The Weekly Hit List: March 1, 2013

Kicking at the Darkness by Brian J. Walsh was reviewed by The Christian Century.

Kicking at the Darkness

“Some of us owe a large part of whatever prophetic imagination we have to the creative powers of Bruce Cockburn. For pop-music-loving Bible readers of my generation, chances are he came to us via U2 of the late 1980s.

“In “God Part II,” from Rattle and Hum(1988), Bono tells of a late-night radio singer announcing his resolve to “kick the darkness / Till it bleeds daylight.” Liner-note readers like myself found next to this devastatingly evocative phrase a footnote introducing Cockburn, from whose “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” the line was purloined. From there I’m guessing sales of the Canadian bard’s albums—he’d been putting them out since 1970—spiked more than a little.”

The full text of the review is available to subscribers.

 

Quick Hits:

Our Spring 2013 academic catalog is now available.

Of Games and God by Kevin Schut was recommended by Byron Borger of Hearts & Minds books.

Of Games and God was also recommended by PRISM Magazine.

Genesis (BTCB) by R. Reno was recommended by Mark Braye.

Who Is My Enemy? by Lee C. Camp was referenced by Craig D. Katzenmiller.

 

Goodreads Giveaways:

Two forthcoming Brazos Press titles are now available as giveaways on Goodreads:

Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can—and Should—Do to Improve Public Education for Low-Income Kids by Nicole Baker Fulgham

On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned about Serving the Common Good by Jim Wallis

The Weekly Hit List: December 7, 2012

The Space Between by Eric O. Jacobsen, author of Sidewalks in the Kingdom, was reviewed by Byron Borger of Hearts & Minds Books for Comment magazine

“Since Jacobsen’s 2003 Brazos Press introductory book Sidewalks of the Kingdom, many were hoping that the Presbyterian pastor turned new urbanist would write a more substantial follow up, taking readers further into the fascinating study of our built environment.

“His nearly decade of further study, writing, speaking, and engaging this interdisciplinary field has paid off with extraordinary fruitfulness, and Jacobsen’s new book is, without a doubt, one of the most important books in the field, and should be considered to be one of the most important books of the year.”

Read the rest of the review here.

 

Quick Hits:

Lee C. Camp, author of Who Is My Enemy?, was interviewed on “Kresta in the Afternoon” on Ave Maria Radio on December 3, 2012.

A Hobbit Journey by Matthew Dickerson was reviewed in Family Fiction.

The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith was recommended by Andrew Wilson on the Theology Matters blog.

Living into Focus by Arthur Boers was recommended by Dana Cassell.

Frank G. Honeycutt, author of The Truth Shall Make You Odd, wrote an article for The Christian Century: “New life without parole.” (The full text is available to subscribers only.)

Soulful Spirituality by David Benner was recommended by Barry Pearman.

 

Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

December ebook specials are currently running for multiple Brazos Press and Baker Academic titles. All of these are at least 60% off.

The Virtuous Reader by Richard S. Briggs
Healing in the Bible by Frederick J. Gaiser
1 & 2 Kings (BTCB) by Peter J. Leithart
Broken Hallelujahs by Christian Scharen
Claiming Abraham by Michael Lodahl
Where Mortals Dwell by Craig G. Bartholomew
The Forgotten Ways Handbook by Alan Hirsch with Darryn Altclass
The Vampire Defanged by Susannah Clements
Adventures in Daily Prayer by Bert Ghezzi
Seven Deadly Spirits by T. Scott Daniels

The Weekly Hit List: November 16, 2012

The Space Between by Eric Jacobsen, author of Sidewalks in the Kingdom, was reviewed by Comment Magazine.

“It is a fact that fast-growing churches in North America for the past few decades have been mostly suburban, mostly large, and mostly located on huge parcels of land surrounded by even huger parking lots. Reading The Space Between questions all these practices, from a theological as well as a practical point of view.

“This is a book that was needed fifty years ago or more, but as Anthony Hopkins says in The Mask of Zorro, ‘When the pupil is ready, the teacher will come.’

“Perhaps in this day, in our time, the pupil, the church, is ready to hear what the teacher, Eric Jacobsen, has to say.

His is a prophetic voice that needs to be heard.”
Read the rest of the review here.
 

Quick Hits:

The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith was reviewed by Brian LePort on the Near Emmaus blog.

Who Is My Enemy? by Lee C. Camp was reviewed by pastor Stephen Barkley.

