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Ten Theology Books to Watch For – January 2022

Here are some excellent new theology books * that will be released in January 2022 :

* broadly interpreted, including ethics, church history, biblical studies, and other areas that intersect with theology

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Theology Books January 2022

Freeing Congregational Mission: A Practical Vision for Companionship, Cultural Humility, and Co-Development

Hunter Farrell

(IVP Academic)

In a time of climate change, environmental degradation, and social injustice, the question of the value and purpose of human life has become urgent. What are the grounds for hope in a wounded world? This Sacred Life gives a deep philosophical and religious articulation of humanity’s identity and vocation by rooting people in a symbiotic, meshwork world that is saturated with sacred gifts. The benefits of artificial intelligence and genetic enhancement notwithstanding, Norman Wirzba shows how an account of humans as interdependent and vulnerable creatures orients people to be a creative, healing presence in a world punctuated by wounds. He argues that the commodification of places and creatures needs to be resisted so that all life can be cherished and celebrated. Humanity’s fundamental vocation is to bear witness to God’s love for creaturely life, and

There is a deepening crisis in mission as practiced by North American congregations. Many mission activities are more effective at satisfying church members than making a lasting difference, producing what’s too often consumer-oriented “selfie mission.” Too much effort is based on colonial-era assumptions of mission launched from a position of power. These practices are not just ineffective―they deviate from mission in the way of Jesus. Hunter Farrell and Bala Khyllep want to help free congregational mission from harmful cultural forces so churches can better partner with God’s work in the world. They invite leaders to lay the foundation for more faithful and effective missions with three core elements:

  • a Christ-centered theology of mission rooted in companionship
  • an appetite and competence to engage across differences with cultural humility
  • insights and strategies to accompany local and global neighbors in co-development

Farrell and Khyllep deliver key takeaways from the latest mission research, inspiring examples from innovative congregations, and a set of step-by-step tools for churches to discern and implement sound practices that will work for them. The local church community is well-positioned to build a spreading circle of relationships centered in Jesus Christ. With this book, congregations of every Christian tradition will find practical help to direct their resources in truly life-giving ways as they seek the mission of God.


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Theology Books January 2022

Centered-Set Church: Discipleship and Community Without Judgmentalism

Mark D. Baker

(IVP Academic)

Christians can be adept at drawing lines, determining what it means to be “a good Christian” and judging those who stray out of bounds. Other times they erase all the lines in favor of a vague and inoffensive faith. Both impulses can come from positive intentions, but either can lead to stunted spiritual life and harmful relationships. Is there another option?

The late missionary anthropologist Paul Hiebert famously drew on mathematical theory to deploy the concepts of “bounded,” “fuzzy,” and “centered” sets to shed light on the nature of Christian community. Now, with Centered-Set Church, Mark D. Baker provides a unique manual for understanding and applying Hiebert’s vision. Drawing on his extensive experience in church, mission, parachurch, and higher education settings, along with interviews and stories gleaned from scores of firsthand interviews, Baker delivers practical guidance for any group that seeks to be truly centered on Jesus.

Baker shows how Scripture presents an alternative to either obsessing over boundaries or simply erasing them. Centered churches are able to affirm their beliefs and live out their values without such bitter fruit as gracelessness, shame, and self-righteousness on the one hand, or aimless “whateverism” on the other. While addressing possible concerns and barriers to the centered approach, Baker invites leaders to imagine centered alternatives in such practical areas of ministry as discipleship, church membership, leadership requirements, and evangelism. Centered-Set Church charts new paths to grow in authentic freedom and dynamic movement toward the true center: Jesus himself.

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