The Weekly Hit List: February 13, 2015

J. Todd Billings, author of Rejoicing in Lament, wrote “Avoiding the Dead Ends of Providence: Monocausal Fatalism and Open Theism” for Reformation 21.

“It is not easy to leave suffering as an open question, particularly in the midst of crisis. At times, I’ve sensed that there must be a reason that this cancer has hit me.

“Perhaps God couldn’t do anything about it? Perhaps God is ‘relational’ in such a way that some things are truly ‘pointless’ even to God? There might be some reassurance in affirming such an ‘answer.’ Yet, this is not an answer that would keep cultivating Christian lament with the Psalmist. The Psalmists keep asking, questioning, and petitioning because they believe God is the almighty Lord.”

Read the entire article here.


Other Rejoicing in Lament Media:

Publishers Weekly named Rejoicing in Lament a “Spirituality & Religion Book of Note.”

Billings will appear for a book signing and interview with Neal Plantinga in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at the Baker Book House on Thursday, February 19.

Billings appeared on The Janet Mefferd Show.


Quick Hits:

Spiritual Friendship by Wesley Hill (April 2015) and Divine Sex by Jonathan Grant (July 2015) were mentioned in Publishers Weekly article “Sex and Religion: A Crop of Books Addresses a Fraught Relationship.”

Spirituality and the Awakening Self by David G. Benner was called a “treasure trove” by Lacy Clark Ellman.

Ben Witherington wrote a series of posts on Scot McKnight’s Kingdom Conspiracy, including a lengthy interview with McKnight. Parts: 1; 2; 3; 4; 5.

Ebook Special for Spirituality and the Awakening Self by David G. Benner

Now through August 3, the ebook for Spirituality and the Awakening Self: The Sacred Journey of Transformation by David G. Benner is only $2.99 (85% off) from the following participating retailers:


Barnes & Noble


“A challenging multidisciplinary analysis of psychological change and spiritual development. . . . Blending insights from psychology, theology, anthropology, his own clinical practice, and other disciplines, the author suggests that the adventurous journey of the ‘awakening self’ is one of experiencing the possibility of ‘radical’ transformation leading to oneness with God. Throughout the book, stories from the Christian mystics and other spiritual tutors provide a rich array of examples of communion with the divine as the writer presents his vision of the self as it moves from one stage of consciousness to the next. . . . [Readers] will find this profound journey into spiritual and psychological growth provocative, enriching, and full of insights that will stay with them after they have put down the book.”
Publishers Weekly

Being human is a lifelong journey of becoming. This journey defines our humanity, for it is a journey toward our source and our fulfillment, described in Christian theology as union with God. If we remain open to God as our sense of self awakens, we experience a deeper consciousness of being in him. The self that emerges during this process is larger, more enlightened, and whole.

David Benner has spent thirty-five years integrating psychology and spirituality. Following his acclaimed book Soulful Spirituality, Benner offers readers a deeper understanding of the self and its spiritual development in Spirituality and the Awakening Self. Drawing on a broad range of Christian traditions, he shows that the transformation of self is foundational to Christian spirituality.

This book will appeal to professors and students in ministry development and spiritual formation courses; professionals engaged in pastoral care, counseling, and spiritual direction; and readers interested in a psychologically grounded, fresh exploration of Christian spirituality. Questions and answers for individual or group use are included at the end of each chapter.

The Weekly Hit List: July 11, 2014

iGods by Craig Detweiler was recommended by Neil Stavem on Connecting Faith.

Today the world is literally at our fingertips through amazing technology, but what is all this access and information doing to us?

“Craig Detweiler, professor, filmmaker, cultural commentator and author says how we use technology shapes our faith in more ways than we realize.

In Craig’s book, iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives, he gives an overview of the impact of 21st-century technology.”

Read the rest of “How technology shapes our faith” here.


Quick Hits:

iGods was recommended by Joy J. Moore on Catalyst.

A Beautiful Disaster by Marlena Graves was recommended on Urban Faith.

Marlena Graves co-wrote “Faith Unsettled: Pushing beyond the easy-believism of evangelicalism” for Her.meneutics.

Generous Spaciousness by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter was mentioned in an article by Jonathan Merritt for The Week.

