A Review of
Flourishing on the Edge of Faith: Seven Practices for a New We
Reviewed by Ric Hudgins
This book about the spirituality of Jesus is one of the best books you will read this year. I underestimated it. Do we really need another book on the Lord’s Prayer with practice recommendations at the end of each chapter and an adult study guide at the end? We need this one.
Andrew DeCort explores how “the prayer Jesus taught is a daily practice for deep flourishing. Each of its seven moments subtly responds to one of humanity’s most important questions and invites us to internalize Jesus’ vision.” Those seven moments or questions include: Who is God? How do we talk about God? What do we want? How much is enough? How do we begin again? Can violence save us? Can we let go of power and prestige?
Flourishing on the Edge of Faith is a beautifully written, perceptive, and inspiring treatment of a classic prayer; perhaps the classic prayer. The word “flourishing” is a clue to the work as a whole. According to DeCort, listening deeply to the Lord’s Prayer promotes deep human flourishing. It provides an outline of what that flourishing looks like, and calls us to a holistic, practical commitment to God, to this world and to our real neighbors.
DeCort tells moving accounts of his peacemaking work amid the civil conflict and violence in Ethiopia. The word humanism rarely appears (only once that I can find), yet this is clearly a work of “sacred humanism” – a radical Christian vision.
This is also written for those on “the edge of faith” who have perhaps become disillusioned with Christians divided by “hypocrisy, tribal boundaries, or indifference to others.” DeCort believes that even edge-dwellers need spiritual practices that can survive in nonreligious environments. He is looking for converts to the Jesus way of living, not just numbers on the church rolls.
Andrew DeCort directs The Institute for Faith and Flourishing, which works primarily with leadership development in Ethiopia. He is also a Bonhoeffer scholar (PhD, University of Chicago) and sometimes teaches theological ethics at Wheaton College and the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology. He writes in a clear and engaging style, without academic jargon or technical language, yet with solid scholarship.
This is also a pastor’s book from a pastor’s heart, full of wise counsel, chock full of sermon illustrations, and making valuable recommendations for integrating prayer into our daily lives. You might think it tries to do too much. You would be wrong.
Flourishing on the Edge of Faith is the first book published by the Bittersweet Collective, which also produces a digital monthly that “Rejects cynicism. Defies apathy. Celebrates good.” We should hope for many more and that DeCort would write some of them.
I love this book and will be returning to it again as I pray and preach and practice the Jesus way in our troubled world.
Ric Hudgens is a pastor, professor, and poet living on the edge of Reba Place Fellowship in Evanston, Illinois.
Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith
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