Brian LePort has concluded his series on the “historicity” of Adam, comparing The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns and Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? by C. John Collins. All 25 posts are available here.

 

Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

November ebook specials are currently running for multiple Brazos Press and Baker Academic titles. All of these are at least 60% off.

Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey
Beginnings by Peter C. Bouteneff
Creation Untamed by Terence E. Fretheim
From Stone to Living Word by Debbie Blue
Evangelicals and Empire by Bruce Ellis Benson and Peter Goodwin Heltzel
The Forgotten Ways Handbook by Alan Hirsch with Darryn Altclass
God in the Gallery by Daniel A. Siedell
The Vampire Defanged by Susannah Clements
Adventures in Daily Prayer by Bert Ghezzi
Seven Deadly Spirits by T. Scott Daniels

The Weekly Hit List: August 31, 2012

Who Is My Enemy? by Lee C. Camp was recommended by Richard Beck on Experimental Theology.

Beck re-printed one of Camp’s essays; following is an excerpt.

“With this sort of starting point, we take an altogether different approach: our task, short of the full in-breaking of the Kingdom of God, can never be any partisan agenda. This is because anything short of the full consummation of the Kingdom of God will necessarily still be tainted, or worse, corrupted, by sin.

“All political activism then—in the sense of being active in talking to the contemporary powers-that-be in western culture—is always and necessarily ad hoc, never utopian, and never idealistic. We deal with each concrete question and issue as it arises, and seek to bear faithful witness as best we are able.”

You can read the rest of “History Never Sits Still. Thus Neither Can Our Politics,” here.

 

Don’t Miss It:

Miroslav Volf has started a series of political posts on his Facebook page. He writes:

In this year of presidential elections, I decided to summarize key values that guide me as I make the decision for whom to cast my vote. It takes knowing three basic things to choose a candidate for public office responsibly:

1. values we hope the candidate will stand for and the order of priority among them;
2. ways in which and means by which these values are best implemented in any given situation;
3. capacity—ability and determination—to contribute to the implementation of these values.

Most important are the values. As I identified each value, I thought it important to (1) name the basic content of the value, (2) give a brief rationale for holding it, (3) suggest some parameters of legitimate debate about it, and (4) identify key questions for the candidate.

I write as a Christian theologian, from the perspective of my own understanding of the Christian faith. Whole books have been written on each of these values, explicating them and adjudicating complex debates about them. In giving rationale for a given value, I only take one or two verses from the Bible to back up my position, more to flag the direction in which giving a rationale would need to go than in fact strictly to offer a rationale. I have identified some 20 such values. In coming days I will post one a day.

 

Quick Hits:

We are giving away 5 copies of A Hobbit Journey: Discovering the Enchantment of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth by Matthew Dickerson. Click here to enter.

Our fall 2012 catalog is now available on the Brazos Press web site, here.

Speaking of Dying by Fred Craddock, Dale Goldsmith, and Joy V. Goldsmith was recommended by Ed Searcy on his blog.

A Public Faith by Miroslav Volf was recommended by Russell Almon on his blog.

 

Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

Today is the last day our August ebook specials are running for multiple Brazos Press and Baker Academic titles. All of these ebooks are at least 60% off:

Proverbs and Ecclesiastes by Daniel J. Treier
Adventures in Daily Prayer by Bert Ghezzi
Letters to a Young Calvinist by James K. A. Smith
Seven Deadly Spirits by T. Scott Daniels
Be Not Afraid by Samuel Wells
Creating a Spiritual Legacy by Daniel Taylor
The Truth Shall Make You Odd by Frank G. Honeycutt

The Weekly Hit List: August 10, 2012

Good News for Anxious Christians by Phillip Cary was reviewed on the Patheos blog Mind Over Media.

“There are at least two reasons to read Phillip Cary’s Good News for Anxious Christians: to help you think about what being ‘guided’ by the Holy Spirit means, and to think about the problem of pain in greater depth.

“Written for his students, Cary’s goal is to remind us that Christianity is a message of Good News about Jesus Christ rather than a requirement that we experience a certain emotion or receive some form of internal message from God.

“Additionally, his chapter on suffering is good enough (the best in the book, as far as I’m concerned) to merit special attention.”

 

Quick Hits:

Dale Goldsmith and Joy V. Goldsmith, authors of Speaking of Dying, wrote an article for The Huffington Post, “Is There Such a Thing as a Good Death?

The August issue of Border Crossings (the Brazos Press e-newsletter) is now available.

Lee C. Camp, author of Who Is My Enemy?, wrote an article titled “Batman, Neo-Nazis and the Good News of Jesus” for The Huffington Post.

 

Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

August ebook specials are currently running for multiple Brazos Press and Baker Academic titles. All of these ebooks are at least 60% off:

Proverbs and Ecclesiastes by Daniel J. Treier
Adventures in Daily Prayer by Bert Ghezzi
Letters to a Young Calvinist by James K. A. Smith
Seven Deadly Spirits by T. Scott Daniels
Be Not Afraid by Samuel Wells
Creating a Spiritual Legacy by Daniel Taylor
The Truth Shall Make You Odd by Frank G. Honeycutt

Is Christian Just War Just Like Jihad? – by Lee C. Camp

The following article is written by Dr. Lee C. Camp, author of Who Is My Enemy? and Mere Discipleshipand was originally published on Patheos.com in August 2011.

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Is Christian Just War Just Like Jihad?

When it comes to questions of war and peace, is American Christianity more like Muhammad or Jesus?

Since 9/11, such a question has seemed outrageous to many Americans. But perhaps the offense is grounded in some unhelpful assumptions.

Here in the Bible Belt, many argue that Islam is inherently war-mongering and oppressive, and that it is waging a “holy war” against anyone that refuses to embrace Muhammad.  Others around the country assert that all religions are inherently concerned with the same ethical core, pursuing “love” and “peace.”

Both these stereotypes are deeply problematic, and their assertions ironic. Consider the second one first: the assertion that “all religions are basically saying the same thing.” It is clear that the founding narratives, what we might call the “story logic” of Christianity and Islam, are fundamentally different when it comes to the employment of violence and warfare.

The Jesus story entails a Savior responding to the injustice and violence of the world through suffering love: do not return evil for evil; love your enemies, and do good to those who do evil to you.

The early church took this at face value. Centuries later, Gandhi would claim, “The only people on earth who do not see Christ and His teachings as non-violent are Christians,” but this was certainly not true of the early church. In fact, as the Yale historian Roland Bainton has summarized, “All of the outstanding writers of the East and the West repudiated participation in warfare for Christians.” Moreover, Bainton notes, this was a novel development in human history: “prior to the advent of Christianity there is no record of anyone suffering death for a refusal of military service.”

The Muhammad story begins with a similar stance: when suffering in Mecca, Muhammad counsels the early Muslims not to retaliate, but to suffer patiently. As is commonly known, Muhammad and the early Muslims leave Mecca, emigrating to Medina where Muhammad takes a role of leadership, and in this position of power, Muhammad permits retaliation and war-making. Moreover, retaliation became seen as that which would check and limit oppression. Justice, taught Muhammad, requires the brave employment of measured force.

So the very basic narrative of the stories differs significantly: in the Jesus story, doing good to those who persecute you is consistently taught and practiced, while in the Muhammad story, retaliation becomes an accepted practice.

This difference is heightened by the way in which the two narratives speak of vindication, of victory: the New Testament claims that Jesus was vindicated through resurrection, on the other side of a humiliating defeat in crucifixion. That a Messiah, an anointed one of God, should suffer such humiliation is what the apostle Paul said was “foolishness to the Greeks and a stumbling block to the Jews.” But the resurrection was what we might call the “stamp of approval” by God the Father: this enemy-loving Jesus was indeed the anointed one, the Son who had obeyed God’s will. This “story-logic” might be summarized as cross-vindicated-by-resurrection.

The Qur’an, on the other hand, assumes that the faithfulness of Muhammad and the Muslims was evidenced in their military victories, especially when small Muslim minorities overcame military odds, defeating larger forces. This “story-logic” might be summarized as martial-power-vindicated-in-military-victory. Given that justice should triumph over persecution, given that God is on the side of the right against the purveyors of wrong, this logic assumes that military endeavor, undertaken by those who are doing God’s will, would and should win. In continuity with this logic, the Qur’an denies that Jesus, whom Muslims honor as a true prophet of God, was crucified.

These, then, are two very different stories. Clearly, on questions of war and peacemaking, the New Testament and the Qur’an go different directions, with different ethical implications.

But this is clearly not the end of the story, nor all that needs be said. The mainstream of the Christian tradition did not continue to reject war-making. Along with the alliance of Christianity and the Roman empire in the fourth century, the Christian “Just War tradition” (JWT) emerged. This tradition employs earlier Greek and Roman notions, and argues that war is always lamentable, but sometimes the common good requires followers of Jesus to engage in war-making. Even then, war should be practiced only for the goal of justice and cessation of violence, within certain limits carefully observed. The JWT became the mainstream conviction of the Christian tradition from the fourth century until today.

But it turns out that the Qur’anic and classical Islamic limitations on war-making happen to parallel in many ways the Christian JWT. In fact, John Kelsay, who has done perhaps the most work in the U.S. comparing the Christian JWT with classical Islamic teaching, calls the parallels “striking,” and maintains that a notion of justifiable war is “an aspect of the foundational narrative of Islam.”

So perhaps it is true that the mainstream Christian conviction regarding war-making is more like Muhammad than Jesus.

But there is even yet a more important question, which I think is terribly important in our late modern, western context: Do we American Christians even take seriously this so-called Just War tradition and the limits it places upon war-making?

Consider the limit found in both the Christian and Muslim mainstream limits on war: civilians are not to be targeted. This limit has been, in gross ways, ignored in the West. It was General William Tecumseh Sherman who in the U.S. Civil War popularized the notion that war is an engagement not merely between two armies, but between two societies. Thus Sherman burned and destroyed his way to the sea in order to “make the South howl.”

Ironically, this logic developed steadily in the arguments of Osama bin Laden: early on he argued that his gripe was not with the American people as such, but with the U.S. government. But increasingly, bin Laden obliterated that distinction: a democratic citizenry is responsible for the deeds of its government, and thus become legitimate targets.

This very logic was at work in Churchill’s willingness to target residential areas and burn German cities with firebombs, intentionally killing hundreds of thousands in their homes. Though Churchill expressed scruples against such wholesale destruction, he believed a higher justice to be at work, “that those who have loosed these horrors upon mankind will now in their homes and persons feel the shattering strokes of just retribution.” The logic leads, in similar fashion, to the U.S. destruction of Japanese cities through systematic firebombing of civilian populations, and ultimately the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The same logic led to certain U.S. diplomats justifying the economic warfare waged against Iraq between the two Gulf Wars, that according to the U.N. led to the deaths of some 500,000 children aged five and under.

So we come to a doubly troubling possibility: First, that the mainstream Christian Just War tradition may, in fact, be closer to the teaching of Muhammad than that of Jesus. Second, that we American Christians have too often failed to live up even to the ethic of the Just War tradition: we seem pleased with its logic that war may be justified, but ignore the limits it imposes upon the ways we fight.

Perhaps the question with which we began is not such a bad one to ponder at great length this September, as we grieve the violence that continues to mar God’s good creation.

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Lee C. Camp (PhD, University of Notre Dame) is professor of theology and ethics at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the author of Mere Discipleship and the host of Tokens, a popular radio show based in Nashville. Camp speaks regularly to university and church audiences and has served in various ministry roles in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Nairobi, Kenya.

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To read this article on Patheos.com, click here.

“Who Is My Enemy?” – A Reflection from Lee C. Camp

The following excerpt is taken from Lee C. Camp’s Who Is My Enemy? Questions American Christians Must Face about Islam-and Themselves.

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“Public Enemy Number One” was killed last night.

The night before I signed off on the proofs of this book, Osama bin Laden was killed. The United States’ Public Enemy Number One for a decade and the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist plots, bin Laden had been hunted down and his death was greeted with widespread revelry and celebration. The media reported student gatherings in front of the White House complete with chants of “U-S-A!” President Obama, in announcing the killing of bin Laden, asserted, “Justice has been done.” Numerous government officials called bin Laden’s death a “victory against terrorism.”

But how do we determine who our enemies are? And, who is the we? “Our enemies are not flesh and blood,” said the apostle Paul. Nonetheless, if we do identify “enem” with any given person, how can killing that enemy be a victory for those who follow the Jesus who taught us to love our enemies? Moreover, does our celebration of such killing really serve as a victory over the forces of terror? Certainly Osama bin Laden, his body cast into the sea, will himself foment no more terror and strife. But ultimately, can such vengeance overcome evil? Can there even be such a thing as a “war against terror”? If the light of Christ has overcome the darkness through suffering love, if at the cross of Christ the justice of God was satisfied, and if we are called to take up our cross and follow Jesus, what then? Could it be that the killing of Osama bin Laden is but a continuation of bin Laden’s ways, which in the end can only be overcome in the longsuffering love of Christ?

