Archives For Emerging Church

 

“Friend, Enemy or Frenemy?”

A Review of
Insurrection:
To Believe is Human, To Doubt, Divine

By Peter Rollins

Review by Maria Drews.

  

Insurrection - Peter RollinsInsurrection:
To Believe is Human, To Doubt, Divine

By Peter Rollins.
Paperback: Howard Books, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

In a book that often reads more like poetry than systematic theology, Peter Rollins takes us on a journey through crucifixion into resurrection in search of true faith, burning down the church as he goes. Insurrection: To Believe is Human, To Doubt, Divine, Rollins’ fourth book after How (Not) to Speak of God, The Fidelity of Betrayal, and The Orthodox Heretic, once again seeks truth in the paradox, finding faith by letting it be crucified.

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“Whither the Community?

A review of
Naked Spirituality:
A Life with God in 12 Simple Words.

By Brian McLaren.

Reviewed by Chris Smith.


NAKED SPIRITUALITY - Brian McLarenNaked Spirituality:
A Life with God in 12 Simple Words.

By Brian McLaren.

Hardback: HarperOne, 2011.
RELEASE DATE:  March 15.

Pre-order Now [ Amazon ]

For many years now, I have had a deep respect for Brian McLaren’s work.  Over the last decade, I have read the vast majority of his books and found him to be one of the clearest interpreters of Christianity in this postmodern era. Even when his previous book, A New Kind of Christianity, stirred up a storm of controversy by asking some pointed questions about the nature of the church, I thought the questions he asked were sorely needed and on the right track.  With this bit of history in mind, I found myself rather perplexed by Brian’s new book Naked Spirituality: A Life With God in 12 Simple Words.

I should be clear here that I am sympathetic to the premise of the book. There is a growing population of young adults in North America who have been wounded by Christianity and who want nothing at all to do with the church (this demographic has been described in recent years in books such as They Like Jesus but not the Church and UnChristian); Brian has a keen sense of their pain and wants to extend an olive branch of sorts to these young people, re-engaging them in a conversation about faith.  In the early parts of the book, Brian describes the task he is undertaking:

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“Defining Emerging Christianity

A Review of
An Emerging Dictionary for
The Gospel and Culture

By Leonard Hjalmarson.

Reviewed by Chris Smith.


An Emerging Dictionary for
The Gospel and Culture

Leonard Hjalmarson.

Paperback: Resource Publications/Wipf and Stock, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

EMERGING DICTIONARY... HjalmarsonLen Hjalmarson has been in the middle of conversations about emerging forms of church for many years now. His blog, NextReformation.com , has been not only a place for him to post his keen insights, but also a place for conversation and exploration. Thus, I was excited to hear that he had recently published a book rooted in his experience in these conversations.  An Emerging Dictionary for the Gospel and Culture is indeed as it sets out to be “a roving, eclectic dictionary that is both ridiculously current and particular, and at the same time broadly inclusive, reaching back to Augustine and St. Benedict … the ABC’s of the emerging and missional conversations.”  Hjalmarson does a superb job introducing the topics that he has included here, which basically fall into the two categories of biographical entries and conceptual entries.  All entries here are brief (rarely more than 2 or 3 pages), engaging and helpful in their introducing the person or concept at hand.  I imagine that most readers, even those who have been deeply invested in the emerging and missional church conversations for many years will find at least a few entries here that are surprising or unknown.  For instance, the philosopher of science in me was delighted to see the entry on Thomas Kuhn here, as his work is essential to our work of understanding the times in which we live, and yet his name does not pop up often in church conversations.  There are also a number of terms here that are essential to understanding postmodern criticism – e.g., difference and L’avenir.   Hjalmarson also does a wonderful job at interweaving the entries here; one does not typically think of a dictionary as a book to sit down and read from cover to cover, but this engaging and well-written work flows along nicely and is certainly an exception to that rule!

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A Review of

853982: A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith A New Kind of Christianity:
Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith

By Brian McLaren
Hardback: HarperOne, 2010.

Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]


Review by Adam Ellis.

[ This review originally appeared on Adam’s blog,
and is reprinted here with permission ]

Though I’m quite sure he would deny that anyone owed him anything, I owe Brian McLaren a debt of gratitude. Over the years, Brian’s writing has breathed fresh life and vitality into my faith. To say that I was excited when Viral Bloggers offered an opportunity to review his newest book would be an understatement along the lines of claiming that Bono is kind of interested in social justice, or that Glenn Beck exaggerates a little.

Reviewing the Reviews

As I was finishing the book, I watched as reviews began to pop-up on the internet. The less-than-surprising news is that hard-core Calvinists (including the “New-Calvinists”) hate it with a white-hot hatred they normally reserve for child abusers and made-for-TV movies on the Lifetime Network. Reading their reviews, you would think that Brian had done something to them personally, or had betrayed them in some sense (which is weird, sense they haven’t liked most of his books). I was disappointed to pick up on this vibe even in a review by Michael Wittmer, whom I had generally considered to be one of the more level-headed thinkers from that perspective. Scot McKnight, whom I have a great deal of respect for, and who is not really thought of as a Calvinist, wrote a review for Christianity Today that, while much kinder and more respectful in tone, claimed that Brian wasn’t really saying anything new, but was simply re-packaging the Classical Liberalism that was typical of German Theology before the 2nd World War as typified in Adolf Von Harnack. This struck me as odd, because Brian clearly intends to transcend such polarized categories (not merely repackage one category in a fresh way as “the right one”), and the point at which Brian’s thought draws this criticism from McKnight, is actually closer to the much more contemporary (and 3rd-way) thinking found in the work of Peter Enns.

