Welcome once again to Eerdmans All Over, a Friday roundup of all the Eerdmans-related news, reviews, interviews, and other interesting online content we can gather in a given week. 

New Releases

Paul’s Divine Christology

Paul’s Divine Christology
By Chris Tilling

The Gospel According to Luke (Pillar New Testament Commentary)
By James R. Edwards

Beloved Community: Critical Dogmatics after Christendom
By Paul R. Hinlicky

Political Agape: Christian Love and Liberal Democracy
By Timothy P. Jackson

News from Eerdmans . . .

  • After a 30-year hiatus. . .
    The Bookies - 1980s
    . . . The Bookies are back!
    The Bookies - April 28 2015

. . . and Elsewhere

Why would a former Mormon-missionary want to publish his presumably very Mormon account of his presumably very Mormon mission with a venerable old (sic) Christian publisher like Eerdmans?

Or even more to the point, why would venerable old (yes) Eerdmans want to publish such a Mormony thing as that?

Have we missed any news, reviews, or other online miscellany dealing with Eerdmans books or authors from the last week? Please let us know in the comments. You also can post items on our Facebook timeline, mention us on Twitter (@eerdmansbooks), or write to us directly: webmaster@eerdmans.com.

It’s Sneak Peek Week on EerdWord, when we’re sharing excerpts from four of the coming season’s most exciting new releases.

Today’s excerpt comes from chapter 2 (“The Church and Her Magisterium”) of What Does It Mean to Be Catholic? by Jack Mulder Jr. This book — which Scott Hahn has called “one of the most surprising and unique books I’ve encountered in recent years” — will be released in July but is available for preorder now.

(Read through to the end to preview the table of contents.)

* * *

What Does It Mean to Be Catholic?

What Does It Mean to Be Catholic?

When I was a senior in college, I took a class in which I was presented with a sheet that surveyed the way we as students identified ourselves with regard to religious affiliation. There were many options, but the list reflected the fact that I was living in a predominantly Christian area. The options were categories like: atheist, agnostic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Christian Reformed, Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, Orthodox, nondenominational Christian, Christian, and so on. Now of course, there are many divisions within non-Christian communities too, so the fact that the Christian community is divided is certainly neither unique nor new. But what did I pick? I picked “Christian.” I was raised in a denomination called the Reformed Church in America, and while I did identify with the Reformed tradition in certain ways, I felt more comfortable identifying as a Christian because I wanted to follow Jesus (which is not to say that I did it particularly well) and I had a bit of an independent streak going. Besides, I was sure I wanted to follow Jesus, but I was not totally sure about any one way of doing that besides the way I thought was outlined in the Bible.

I think this is the way many Christians feel. In my area, communities that used to proudly identify as the “Reformed Baptist Church” or “Calvin Christian Reformed Church” now post signs identifying to the general public as “Harbor Church” or “Calvin Church.” I don’t blame them. One of the characteristics of our times, it seems, is a kind of malaise when we’re presented with too many options. For a time, Protestant communities were very good at presenting people with options, but now, perhaps because the options are so extensive, many people are searching for a Christian community that offers them what they perceive to be the authentic Gospel, rooted in the Scriptures, without trying to “sell” them an overly exclusive theological story. That’s what I was thinking when I circled “Christian” over “Reformed.”

Yet here’s the trouble. Wanting to separate the Gospel from “human traditions” (see Col. 2:8) is laudable, but who will separate the Gospel wheat from the human chaff? It can’t be just any old pastor who says he or she is teaching from the Bible. We’ll need to verify that the teaching really does come from the Bible. But then, who is in a position to do that? Is it a task left to me? Is it my job to figure out what the “Gospel essentials” are? Surely everyone is aware of denominations breaking from one another by the thousands based on their own understandings of what is and what is not essential. Then again you might think the whole doctrinal approach seems a little ridiculous, since of course no one can tailor a church doctrine according to one’s own preferences and interpretations. There are bound to be some surprises in Jesus’ message. So it might seem better to try to find a “church home” where a good community of people are trying to live a certain sort of Christian life. But what is the selection procedure here? Surely I shouldn’t just pick a pastor I like. That won’t get me any further from self-indulgent religiosity, and in any case, pastors change. Nor, of course, will simply picking a community of people do the trick because the people change, and in any case, this approach flirts with treating one’s faith like a social club. What is the solution?

If picking a church is this difficult (and I never have trouble finding people who think it is), why would Catholicism be any better off? I think there is a reason. As the Anglican writer C. S. Lewis’s (1898-1963) fictional demon Screwtape once quipped, “The search for a ‘suitable’ church makes the man a critic where the Enemy [i.e., God] wants him to be a pupil.” We cannot engineer our religion based on what we want, but at a certain point religious people have to believe that if a need is dire enough, then God in his mercy will have a plan for meeting it. That is why, according to the Catholic Church, the faith, while recorded in a definitive way in the Scriptures, was nevertheless originally transmitted to the apostles, and they themselves transmitted it to others. As the late Avery Cardinal Dulles writes, “In establishing the Magisterium, Christ responded to a real human need.”

The Catholic Church claims continuity with this early apostolic teaching. That is why apostolic succession is so vital to the Catholic vision of the faith. The apostles were the ones entrusted by the Lord with the task of teaching Christians to observe all that he had commanded them (Matt. 28:20). No doubt they saw one of their charges as writing down some of what they had been commanded along the way, but they also had the job of helping others to understand what they had written, and what in it was essential to the message of the Lord. Modern-day Catholics see the bishops (along with the pope as the bishop of Rome) to be successors to the apostles in this task. The Orthodox Church can also claim continuity through apostolic succession, and the Catholic Church feels especially close to these churches because of this link. To illustrate, I was once at a seminar of some scholars who were discussing the very nerdy thing of their “philosophical family tree.” One’s dissertation advisor, it was said, might have studied under so-and-so, who studied under so-and-so, and so on until one got to a final person who studied under Kant! (For philosophers, tracing your lineage back to Kant would be rather like finding out that you’re a distant cousin of the royal family in England or the Kennedys in America.) An Orthodox priest in the room just chuckled and said, “I don’t like to drop names, but as a priest my lineage goes back to Jesus.

Table of Contents

Introduction

  1. Scripture and Tradition
  2. The Church and Her Magisterium
  3. God and Humanity
  4. The Person and Work of Christ
  5. Mary and the Communion of Saints
  6. The Seven Sacraments
  7. Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory
  8. The Human Person

Conclusion

Click to preorder Jack Mulder Jr.’s What Does It Mean to Be Catholic?

It’s Sneak Peek Week on EerdWord, when we’re sharing excerpts from four of the coming season’s most exciting new releases.

Today’s excerpt comes from the preface to Anthony C. Thiselton’s one-volume Systematic Theology, which will be released in November but is available for preorder now.

(Read through to the end to preview the table of contents.)

* * *

Systematic Theology

Systematic Theology

I am grateful for the invitation from the publishers to write a systematic the­ology that would be “affordable” for students and ministers, as well as others, and would easily fit into a single volume. Financial resources especially for students and ministers are seldom plentiful, and there is a firm limit to what we can reasonably ask of them.

In addition to this, the best systematic theology to date is probably that of Wolfhart Pannenberg, but it is a three-volume work, and often requires rigorous, demanding, and detailed reading. John Webster’s projected sys­tematic theology is said to extend over five volumes; Sarah Coakley’s pro­jected work is said to extend to three or four volumes; and Robert Jenson’s work extends to two volumes. At the opposite end of the spectrum, several one-volume works, useful as they are, have now become a little dated, and are in places too brief or overselective to comprehensively cover the subject.

The compromise for me has been the requirement to write in less de­tail than I should have chosen. This is why I have had to call the chapter on Christology, for example, “A Concise Christology,” and several other chapters have been shortened to make room for necessary philosophical, exegetical, and linguistic concerns. Nevertheless, others have encouraged me to include several issues that might normally be included in a philosophy of religion, and to integrate these concerns fully with Christian theology. I have attempted to do this unreservedly and gladly.

I began university teaching fifty years ago, and this work has grown out of many years of teaching systematic theology (alongside New Testament, hermeneutics, and formerly philosophy of religion), and also from conversa­tions and discussions with university colleagues and seminary and university students. To facilitate this volume as a teaching tool, I have divided it into fifteen chapters of relatively equal length, to match weekly sessions in an average-length semester. Major universities in the USA and UK seem to vary between fourteen- and sixteen-week semesters. Each chapter, in turn, contains five subsections of roughly equal length. Only chapter 5 is a little longer than the others, since it covers three very different areas.

