News, VOLUME 12

Ten Theology Books to Watch For [May 2019]

Here are some excellent theology* books that will be released this month:

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

Christ and the Common Life: Political Theology and the Case for Democracy

Luke Bretherton


In Christ and the Common Life Luke Bretherton provides an introduction to historical and contemporary theological reflection on politics and opens up a compelling vision for a Christian commitment to democracy.

In dialogue with Scripture and various traditions, Bretherton examines the dynamic relationship between who we are in relation to God and who we are as moral and political animals. He addresses fundamental political questions about poverty and injustice, forming a common life with strangers, and handling power constructively. And through his analysis of debates concerning, among other things, race, class, economics, the environ­ment, and interfaith relations, he develops an innovative political theology of democracy as a way through which Christians can speak and act faithfully within our current context.

Read as a whole, or as stand-alone chapters, the book guides readers through the political landscape and identifies the primary vocabulary, ideas, and schools of thought that shape Christian reflection on politics in the West. Ideal for the classroom, Christ and the Common Life equips students to understand politics and its positive and negative role in fostering neighbor love.


Calvin and the Resignification of the World: Creation, Incarnation, and the Problem of Political Theology in the 1559 ‘Institutes’ 

Michelle Chaplin Sanchez

Cambridge University Press

Calvin’s 1559 Institutes is one of the most important works of theology that emerged at a pivotal time in Europe’s history. As a movement, Calvinism has often been linked to the emerging features of modernity, especially to capitalism, rationalism, disenchantment, and the formation of the modern sovereign state. In this book, Michelle Sanchez argues that a closer reading of the 1559 Institutes recalls some of the tensions that marked Calvinism’s emergence among refugees, and ultimately opens new ways to understand the more complex ethical and political legacy of Calvinism. In conversation with theorists of practice and signification, she advocates for reading the Institutes as a pedagogical text that places the reader in the world as the domain in which to actively pursue the ‘knowledge of God and ourselves’ through participatory uses of divine revelation. Through this lens, she reconceives Calvin’s understanding of sovereignty and how it works in relation to the embodied reader. Sanchez also critically examines Calvin’s teaching on providence and the incarnation in conversation with theorists of political theology and modernity who emphasize the importance of those very doctrines.

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Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith

"This book will inspire, motivate and challenge anyone who cares a whit about the written word, the world of ideas, the shape of our communities and the life of the church."
-Karen Swallow Prior

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  1. Jim E Montgomery

    Have searched the NT text and not found any democracy in JC’s teachings or His surrounding 1st century. ‘Democracy’ ought be seen by His disciples and as a strawman or at least a pitch in the dirt not be swung at … Don’t get mad at me; it just ain’t there!

  2. Of course democracy isn’t in scripture, but neither are many facets of life in our churches and homes. Should churches not have pianos because they aren’t mentioned in scripture (apologies, of course, to our brothers and sisters in the non-instrumental Churches of Christ) or should Christians forego transportation by automobile or all modern medicine because it isn’t mentioned in scripture?

    Democracy has some serious flaws (the marginalization — and sometimes oppression– of minority groups) but wouldn’t you agree that it’s its a whole lot better than some forms of government, say fascism or totalitarianism? The Reign of God is not a democracy, but in the modern age democracies have allowed the Gospel to flourish in ways that it hasn’t under other systems of government.

    Whether something is or isn’t in scripture is NOT a great test of its validity for us as Christians. Rather we need to think theologically about all the realities of our days and speak honestly about their virtues and their limitations.

    ~ Chris