Archives For Willie Jennings


Breaking Our Deep Connection to Whiteness

An Excerpt from Willie James’s Jennings’
paper that gave this work its title:

Can “White” People Be Saved?
Triangulating Race, Theology, and Mission
Sechrist, Ramirez-Johnson, Yong, Eds.

Paperback: IVP Books, 2018
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

We need at this moment a Christian faith that can start to break our deep connection to whiteness by resisting its vision of maturity. Suggesting a first step is all I have space for in this essay, but the first step is decisively the most important.

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Here are 5 essential ebooks on sale now that are worth checking out:
( Willie Jennings, David Fitch, Sr. Joan Chittister,  MORE )

Each week, we carefully curate a handful of books for church leaders that orient us toward the health and the flourishing of our congregations.


Ebook / Audiobook Deals

from Amazon’s monthly sale!!! 
(January 2019)

[easyazon_image align=”center” height=”500″ identifier=”B073R18YNM” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”333″]

[easyazon_link identifier=”B073R18YNM” locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Acts: A Theological Commentary on the Bible[/easyazon_link]

Willie Jennings

*** $3.99 ***

More than merely a commentary,
one of the most important books

of the last few years!
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[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”B073R18YNM” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”222″]This is one of the best books that I’ve read in the last few years!!! On sale now for Kindle…

Acts: A Theological Commentary
on the Bible (Belief Series)

Willie James Jennings


*** $3.99 ***

[ Read an Excerpt ]

“A treat for the mind, the heart, and the flesh. This moving meditation on God’s ‘divine desire placed in us by the Spirit’ is a powerful theological commentary on how it is possible for us to break down our categories and barriers that separate us and journey, together, to the new, to our next. This is a book of hope and possibilities about a book of hope and possibilities . . . and this is good news.”
—Emilie M. Townes

[ [easyazon_link identifier=”B073R18YNM” locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Buy Now[/easyazon_link] ]


This week, I’ve been revising the theology chapter of my forthcoming book on conversation, HOW THE BODY OF CHRIST TALKS (Brazos Press, 2019), and getting ready for some upcoming events that I will be doing on conversation.


Here’s a list of books that have played a vital role in shaping the theology of my work on conversation.


By ERB Editor C. Christopher Smith


   [easyazon_image align=”center” height=”500″ identifier=”083084127X” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”333″]

[easyazon_link identifier=”083084127X” locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Faithful Presence: Seven Disciplines That Shape the Church for Mission[/easyazon_link] 

David Fitch

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I recently finished reviewing this superb new book for our fall print magazine issue. 
(Not a Subscriber?  SUBSCRIBE NOW…)


ACTS: Belief Commentary Series
A Theological Commentary on the Bible

Willie James Jennings

Hardback: WJK Books, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
I’m excited to share the following excerpt from this book with you, which I take as one of Jennings’s central (and most timely) themes in this commentary. 

Reprinted from Acts: A Theological Commentary on the Bible
by Willie James Jennings.
Used by permission of Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved.


Word of God against Word of God.
A Reflection on the Story of
Peter in the House of Cornelius
Acts 10-11

(Pages 118-121)


“You have heard that it was said, . . . but I say to you . . .” (Matt. 5). These often repeated words of Jesus set the stage for our interaction with the living God, whose words to us are living, because they are bound up with the source and giver of life itself. Acts 11 is a moment of reorientation where the Spirit is teaching us a crucial lesson that the church must constantly remember: God yet speaks and word of God always presses against word of God. What God has said in the past is pressed against by what God is saying now. Israel shows us that the human creature is always positioned between these two words and destined for yet more hearing from a God ever extended in grace toward us. This in-between position  has often been painful for us as we try to grasp clarity of thought and action on a walk of obedience to God on a well-lit path, albeit with multiple twists and turns. (Ps. 119:105) In this regard, the struggle of the church has been twofold: we struggle to hear the new word that God is constantly speaking, and we struggle to see the link between the new word and the word previously spoken.

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Willie Jennings

Here is the first of the audio recordings from the Slow Church Conference that we hosted last week here at Englewood Christian Church.

Our aim for the conference was to foster conversation around the work of several key theologians whose work inspired the [easyazon-link asin=”0830841148″ locale=”us”]Slow Church book[/easyazon-link] that John Pattison and I wrote.

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

Willie Jennings is Associate Professor of Theology and Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School.

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Willie Jennings - The Christian ImaginationThere’s hardly a week that goes by here at Englewood Christian Church that I’m not thinking about, re-reading or talking about Willie Jennings’ book The Christian Imagination (which was our theology book of the year in 2010).
[Read my review ].