One of the most distinctive contributions of this volume is perhaps that it offers as broad an interdisciplinary perspective as has been possible. Within this framework, I have included the traditional elements expected of any systematic theology: a theological understanding of God and creation; issues about the existence of God and atheism; a theology of humankind and misdirected desire and alienation; the work and person of Christ; the person and work of the Holy Spirit; the church, ministry, and sacraments; and two chapters on the last things. All these have careful foundations in biblical exegesis, and also interaction with major thinkers through the centuries and today. The latter is not simply for the purpose of recording a chronicle of what has occurred in history, but more especially to illustrate hermeneutical bridges and possibilities. I have tried to include personal assessments.

I am very grateful for an almost casual but crucial warning from Dr. Pe­ter Forster, bishop of Chester, that too often systematic theologies are found to yield disappointingly few practical lessons for Christian discipleship, or to provide too little practical inspiration for Christian devotion. I have tried my utmost, while retaining academic integrity, also to be fully mindful of these utterly right Christian and practical concerns. I have punctuated theological discussions with practical observations about their relevance to the Chris­tian life, while also seeking firmly to avoid any hint of a pious or homiletic tone.

Table of Contents

I. Method and Truth

  1. The Need for Coherence and Objections to “System”
  2. Truth, Theology, and Philosophy: The New Testament and Earlier Church Fathers
  3. Truth, Theology, and the Bible in Historical Context
  4. A Further Aspect of Philosophy: Conceptual “Grammar”
  5. Speech-Acts, Hermeneutics, Sociology, and Literary Theory

II. God: Personhood, Trinity, Holy Love, and Grace

  1. God: Impersonal, Personal, or Suprapersonal?
  2. God as Holy Trinity: Complication or Confirmation?
  3. The Living God or “Theism”?
  4. God as Holy Life-Giver and Loving Creator
  5. God as the Giver of Grace

III. God and the World

  1. The God of Love and the Problem of Evil
  2. Can We Argue from “Cause” to God’s Existence? God’s Transcendence
  3. The Argument from Design, and Modern Science
  4. The Argument from Necessity: The Ontological Argument
  5. Almighty, Omniscient, and Omnipresent: Their Meaning

IV. The Challenge of Atheism: Lessons for Christians

  1. The Origins of Atheism: A Simple, Materialist View of Humankind
  2. “God” as a Human Projection: Feuerbach and Freud
  3. “God” and Social Manipulation: Nietzsche and Marx
  4. The Attack on Revelation
  5. Between Atheism and Theism: Deism, Pantheism, and Agnosticism

V. The Nonhuman Creation, and Ordinances for Human Welfare

  1. The Creation and Work of Angels, Mainly in the Biblical Canon
  2. Angels in Postcanonical Judaism and in Historical Christian Thought
  3. The Creation and Status of Animals: Is Creation Centered on Humankind?
  4. Human Ordering: Political Communities, Marriage, and Justice
  5. Modern Concerns for the Limitation of the State, and Justice for All

VI. Human Potentiality and the Image of God

  1. The Image of God: Human Beings Becoming “Persons”
  2. The Unity of Human Nature, in Contrast to Mind-Body Dualism
  3. The Diversity of Human Capacities
  4. The Intervention of Sin and Alienation: Biblical Vocabulary
  5. Understandings of the Universal Nature of Sin and the Fall, Notably in Paul

VII. Misdirected Desire and Alienation: A Hermeneutical Comparison of Historical Thinkers

  1. The Ante-Nicene Church Fathers
  2. The Post-Nicene Church Fathers
  3. The Medieval and Reformation Periods
  4. The Early Modern Period
  5. The Twentieth Century Onward

VIII. Jesus Christ the Mediator

  1. The Gospel Defined in Terms of the Cross, and the Cross Defined in Terms of God’s Grace
  2. The Transparent Meanings of Redemption and Salvation
  3. Two Further Transparent Presuppositions: Mediation and Sacrifice
  4. Complementary Models of the Atonement
  5. Expiation and/or Propitiation? Paul’s Distinctive Idea of Reconciliation

IX. Why Consider Historical Theologies of the Atonement? Historical Thought and Hermeneutics

  1. The Atonement in the Early Church
  2. The Post-Nicene Period
  3. Anselm and Abelard
  4. The Reformation: Luther and Calvin
  5. Varied Approaches in the Modern Period

X. A Concise Christology

  1. The Historical Context: The Prophetic and Apocalyptic Expectations of the Old Testament and Judaism
  2. Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God: Pointers to Christology
  3. The Three So-Called Quests and the Need for Historical Research
  4. The Christology of the Epistles and Acts: Lord, Last Adam, One with God
  5. Radical Contrasts between Ancient and Modern Christologies

XI. The Holy Spirit: (I) Biblical Doctrine

  1. Foundations and Themes in the Old Testament and Judaism
  2. The Holy Spirit in the Synoptic Gospels and Acts
  3. The Pauline Epistles and Gifts of the Spirit
  4. Further Major Themes in Paul
  5. John and the Rest of the New Testament

XII. The Holy Spirit: (II) Historical Insights

  1. The Rise of the Pentecostal Movement
  2. The Holy Spirit before Nicaea
  3. The Holy Spirit in the Post-Nicene Fathers
  4. The Holy Spirit in the Reformation and Post-Reformation Periods
  5. The Holy Spirit from the Nineteenth Century until the Present

XIII. Why the Church? Why Ministry? Why Sacraments?

  1. Foundations: The Call of God’s People and Modern Individualism
  2. Theological Debates about the Doctrine of the Church
  3. Theological Principles Relating to Ministry
  4. The Sacrament of Baptism
  5. The Eucharist, Holy Communion, or the Lord’s Supper

XIV. The Return of Christ, the Resurrection, and Related Issues

  1. Death and Debated Claims about Purgatory and the Millennium
  2. The Return of Christ, or the Parousia
  3. Claims about the Imminence of the Parousia and the Nature of Expectation
  4. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
  5. The General Resurrection of the Dead

XV. The Last Judgment, Eternity, and the Restoration of All Things

  1. The Purpose of the Last Judgment
  2. Judgment, Verdicts, Wrath, and Justification by Grace
  3. Progression “after” Judgment? What Is “Eternal” Life?
  4. The New Jerusalem
  5. From Glory to Glory; the Restoration of All Things

Click to preorder Systematic Theology or to read a Five Questions interview with Anthony Thiselton here on EerdWord. 

It’s Sneak Peek Week on EerdWord, when we’re sharing excerpts from four of the coming season’s most exciting new releases.

Today’s excerpt comes from Marilyn Chandler McEntyre’s A Long Letting Go: Meditations on Losing Someone You Love — a companion volume to her book A Faithful Farewell: Living Your Last Chapter with Love which will be released in July but is available for preorder now.

(Read through to the end to preview the table of contents.)

* * *

And about the time of her death the women attending her said to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer or pay attention.
— 1 Samuel 4:20

A Long Letting Go

A Long Letting Go

As I sat with my father one day not long before he died, realizing he seemed to be fully aware, but unaware of me or of anyone else passing through the room, this startling thought came to me: He doesn’t need us anymore. He was strongly focused on something, it seemed, but not on us. Like Phinehas’s wife in the Samuel story, who does not answer or pay attention, he had in some way already left us.

There remained many moments of connection, affection, and preparation before he died, but the sense that his face was already set “toward Jerusalem” and that we were receding into his peripheral vision remained. Of course there were needs. He needed to be resituated in bed, he needed a little water now and then, he needed to hear my mother’s voice, and I like to think he needed and wanted to hear the Psalms we read as he lay half-asleep. But already he was beyond our human help. To say that is to recall not despair, but the simple clarity of that moment when the common assurance “He is in God’s hands” struck me as simply, utterly, observably true.

There is great pathos in the story of Phinehas’s wife, who dies in fresh grief over the loss of her father-in-law and husband even as she endures the pains of childbirth. Part of that pathos lies in the futile efforts of the midwives to revive her into rejoicing over her newborn son. Even the greatest human joys and sorrows recede into irrelevancy, as they must, as the dying are guided toward a different light and a different life.

Toward the very end of my mother’s long life, I found her decreasing interest in grandchildren and great-grandchildren painful at first, and then instructive. She had a spacious, loving heart for all of us. She had taken due and natural delight in our babies and their babies, holding and rocking and reading and laughing as grandmothers do, making special pancakes for their visits and keeping a costume box in the closet for the pleasure of little girls. But as death approached, her inquiries about those beloved granddaughters and their families became perfunctory, and her attention wandered as I eagerly reported that Stephen was learning to ride a bike, that Matthew had said a new sentence, that Tommy’s parents were playing him Mozart — all the sweet, small bits of news she had once reveled in.

A Faithful Farewell

A Faithful Farewell

But she had work to do that required all that was left of her earthly energies. Her quiet preoccupation reminded me of Jesus’ words to his mother, who finds him in the temple after seeking him frantically for three days: “Know you not that I must be about my father’s business?” The question challenges her, and us, to recognize the contingent character of even the most intimate human relationships: My work here isn’t, finally, about you. I’m here on a mission, as you are, that requires and deserves my full attention.