These are neither trivial nor flippant questions, and I raise them with much trepidation.

©2011 by Lee C. Camp. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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For more information on Who Is My Enemy? click here.

To read a longer excerpt of the book, click here.

Brazos Best of the Best of 2011

A very happy 2012 from us at The Brazos Blog. We are looking forward to what this new year will bring – and we have many new titles that we are excited about.

However, before focusing on 2012 we want to acknowledge our 2011 titles that recently appeared on various “Best Of” list around the online and print world.

Relevant magazine named Lee C. Camp’s Who Is My Enemy? number 4 on its Top 10 Books of 2011. They wrote:

“Camp suggests taking the question that was on everyone’s lips after the 9/11 attacks (“How could they do this to us?”) as an authentic agenda for understanding: “What in their experience, in their presuppositions, in their vision, could contribute to the deeds or words or actions we find so unjust and horrid?” Reading Who Is My Enemy reminded me of the growing pains I’d get as a kid, usually at night. It was going to be uncomfortable for a while, but I knew I was going to wake up bigger.”

 

Scot McKnight named Christian Smith’s The Bible Made Impossible the Jesus Creed Book of the Year.

“In spite of being panned by a few notable evangelicals, Smith is one of America’s finest scholars of evangelicalism, knows theology, and has poked populist evangelicalism in the eye — both eyes in fact. He has laid down a challenge that must be met: How to read the Bible in a way that does not lead to pervasive pluralism but leads to conclusions on which we can agree enough to say “Thus saith the Lord.” Until that happens, we’ve got too many lone rangers claiming “Thus saith the Lord.” What good is it to say we’ve got the very Word of God if we can’t agree on what the Word says?”

McKnight also listed Camp’s Who Is My Enemy? in his list of the best books of 2011 under the “World Issues” category.

The Englewood Review of Books named several Brazos titles in their Best Books of 2011 list – including Miroslav Volf’s A Public Faith, Christian Smith’s The Bible Made Impossible, and Lee C. Camp’s Who Is My Enemy?

Publishers Weekly named Volf’s A Public Faith among the Top 100 Books of 2011 (and the Top 10 in Religion):

“The gifted Christian theologian answers a pressing question in a pluralistic culture, arguing that nonexclusionary theological truth is not only possible but also socially healthy.”

Congratulations to our authors!

The Weekly Hit List: December 23, 2011

There are several blogs that have recently engaged with Christian Smith’s The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture.

Here are a couple:

Soliloquium Blog

Hope Abbey Blog

 

Miroslav Volf’s A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good has also gotten some recent attention by various bloggers.

Here are a few:

CLR Forum

John Piippo Blog

Once Upon a Truth Blog

Keith Clark began a series of posts on Christian Scharen’s Broken Hallelujahs on his Exploring Apprenticeship Blog.

Tripp York wrote a brief review of Lee Camp’s Who Is My Enemy?, calling it “[p]robably one of the most important books in theology/Christian ethics published this past year.”

Check it out here.

Broken Hallelujahs Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to our winners: John Berard, Jonathan Hallewell, Dan Allison, Jennifer Lanthrope, and Nick Norelli!

They have each won a copy of Christian Scharen’s new Brazos book Broken Hallelujahs: Why Popular Music Matters to Those Seeking God.

Merry Christmas from all of us at The Brazos Blog!

The Weekly Hit List: December 9, 2011

Several blogs have referenced or reviewed Christian Smith’s
The Bible Made Impossible this week:

Matt McCullough reviewed it at the Gospel Coalition website.

Tony Jones did several posts on the book:

Entry 1: The Ailment
Entry 2: The Cure

Scot McKnight made a reference to The Bible Made Impossible that points to the necessity of Smith’s book. Check it out here.

A piece from Samuel Wells, which is an excerpt from his book
Be Not Afraid: Facing Fear with Faith, was posted on RelevantMagazine.com:

A Gospel for the Rich

Lee C. Camp’s Who Is My Enemy? was reviewed by Joe James on the blog “Ends & Means.”

 

Daniel Taylor’s Creating a Spiritual Legacy was reviewed in the latest Englewood Review of Books.

Creating a Spiritual Legacy Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to the winners of The Brazos Blog Giveaway.

Karl Persson, Kyle Stevens, Craig Higgins, Dan Jesse, and Duane Young will each receive a free copy of Daniel Taylor’s Creating a Spiritual Legacy: How to Share Your Stories, Values, and Wisdom.

Check back next week for our next giveaway.