Archives For Common Good


James Davison Hunter

Today (May 18) is the birthday of James Davison Hunter, the noted sociologist and public intellectual…

In honor of the occasion, we offer these three interviews that introduce his work.

If you want to read his work, we recommend
starting with To Change the World

[ Other Books by James Davison Hunter ]

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Here are a some excellent theology* books that will be released this month:

* broadly interpreted, including ethics, church history, biblical studies, and other areas that intersect with theology


Empirical Foundations of the Common Good: What Theology Can Learn from Social Science

Daniel Finn, Ed.

Oxford UP
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A Shared Justice For All People

A Brief Review of 

A Christian Justice
for the Common Good

Tex Sample

Paperback: Abingdon, 2016
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]


Reviewed by Rafael Andres Rodriguez


A Christian Justice for the Common Good is Tex Sample’s quick primer for the community activist, clergy, layperson, and student seeking to engage the issues of justice from within a local church context.  His treatment on the issues is interwoven with compelling narrative, reminding the reader that, in the words of John Milbank, “narrating is a more basic category than explanation or understanding.”[i] Within these pages is a mind deeply devoted to Jesus Christ as God’s self-disclosure, grappling with what it means to work for the good of all.

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Cultivating the Common Good
in a Pluralist Society

A Brief Review of 

Politics for a Pilgrim Church:
A Thomistic Theory
of Civic Virtue

Thomas Bushlack

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2015
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by C. Christopher Smith
I have been wanting to write about this book for awhile, and since today is the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, it seems like an ideal occasion to write a brief review. Politics for a Pilgrim Church is a helpful and substantial reflection on how Aquinas’s work can guide us as we seek to live faithfully to the way of Jesus in the pluralistic public square of the 21st century. Bushlack starts with an appreciative, but largely critical examination of neo-Anabaptist approaches to political engagement. Specifically, as one working from the Catholic theological tradition, he engages William Cavanaugh and Michael Baxter here. As one who largely agrees with Cavanaugh and Baxter’s work, I read his critiques with interest, and found myself particularly sympathetic to his assertion that  they “provide very little normative content in regard to how one might faithfully engage in the civic and cultural milieu of democratic states” (40).

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Helping Youth Contribute to the Common Good

A Review of

Youth Ministry in a Multifaith Society: Forming Christian Identity Among Skeptics, Syncretists and Sincere Believers of Other Faiths

Len Kageler

Paperback: InterVarsity Press, 2014
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by John W. Morehead
Evangelical books and other resources that address youth ministry usually do so without much reference to the pluralism and multifaith context of America and the West. Len Kageler’s volume, Youth Ministry in a Multifaith Society, fills a much-needed void in this area.
Kageler’s book examines youth ministry in multifaith contexts through nine chapters and two appendices. His approach is unique in that he does not follow a typical doctrinal contrast template found in so many other Evangelical volumes that touch on other religions. Instead, he helps Evangelical youth workers understand their ministry in light of social scientific data, as well as similar approaches being taken by youth workers in other religious traditions. In the first chapter he draws attention to the concepts of youth and adolescents as well as the youth work activities of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Jews. He concludes the chapter by noting that exposure of Evangelical youth group members to the members of other religious youth groups can have a positive function that can “call into question previously held assumptions” (31) which then aids in spiritual formation.

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A Challenge to the American Christian Public System.

A Feature Review of

A New Evangelical Manifesto:  A Kingdom Vision for the Common Good
David Gushee

Paperback: Chalice Press, 2012.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Alex Dye
No matter how many times I read about evangelicals, their history, their theology and their current work, I find myself struggling to piece it all together, to explain who they are and how they came to be.  Perhaps it is because it is not a centrally defined movement and so much of its history and faith is nebulous in that it started in different places by different people who acted in different ways with similar core beliefs.  In the introduction to A New Evangelical Manifesto:  A Kingdom Vision for the Common Good, editor David P. Gushee offers his definition of evangelicalism as a foundation for the essays that are to come:


    “…evangelicals are spiritually serious, theologically orthodox, evangelistically engaged, morally earnest Protestant Christians, members of hundreds of particular denominational traditions and tens of thousands of congregations all over the country.  (You will find other ways of defining evangelicals in this book.  But that’s good enough for now.”( ix)

In this characterization, Gushee does not explain what evangelicals believe but rather wishes to define the movement as a wide variety of adherents apart from the most radical sects within, usually identified as right wing conservatives and fundamentalists.

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ERB friend and contributor John Pattison recently had the opportunity interview Miroslav Volf, and he has posted the transcript of the interview on the Slow Church blog.

John talks with Miroslav mostly about his recent book:

A Public Faith:

How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good

Miroslav Volf.

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2011.
Buy Now: [ Amazon – Paperback ] [ Amazon – Kindle ]

Miroslav Volf Interview[ERB editor] Chris [Smith]  and I recently collaborated on an article about the political role of the local church for the upcoming February/March issue of Neue Magazine. In preparation for writing the article, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Miroslav Volf about politics, the local church, promoting human flourishing, and his most recent book, A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good. Dr. Volf is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology at Yale Divinity School and the Founding Director of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture. He is the author of numerous books, including Allah: A Christian Response (2011) and After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity (1998). His book Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (1996) is a classic work. It won the prestigious University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award. It was also included, less prestigiously, in Besides the Bible as one of the 100 books every Christian should read.

The Neue article should be on newsstands any day. In the meantime, here is a transcript of my interview with Dr. Volf.

How did this new book, A Public Faith, come about? Did it arise out of a single original moment?

The book has been a long time in gestation. Indeed, the individual pieces, though written with the unity in mind, have been written across a relatively wide swath of time – some 15 years if I recall correctly, and one even older than that. I have been thinking about these issues for quite some time. A Public Faith was the result.

[ Read the full interview with Miroslav Volf on the Slow Church blog… ]

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Just stumbled today upon these videos of Miroslav Volf and Christian Smith discussing their newest books, both of which are featured in our Fall/Ordinary Time print issue, which just went to the printer.

A Public Faith:
How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good

Miroslav Volf.
Paperback: Brazos Press, 2011.
Buy Now: [ Amazon – Paperback ] [ Amazon – Kindle ]

The Bible Made Impossible:
Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture

Christian Smith.
Hardback: Baker Academic, 2011.
Buy now:  [ Amazon – Hardback ] [ Amazon – Kindle ]

Miroslav Volf on A Public Faith:

Watch the rest of this video:
[ Part 2] [ Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ] [ Part 5 ] [ Part 6 ]

Christian Smith on The Bible Made Impossible:

Watch the rest of this video:
[ Part 2] [ Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ] [ Part 5]