells us what we need to know and much of what we want to know, and does it with style and verve. This book clearly explains why heaven and hell are crucial if human existence is to be fully meaningful, and it even gives an account of purgatory that should be acceptable to Protestants. This is a wonderful book that inspires hope by clearly showing what God’s love for humanity means for us.”
C. Stephen Evans, University Professor, Baylor University

Will heaven be boring? How can a good and loving God send people to hell? Is there such a place as purgatory? If so, why is it necessary, if we’re saved by grace?

Questions about the afterlife abound. Given what is at stake, they are the most important questions we will ever consider. Recent years have seen a surge of Christian books written by people claiming to have received a glimpse of the afterlife, and numerous books, films, and TV shows have apocalyptic or postapocalyptic themes. Jerry Walls, a dynamic writer and expert on the afterlife, distills his academic writing on heaven, hell, and purgatory to offer clear biblical, theological, and philosophical grounding for thinking about these issues. He provides an ecumenical account of purgatory that is compatible with Protestant theology and defends the doctrine of eternal hell. Walls shows that the Christian vision of the afterlife illumines the deepest and most important issues of our lives, changing the way we think about happiness, personal identity, morality, and the very meaning of life.

 

Jerry L. Walls (PhD, University of Notre Dame), a world-class expert on the afterlife and a sought-after speaker, has written for Christianity Today, First Things, and Christian Century. He has appeared on NPR’s Talk of the Nation and in the documentary film Hellbound. Walls, professor of philosophy and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas, is the coauthor of Why I Am Not a Calvinist and the Christianity Today Book Award Winner Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality. He has authored or edited a dozen books, including a trilogy on the afterlife–Hell: The Logic of Damnation, Purgatory: The Logic of Total Transformation, and Heaven: The Logic of Eternal Joy–and is a senior speaking fellow for the Morris Institute for Human Values.

 

Praise for Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory:

“No one in our time has worked more diligently to understand heaven, hell, purgatory, and the related cluster of issues than has Jerry Walls. And no one is more talented than he at expressing in vivid, accessible prose the conclusions of top-level scholarship. This book will answer an entire handful of the Big Questions and deserves a wide readership indeed.”
John G. Stackhouse Jr., Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology and Culture, Regent College, Vancouver

“Jerry Walls has spent much of his academic career providing an account of the Christian story of the afterlife from a rigorous, analytic-philosophical perspective. He has subjected the doctrines of heaven, hell, and purgatory to careful and ingenious scrutiny. He has also considered questions about the grounds for morality. In this book he condenses much of this research into one accessible volume that deals with all these issues as well as the problems of evil they raise and the question of personal identity beyond the grave. It is a terrific resource that will be of use to all those for whom such things are pressing theological and existential concerns.”

Oliver Crisp, professor of systematic theology, Fuller Theological Seminary

“Jerry Walls has written a book that should be read by anyone interested in the personal, philosophical, or religious significance of death and whether it is reasonable to believe that there is life after death. I wager that there is no living philosopher who has thought more deeply or written with such clear, engaging prose about the prospects of a Christian philosophy of death and afterlife.”
Charles Taliaferro, professor of philosophy, St. Olaf College

“Jerry Walls offers an insightful, accessible defense of heaven, hell, and purgatory. Though still unpersuaded about the latter, I would urge the reading of this book, first, for the important theological and philosophical insights it affords concerning hell (the realm of the illusory triumph of the creature’s will) and heaven (the new, transformed—though still physical—earth and heaven that are permeated by God’s presence and blessing); indeed, much wisdom on these doctrines alone is to be found herein. Second, concerning purgatory, Protestants have a unique opportunity to more fully understand the arguments for and then to properly assess the merits (!) of this doctrine. The book is sure to generate much lively discussion and deepened understanding.”
Paul Copan, Professor and Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University

“Never resorting to overbearing jargon or convoluted arguments, Walls provides readers with insights that are clear, concise, and penetrating. He sorts through the various stances on a number of issues related to the afterlife in a way that is respectful and courteous. This book, which makes the afterlife as solid and as real as this life—not stiff, sentimental, or founded upon fear—will be a more than welcome addition to a Christian’s library.”
Devin Brown, author of A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C. S. Lewis

“Jerry Walls shows once again that on the four last things—death, judgment, hell, and heaven—he is by far the most thoughtful evangelical philosopher. His mastery of Scripture, historical theology, and the philosophical literature is unmatched.”
Francis J. Beckwith, professor of philosophy and church-state studies, Baylor University

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

 

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

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