Here are 5 essential ebooks on sale now that are worth checking out:
( Wendell Berry, Sue Monk Kidd, Peter Leithart, MORE )
*** $3.99 ***
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(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)
A Feature Review of
Reviewed by Andrew Stout
Trinitarian theology can often seem more confounding than illuminating, a matter simply of creedal affirmation rather than practical living. In Traces of the Trinity, Peter Leithart, president of the Theopolis Institute in Birmingham, Alabama, upends this impression by examining the world through a trinitarian lens. The goal of the book is “to point to the traces of what theologians call ‘perichoresis’ in creation and in human experience” (vii). He defines perichoresis as the “mutual indwelling,” or “reciprocal penetration,” of the three persons of the Trinity. The term originates in patristic theology and has seen a revival among contemporary theologians. Leithart characterizes his task as “an exercise in trinitarian ‘worldview’” (viii), working from the assumption that “Christians believe that the Triune God created the world, and that should have some implications for the kind of world that it is” (ix). This is Trinitarian theology that goes all the way down.
We also published an initial response by Leithart.
The ensuing conversation inspired an issue of The Mennonite Quarterly Review and the new book Constantine Revisited: Leithart, Yoder, and the Constantinian Debate (Wipf and Stock, 2013).
John Nugent offers here further thoughts on this conversation about Constantine.
DIFFERENT BUT NOT EQUALLY DEFENSIBLE:
A RESPONSE TO LEITHART’S DEFENSE OF DEFENDING CONSTANTINE
FOR A LIMITED TIME…
(Be sure to refresh the Amazon page before purchasing to to ensure that the price has not gone up…)
Creating a Missional Culture: Equipping the Church for the Sake of the World
by JR Woodward
“JR Woodward’s remarkable book defies categorization. To ‘create a missional culture’ requires disciplined biblical and theological formation, discerning engagement with contemporary cultures, appreciative interaction with diverse resources, and the courage to experiment and to innovate. Woodward does all that and more in this book. The growing exploration of the theology and practice of the missional church is enriched by this volume. Its authority rests in the author’s tested and validated experience as an equipper ‘of the missional church for the sake of the world.'” – Darrell Guder, Winters Luce Professor of Missional and Ecumenical Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary, editor and coauthor of The Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America
A Feature Review of
Paperback: Cascade Books, 2012.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]
Reviewed by Branson Parler
For some, the adjective “evil” is necessarily entailed in the concept of “empire.” Not so, argues Peter Leithart, who is compelling, provocative, and insightful as always. Why do we need a more complex account of empire? In part, Leithart argues, the historical reality is that all empires are living and therefore not static and not all identical. We also need a nuanced account of empire because the Bible does not treat historical empires with a one-size fits all lens. Furthermore, Leithart contends, “imperial ambitions and concepts were ‘reinscribed’—or better, always already inscribed—at the heart of Jesus’ teaching” (37). In other words, if we purge the concept of empire from the Bible, we would purge the core of Jesus’ life and message: the imperium of God is at hand. Leithart contrasts God’s Abrahamic empire with both Babels—empires that attempt to impose uniformity on other nations—and beasts—empires that devour the saints and drink their blood.
The book is divided into three sections. In part 1, Leithart uses three metaphors for Scripture’s analysis of various empires—rod (Isa 10), refuge for God’s people (Dan 2), and beast (Dan 7). Leithart’s concise overview would serve as a great introduction to the theopolitical nature of the biblical text. Leithart’s attentiveness to the craft and art of biblical and theological exegesis is a delight.
“Trial and Error”
A Yoderian Rejoinder to
Leithart’s DEFENDING CONSTANTINE.
By John C. Nugent.
Paperback: IVP Books, 2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]
Constantine on Trial
Those looking for another excuse to dismiss John Howard Yoder are sure to find it in Peter J. Leithart’s Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom. Though Leithart takes Yoder quite seriously, those less familiar with Yoder’s work may be left with the unfortunate impression that he was a sloppy thinker, blinded by the pacifism of a naïve tradition, and ignorant of the complexities of history. I am sure this is not Leithart’s intention. Leithart, however, does intend to start a “fight” (10) and his admittedly polemical tone sometimes borders on patronizing his primary foe along with his Anabaptist heritage. This should not detract readers from hanging in there with this rather long work. Some of its most stimulating suggestions come near the end. Leithart’s well-crafted and articulate case deserves more than a series of brief reviews; it requires substantive rejoinders both to his historical portrait of Constantine and his theological critique of Yoder. Though no one can speak for Yoder, least of all me, I will nonetheless enter the fray by presenting Leithart’s basic case and evaluating its polemic against Yoder and those who share similar convictions about faith, history and social ethics.
Polemics aside for the moment, Leithart’s task is ambitious: to write a life of Constantine, to rebut popular caricatures, to demonstrate that Yoder’s work on Constantine is wrong both historically and theologically, and to make a case for Constantine as a viable model for Christian political practice (10-11). This task is complicated by the nature of the extant resources. Leithart’s preferred source is Eusebius, a contemporary of Constantine who adoringly portrays him as God’s providential instrument in ushering in the millennium. Leithart grants that Eusebius’ work is replete with exaggerations, contains accounts of questionable historicity, and intentionally omits incriminating material (228). Nonetheless, it remains the earliest and most comprehensive account available, so Leithart makes extensive use of it. He makes less use of the account of Zosimus, a late fifth century pagan who portrays Constantine as a violent ruler who was politically motivated in the worst sense of that term. Beyond this, Leithart had access to an oration of Constantine, published legal decrees, coinage, letters, and miscellaneous excerpts preserved among Eusebius’ writings. This situation is hardly an ideal one for a historian or a theologian.
The title of Leithart’s book gives a sense of his strategy for dealing with this difficult historical material. Consistent with his aims, Leithart plays the part of a defense attorney in a court setting. The last several decades of historians and theologians (e.g., Jacob Burkhardt, James Carroll, Stanley Hauerwas and, of course, Yoder) play the role of prosecuting attorneys who have been overly critical of Constantine and unfairly suspicious of favorable testimonies in the primary sources. It seems, to Leithart, as if they have sought only to find fault. As defense attorney, Leithart tasks himself with finding innocence or at least explaining fourth century details to make his clients’ actions more defensible. Making extensive use of Eusebius, he brings forward as many positive testimonies as possible. Evidence that does not support his case is either ignored, chalked up to exaggeration (126), or creatively re-interpreted with the help of more sympathetic secondary sources (227-230). Though this kind of reading is sure to encourage constructive historical work insofar as careful historians are spurred on to revisit the primary sources neither to prosecute nor to defend Constantine, Leithart’s book is not that kind of work.
This is the first in a new and intriguing series of little biographies from Thomas Nelson.
(Christian Encounters Series).
Paperback: Thomas Nelson, 2010.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]