The Weekly Hit List: May 6, 2016

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

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

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

Quick Hits:

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

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

 

The Weekly Hit List: April 15, 2016

 Cover ArtNijay Gupta, at Crux Sola, reviewed Matthew Skinner’s Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel.

“I heartily recommend Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel to everyone and encourage a wide readership. It’s good for the soul – and body – and church!”

The Future of Our Faith, by Ron Sider and Ben Lowe, was reviewed at Leadership & Life.

“A compelling, thoughtful and challenging book that every North American Christian should read.”

Quick Hits:

J. Todd Billings spoke on The Church’s Witness in the Midst of Dying and Death at TEDS. Also, First Things recently made available an essay drawn from Billings’ Rejoicing in Lament.

Matthew Skinner, author of Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel, shared some commentary on Acts 2:1-21 at Working Preacher.

At Marketplace Faith, Dr. Chip Roper reflected on how James K. A. Smith’s You Are What You Love gives insight into how we can find wholeness in our work.

The Weekly Hit List: December 18, 2015

 Cover ArtWe are very pleased to announce that Wesley Hill’s Spiritual Friendship received an Award of Merit in the Beautiful Orthodoxy category of the Christianity Today Book Awards.

The book makes an acute diagnosis of our atomized lives in a world that imagines sex as the only source of real intimacy, and marriage as the only setting for real commitment. It retrieves elements of the historic church tradition relating to friendship and commitment. And all this is presented in sensitive, evocative language, with a reverence for literature, language, and art that makes it a delight to read. Hill’s account has a raw, even wrenching, honesty that’s essential to authentic Christian testimony in our broken world. —Andy Crouch

Wes wrote a brief response here.

To have the flagship magazine of evangelical Christianity turning its attention to the beauty and power of relationships other than romantic ones, and turning its attention thereby to the actual lived experience of celibate, gay people — well, let’s just say it feels not only like a professional honor but also like a deeply, deeply personal one.

Also, our congratulations Stephen Monsma and Stanley Carlson-Thies, whose Free to Serve won an Award of Merit in Politics and Public Life, and to Jonathan Grant, whose Divine Sex tied in Christian Living/Discipleship.

“The church’s response to the seemingly limitless trajectory of hypersexualization has been puny, negative, and ineffective…Divine Sex properly widens the frame, delivering an incisive and nearly comprehensive analysis of our present state”

“Religious liberty desperately needs defending as a matter of public policy, and Free to Serve shows how it’s done.”


Quick Hits:

Todd Wilson reviewed Scot McKnight’s Kingdom Conspiracy at Books at a Glance.

Rejoicing in Lament, by J. Todd Billings, was recommended at Pastoral Backstory.

Matthew Skinner, author of Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel, wrote Learning from Mary in Our Age of Endless War for Odyssey Networks.

The Weekly Hit List: December 11, 2015

Cover ArtMatthew Skinner’s Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel was reviewed by Steve Walton for Themelios.

This book will be eminently helpful to a church Bible study group working through Acts. It will also inform and help preachers or teachers engaging with Acts, and students who want to see ways in which the book’s themes and issues relate to Christian life and experience today. I commend it very warmly.

J. Todd Billings wrote the post Gratitude for God’s Surprising Work, which reflects on the stories people have shared with him after reading Rejoicing in Lament. Also, Sean Lucas at Reformation 21 named Rejoicing in Lament as one of his Top Ten Books of 2015.

A powerful book. Billings explores his own battle with incurable cancer in the larger narrative of the psalms of lament and union with Christ. As a pastor who has several parishioners dealing with cancer at any given time, this was a rich theological resource and personal reflection.

The Weekly Hit List: October 2, 2015

Cover ArtAt Acts and More, Steve Walton shared a review of Matthew Skinner’s Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel.

This book will be eminently helpful to a church Bible study group working through Acts. It will also inform and help preachers or teachers engaging with Acts, and students who want to see ways in which the book’s themes and issues relate to Christian life and experience today. I commend it very warmly.

Spiritual Friendship, by Wesley Hill, was a featured review at The Englewood Review of Books.

Wesley Hill’s spectacular new book, Spiritual Friendship, explores one way gay Christians—especially those who embrace the traditional teaching of the church—are a gift to the church….Spiritual Friendship displays Hill’s considerable intellect, pulls from an astonishing variety of sources, and inspires with its beautiful prose.


Quick Hits:

The Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance announced the forthcoming Free to Serve, from Stephen Monsma and Stanley Carlson-Thies.

Monsma and Carlson-Thies were interviewed about Free to Serve in the latest issue of Christianity Today.

The Christian Examiner reviewed Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel.

 

 

Jesus and His Church – an excerpt from Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel

The following is an excerpt from Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel by Matthew Skinner.

————————————————————————————————————

Cover ArtThe close associations Acts makes between Jesus’s influence and the activities of his followers should make us less inclined to embrace a religious view in which God exists somewhere “out there” while we human beings hope to make an occasional connection.

The Gospel of Luke characterizes Jesus’s life as a prolonged “visitation” (see Luke 19:44). Acts implies the visitation continues; Jesus has settled in among humanity—still working, still saving. We can find him manifest in Christian communities. Or at least we are supposed to.

If Jesus’s connection to his followers exists today in ways similar to what Acts suggests, then Acts encourages me to see churches (the people, not the buildings) as vital communities, crucial for the gospel of God’s salvation to remain known and attractive for generations to come.

This connection also raises cautionary red flags, given that many people have long catalogs of instances in which churches (the institutions and their members) have been abusive, selfish, or apathetic. Or simply boring.

When Acts ties Jesus and his people together in such tight knots, its theological vision can spawn idealism or cynicism, depending on my perspective and how motivated I am to get out of bed on a given Sunday morning.

The communities of believers that spring into being in Acts exist as the products of some major disruptions: Jesus visited, he was resurrected, and the Holy Spirit came. The Christian communities that exist now have organic connections to those disruptive experiences from long ago. But smaller, less perceptible disruptions also hold these communities together. To see them, we need to peer deeply into these groups and consider the individuals who compose them.

What troubles, determinations, or longings make a person participate in a community of faith? What kind of salvation draws her in? How does she hope her involvement might affect the wider world? Ask these questions of enough Christians enough times, and we may begin to see signs of Jesus in the experiences of his followers even now.

Finally, God is not limited to the communities we encounter in Acts. Later in the story, further disruptions will come. Many of these shocks to the status quo will convince members of those communities that God is also busy elsewhere, accomplishing salvation and occasionally directing Jesus’s followers to catch up and recognize other ways of doing things and other places to do them.

These parts of Acts remind readers that the communities of Jesus’s followers, although they are crucial means for people to experience salvation, are not exclusive or required means. God works in other settings too. The plan of God remains much grander, and more spread out. It remains so today.

©2015 by Matthew L. Skinner. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

This Just In: Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel, by Matthew Skinner

Cover ArtThis engaging book guides readers through one of the most colorful books of the Bible, illuminating passages from Acts that show the Christian gospel expressing itself through the lives, speech, struggles, and adventures of Jesus’s followers. The book emphasizes the disruptive character of the Christian gospel and shows how Acts repeatedly describes God as upsetting the status quo by changing people’s lives, society’s conventions, and our basic expectations of what’s possible.

Suited for individual and group study, this book by a New Testament scholar with a gift for popular communication asks serious questions and eschews pat answers, bringing Acts alive for contemporary reflection on the character of God, the challenges of faith, and the church.

 

 

Matthew L. Skinner Matthew L. Skinner (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is professor of New Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He frequently contributes to popular Christian magazines and blogs and is a featured writer for ON Scripture (a weekly column carried by Odyssey Networks), the Huffington Post, and other online outlets. He has written for WorkingPreacher.org, where he can be heard on weekly Sermon Brainwave podcasts, and for EnterTheBible.org.

 

Praise for Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel:

“Matthew Skinner probes the book of Acts in an impressively effective way. He successfully negotiates the vexed issue of history and theology and offers a concise, accessible theological twist to every text he considers. His study shows the way in which the narrative text of Acts continues to be compelling for the church’s self-understanding and mission.” – Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary

“The book of Acts tells an exciting story that warrants the sort of engagement it is afforded here. Skinner takes us beyond the pedantic concerns of academia to experience the power of the story itself, to participate in its transformations and discoveries. Anyone who is spiritual and/or religious will benefit from this disruptive encounter with ‘absurdly good news.'” – Mark Allan Powell, Trinity Lutheran Seminary

“There is no doubt that Acts is an entertaining read, full of the stuff of legend and tall tales. But what is a twenty-first-century Christian to do with such an unusual collection of stories about the early years of our faith? Enter Matthew Skinner, an internationally renowned scholar of Acts who has, for decades now, immersed himself in Acts–studying, writing, teaching, and preaching it. In this book, Skinner grips our attention, all of it, as he honestly, artfully, judiciously, concisely, and consistently connects our experience with the book of Acts. Chapter by chapter, Skinner teaches us, raises crucial questions–the raw, complex questions that we real readers have–and then offers bold conclusions born from his observations as both a scholar and a Christian.” – Jaime Clark-Soles, Southern Methodist University

The Weekly Hit List: August 28, 2015

Cover ArtJonathan Grant’s Divine Sex was reviewed at Christianity Today.

By providing such a thoughtful, well-rounded, and compelling account of our society’s view of sex, Grant provides the resources we need to challenge, deconstruct, and ultimately subvert it. After all, if our vision of sexuality gives rise to a parade of horribles—a hypersexualized culture, sexual dissatisfaction, rampant porn use, unhappier marriages, and young men who deny, with a straight face, that sex has any mystery—then why would we keep it?

Peter Leithart, author of Traces of the Trinity, was interviewed at Books at a Glance.

The Father is in the Son but never becomes the Son; the Son is in the Father, but never becomes Father. That is part of the beauty and mystery, the fascination, of the Trinity: That three Persons are utterly united and yet utterly distinct.


Quick Hits:

Matthew Skinner wrote On Why (Some) People Don’t Give Money to Their Church for The Huffington Post, which drew from his forthcoming Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel.