For our final episode of this year’s Eerdmans Author Interview Series, we asked executive editor David Bratt to interview Gregg A. Ten Elshof, professor of philosophy at Biola University and director of the Biola University Center for Christian Thought. Discussing his forthcoming book, Confucius for Christians, Ten Elshof clarifies Confucianism and explains why he thinks Western Christians can learn from the Eastern tradition.

Confucius for Christians [cover]About Confucius for Christians: What an Ancient Chinese Worldview Can Teach Us about Life in Christ:

This book by Gregg Ten Elshof explores ways of using resources from the Confucian wisdom tradition to inform Christian living. Neither highlighting nor diminishing the differences between Confucianism and Christianity, Ten Elshof reflects on perennial human questions with the teachings of both Jesus and Confucius in mind.

In examining such subjects as family, learning, and ethics, Ten Elshof sets the typical Western worldview against the Confucian worldview and considers how each of them lines up with the teachings of Jesus. Ten Elshof points to much that is deep and helpful in the Confucian tradition, and he shows how reflection on the teachings of Confucius can inspire a deeper and richer understanding of what it really means to live the Jesus way.

Click to read our copywriter’s recommendation of the book here on EerdWord or to pre-order Confucius for Christians from our website.

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

Creation and Humanity
Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen

News from Eerdmans . . .

  • This week we announced the hiring of Lil Copan as Eerdmans Senior Acquisitions Editor for general trade. Lil brings two decades of experience working in acquisitions for several religious publishers. We’re delighted to welcome her among the ranks of the Eerdfolk! You can read more about Lil on

. . . and Elsewhere

Paul’s Divine Christology

“is not just ‘back then and over there,’ but becomes very much about us today, and our own discipleship. The nature and shape of Paul’s own divine Christology means that Christology cannot be a matter merely for spectators. It is ultimately about the way we live, love and relate to each other and to the risen Lord by the Spirit.”

  • Nijay Gupta reviewed The Story Luke Tells by Justo González on the Crux Sola blog. Describing González as “a winsome and gifted communicator,” Gupta says the book is a good place to start “if you want to dip into Luke’s theology and his message for the church today.”
  • The Presbyterian Outlook published a “bookmark” review of Brennan Manning’s Dear Abba. “One who reads these daily devotions,” the review concludes, “will perceive the depth of a Christian who honestly embraces brokenness in the sheer confidence that God embraces all in love.”

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:

Adam Edward Hollowell

Adam Edward Hollowell

The rules of our Five Questions interview series are simple: we send authors a long list of questions. Some are serious, some are . . . not so serious. They choose their five favorites and respond.

Our guest today is Adam Edward Hollowell, who is adjunct professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, director of student ministry at Duke University Chapel, and author of the new book Power and Purpose: Paul Ramsey and Contemporary Christian Political Theology.

* * *

Who is Paul Ramsey and why is his voice so important?  

Paul Ramsey was a professor in the Department of Religion at Princeton University for nearly forty years, from 1944–1982. His writings on war and nuclear power had a significant impact on Christian theological debates about just war theory and pacifism. His writings on medicine and reproduction hugely influenced what we now call bioethics. In addition to his academic work, Ramsey was a committed Methodist, proud husband, father, and grandfather, and a regular Sunday school teacher in his local congregation.

Power and Purpose

Power and Purpose

Why did you decide to write on Paul Ramsey?

Fifty years ago Ramsey’s was the best-selling Christian ethics textbook in the country because it was essential reading for seminary students. Now it’s nearly impossible to find an introductory Christian ethics course that includes him on the reading list. This tells you a little about the way Christian ethics has changed over the last fifty years, but it also tells you a little about how difficult it can be to read Paul Ramsey!

What do you most value about Ramsey’s work?

Ramsey took very seriously the responsibility that persons in power have to those who are powerless. This is why he was so concerned to help Christian doctors, soldiers, voters, and politicians think with purpose about the significance of their faith for their public work. It is also why he sought to revive a Christian account of war as a justified way of defending innocent civilians. So I have tremendous appreciation for Ramsey’s insights into Christian relationship to power. But I should add that he also tended to overlook the ways in which communities that do not have traditional forms of power can still work for important political and social goods. He wrote very little about the movements for women’s rights and civil rights that were so important in the middle of the twentieth century. So while Ramsey offers great insight, it’s also important to remember that he was slow to recognize the power of these movements for Christians.

You teach a course titled “Ethics in an Unjust World” at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. How does your work on Ramsey inform your teaching in ethics?

Many of the students in my course are hoping to enter careers that will give them access to power: medicine, law, engineering, public service. They also have a strong sense of calling to use that power not for themselves, but for remedying injustice, healing wounds, and alleviating poverty. (Almost none of them are taking ethics to become ethicists.) So Ramsey’s writings on medical and political ethics can be very helpful guides for students who want to think seriously about careers of service. He was also a phenomenal professor, and I try to incorporate some of his classroom insights into my teaching.

What are your hopes for the future of scholarship on Paul Ramsey?

I wrote this book because I wanted to make it easier for those who are interested in Ramsey to make connections between his work and some of the most important voices in Christian ethics today. I hope that it will be a teaching aid for those who want to teach Ramsey and a learning aid for those who want to study Ramsey. But more importantly, I hope those who take Christian ethics seriously will continue to turn to Ramsey as a teacher and a guide. As I say in the book, I believe he is still capable of challenging our assumptions, refining our commitments, and sharpening our minds.

Click to order Adam Edward Hollowell’s Power and Purpose: Paul Ramsey and Contemporary Christian Political Theology.

Each Wednesday throughout these forty days of Lent we’re sharing devotional excerpts from recent or forthcoming Eerdmans books. Today’s reading comes from the C. S. Lewis classic God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, which was newly re-released last fall.

God in the Dock

God in the Dock

We hope you will be challenged and uplifted by this selection — and by each of our 2015 Lenten Midweek Readings

* * *

The story of the Incarnation is the story of a descent and resurrection. When I say “resurrection” here, I am not referring simply to the first few hours, or the first few weeks of the Resurrection. I am talking of this whole, huge pattern of descent, down, down, and then up again. What we ordinarily call the Resurrection being just, so to speak, the point at which it turns. Think what that descent is. The coming down, not only into humanity, but into those nine months which precede human birth, in which they tell us we all recapitulate strange pre-human, sub-human forms of life, and going lower still into being a corpse, a thing which, if this ascending movement had not begun, would presently have passed out of the organic altogether, and have gone back into the inorganic, as all corpses do. One has a picture of someone going right down and dredging the sea-bottom. One has a picture of a strong man trying to lift a very big, complicated burden. He stoops down and gets himself right under it so that he himself disappears; and then he straightens his back and moves off with the whole thing swaying on his shoulders. Or else one has the picture of a diver, stripping off garment after garment, making himself naked, then flashing for a moment in the air, and then down through the green, and warm, and sunlit water into the pitch black, cold, freezing water, down into the mud and slime, then up again, his lungs almost bursting, back again to the green and warm and sunlit water, and then at last out into the sunshine, holding in his hand the dripping thing he went down to get. This thing is human nature; but, associated with it, all nature, the new universe.

C. S. Lewis - God in the Dock

Stephen N. Williams

Stephen N. Williams is professor of systematic theology at Union Theological College, Belfast, where he has taught since 1994. His book The Election of Grace: A Riddle without a Resolution? aims to offer a coherent account of the doctrine of election while arguing for a diminished role of system in Christian theology.

* * *

Another book on election? If this doctrine has caused problems for centuries, the problem is hardly likely to be solved now. Perhaps not, but it is worth asking whether the problem’s persistence is accounted for by some presupposition in the way it has been set up.

The Election of Grace tries to make some fresh suggestions — or to put some old suggestions in a fresh way. I mention here two of the main ones. Firstly, it asks whether we make a mistake in looking for a system. If a thinker has some ideas surrounding the whole question of election — let’s call them A, B and C — it is natural to ask what is the relation of A to B, B to C, A to C, and so on with all the letters of the alphabet. We look for the consistency of system. However, Scripture asks how A is related to life, how B is related to life, and how C is related to life. Within human experience, things hang together which are troublesome if we look for their inter-relation in a relatively abstract system.

The Election of Grace

Secondly, where we naturally contrast God’s predestination of some people to eternal life with God’s passing over the other people, Scripture regards things differently. The contrast is between God predestining some to eternal life and giving to those who reject the gospel the genuine chance to respond positively to it. We may not be able to explain this contrast within a system, but then the fault is ours for seeking a system. When predestination to life is contrasted with passing over some from predestination to life, the matter is usually explained in terms of mercy and justice — in mercy, God predestines some to life; in justice, he leaves others aside. However, if the real contrast is between those predestined to life and those given a genuine opportunity to respond positively, then it is not a case of mercy versus justice. It is merciful to give those who refuse a genuine chance to respond. So the contrast is the contrast between two forms of mercy, even if justice also enters into it all at some point.

Is it worth going over all this ground? I think so. It remains the case that many people are put off or bewildered by the doctrines of election and of predestination. (The book makes some distinction between them, but there is also overlap.) It is worth asking whether we have to approach things in a different way from the way normally done. This is the aim of the book.

Click to order The Election of Grace by Stephen N. Williams.



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