It’s natural for us to try to re-engage our dying family folk in the life they’re leaving by reminding them of memories and showing them pictures, assuming they want to reminisce — and many do, up to a point. But when that point is past, tugging at them may be a distraction from the arduous, demanding, and perhaps — who knows? — exhilarating business of turning inward and heavenward, listening hard for the comforts and summonings that come from elsewhere, and leaving us behind.

The instruction I received from my mother’s curious indifference was simple: Let her go where she needs to go. Much of her story had to do with us. This part of it didn’t. Day after day she prayed for us when we lived far away, releasing us into lives that for long stretches had little to do with her. Now it was our turn to do the same, across the increasing distance between us, releasing her to those who awaited her and renewing our own consent to the work that remained for us here.

May we let go when the time comes.
May we wait in trust as long as parting takes.
May we be present without demands.
May we put all we love in God’s hands.
May we let ourselves be blessed even in loss.
May we be open to peace
that passes all understanding
and eases our anguish
and keeps our hearts open.
Amen.

Table of Contents

Preface: The Care We’re Called To

Accompanying

Setting the House in Order
Facing Fear
The Long Letting Go
A Generous Dying
A Good Death
Things of the Spirit
Hoping Against
Things Take Time
Untimely, Unseemly
Walking the Valley
Confession
Blessing
In a Place Apart
Readiness
Release
Like a Seed
Consent and Consolation

Witnessing: Stories of Letting Go

Mourning

In It Together
Gone
Our Common Lot
Permission
Immortal, Inexplicable
Grief that Keeps Going
Comfort
Those Who Mourn
Like a Leaf
A Season of Separation

Words for Keeping Watch

A Breath Prayer
One-Line Prayers
Vigil Affirmations
“The Seventh Week: A Vigil”
A Litany for the Living

Click to preorder A Long Letting Go: Meditations on Losing Someone You Love or to read an EerdWord guest post by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre.

It’s Sneak Peek Week on EerdWord, when we’re sharing excerpts from four of the coming season’s most exciting new releases.

Today’s excerpt comes from chapter six (“The ‘How’ of Theology and the Ministry”) of Stanley Hauerwas’s new book The Work of Theology, which will be released in August but is available for preorder now.

(Read through to the end to preview the table of contents.)

* * *

The Work of Theology

The Work of Theology

I confess my first reaction to the theme “The Place of Theology in Ministry” was one of disorientation. What has happened that we now need to ask what role theology may have for those in the ministry? I have always assumed that theology and the ministry were joined at the hip. You cannot have one without the other. Of course everything depends on what you understand theology to be as well as what you think ordination entails for those who bear the title of minister or priest.

My disorientation can be illustrated by a story Methodists tell to suggest their confusions about the relation of theology and the ministry. I like the story very much but I am not prepared to stand behind its veracity. It may in general be true but some of the details may be not quite right. The story goes like this. An elderly Methodist minister was attending what Methodists in America call the Annual Conference. This was a man who over many years had faithfully obeyed his bishop. That meant he had been moved to one church after another in the state of New York. He was not a scholar but he was a good minister. This annual conference was embroiled in a theological debate concerning whether a theologian who taught at the seminary at Boston University should be disciplined because he did not believe in original sin. The debate raged on for some time, which tried the patience of our elderly pastor. Finally, unable to listen to one more argument for or against original sin, he rose declaring that he had had it with all this theological hair-splitting. After all, he said, little depends on theological opinions because, as they all know, most of theology is bunk. What they must do, he argued, is forget theology and preach Christ and him crucified.

It is a well-known fact that Methodists are not people with a gift for irony, but this elderly minister seems to represent an extreme example of the absence of irony among Methodists. It simply did not occur to him that to preach Christ and him crucified represented a strong theological claim with profound moral and political implications. His intervention reflected the general presumption among Americans that theology is not all that important for the everyday life of a minister or the people the minister serves. The elderly gentleman’s comment may even suggest that theology may be dangerous for those who are in the ministry. Thus the oft-made comment that this or that person who was going into the ministry was quite promising before going to seminary, where the courses she took made the ministerial candidate so confused she could not seek ordination.

I am not sure where to begin if the given task is to convince ministers that the ministry cannot be made intelligible without some theological rationale. I feel somewhat like the Texas football coach whose football team was behind at halftime seventy-two to nothing. The coach walked into the locker room holding a football over his head and said, “Gentlemen, we need to start at the beginning. This is a football.” I am not sure we are behind seventy-two to nothing, but it is not clear to me how to even start trying to show the role theology should have for the ministry.

I quite appreciate, however, that the question of the place of theology for the ministry may well reflect the loss of an educated public that seems to have little if any knowledge of the basics of the Christian faith. My Dean, Richard Hays, tells the story of his visit to Western Australia to attend the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. He found himself on a bus sitting next to a person who asked him why he had come to Australia. He explained he had come for a conference of people who study the New Testament. After a long pause his seatmate asked, “The New Testament? Does that have anything to do with a religion?” You need to be careful using such examples because they can invite the presumption that in the past Christians and non-Christians were more knowledgeable about what made them Christian than in fact they were. Yet it is also the case that many Christians and non-Christians currently have little idea of what makes Christianity tick.

There was a time, let us call it Christendom, when it was assumed that people, lay or ordained, did not need to know much about Christianity to be a Christian. The priest needed to know how to say mass. The laity, at least the laity of the lower classes, needed to pray, obey, and pay. After the Reformation — as well as the democratic revolution — it was assumed that priest and laity should have some theological sophistication. The result I fear has given us the worst of all possible worlds, that is, a laity who have little understanding of the Christian tradition but believe they get to make Christianity up because what it means to be a Christian is to have a personal relationship with God. Of course that is oversimplistic, but it is a reminder that the question of the role of theology for the ministry will be a different question — and the answer will be different — in different times and places. If we are living, as I believe we are, in an awkward time between the loss of Christendom and a yet-to-be-determined future, then I think there is no question that those in the ministry will need to be theologically astute. The burden of proof is now on us as Christians, and I take that to be a good thing.

In an awkward time the temptation will be to try to attract people who do not know what the New Testament is by providing a truncated and simplistic account of the gospel. Those who use such strategies will be impatient with theologians who then criticize them for being simplistic. When you are struggling for survival the demand for theological integrity may seem to be a burden rather than an aid and support. In the world in which we find ourselves, a world in which the church has lost the ability to shape the lives of people who identify as Christian, it is hard to be critical of those in the ministry who seek to build their churches around what people think they need rather than what the gospel tells us we should want.

The disposition of those in the ministry to avoid strong theological claims can sometimes even be found to also be true of those who teach in seminaries. I once had a colleague who preached the closing sermon for the graduating seniors at Duke Divinity School. The sermon was organized around this piece of advice: “They do not care what you know. They want to know you care.” Though I am a pacifist I wanted to kill her on the spot. As a faculty we had worked hard to instill in these students a sense of the significance of theology for the work of the ministry, but just as they were graduating they were told the work they had done in seminary was not going to be all that important for the souls they were charged to care for. If what you know no longer matters, the ministry cannot help but be another “helping profession” whose task is to attract people to church because of the appealing personality of the minister and the friendliness of the congregation.

The strategies to attract “the unchurched” through the manipulative practices associated with church-growth advocates I take to be a desperate attempt to “save” Christianity. From my perspective, church-growth strategies are but the gurgles of a dying Christendom. The church-growth strategy to simplify the gospel for persons like the one seated next to my Dean, ironically, is a version of the liberal Protestant theological presumption that the basic language of the faith is a description of our experience rather than being about God. The only difference between Protestant liberals and church-growth strategists is the latter tend to make a fetish of the Bible.

The loss of an educated public for sustaining the work of the church has been long in coming but it is now a clear reality. I am quite aware that the language of “educated public” may sound elitist but that is a description I accept. Any organization that is morally serious will have elites. The work of theology is done by people who have the means to recognize the elites that constitute the church. The elite that is the first authority for Christians is, of course, the saints. Theologians are seldom saints, but their task is to help the church recognize the difficult and often unpleasant people who turn out to be saints. That task requires theologians to be agents of memory so we do not forget what God has done and continues to do to make us a people of time.

Table of Contents

Introduction
1. How I Think I Learned to Think Theologically
2. How the Holy Spirit Works
3. How to Do or Not to Do Protestant Ethics
4. How to Be an Agent: Why Character Matters
5. How to Tell Time Theologically
6. The “How” of Theology and the Ministry
7. How to Write a Theological Sentence
8. How to Be Theologically Ironic
9. How to (Not) Be a Political Theologian
10. How to Think Theologically about Rights
11. How to “Remember the Poor”
12. How to Be Theologically Funny
13. How (Not) to Retire Theologically
Postscript: By Way of a Response to Nicholas Healy’s Book, Hauerwas: A (Very) Critical Introduction 

Click to preorder The Work of Theology by Stanley Hauerwas.

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