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David Fitch Reflects on
Brian Mclaren’s New Book
A NEW KIND OF CHRISTIANITY

http://ow.ly/1bJZB

It feels a bit ominous to read the blog reviews of Brian McLaren’s latest – A New Kind of Christianity. The book is raising quite a stink. No surprise eh? One gets the sense there is something different going on this time versus the last couple book releases of Brian’s: The Secret Message and Everything Must Change. One gets the impression we are at a pivot point, a moment that upsets the whole terrain of theological allegiances having to do with the post evangelical emerging church developments of the last ten-fifteen years. It’s like Brian is shaking up the foundations of post evangelical theology. I read the book on my flight home from the ecclesia network national gathering  last week and here are some initial observations.

Read the full review:
http://ow.ly/1bJZB

A NEW KIND OF CHRISTIANITY.
Brian McLaren.

Hardback: HarperOne, 2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]



The NY TIMES Review of
THE WATCHERS:
The Rise of America’s Surveillance State
By Shane Harris

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/23/books/23watchers.html

At this very moment analysts at the National Security Agency some 30 miles north of the White House are monitoring countless flashpoints of data — cellphone calls to “hot” numbers, an e-mail message on a suspicious server, an oddly worded tweet — as they carom around the globe like pinballs in cyberspace.

The snippets of information could conceivably lead them to Anwar al-Awlaki, a fugitive cleric in Yemen whose fiery sermons have inspired violent jihadists. Or to the next would-be underwear bomber. Or, much more likely in the needle-in-a-haystack world of cyber detection, it might lead to nothing at all — at least nothing of any consequence in determining Al Qaeda’s next target.

This is the world of modern eavesdropping, or signals intelligence, as its adherents call it, and for many years it operated in the shadows. “The Puzzle Palace,” the 1983 best seller by James Bamford that remains the benchmark study of the N.S.A., first pulled back the curtain to provide a glint of unwanted sunlight on the place. And the years after the Sept. 11 attacks — a period in which the surveillance agencies’ muscular new role would lead to secret wiretapping programs inside the United States, expansive data-mining operations and more — gave rise to public scrutiny that made the place a veritable greenhouse of exposure.


Read the full review:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/23/books/23watchers.html

THE WATCHERS:
The Rise of America’s Surveillance State
.
Shane Harris.

Hardback: The Penguin Press, 2010
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

 

Brian McLaren’s newest book A NEW KIND OF CHRISTIANITY (HarperOne, BUY NOW from ChristianBook.com) was just released last week, and now TheOoze.tv is featuring a series of videos with Brian that engage the content of the book.

Here is the first of these videos.  Stay tuned to TheOoze.tv for the subsequent episodes.  Watch for a review of ANKOC coming soon in the ERB!

 

Here is an excerpt from a wonderful book that somehow slipped past us last year without a review:

Everyday Justice:
The Global Impact of our Daily Choices.

Julie Clawson.

Paperback: IVP Books, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]


 

A Rich, Organic and Conversational Vision
of the Local Church Community

A Review of
The Teaching of the Twelve:
Believing and Practicing the Primitive Christianity
of the Ancient Didache Community
.
by Tony Jones.

Reviewed by Chris Smith.


The Teaching of the Twelve:
Believing and Practicing the Primitive Christianity
of the Ancient Didache Community
.
Tony Jones.

Paperback: Paraclete Press,  2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

[ Click Here to Read an Excerpt from this book! ]

Tony Jones - The Teaching of the TwelveThe Didache was one of the first texts that sparked my interest in the life of the earliest church communities.  In the wake of 9/11 and the many signs of the church’s domestication to American culture, the Didache as a powerful reminder that another way was possible, a way that is not rooted in returning evil for evil, a way that leads to life.  Over the last decade, I have read a number of books on the Didache, but none has been so vibrant and accessible as Tony Jones’ new book The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing and Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community.  Jones not only seeks to introduce the Didache to a broad audience – an excellent task by itself – but also to make a case for the significance of its message in these postmodern times that in many ways resemble the era in which the Didache was written.  He says in the book’s introduction:

The Didache offers something of an alternative to what many know of Christianity.  The real power of the Didache is its ability to remind us of what is truly important in  Christianity: showing the love of Jesus to the world. (11)

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A Brief Review of

The Boundary-Breaking God:
An Unfolding Story of Hope and Promise
.
Danielle Shroyer.

Hardback: Jossey-Bass, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

In her first book, The Boundary-Breaking God, An Unfolding Story of Hope and Promise, Danielle Shroyer tells the scriptural story through the lens of hope, particularly hope for the stranger and the outsider.  Her work reflects the strong theological influence of Jurgen Moltmann, and indeed in the book’s preface she notes that the book could be thought of as a sort of Theology of Hope: Bible Edition, saying: “As Moltmann expounded upon these themes [of roominess and hope] in theological structure, I have attempted to do so in narrative biblical form” (xviii).  And she does so in a compelling manner, masterfully weaving stories from her own experiences with the scriptural story.  The book is structured around a whirlwind tour of the scriptural narrative from creation to the final coming of the new creation, focus on Moltmann-inspired themes of hope and reconciliation.  Although the book’s brevity contributes greatly to its readability, one does wish that Shroyer would have been able to explore how these themes play out across a broader swath of scripture.

As one would expect, The Boundary-Breaking God contains some pretty strong critiques of traditional evangelical theology.  For instance, Shroyer says:

Eternal life is not a ticket we hold, but a lifestyle we inhabit.  If we follow the resurrected Jesus, we have to practice resurrection.  We have to practice continually being advocates of life rather than people resigned to death.  We have to do the hard work of disentangling ourselves from the death machines, both individually and systematically (84-85).

Although its basic theological ideas are not revolutionary (reflecting Moltmann, of course, and rendering – perhaps unintentionally – some of the basic ideas of J. Kameron Carter’s work) The Boundary-Breaking God is a wonderful little book, enjoyable to read and pointedly challenging at the same time.  I hope and pray that it will reach a multitude of readers who would never even consider picking up one of the meatier theological works (e.g., Moltmann’s Theology of Hope) in which Shroyer’s fine work is deeply rooted.

 

A Brief Review of

The Justice Project.
Brian Mclaren, Elisa Padilla and Ashley Bunting Seeber, Editors.

Hardback: Baker Books, 2009.
Buy Now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

The Justice Project is the newest book in the “emersion” series from Baker books.  Following in the footsteps of its previously-released companion volume An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, The Justice Project is an excellent introduction to the various facets of justice (and injustice) that are being wrestled with in the emerging church movement.  However, consisting of 35 very brief chapters by writers from throughout the world, it is a difficult book to review.   The contributors include many names that will be familiar to these in/or around the emerging church conversation: Brian Maclaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Will and Lisa Samson and Bart Campolo.  There are also many pieces contributed by lesser-known – though no less insightful – thinkers and churchworkers.  Overall, the mini-essay format is a bit disappointing in that the writers never really are able to get very deep into their given subject.   The positive side is that it does allow for the introduction of a vast array of diverse justice-related issues in the theology and practice of church communities.  Some of the finest essays were Sylvia Keesmaat’s (a co-author of the excellent book Colossians Unmixed) piece on justice in the biblical epistles and Annemie Bosch’s piece on “Suffering for Justice” (Annemie is the widow of the late, renowned South African missiologist, David Bosch).   I also really appreciated the pieces on justice in the city by Jorge Tasin (of Buenos Aires, Argentina) and my friend and fellow Indianapolis Eastsider, Chad Abbott.
Having been an observer of (and sometimes a participant in) the emerging church conversation for almost a decade, I know well that the longing for justice is one of the key virtues that defines these churches.  I am thus pleased to see the many facets this passion for justice surveyed in The Justice Project, thereby beginning the work of fleshing out a vision of justice across the movement.  I hope and pray that this vision of justice will continue to be pursued and more richly embodied in the years to come.
The Justice Project is the newest book in the “emersion” series from Baker books.  Following in the footsteps of its previously-released companion volume An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, The Justice Project is an excellent introduction to the various facets of justice (and injustice) that are being wrestled with in the emerging church movement.  However, consisting of 35 very brief chapters by writers from throughout the world, it is a difficult book to review.   The contributors include many names that will be familiar to these in/or around the emerging church conversation: Brian Mclaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Will and Lisa Samson and Bart Campolo.  There are also many pieces contributed by lesser-known – though no less insightful – thinkers and churchworkers.  Overall, the mini-essay format is a bit disappointing in that the writers never really are able to get very deep into their given subject.   The positive side is that it does allow for the introduction of a vast array of diverse justice-related issues in the theology and practice of church communities.  Some of the finest essays were Sylvia Keesmaat’s (a co-author of the excellent book Colossians Unmixed) piece on justice in the biblical epistles and Annemie Bosch’s piece on “Suffering for Justice” (Annemie is the widow of the late, renowned South African missiologist, David Bosch).   I also really appreciated the pieces on justice in the city by Jorge Tasin (of Buenos Aires, Argentina) and my friend and fellow Indianapolis Eastsider, Chad Abbott.
Having been an observer of (and sometimes a participant in) the emerging church conversation for almost a decade, I know well that the longing for justice is one of the key virtues that defines these churches.  I am thus pleased to see the many facets this passion for justice surveyed in The Justice Project, thereby beginning the work of fleshing out a vision of justice across the movement.  I hope and pray that this vision of justice will continue to be pursued and more richly embodied in the years to come.