The challenge is that the book is pretty intense, and probably not one that everyone would pick up. So, I was delighted to stumble across the above video from Luther Seminary yesterday.  The video is almost two hours long, but it is worth every single second and is a superb introduction to Jennings’ work…  Included in the longer video is a 30 minute overview of the book (see the start and end times below), as well as a compelling Q/A session that helps to flesh out the basic themes of the book.

If you don’t have time to watch the whole video right now, at least get a taste for it by watching this 5 minute segment on “How to Be the Church in a Place” (Starting at 1:24:08 through 1:29:37).

Then, if you want to get the overview of  The Christian Imagination, it runs from 24:35 through 52:15.

I hope that you find Willie Jennings’ work as compelling and mindblowing as I do!


Byron Borger reviews
Donald Miller’s A MILLION MILES

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller is a can’t-put-down saga, a dramatic bit of storytelling about, well, about storytelling.  It is about the making of a movie, and the need to have the life the movie is about be worthy of making a movie about.  How about you?  Would a movie of your life be interesting?  Good?  If you studied film a bit, read some novels, learned some stuff about narrative arc and virtue and story, might it effect your own sense of the story you are a part of?  Do you think God is a part of that?

We say, these days, that our lives should be part of God’s story.  That our worldview is really best described as the narrative that shapes us, the story we are a part of.  That is exactly what Miller discovers, in his lackluster, oddball way.  He is honest and funny and a bit goofy and ends up in Africa and riding his bike across country and paddling in a kayak or something up to Alaska or somewhere.  He meets some rich people, and some not so rich people.  He tells of a very, very moving funeral, where the person’s life obviously was worth mourning and celebrating.  He wonders about his.  And he invites you to wonder about yours.  This is one of the books of the year, hip, funny, interesting, contemporary, and deeply right.  Our lives need to make sense, and they do that when we live for something other than our own sorry selves.

Read the full review:

Donald Miller.

Hardback: Thomas Nelson, 2009.
Pre-order now: [ ]

“Race and the Disfiguration
of the Christian Social Imagination”
Willie Jennings

The eminent scholar of African American history, John Hope Franklin, once commented that “We know all too little about the factors that affect the attitudes of the peoples of the world toward one another. It is clear, however, that color and race are at once the most important and the most enigmatic.” Though he recently passed, the truth of Franklin’s statement continues to live, especially this last sentence. The idea that color and race are still the most important and most enigmatic of issues that affect our interaction with one another is clearly a controversial assertion in a nation that perceives itself to have progressed beyond its macabre racial past. Even more, if true, it stands as a jeremiad against the faithfulness of our churches to a gospel that conquers divisions instead of creating new and powerful ones. Willie Jennings, professor of black church studies and theology at Duke Divinity School, argues that the church insufficiently perceives the extent of the disfiguration of its social imagination and that a deep-seated problem within orthodox thinking has rendered the church ill-equipped and often naive to this ugly fact. In this interview, Jennings discusses the historical and theological components that have led to our current misconceptions of race.

Read the full interview:

THE NY TIMES Review of
Nicholson Baker’s New Novel

Novels about poetry are a dodgy proposition. After all, novelists already have a near monopoly on narrative and discursive fiction — turf once claimed by poetry — and it seems almost impolite for our prose writers, having triumphed so thoroughly over their sister art, to set themselves up as tour guides to poetry’s dwindling estate. And let’s face it, stories involving poets tend to be hokey or, worse, excruciatingly literary. Maybe the spires of libraries rise darkly in the gloaming; maybe bookish amour unfolds amid bosomy fields laden with the fleeting fruits of summer. At best, the author follows the course Stephen King takes in The Tommyknockers and skims over his protagonist’s occupation in order to concentrate on the perilous effects of buried alien spacecraft.

Yet somehow Nicholson Baker has written a novel about poetry that’s actually about poetry — and that is also startlingly perceptive and ardent, both as a work of fiction and as a representation of the kind of thinking that poetry readers do. The Anthologist is the story of Paul Chowder, a semi-successful, middle-aged American poet trying and mostly failing to write the introduction to an anthology called “Only Rhyme.” As in most Baker novels, not much happens. Chowder sits in his workplace/barn and thinks; he shampoos the dog; he goes blueberry picking; he installs flooring for a neighbor; he pines for his former girlfriend Roz, who left him after getting fed up with his procrastination; he acquires a couple of finger injuries; he gives a reading; and finally, he sits on a panel on rhyme in Switzerland, at which he . . . well, again, it’s a Baker denouement, so not much happens, at least in terms of gunfights or ninjas.

Read the full review:

Nicholson Baker

Hardback: Simon and Schuster, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]