News, Theology

Ten Theology Books to Watch For – October 2021

Here are some excellent new theology books * that will be released in October 2021 :

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

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Evangelical Worship: An American Mosaic

Melanie Ross

(Oxford UP)

Say the words “evangelical worship” to anyone in the United States — even if they are not particularly religious — and a picture will likely spring to mind unbidden: a mass of white, middle-class worshippers with eyes closed, faces tilted upward, and hands raised to the sky. Yet despite the centrality of this image, many scholars have underestimated evangelical worship as little more than a manipulative effort to arouse devotional exhilaration. It is frequently dismissed as a reiteration of nineteenth-century revivalism or a derivative imitation of secular entertainment — three Christian rock songs and a spiritual TED talk. But by failing to engage this worship seriously, we miss vital insights into a form of Protestantism that exerts widespread influence in the United States and around the world.

Evangelical Worship offers a new way forward in the study of American evangelical Christianity. Weaving together insights from American religious history and liturgical studies, and drawing on extensive fieldwork in seven congregations, Melanie C. Ross brings contemporary evangelical worship to life. She argues that corporate worship is not a peripheral “extra” tacked on to a fully-formed spiritual, political, and cultural movement, but rather the crucible through which congregations forge, argue over, and enact their unique contributions to the American mosaic known as evangelicalism.


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Being with God: The Absurdity, Necessity, and Neurology of Contemplative Prayer

A.J. Sherrill

(Brazos Press)

All fruitful doing must begin with being. For many Christians, it’s easy to be swept up into the fast pace of modern life, desiring to do much for God. But we struggle to slow down and be with God.

According to pastor, Enneagram teacher, and author AJ Sherrill, being with God is what empowers doing for God. Sherrill shares his own journey from “busy” Christianity to the ancient paths of contemplative practices. He equips readers to integrate rhythms of stillness, silence, and solitude, offering step-by-step guidance and examples of finding solitude both personally and on retreats.
Sherrill warns that making these changes appears absurd in a society where time is money, productivity is central, and hurry is a way of life. He guides readers gently through the beginning and often confusing stages of contemplative practice. Citing timely insights from the world of neurology and mental health, he shows that solitude is crucial not only for Christian growth but also for holistic flourishing. Foreword by Rich Villodas.

Readers will emerge, centered in Christ, well on their way to this goal: slow down, pay attention, be still, and be loved.

*** Which of these theology books of October 2021 do you want to read first?

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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


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