Generous Spaciousness by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter was reviewed by Guylou.

Can We Still Believe the Bible? by Craig Blomberg was reviewed on Conversation in Faith.

A Life Observed by Devin Brown was reviewed by Michele Morin.

Spirituality and the Awakening Self by David G. Benner was quoted on Richer by Far.

The Weekly Hit List: March 28, 2014

iGods by Craig Detweiler was reviewed in Portland Book Review.

“The danger of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter is when we allow their influence to convince us that we, too, hold the prominence of what Detweiler calls ‘iGods’: ‘The temptation of Google goes back to the garden – to become like God. … The proper response remains timeless – resist temptation. Acknowledge how little we know despite the resources available. Practice humility because the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (225).

“With a Ph.D. from Fuller Seminary and a self-proclaimed love of all things Apple, Detweiler presents a cogent, important argument in a book that shouldn’t be missed.”

Read the rest of the review here.


iGods was also recommended in WORLD magazine.


Can We Still Believe the Bible? Media:

Margaret Feinberg published the third of several weekly interviews with Craig Blomberg—and is giving away three copies of Can We Still Believe the Bible?.

This week for the Can We Still Believe the Bible? blog tour, Daniel Wallace responded to chapter 1, Darrell Bock and Michael Bird responded to chapter 4, Matthew Montonini and Nijay Gupta responded to chapter 5, and David B. Capes and Craig Keener responded to chapter 6.

Giveaway winners were also announced.


Quick Hits:

Kevin Schut, author of Of Games and God, appeared on the Christ & Pop Culture podcast.

Kevin Schut also spoke for Geneva Campus Ministry at the University of Iowa.

Living into Focus by Arthur Boers was referenced by My Kids Adventures’ in “5 Ways to Spend Quality Time with Your Kids.”

Spirituality and the Awakening Self by David G. Benner was referenced and quoted by Peter Enns.


Ebook Specials:

Death and Afterlife: A Theological Introduction by Terence Nichols is only $3.99 (83% off) through April 3.

The Weekly Hit List: May 31, 2013

On Gods SideJim Wallis, author of On God’s Side, was interviewed by Sarah van Gelder for YES! Magazine.

van Gelder: If you could suggest one thing to a YES! reader that they could do to reach out to people who are ideologically very different than they are, what would you say?

Wallis: The first thing I would say to a YES! reader is, religion has no monopoly on morality. We need all of us in this conversation. I want to speak to the genuine fears that secular activists may have of religious communities, because there have been people wanting to impose their religious agenda on the country using political power.

I fought my whole life against religious fundamentalists, but there also are secular fundamentalists who don’t want people of faith around, and who can be as narrow as the religious fundamentalists.

“So let’s talk about a common ground for the common good, including people of faith, people who are spiritual but not religious, or secular but with moral sensibilities. I want to get over our fear of each other and embrace each other’s best moral values and find where we can work together.”

Read the rest of the “Meet the Refreshing Evangelical Who’s Leading a Revival—of ‘the Common Good’” here.


More On God’s Side media:

“Jim Wallis, Frank Wolf Discuss How Politics Can Serve the Common Good” in The Christian Post

“The Common Good, The Planet, and Humankind” by Joanne Boyer for Wisdom Voices

“Common Ground for the Common Good” by Gary Manning

“Helping the Poor in the Concrete” by  Faith McDonnell for Juicy Ecumenism


In Case You Missed It:

We are holding a summer book giveaway for one lucky reader to win five Brazos Press titles:

– On God’s Side by Jim Wallis
– Educating All God’s Children by Nicole Baker Fulgham
– Of Games and God by Kevin Schut
– A Public Faith by Miroslav Volf
– A Hobbit Journey by Matthew Dickerson

Don’t miss your chance to enter, here.


Quick Hits:

Don’t miss Nicole Baker Fulgham, author of Educating All God’s Children, this Sunday, May 26, at 7:00 a.m. ET, on Washington DC’s WPGC 95.5 FM.

Claiming Abraham by Michael Lodahl was shortlisted for the 2013 Michael Ramsey prize.

The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns was reviewed by T. E. Hanna for Of Dust And Kings.

Eyes Wide Open by William D. Romanowski was recommended by Hearts & Minds Books.

Spirituality and the Awakening Self by David G. Benner was referenced by Tennessee Baptist Cooperative Fellowship.

Psalms for All Seasons was referenced in Reformed Worship.


Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

Today is the last day of our May ebook specials, which are currently running for multiple Brazos Press and Baker Academic titles. All of these are at least 52% off.

Searching for Home by Craig M. Barnes
Conversations with Poppi about God by Robert W. Jenson and Solveig Lucia Gold
Everyday Apocalypse by David Dark
The Early Church on Killing edited by Ronald J. Sider
Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory by Markus Bockmuehl

The Weekly Hit List: October 12, 2012

Spirituality and the Awakening Self by David Benner was reviewed in the October 2012 issue of The Diocesan Post, a section of The Anglican Journal.

“In a day when the world is filled with self-help books, offering advice with varying degrees of helpfulness, Benner reconnects the process of transformational change with the world’s spiritual traditions, particularly reflecting his own deep rooted-ness in the mystical tradition of Christianity.

“Benner offers a helpful corrective to some of the self-centered road maps that are popular in our individualistic culture, suggesting, ‘Ultimately transformation is not even really about me. It is about an increasing recognition of the reality of the me-in-God and the God-in-me. Self-engineered attempts at transformation are far too self-focused to truly allow my ego-self to die and my spirit-centered self to emerge.'”

To read the rest of this review, click here.


Quick Hits:

Living into Focus by Arthur Boers was reviewed by Jeff Loach of Presbyterian Record.
It was also reviewed by Jeff Borden on his blog, iCrucified.

Speaking of Dying by Fred Craddock, Dale Goldsmith, and Joy V. Goldsmith was featured in a “Take & read” piece on Christian Century.

An excerpt from Speaking of Dying was featured on

A Hobbit Journey by Matthew Dickerson was reviewed by Jeff Lonsinger on his blog, Pastor Jeff’s Ramblings.

The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns was reviewed by Randal Hardman on his blog, The Bara Initiative.

A Public Faith by Miroslav Volf was reviewed in the August 2012 issue of The Messenger.


Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

October ebook specials are currently running for multiple Brazos Press and Baker Academic titles. All of these are at least 75% off.

Deconstructing Theodicy by David B. Burrell
Song of Songs (BTCB series) by Paul J. Griffiths
Under the Influence by Monica Ganas
The Mind and the Machine by Matthew Dickerson
John (Paideia series) by Jo-Ann A. Brant
The Fall of Interpretation by James K. A. Smith
Killing Enmity by Thomas R. Yoder Neufield
Finding Your Plot in a Plotless World by Daniel de Roulet
Second Corinthians (CCSS series) by Thomas D. Stegman, SJ
A Liturgy of Grief by Leslie C. Allen


Being and Becoming: Learning from the Mystics – by David G. Benner

The following article is written by Dr. David G. Benner, author of Spirituality and the Awakening Self and Soulful Spirituality, and was originally published as a part of the Book Club in March 2012.


Being and Becoming: Learning from the Mystics

Most Christians find the mystics mystifying. Their language often makes it hard to identify with them, their lifestyle seems out of sync with modernity, and their message simply doesn’t seem relevant to life as most of us know and live it. It’s easy, therefore, to think of mysticism as a hobby for people on the fringe of life—spiritual gurus or others seeking esoteric spiritual experiences. But this easy dismissal would be unfortunate because the mystics are surprisingly relevant to modern life and their message is much more practical than usually realized. This is the reason Karl Rahner, perhaps the most influential Roman Catholic theologian of the 20th century, argued that “the Christian of the future will either be a mystic or not exist at all.”

However, before we attempt to learn from this rich Christian tradition let me take a moment to clear some common misconceptions. Despite what you might have heard, Christian mysticism is not about seeing visions or receiving special messages from God. Nor is it the pursuit of enlightenment or esoteric spiritual or religious experiences. In fact, its goal is not experience at all—or, at least, it should not be. The goal is simply knowing—deep personal knowing of God. The mystical or contemplative journey is, therefore, deeply relational. At its core is a longing for an intimate knowing of God in love. There is nothing that mystics desire more deeply than this.

What the mystics offer us isn’t primarily techniques or theories but wisdom—wisdom that is deeply congruent with biblical teaching but which emphasizes the interior dimensions of the transformational encounter with God that authentic knowing of God involves. Although it is immensely practical and includes practices, this wisdom can’t be reduced to those practices. For like any wisdom teaching, it starts at a place much deeper than what we believe or what we do. It starts with ontology—with our being—and moves out from there.

Being and Becoming
The starting point of the Christian contemplative journey is the paradoxical realization that there really is nothing to achieve and no where to go. This is because God is already present and we already exist in God and God exists in us. All that is lacking is awareness of this most fundamental reality of our existence. But, even that awareness is not something we need to achieve. It is a gift from God and is not something we can manufacture. But it is a gift that we can unwrap and this is where the wisdom of the mystics is so helpful.

Within contemplative spirituality there is a tension between being and becoming. In terms of being, we are always, already, one with God, immersed in God’s presence and deeply enmeshed with God’s very being. Becoming is returning to this eternal state of being. It is being aware of what is most deeply the truth of my being and allowing this to become equally true of my identity. Consequently, even the metaphor of the journey is somewhat misleading. Of course, life is a journey and our spirituality is deeply part of that journey. But, it is not a journey of finding God because God is already present in Christ in my depths. If it is a journey of anything it is a journey of knowing—of knowing the truth of my being and knowing the transformational power of the life and love of God flowing through us.

So how is this practical? It is, in fact, immensely practical. It reminds us to relax and let go of our striving to know God—or our striving to achieve anything of spiritual significance. It tells us that the initiative in this relationship has been and always will be all God’s. Everything that God asks of us, God gives us. And everything that we most deeply seek is already ours in the God who resides at the center of our being. God having taken that initiative and being now fully present to me, my job is simply to open myself in trust to the God whose abiding presence is the very foundation of my existence. Because, if the eternal I AM were not present to me, I would not be.

Inner Space and Hospitality
The second important thing the mystics have to teach us is how to open ourselves in trust to the knowing of God’s loving presence that we seek. The answer is that we do this by making space for God. Christian mysticism is less about attaining unity with God and more about creating the inner emptiness where you can offer God hospitality. It is, therefore, more a matter of subtraction than addition.

This brings us to the important role of silence and solitude. These are not primarily things to achieve as they are ways of preparing ourselves to receive the gifts God has for us. Both are ways of stepping outside our usual patterns of self-preoccupation and distraction. They are ways of making space in the depths of our being. And the clearing of this space is our way of showing hospitality to the God who is already there but who has not been noticed in all the clutter and noise that usually fills that space.

The silence and solitude that are important are, of course, inner—not merely external. Scriptures speak of this as stillness. Think, for example, of the words of Psalm 46:10—”Be still and know that I am God.” Inner stillness is a way of communicating our intent to make space for God. Offering whatever inner stillness we have in the moment allows us to be present to the One who is present to us. And it results in a unique form of knowing that the mystics call contemplative knowing.

Contemplative Knowing
Any genuinely transformational knowing of God will always involve more than knowing about God. John of the Cross says that God cannot be thought but can be loved. Even though we will often feel the need to put words to our experience of the Mystery that is God, our words can never hold God. They may point in the general direction of God but that pointing will always be imperfect and limited. And looking at fingers that point toward God should never be confused with the ineffable mystery to which they point. That’s the limitation of words and of the mind in the encounter with God.

Knowing God who is love will always involve what the mystics call knowing in love or knowing through love. Love is its own form of knowing. We can be as certain of what we know in or through love as we can of any other form of knowing. In fact, it will usually resonate with things deep in our soul in a way that will confirm the validity of our knowing in ways that go beyond what we can ever experience with intellectual knowing. Some, therefore, speak of bringing our heart, not just our head, to the contemplative encounter. But we shouldn’t think of this as making space for feelings but making space for love—God’s love, God’s life. Contemplation isn’t thinking about something or other—even thinking about God. It is making space in our hearts for the touch of the Loving and Living God, and then allowing that touch to flow through the rest of our being—heads included—and out into the world.


David G. Benner (PhD, York University; postdoctoral studies, Chicago Institute of Psychoanalysis) is an internationally known depth psychologist, author, spiritual guide, and personal transformation coach. He currently serves as Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Spirituality at the Psychological Studies Institute, Richmont Graduate University. He has authored or edited more than twenty books, including Soulful Spirituality and Strategic Pastoral Counseling. Benner lectures widely around the world and has held numerous clinical and academic appointments. Visit his website at

To read this article on, click here.

The Weekly Hit List: June 22, 2012

Kicking at the Darkness by Brian J. Walsh was granted the 2012 Nonfiction Book — Academic book Award of Merit from the Canadian Christian Writing Awards.

The Canadian Christian Writing Awards are “designed to raise the profile of Canadian writers who are Christian, and to encourage them in the pursuit of excellence in the art, craft, practice and ministry of writing.

“The awards are sponsored by The Word Guild, a national organization of Canadian writers and editors who are Christian. Formerly known as The God Uses Ink Awards, these writing prizes have been awarded annually since 1988.”


Quick Hits:

Spirituality and the Awakening Self by David G. Benner was reviewed on Semper Reformanda.

The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith was reviewed on The Gregorian Blog.

A Public Faith by Miroslav Volf was recommended on the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s blog.

The June issue of Border Crossings (the Brazos Press newsletter) is now available.

In case you missed it: James K. A. Smith, author of Letters to a Young Calvinist,  was interviewed on WGVU-FM.

The Weekly Hit List: May 4, 2012

The Christian Century reviewed Living into Focus: Choosing What Matters in an Age of Distractions by Arthur Boers. You must be a subscriber to read the entire review. Here is an excerpt:

“The more difficult task, however, and the one that Boers’s book mostly succeeds in provoking, is to look long and hard at ourselves, at the objects that command our attention and at the practices that make up our days. And then, after he holds up a mirror for us for a little while, Boers asks us the essential, if no longer new, questions: When do we rule our gadgets and when do they rule us? When does technology improve our lives and when does it bankrupt them? What habits might help us manage the omnipresent allures of a technological age? And what can we do if we find ourselves walking around with devices that are not, in the deepest sense of the word, working?”

Quick Hits:

The May 2012 issue of the Brazos Press newsletter, Border Crossings, has released and is available. To receive future issues in your inbox, click here to subscribe.

Peter Enns (author of The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins) was interviewed on for what he “thinks about Adam and why it matters one way or the other.”

Miroslav Volf’s A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good was reviewed by Tony Dickinson.

David G. Benner’s Spirituality and the Awakening Self: The Sacred Journey of Transformation was featured in the May list of resources in The Mennonite: “Benner shows that the  transformation of self is foundational to Christian spirituality.”

Christian Smith’s The  Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture was reviewed by Charlie Dean on his blog. “If you think deeply about faith, theology and particularly the Bible, you’ll really want to read this book – and better yet, discuss it with a few people.”

Nathaniel Claiborne reviewed Proverbs & Ecclesiastes (part of the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series) by Daniel J. Treier on his blog.

Between the Lines: A Conversation with David Benner – Part 5

This is the last in a five-part interview with Dr. David Benner – author of the recent Brazos book Spirituality and the Awakening Self: The Sacred Journey of Transformation.

In Part 1, Dr. Benner discussed his purpose for writing Spirituality and the Awakening Self.
In Part 2, he talked about Christian mysticism and what it has to offer for one’s journey of transformation.
In Part 3, he discussed the role of community in that journey.
In Part 4, we asked David about the “first rule of care” for others.


Finally, please comment on the understanding of the spiritual journey as primarily involving growth in Christ-likeness.

If Christ-likeness is not reduced to behavior but involves taking on both the mind and heart of Christ – not just the behavior of Jesus – this describes exactly what I think the journey involves.  But it cannot simply be a matter of conformity.  We must understand that the Christ-in-me will always look different from the Christ-in-you.

Also, we need to be clear to distinguish this from a journey of increasing sinless perfection.  Nor is taking on the heart and mind of Christ the same as adopting a set of beliefs.  Taking on the heart and mind of Christ involves experiencing and responding to one’s self, the world and God through the heart and mind of God.  This is what it means to become the new creature in Christ that we are called to be.


For more information on Dr. David G. Benner and Spirituality and the Awakening Self, check out the Book Club page on

Check out original posts from Dr. Benner, an excerpt from the book, and articles by Tony Jones, Jana Riess, and others.