A Brief Review of
The Boundary-Breaking God:
An Unfolding Story of Hope and Promise.
Hardback: Jossey-Bass, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]
Reviewed by Chris Smith.
In her first book, The Boundary-Breaking God, An Unfolding Story of Hope and Promise, Danielle Shroyer tells the scriptural story through the lens of hope, particularly hope for the stranger and the outsider. Her work reflects the strong theological influence of Jurgen Moltmann, and indeed in the book’s preface she notes that the book could be thought of as a sort of Theology of Hope: Bible Edition, saying: “As Moltmann expounded upon these themes [of roominess and hope] in theological structure, I have attempted to do so in narrative biblical form” (xviii). And she does so in a compelling manner, masterfully weaving stories from her own experiences with the scriptural story. The book is structured around a whirlwind tour of the scriptural narrative from creation to the final coming of the new creation, focus on Moltmann-inspired themes of hope and reconciliation. Although the book’s brevity contributes greatly to its readability, one does wish that Shroyer would have been able to explore how these themes play out across a broader swath of scripture.
As one would expect, The Boundary-Breaking God contains some pretty strong critiques of traditional evangelical theology. For instance, Shroyer says:
Eternal life is not a ticket we hold, but a lifestyle we inhabit. If we follow the resurrected Jesus, we have to practice resurrection. We have to practice continually being advocates of life rather than people resigned to death. We have to do the hard work of disentangling ourselves from the death machines, both individually and systematically (84-85).
Although its basic theological ideas are not revolutionary (reflecting Moltmann, of course, and rendering – perhaps unintentionally – some of the basic ideas of J. Kameron Carter’s work) The Boundary-Breaking God is a wonderful little book, enjoyable to read and pointedly challenging at the same time. I hope and pray that it will reach a multitude of readers who would never even consider picking up one of the meatier theological works (e.g., Moltmann’s Theology of Hope) in which Shroyer’s fine work is deeply rooted.
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com