Archives For Hospitality


God, the Host
A Review of

Saved By Faith and Hospitality
Joshua Jipp

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]
Reviewed by Bob Cornwall

*** This review originally appeared on the reviewer’s website,
     and is reprinted here with permission.  Browse his website
     for other excellent reviews!

Sola Fide!  The declaration that we are saved by faith alone has been one of the hallmarks of the Protestant tradition. There has long been an aversion to “works righteousness,” but this too often has led to what Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.” Perhaps, in our time, there is a need to reclaim a fuller biblical vision of salvation, one that is not merely individualistic, but that engages all of life, here on this planet. So, perhaps we would be well-served to speak of being saved by faith and “hospitality.” Such is the premise of Joshua Jipp’s profound and prophetic book.

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Tomorrow (Sept. 10) is the birthday of Jean Vanier, the founder of the L’Arche communities.

To mark the occasion, we offer the following introductory reading guide to his most significant books.

We’ve ordered this list in the order that we think the books should be read, and offered a brief explanation of why each book was included. We’ve also included excerpts of most the books via Google Books.



1) Community and Growth

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Yesterday, the issue of immigration was back in the news, as the Supreme Court announced that it will take up a case to decide whether Pres. Obama’s executive actions on immigration are constitutional

Not sure if immigration matters to Christians or if it does, why it matters?  Here is a reading list that will help you better understand immigration in theological perspective. 
Most of these books focus on immigration from Mexico and other parts of Latin America, but there are a couple that focus on immigration from other parts of the world.
What books have been most helpful to you in thinking theologically about immigration?

Welcoming the Stranger:
Justice, Compassion and Truth in the Immigration Debate

Matthew Soerens and Jenny Yang

*** If you only have time for one book, read this one!
*** Read our review
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Christine Pohl

Here is the third of the audio recordings from the Slow Church Conference that we hosted earlier this month here at Englewood Christian Church.

Previously posted talks from the Slow Church conference:

Our aim for the conference was to foster conversation around the work of several key theologians whose work inspired the Slow Church book that John Pattison and I wrote.

[ Download a FREE sampler of the SLOW CHURCH book here… ]

Christine Pohl is Professor of Church and Society at Asbury Theological Seminary.

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A Regular Part of our Everyday Lives


A Brief Review of

Come To My Table: God’s Hospitality and Yours

Sue Moore Donaldson

Paperback: CreateSpace, 2013
Buy now:   [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Sara Sterley


Hospitality is a loaded issue in these days of Martha Stewart, Pinterest, and a whole host of other blogs, personalities, and magazines. I love to cook and host friends at our house, but I didn’t really connect those passions to hospitality until more recently and certainly until after reading Come To My Table. I’m coming to think of hospitality as a cornerstone of our faith, and I think we need to reclaim hospitality from the lofty Pinterest ideal.

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Henry Brinton - Welcoming CongregationSustaining Non-Homogeneous Communities

A Feature Review of

The Welcoming Congregation: Roots and Fruits of Christian Hospitality .

Henry Brinton

Paperback: WJK Books, 2012.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by David Swanson

“You’re going to preach an entire sermon series about hospitality?”  This was a friend’s confused response as I was sharing about my preaching plans.  She conceded that hospitality might merit some discussion but couldn’t imagine that the topic warranted more than one sermon.  Her perception, I imagine, is shared among many American Christians.  In the secular realm hospitality is an industry; in our churches the word is associated with ushers, greeters, and those staffing the welcome booth in the lobby.  How much can actually be said abut hospitality?

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035661: Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible

A Review of

Christians at the Border:
Immigration, the Church, and the Bible

By M. Daniel Carroll R.
Paperback: Baker Academic, 2008.
Buy now:  [ ]

Reviewed by Laretta Benjamin.

[  EDITOR’S NOTE: Although this book is about three years old now, we didn’t give it a proper review when it came out, and with the coming No Longer Strangers conference on the Church and immigration that we will be hosting, we wanted to take this opportunity to review it…]

Qué el Señor nos illumine y otorgue entendimiento.  May the Lord illumine us and grant us understanding is the prayer the author prays in the opening pages of his writing. I would be so bold as to add “and all the people said, Amen”. Oh that we as God’s people truly had those renewed minds and hearts Scripture speaks of, then we might actually begin to see things as God sees them and not as they are colored by our nationalities, our cultures and our personal agendas.  Christians at the Border is an incredible encouragement to God’s people to be a reflection of the wisdom of God and the humility, grace and mercy demonstrated in Christ in the midst of all the immigration rhetoric.

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No Longer Strangers

No Longer Strangers:
A Conversation on the Church and Immigration

Immigration is one of today’s most pressing issues, one on which there is much fear, misunderstanding and tension. We believe that in the church community – where, despite our ethnic heritages, we are brothers and sisters – we can begin to untangle the misunderstandings and seek justice and reconciliation together.

We hope that you will be able to join us for this important conversation – in English and Spanish – on the church and immigration.

Main Speaker:
Daniel Carroll Rodas, Author of: Christians At the Border

When: Friday evening April 8 and Saturday April 9, 2011

Where: Englewood Christian Church / Indianapolis

Registration / More Info:

Facebook E-vite (spread the word!):


“Trust-Building Conversation

A Review of

Building Cultures of Trust.
By Martin Marty.

Reviewed by Bob Cornwall.

Building Cultures of Trust.
Martin Marty.
Hardback: Eerdmans, 2010.
Buy now: [ ]

[ A longer version of this review is available
on the reviewer’s blog. ]

Martin Marty - BUILDING CULTURES OF TRUSTTrust seems in short supply these days, with the populace seemingly trusting no one including politicians, government, religious institutions, science, corporations, banks or the courts.   But, if trust is in short supply, how then can our society survive, let alone function?   Although a certain degree of suspicion is healthy, lest we allow ourselves to be scammed and defrauded, we’ve moved far beyond healthy skepticism, which makes building cultures of trust difficult.

Martin Marty takes up the challenge of “building cultures of trust” in a  contribution to the Emory University “Studies in Law and Religion” that’s based on lectures given for the Trust Institute at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 2008.  Trust starts with the individual, having to do with a person’s character, resolve and ability to change, but as Marty makes clear, it doesn’t stop with the individual.  Trust must involve others, and it evolves in the context of social cultures, which provide for conditions where the task of building trust can occur and even thrive.  It also involves risk, for without risk there is no need to trust.

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A Brief Review of
Just Hospitality: God’s Welcome in a World of Difference.
Letty Russell.

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

Reviewed by Kate A.K. Blakely.

( Note: Because she passed away before its completion, Russell’s last book is the work of a cooperative effort between her own extensive notes and research and the editorial work of her colleagues and students. )

Letty Russell advances the metaphor of hospitality as a useful tool for Christian interaction with a world of “riotous difference.” Far beyond the image of church ladies laying out coffee and donuts for an after-church reception, just hospitality is a radical welcoming of the “others,” a full recognition of the humanity of people who are particularly different than oneself or one’s homogenous “category.” Russell expends almost a third of her book explaining the paradigm of “post-colonial” thinking, which seeks to militate against such differentiation. The paradigm attempts to take seriously the global effects of exploitation arising out of a standardized valuation of a Western, Euro-centric perspective over and against that of non-Westerns. A non-white, non-male, non-heterosexual, less educated, and less wealthy person is seen as a deviation from the norm.  Just hospitality, in contrast, neither sees differences as negatives to be avoided nor standardizes one perspective as the norm by which all others are to be gauged. Instead, it works for what Russell terms emancipatory difference. Emancipatory difference thus sees communication as a group effort where all participate as equals. Welcoming and inclusion are mutual and broad, rather than one-sided, from perceived abundance to perceived lack. Just as God welcomes all people to God’s table, Christians must imitate this broad acceptance, both welcoming and being welcomed.

Russell’s summary work of such feminist post-colonial concepts as colonial imperialism, reframing, the hermeneutic of suspicion, and her readings on Ruth and Amos are very accessible. Her suggestion that all people see themselves in the broader category of “post-colonial subject,” rather than as simply colonized or colonizer, is helpful in that it provides an inclusive framework that allows both to participate in dialogue. Furthermore, it recognizes the complexity of the interconnected web of human interaction. Study questions at the end of each chapter provide further resources for ongoing discussion.


Ultimately, Russell’s book is not very innovative. Russell certainly aims for an audience beyond that of academia, but others besides academicians may find her explanations less extensive than they would prefer. While Russell admits that the reality of differences remains constraining, she suggests that Christians should ignore those differences. Such a simplistic suggestion is not nuanced enough to provide fodder for more concrete discussions on ethical practice and application, nor does it imply an overall conception that takes seriously enough the historical difficulty Christians have had from the beginning in interpreting and applying passages like Galatians 3:28. By framing this difficulty as a lack of transformation, she appears to conclude the discussion before it has really been begun and retain an exclusive tone, rather than an inclusive one. As a discursive resource, study groups interested in familiarizing themselves with some feminist post-colonial thought may find the book useful. As a powerful polemic for advancing liberative work, Just Hospitality is, unfortunately, somewhat lacking.