Archives For Merold Westphal


Review of Merold Westphal’s
Whose Community? Which lnterpretation?
From Christian Scholars’ Review

Whose Community? Which Interpretation? belongs to a series by Baker Academic called “The Church and Postmodern Culture.” The editor, James K. A. Smith, provides the rationale for reading Merold Westphal’s contribution: “For ‘peoples of the Book’ whose way of life is shaped by texts, matters of interpretation are, in a way, matters of life and death” (9). Based on “To Read or Not to Read,” a2007 report from the National Endowment of the Arts, we are living in a post-literate or sub-literate culture where, it is safe to conjecture, the biblical text plays a diminutive role in the formation of Christian identity.  Friedrich Nietzsche’s once controversial claim-“there are no facts, only interpretations”-seems irrelevant in the absence of a text to interpret.

For the remnant of Bible-reading Christians, “matters of interpretation are, in a way, matters of life and death” (italics added). Do not miss the qualifying clause. While we are no longer witnesses to the violence behind sixteenth-century Protestant and Catholic persecution of Anabaptists, such violence is sublimated behind present-day Orthodox anathemas of iconoclasts or Emergent denunciations of Calvinist creeds. In short, interpretative practice
often fosters animus among brothers and sisters in the household of faith.

Read the full review:

Whose Community? Which lnterpretation?
Merold Westphal.

Paperback: Baker Books, 2009.
Buy Now: [ ]

Andy Crouch Reviews Two Recent Books on
World Christianity and American churches

Both Robert Wuthnow’s and Mark Noll’s new books puncture a number of commonplaces about global Christianity and America’s place in it, although they do so from notably different angles. Wuthnow is an eminent sociologist of religion who possesses a formidable capacity for memory and analysis combined with an abundance of research assistants. He synthesizes a vast amount of background reading, original research, and reinterpretations of standard datasets to survey the ways American Christians currently relate to the wider world.

One of Wuthnow’s stated aims in Boundless Faith is to refute what he calls the “Global Christianity paradigm,” a narrative of Western Christian decline and Southern ascent that has given rise to many of the hasty conclusions summarized above. (Inevitably, Wuthnow finds the source of this paradigm in Philip Jenkins’ influential book The Next Christendom, though Jenkins does not focus nearly as much on Western decline as readers of Wuthnow might be led to believe.) Wuthnow musters evidence from far and wide to push back strongly against the idea that the United States is a fading force in global Christianity. To the contrary, wherever his sociologist’s gimlet eye turns, whether to sources of funds, centers of theological education, or activities of local church members, he finds continued American activity and influence, and in many ways he finds that American Christians may be more internationally minded than they have ever been.

Read the full review: