For Alan this is a time of ‘unraveling”, an invitation to shift our focus, to listen, discern and join God's presence in our neighborhoods In Alan’s words, the Spirit is going ahead of us into our neighborhoods. So often churches seek to either defend or accommodate as quickly as possible when faced with massive cultural shifts. Think about how different things could be if pastors and church leaders learned to see the cultural shifts as God at work opening spaces to listen and discern a new engagement for the gospel. This is the gift of Roxburgh. The answer to the church’s struggles is not more flashy promotions but a new and deeper discipleship and a community present to what God is doing in the places we live.
Reading An Other Kingdom takes me back to Augustine’s task. In its pages we read an important attempt to name the maladies of our time when faced with the ending of a certain Western narrative and the desperate need for an alternative imagination. In this sense it is an important book written with urgency. Like a tract it deconstructs the malaise of our time and offers an imagination for the reconstitution of social and cultural life in the West. It is to be applauded. Its proposals are important; they need to be taken seriously by any Christian desiring to faithfully live out the Gospel in these times; however, it misses the essential imagination that framed Augustine’s project and directed his desires.
Elaine Graham presents a high view of ‘public theology’ as studying and communicating the relevance of Christian thought and practice for public life and the common good. Public theology, she suggests, negotiates between the apparently immovable ‘rock’ of religious resurgence and the irresistible ‘hard place’ of secularism and institutional decline, or between faithfulness to Christian tradition and openness to diverse and critical conversation in the public domain. Graham’s portrayal of apologetics is refreshingly recast to include not primarily rational argument for the veracity of propositional claims, but an appeal to live well and act justly for the common good of society.
Review of Alan Roxburgh, Structured for Mission: Renewing the Culture of the Church (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2015). Originally published in Englewood Review of Books, Vol 05, No. 03, Summer, 2015. It is reproduced here with permission. EnglewoodReview.org
Review of Lynne M Baab, The Power of Listening: Building Skills for Mission and Ministry (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2014)
Review of Larry Siedentop, Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism (Milton Keynes; UK: Penguin Random House, 2015)
First published in 2014 this is a must read for anyone committed to addressing Newbigin’s question about a missionary engagement with the late, modern West, especially its North Atlantic form. True confession - this book reads like a good thriller...
Book Review: The Vanishing Neighbor – The Transformation of American Community Culture by Marc J. Dunkelman
Wherever I speak, or people ask about my writing,  about the call of churches to join with the God who is out ahead of us in our neighborhoods and communities the same basic question is inevitably asked: Why bother with neighborhoods these...Read more
When it comes to church life, the most profound innovation is not necessarily to create something new, but to revisit the essence of what it is to be church and dream about how to express that for a new day....Read more
Terry Eagleton’s Culture and the Death of God is a dense tour-de-force that launches one through the ways modernity, in its multiple forms, has sought to frame all of life without reference to God. More than a decade ago the...Read more
The church tribe I belong to, the Baptist Union of Victoria in Australia, will be exploring in 2014 how we can be ‘Better Together’. Like many churches in the Western world, we desperately want to re-orientate ourselves around mission. We...Read more